Amazon and Google — A North Meeting

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Image from North’s website

There was a weird scenario a few years back. Amazon invested in a startup called Kitt.AI that had created a wake word engine.

Then, shortly after, the company was acquired by Baidu. Since these transactions are private, it’s hard to know how the deal was structured. Would it be possible that Amazon would end up owning shares of Baidu?

A similar thing happened recently with North. The Canadian startup, which first invented the Myo armband and then pivoted into designer augmented reality glasses, was financed by Amazon’s Alexa Fund. It was a pretty serious investment in a Series C of over $66M. Intel was also an investor.

Then Google swept in and bought North now reportedly for the same amount of money put into it… $200M. Not a windfall by any means but at least there’s some return. However, if the deal is structured with share and cash, it might mean that… Amazon becomes a shareholder of Google? Same with Intel?

It’s weird when little whirlpools of investments form where giants compete. Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon — all working in the spectacle space formed currents that swirled around each other. North got caught in one of these and was eventually swallowed up.

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