Amazon is buying Kiva Systems, an order fulfillment company in the spirit of R2D2, for $775 million in cash.
Kiva has created a system of order fulfillment that uses hundreds of autonomous mobile robots to fulfill orders two to four times faster than traditional means, according to the company’s own figures. Robots move across the warehouse and transport the goods to workers who then pack them up for shipping. With an average system price at $5 million, the company has had a 100 percent annual growth rate.
“For the past ten years, the Kiva team has been focused on creating innovative material handling technologies,” said Mick Mountz, CEO and founder of Kiva Systems. “I’m delighted that Amazon is supporting our growth so that we can provide even more valuable solutions in the coming years.”
Amazon will likely be adding Kiva’s order fulfillment system to its own efforts. The company is opening a 1 million square foot, $90 million fulfillment center in Delaware, so those robots will likely be working their little wheels off keeping up with the company’s continual demand. The company opened 15 new centers last year, and had about 65 centers around the globe as of last July. This year, the company is opening fulfillment centers in India and Delaware.
“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.”
Headquartered in North Reading, Mass., Kiva has received investments from Bain Capital.
The sale is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012.