Inside the Amazon-Ring deal: How a doorbell maker got on the tech giant’s radar before $1B acquisition

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Ring founder Jamie Siminoff speaks at the GeekWire Summit 2018 at Sheraton Seattle on Tuesday, October 2, 2018. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

Jamie Siminoff knows what it takes to be acquired by Amazon.

The Ring founder appeared on stage at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle on Tuesday to discuss his up-and-down entrepreneurial journey that ultimately resulted in one of Amazon’s largest acquisitions to date.

Siminoff sold the smart doorbell company to the tech giant earlier this year for a reported $1 billion. But details of how the deal came together remain scant. So how did Ring get on Amazon’s radar?

“I get a lot of people who call me and ask me how to sell their company to Amazon,” Siminoff said. “I say, ‘start today and in four years you might have the opportunity to do that.’”

At a recent Amazon event, Ring announced the new version of its Ring Stick Up Camera. (GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy)

The Ring-Amazon relationship started long before this year’s acquisition. The two companies shared a similar interest in building tech products for the home, going back to when Ring launched in 2012, and worked together on various partnerships.

“It was working with them for a long time and building real relationships,” Siminoff explained. “We realized Amazon had a very similar culture to Ring. Amazon’s core tenant is to start from the customer and work backwards. At Ring, we always started from our mission to make neighborhoods safer. We had a lot of similarities.”

Listen to Siminoff’s full conversation with GeekWire Co-founder Todd Bishop in the player below:

Over time, Amazon got an inside look at how Ring built its business off a mission-based philosophy.

“They liked that,” Siminoff said.

Once Siminoff realized how Amazon could help Ring, the deal came together naturally without any competitive bids.

“I wanted to continue to build the business and Amazon is one of the greatest acquirers in the world of allowing companies to still build and be impactful post-acquisition,” he said.

Siminoff, now Ring’s chief inventor, pointed to other Amazon acquisitions of companies including Audible, IMDb, Twitch, and Zappos as examples of that arms-length approach.

Amazon has treated the Ring deal similar to those past acquisitions, pursuing product and feature integrations where appropriate but maintaining the Ring brand and largely allowing the company to continue operating as it has in the past. Amazon earlier this month featured Ring products as part of a massive Alexa device announcement.

Siminoff added that Amazon lets startup founders continue to remain directly involved in the growth.

“I didn’t want to leave, I wasn’t looking to cash out and go somewhere else,” he said. “I really wanted to stay and build and keep doing this. Amazon now gives me this foundation to do that with.”

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