In many meaningful ways, the robot vacuum has been a true success story. The category is broadly considered to be the first mainstream home robot — and 21 years after the first Roomba went on sale, it continues to stand alone. It did one job, and it largely did it well. It was repeatable, the system is affordable and the technology has continued to improve while the core product remains the same.
Founded in 2005 by a trio of Stanford alums, Neato Robotics has been along for most of that ride. The Bay Area firm rose quickly, becoming one of iRobot’s primary competitors years before every single consumer electronics firm took a crack at the space. Over that time, Neato attracted its own unique fanbase by on-boarding new innovations, like its 2011 introduction of Wi-Fi connectivity.
Five years ago this September, Neato was purchased by Vorwerk. The two had partnered years prior, bringing the robot vacuums to the appliance firm’s native Germany. Vorwerk promised to keep the brand largely independent. Late last week, however, Neato’s parent firm confirmed that it is shutting down the brand, due to underperformance.
Vorwerk says the closure is not from lack of trying,that Neato is “now being closed down despite lots of restructuring effort,” because it hasn’t “achieved its self-defined economic goals for several years now.” Nearly 100 Neato employees are being impacted by the move, while a significantly smaller team in Milan will remain on-board to support those systems that are already out in the world.
Vorwerk says the move is part of a 2025 restructuring strategy, which will find it continuing to focus on vacuums and other robotics at its German offices. The[run through Google translate]:
The consolidation of Vorwerk also affects the stake in the US company Neato Robotics, which has been 100 percent owned by the Vorwerk Group since 2017. Neato has brought valuable experience and innovations to Vorwerk’s product development in the field of cleaning robots over the past few years. However, Neato’s independent sales in e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail with a focus on the USA has not been able to be successfully developed, so that the company has not achieved the economic goals it has set itself for several years.
Vorwerk says its team will continue to support existing Neato products for the next five years.