Amazon.com Inc.'s (AMZN) Alexa fund has participated in a $62 million Series C funding round in a Toronto-based smart thermostat company, just days after buying smart home company Ring for over $1 billion. Eleven-year-old startup Ecobee has now raised a total of $146 million, from Amazon and other backers including Energy Impact Partners, Thomvest and Relay Ventures. (See also: Amazon to Stop Selling All Google Nest Products.)
The e-commerce and cloud computing giant's smart home investment spree positions it more squarely against competitors such as Alphabet Inc., (GOOG) with its Google Nest product suite. On Monday, news broke that the Seattle-based retail behemoth would no longer sell any of the newer products from Nest on its global platform as the two FANG-member companies brawl it out in the high-growth smart home market and ramp up competition in segments such as video, devices and services.
Getting Smart on its Own
Amazon's most recent investment shouldn't come as much of a shock, given the company's recent focus on the smart home space and the Canadian product maker's embrace of Amazon's smart assistant, Alexa. In May 2017, Ecobee became one of the first Amazon products to build Alexa functionality directly into its own products, as reported by TechCrunch. The Ecobee 4, the company's latest thermostat with Alexa functionality, allows users to tell it how to adjust the temperature, ask for weather or news updates and orders things such as an Uber ride or foof delivery, without pushing any buttons.
"All of our products are built around helping customers save money and conserve energy," said Ecobee founder and Chief Executive Officer Stuart Lombard. "But we also have a vision to change the smart home from a collection of hard-to-configure devices to something with a better outcome for consumers."
The next-gen thermostat company's goal is to install devices in every room of the home, and its one-third share of the market may make it an ideal target for an outright Amazon takeover. Moving forward, Ecobee will use its new cash to expand into different smart home categories. (See also: Amazon Market Cap May Cross $1 Trillion in a Year.)