Amazon has bought Ring for $1 billion. What does the startup deal with? How does their Ukrainian office work?
On 27 of February the American Internet-giant Amazon has bought a startup Ring, dealing with IoT-solutions for residential security. In 2016 the startup opened R&D office in Kyiv. The editorial team of AIN.UA has collected information, showing the company’s focus as well as how their Ukrainian office works.
What did the company begin with?
Like many other interesting projects – it began with the Founder’s garage in South California. In 2011 James Siminoff, the Founder of the company, has gathered a small group of engineers to work on his idea. Just one year later, in 2012, a team of five guys (three engineers and an intern) presented DoorBot to public. It was a doorbell with a camera and Wi-Fi. While ringing the doorbell, the dwellers of the house could see who visited them.
According to the Founder, it was not easy to manufacture such a product. Especially, taking into consideration the battery that should serve at least a year, video streaming, instant messages and mobile application. However, even with a small number of personnel and lack of funding, the first smart bells were delivered to customers in November 2013 – less than in a year after announcement of the product.
Below is a photo of project Founder with his son and prototype of the device on the production site in Asia in August of 2013.
Only in 2013 the company produced 20,000 pcs of gadgets and delivered it to the customers in 85 countries. Later they changed the name of the product – from too “geek and tech” to understandable Ring. According to the Founder, it should mean a “security ring”, provided by the company’s gadgets around a user’s estate. In 2014 just 42 employees worked for the company.
What are they doing now?
Since Ring has managed to raise a few funding rounds, to increase personnel number and largely expand product line, the total amount of investments, raised by Ring in the course of six rounds, made $209.2 million. Among the investors there are such names as Goldman Sachs, Virgin Group, Qualcomm Ventures and Amazon Alexa Fund. The company’s price was estimated at $1 billion and it was bought by Amazon at this price. During the last investment round in January of 2017, when the company raised $109 million and was estimated at $445 million, that is double more than in the previous round. Then the funds were spent, among other things, on development of Ring’s R&D office in Kyiv. For today, a total number of employees, according to Crunchbase is up to 1,000”.
The company produces a wide range of products for residential security: apart from smart doorbell with an application, they also produce Ring Spotlight Cams — cameras with motion detectors and a possibility of video streaming at 1080HD, sets of security devices Home Security Kit, etc.:
In January last year they also presented a new generation of the smart bell: Ring Video Doorbell 2. It supports video streaming at 1080HD. This device is equipped with night-vision device, adjustable motion detectors, etc. The company positions all their products as solutions to combat crime in any residential neighborhoods.
How does the Ukrainian office work?
It became known in 2016 that the company launches an office in Ukraine.
Kyiv laboratory Ring Labs started developing software in the area of machine learning, computer vision, data mining and other spheres of artificial intelligence.
Ring integrated inventions of the Ukrainian engineers into their products. In particular, in Kyiv they analyze video data from Ring’s clouds. This data is used to build neural networks and algorithms to improve the company’s product performance efficiency.
The first employees of the office in Kyiv:
A decision to launch R&D office in Ukraine was taken in order to get easy access to the skilled personnel. Then the company explained to our editorial team, “Ring company was impressed by tech skills of the Ukrainian professionals. Machine Learning, Computer Vision and artificial intelligence as a whole – are very complicated tasks. In the company we believe in the potential of Ukrainian developers, their high skills and unique expertise.”
In December of 2016 about 30 employees worked in the Ukrainian office. Now it is about 445 (according to the rating of the largest IT companies).
Ring Ukraine is located in Business Center “Toronto Kyiv” near Olimpiyskaya subway station. When we dealt with office repair and reconstruction, we had an intention to make it similar to offices of the companies in Silicon Valley. The employees are offered bonuses in the form of medical insurance, full-year gym membership, lunches and dinners in the office. Moreover, in the office we have recreation rooms and sleeping areas.
The office is headed by Kira Rudik, COO. In response to our question concerning the future of the Ukrainian office after closing the deal, she replied, “Still we can’t make any official statements.” Now Ring Ukraine is actively seeking for new talents: according to DOU, at the moment they have 11 vacancies, including frontend developers, security engineers, product managers, 3D modelers, etc.
At the time of this article publication we have no information about the future of Rink’s Ukrainian office after the company’s purchasing by Amazon. Our editorial team is waiting for comments of Ring and Amazon.