European Union regulators have opened an official investigation into Amazon’s proposed $1.7 billion acquisition of iRobot, the company behind the popular Roomba lineup of robot vacuum cleaners.
In a press release, the European Commission said it’s concerned that “the transaction would allow Amazon to restrict competition in the market for robot vacuum cleaners (‘RVCs’) and to strengthen its position as online marketplace provider.” The European Commission is also looking at how getting access to iRobot users’ data may give Amazon an advantage “in the market for online marketplace services to third-party sellers (and related advertising services) and / or other data-related markets.”
“We continue to work through the process with the European Commission and are focused on addressing its questions and any identified concerns at this stage,” Amazon spokesperson Alexandra Miller said in a statement. “iRobot, which faces intense competition from other vacuum cleaner suppliers, offers practical and inventive products. We believe Amazon can offer a company like iRobot the resources to accelerate innovation and invest in critical features while lowering prices for consumers.”
The European Commission will make a decision about if it will block the deal by November 15th.
The EU’s investigation comes in an era of greater regulatory scrutiny of Big Tech acquisitions. A decade ago, Meta (then known as Facebook) was able to snap up Instagram and WhatsApp with relatively little oversight, but nowadays, even relatively modest acquisitions are attracting intense scrutiny. As well as being forced to sell Giphy, Meta also had a fight on its hands to acquire VR startup Within (though it eventually succeeded).