After Amazon gobbled up Ring security last week for a reported $1 billion, we began to ponder what other companies the tech giant might add to its growing list of acquired smart home companies.
We might have seen a glimpse into the future this week, as smart home thermostat maker Ecobee announced that it received more than $60 million in funding from several investors, including from the Amazon Alexa fund, a $100 million venture capital arm of the company that invests in voice technology innovation.
Ecobee, maker of smart thermostats, is probably one of Nest’s biggest rivals in the thermostat space. Guess who owns Nest? Google. Guess who has been fighting for the crown of total dominance in the smart home space, with competing home voice assistants Alexa and Google Assistant? Amazon and Google.
It should be noted that Amazon was just one of nine that invested in Ecobee. Energy Impact Partners, Thomvest, and Relay Ventures also added some cash. This is nowhere close to being a purchase, but a partnership between the two companies, an Amazon spokesperson said.
“We’re excited to continue our support of Ecobee through participation in its Series C financing and our broader work together across a number of important Alexa capabilities,” Paul Bernard, Director of the Alexa Fund at Amazon, said in a statement. “Ecobee is a leader in driving the adoption of voice in the smart home and continues to innovate through the creation of new products like the Ecobee4 smart thermostat and Ecobee Switch+, both of which have Alexa built in.”
Ecobee, founded in 2007, has a few popular smart thermostats and sensors, including the Ecobee4 thermostat system. The devices work with both Google Home and Amazon Alexa, meaning that you can use either voice assistant to control your thermostat. According to a statement from Ecobee, the additional funding will allow the company to build its suite of smart home technologies connected by whole-home-voice control, sensor technology, and artificial intelligence.
“Our goal is to build a home that learns and anticipates your needs, making your home an intelligent space that simplifies your life rather than complicates it,” Stuart Lombard, President and CEO of Ecobee, said. “We believe that by building voice capabilities, advanced sensor technology, and powerful A.I. into the operating system of your home, we are helping to create a new computing platform. This technology will transform the way consumers interact with their favorite services for the better.”
It should also be noted that Ring security, before it was bought by Amazon, also was backed by the Alexa Fund. Coincidence? We shall see.