Amazon is ramping up its focus on Europe after posting record revenues in the region in 2020.
As well as opening new branches in Sweden and Poland, the company’s accelerating its acquisition and investment into smaller European tech companies.
New analysis by Sifted has found Amazon has acquired or invested in 28 European companies, and that half of those deals have taken place in the last four years. UK-based companies have received the most money from Amazon in Europe, with ten acquisitions and investments in the country.
Amazon isn’t the only US tech giant to pour money into smaller European companies: Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook have also acquired and invested in the continent’s companies to expand their growth.
European tech companies have become an increasing target for mergers and acquisitions in recent years. In 2020, Europe’s tech companies were involved in M&A deals worth a record $55bn, up 114% from the previous year — though that’s not all involving American buyers.
While some say it’s a phenomenon that means big foreign companies reap the rewards of European tech talent, acquisition also frees up capital back into the European ecosystem.
The European startups which have attracted Amazon in particular span a range of sectors, from voice tech to fintech, and from home security technology to food delivery. It’s taken on startups that seem like an obvious fit as well as more curious choices (a Spanish driving school app, for example).
Globally, Amazon’s invested or acquired at least 129 companies, the biggest of which was its 2017 takeover of US company Whole Foods for $13.4bn.
A spokesperson for the company said it doesn’t comment on acquisition or investment speculation — though they did check over the names of the companies compiled by Sifted.
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They described Amazon’s acquisition strategy as “an inventive, customer-obsessed, long-term oriented culture where entrepreneurs thrive” and said investments are focused on long-term growth, where companies have access to support from Amazon when they want it.
The sectors attracting Amazon to Europe
Amazon funds up-and-coming voice technology companies through its Alexa Fund, which invests up to $200m per ticket. In Europe, it’s funded a number of startups working on voice technology for gaming in particular.
- Endel: a German company creating personalised soundscapes to help people sleep. Amazon took part in its Series A in 2020.
- Sensible Object: a UK-based company developing voice-augmented tabletop games.
- Novalia: a British company developing touch-sensitive sound mats for children.
- Doppio: a Portuguese company developing voice-activated and narrative games. It received seed funding from Amazon in 2019.
- Yousician: a Finnish platform that helps people learn to play music. Amazon funded the company in 2021.
- IVONA: a Poland-based company developing text to speech systems using natural voice. Amazon acquired the company in 2013.
Smart home tech
Amazon continues to focus on technology to make the home more connected, and has funded a number of European companies working in the space.
- Tado: a German company developing climate control via smartphones. Amazon participated in its Series F round in 2018.
- Zobi: a British company working on home intrusion systems. It got a $100k grant from Amazon in 2020.
- Oco: an intelligent video surveillance camera startup based in Latvia, which received $100k in 2016.
- Sweepr: an Irish company working on connected home devices. It received funding from the Alexa Fund in 2020.
- Invoxia: a French company developing GPS trackers for cars and other vehicles. It received funding in 2015.
Amazon expanded its entertainment offering through a number of European acquisitions, acquiring film rental company LoveFilm and online book store The Book Depository.
It’s also funded a number of European companies working on entertainment tech.
- Liquavista: a Dutch company acquired by Amazon in 2013. It researched e-paper video screens that work without backlighting.
- Sye Streaming: a Swedish company developing low latency streaming tech. It was acquired in 2020.
- Push Button: a UK-based company working on interactive TV. It was acquired by Amazon in 2011 and its staff became members of Amazon’s Development Centre in London.
- The Book Depository: a UK-based online bookstore, acquired in 2011.
- LoveFilm: a UK-based film rental service, acquired in 2011.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud computing platform, funds and acquires companies directly. Through AWS, Amazon has acquired four European companies.
- CloudEndure: an Israeli company working on solutions to data loss and network failures. It was acquired by Amazon in 2019 at a valuation of $250m.
- E8 Storage: another Israeli company, working on storage for cloud computing. It was acquired in 2019 at a valuation of $50m.
- NICE: an Italian software development company for cloud computing. It was acquired by Amazon Web Services in 2016.
- Cloud9 IDE: a Holland-based company working on cloud computing, acquired by AWS in 2016.
Elsewhere in computing tech, Amazon’s backed companies working on things like search engine user experience and marketing data.
- Machine Labs: a data-driven marketing platform based in Scotland which received funding in 2020.
- Evi: a company working on search engine user experience improvement, acquired in 2013.
- WeaveWorks: a British company which received investment from AWS in 2020.
- Bindwise: a Latvian company working on automating processes for online retailers. It received funding from AWS in 2018.
And the rest…
One of Amazon’s most famous investments was into British food delivery startup Deliveroo. Amazon took part in its $575m round in 2019.
It’s also backed a Czech-funded foodtech company Foodgroot, which has developed an app that can be used to scan food products and work out what’s in them. Foodgroot received seed funding from Amazon in 2018.
Amazon has made two Spanish deals too: an acquisition of BuyVIP, a company working on online shopping discounts; and an investment into Dribo, a driving school app.