Amazon has announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Kiva Systems, Inc., a leading innovator of material handling technology.
Kiva develops robots that zip around warehouses, grabbing and moving shelves and crates full of products. The technology helps retailers fulfill online orders quickly and with fewer workers. Companies including Gap Inc , Staples Inc and Crate & Barrel, have used the technology.
Amazon has traditionally used more employees in its warehouses, or fulfillment centers as they are known. However, Kiva’s robots have been used by other e-commerce companies which have been acquired by Amazon in recent years, such as Quidsi and Zappos.
Fulfillment centers are crucial to Amazon’s main online retail business. But the company also offers fulfillment services to other merchants, making the warehouses even more important.
“Amazon has long used automation in its fulfillment centers, and Kiva’s technology is another way to improve productivity by bringing the products directly to employees to pick, pack and stow,” said Dave Clark, vice president, global customer fulfillment, Amazon.com. “Kiva shares our passion for invention, and we look forward to supporting their continued growth.”
Under the terms of the agreement, which has been approved by Kiva’s stockholders, Amazonwill acquire all of the outstanding shares of Kiva for approximately $775 million in cash, as adjusted for the assumption of options and other items. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012.