Amazon CEO on CNBC lashes out at regulators for ‘blocking mergers’ and other anti-trust policies

April 11, 2024 by
Frank Calviño

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy on Thursday made a statement against the regulators who. in his opinion, ‘are increasingly blocking mergers, including the company’s planned acquisition of robotic vacuum maker iRobot’, which fell apart earlier this year amid antitrust concerns. 

“I think it’s really kind of a sad story,” Jassy said in an interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin on “Squawk Box” after the Amazon chief released his annual shareholder letter. 

The acquisition stood to give iRobot a competitive boost against rivals, Jassy said, but regulators blocked the deal “because they worry that we’re going to feature our vacuum cleaner, the Roomba, vs. others, which of course, is not our model.” 

Amazon rebuffed its plan to acquire iRobot for $1.7 billion in January after Europe’s antitrust watchdog and the Federal Trade Commission said it raised competition concerns. iRobot laid off 31% of its staff, and its shares have plunged more than 75% this year. 

Jassy said the move showed that regulators “trust these two large Chinese companies with maps of the inside of U.S. consumers’ homes more than they do Amazon.” 

Amazon, Google and Microsoft… anti-trust ‘problems’ 

The robotic vacuum industry has become increasingly crowded in recent years, with companies like China-based Anker, Ecovacs, and Roborock, as well as SharkNinja, eating into iRobot’s once-dominant share of the market. 

The iRobot decision also comes as global regulators have been more aggressive in attempting to block Big Tech companies from expanding further, with the Biden administration making antitrust enforcement in the tech sector a top priority. 

As megadeals have slowed to a crawl, tech companies have made a flurry of investments in artificial intelligence startups, seeking to gain a foothold in the burgeoning market. 

Amazon last month added $2.75 billion to its stake in AI startup Anthropic, which also counts Google as one of its biggest backers. Microsoft has invested billions in OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT.

Regulators have also zeroed in on these partnerships, with the FTC launching an inquiry into the deals in January.

“I think people don’t know what they can do right now,” Jassy said. He urged regulators to be “more reasonable” in their stance on Big Tech deals. Amazon also faces an ongoing lawsuit by the FTC. The agency sued Amazon in September, accusing it of operating an illegal monopoly that stifles competition and raises prices for consumers while increasing costs for sellers.

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