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Angel Investor (Individual)

Investments

2

About Colin Angle

Headquarters Location

United States

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Latest Colin Angle News

Amazon left Roomba with a huge mess to clean up

Jan 31, 2024

The Verge Amazon left Roomba with a huge mess to clean up By abandoning its deal to buy iRobot, Amazon has left the robot vacuum maker stuck under the couch. By Jennifer Pattison Tuohy , a smart home reporter who's been testing connected gadgets since 2013. Previously a writer for Wirecutter, Wired, Dwell, and US News. Jan 31, 2024, 8:00 PM UTC | Share this story If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement. The newest Roomba vacuum — the Combo j9 Plus — faces stiff competition. Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge Amazon backing out of its deal to buy iRobot due to regulatory issues may feel like a win for privacy advocates , but it could be a death knell for the Roomba robot vacuum as we know it. On the face of it, the objection from the European Commission that the deal was anti-competitive is cruelly ironic for iRobot, a foundering market leader struggling against a giant wave of competition. It was relying on Amazon to bring it an injection of cash along with the resources it needed to stay afloat in today’s insanely competitive robot vacuum market. But the deal is dead, and iRobot’s competition is still very much there . iRobot’s dominant market share has been steadily eroding since 2014 . According to data from Statista , it dropped from 64 percent in 2016 to 46 percent in 2020. As someone who has been reviewing robot vacuums for over five years , it’s easy to see why. In the last decade, Chinese companies like Ecovacs (Deebot / Yeedi), Anker (Eufy), Roborock (backed by Xiaomi), and Dreame Technology have burst onto the global market with cheaper, flashier options. There are a lot of robot vacuums available today, and I’ve tested most of them. Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge Samsung and US-based SharkNinja are also taking bites out of the pie, and that’s not to mention the dozens of no-name brands with bots available on Amazon for under $200 — a fraction of the price of flagships from Roborock ($1,600) and Roomba ($1,400). The market was tough enough to take down one US-based robovac company last year, Neato Robotics . Now, iRobot is the one with problems. Reporting a net loss for 2022 , it potentially needed a deal like Amazon’s to survive. If anyone was going to bring us a Rosey the Robot, it was iRobot A sale could have helped iRobot “better compete in the global marketplace, particularly against companies, and from countries, that aren’t subject to the same regulatory requirements in fast-moving technology segments like robotics,” said Amazon SVP David Zapolsky when Amazon announced it was abandoning the deal . Now iRobot has lost its CEO and founder Colin Angle, is laying off staff, and facing an existential crisis, which is a huge shame because it’s still our best bet for truly smart and innovative robovacs. Led by Angle, iRobot has been a major innovator in home robotics over the last three decades. The sum total of its advancements exceeds those of competitors like Roborock and Ecovacs . If anyone was going to bring us a Rosey the Robot, it was iRobot. The Samsung Jet Bot AI and the Roomba j7 were two of the first robot vacuums to be able to (mostly) avoid smearing dog crap over your house. Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge iRobot invented the first successful robot vacuum over 20 years ago, but if your last experience with a Roomba was pre-2013, things have changed. Today, all these floor cleaning droids are much, much better — in large part due to iRobot’s innovations that have been adopted by the rest of the market. It was the first to implement a viable auto-empty dock that sucks the dirt out of the robot’s bin for you. ( Others tried , but versions of iRobot’s method are now standard). It was one of the first to bring effective room mapping to move bots on from their bump-and-roll randomness, and it has led the way in developing reliable AI algorithms for avoiding household objects like socks, phone cables, and pet waste. And, based on my extensive experience testing these bots, it’s still the best at cleaning your floors . Its unique dual rubber roller brush system, which some have copied but none have surpassed, gets the job done. What also sets iRobot apart is its approach to software. On top of a robust and easy-to-use app, the company has built a robot OS with the goal of elevating floor-cleaning robots from basic remote control vacuuming to something smarter. “The barrier to the next level of AI in robotics isn’t better AI. It’s context,” Angle told me in 2022 , just prior to announcing the Amazon deal. iRobot was working on using its robots to better understand how we live in our homes to both improve how they clean and potentially expand further into the smart home. This, as I’ve said before , is a big part of why Amazon wanted the company. Potentially, it was these efforts at making the robot floor cleaner smarter, plowing money into R&D around intelligence rather than churning out more mass-market products like its competitors, that put iRobot in its current precarious position. Roborock offers a huge lineup of good robot vacuums at every price point. Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Colin Angle Investments

2 Investments

Colin Angle has made 2 investments. Their latest investment was in Cuseum as part of their Seed VC on January 19, 2015.

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Colin Angle Investments Activity

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Date

Round

Company

Amount

New?

Co-Investors

Sources

1/19/2015

Seed VC

Cuseum

$1.2M

Yes

2

8/16/2011

Series A

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$99M

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10

Date

1/19/2015

8/16/2011

Round

Seed VC

Series A

Company

Cuseum

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Amount

$1.2M

$99M

New?

Yes

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Co-Investors

Sources

2

10

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