What does it take to get acquired by Amazon (AMZN) ?
Ring founder Jamie Siminoff is one of the few who knows. Amazon bought Ring in one of its largest-ever acquisitions to date, in a deal that closed in April 2018. Amazon reportedly paid between $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion for the home security firm, making it Amazon's second-largest acquisition behind its $14 billion deal to buy Whole Foods in July 2017.
Siminoff, said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco that Amazon was interested in more than just financial upside.
"Obviously, they want to have a good business, but they really believed in what we were doing and wanted to make that impact bigger," Siminoff said.
Ring sells doorbells and other security equipment that allow people people see who's at their door before opening. Its objective is to reduce crime and create "better, safer neighborhoods," Siminoff said. Its main products include smart doorbells, cameras and security monitoring systems.
The discussions with Amazon kicked off about four years ago, Siminoff said. Apple Inc. (AAPL) had also expressed interest in the company, but he added that the discussions never got particularly serious. By contrast, Amazon was the right fit because the objectives of the two companies seemed to align well.
"The biggest thing was seeing that they had bought into the mission," he said. "When we started really talking seriously, we were doing really well, but they were focused on the why, not the output of that."
Ring had previously received funding from Amazon through its Alexa Fund, a fund established to back devices or technologies that use Alexa, its voice assistant and a high priority for Amazon given the increasing popularity of smart devices. In a February earnings report -- shortly before the Ring acquisition came to light -- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the company would double down on Alexa by leveraging outside efforts: "We've reached an important point where other companies and developers are accelerating adoption of Alexa," Bezos wrote in the February earnings report.
"We spent a lot of time with Amazon and the culture there....our culture turned out to be very close to Amazon's culture," Siminoff added. "They said they're frugal and so on and I was able to draw the lines through all these different things."
Amazon's work culture is reputed to be less warm and fuzzy than some of its big tech counterparts. But Sminoff said that from a startup founder's perspective, Amazon's hands-off approach to managing its subsidiaries was a selling point: "I still go to work every day and do what I was doing, and that's great," he said.
He doesn't sweat working for the wealthiest person alive, he said of Bezos, whom he described as a "normal smart person." But there is one quirk of working at Amazon that perhaps didn't come as naturally to Siminoff: Its penchant for 6-page memos to kick off meetings, which participants must read in silence prior to discussion.
"A 15 to 20-minute silence is an awkward thing, but it's an amazing way to have people prepare for a meeting...you're not going to waste people's time," he added.
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