Ring Inc.

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Ring Inc.
Subsidiary
PredecessorBot Home Automation, Inc.
Founded2013; 6 years ago (2013) (as Doorbot)
FounderJamie Siminoff
HeadquartersSanta Monica, California, U.S.
ProductsSmart doorbells
Outdoor cameras
Home alarm systems
ServicesCloud recording
Alarm monitoring
OwnerAmazon
(2018–present)
Number of employees
1,300 (2018)[1]
Websitering.com/ Edit this on Wikidata

Ring Inc.[2] is a home security and smart home company owned by Amazon. Ring manufactures a range of home security products that incorporate outdoor motion-detecting cameras, such as the Ring Video Doorbell. The company Ring's head office is in Santa Monica, California.[2]

History[edit]

Ring was founded in 2013 as Doorbot by Jamie Siminoff. Doorbot was crowdfunded via Christie Street, and raised US$364,000; more than the $250,000 requested.[2][3][4]

In 2013, Siminoff and Doorbot appeared on an episode of the reality series Shark Tank to seek a $700,000 investment in the company, which he estimated was worth $7 million.[5] Kevin O’Leary made an offer as a potential investor that Siminoff declined.[6] After being on Shark Tank, Siminoff rebranded the company and it received $5 million in additional sales.[6]

In 2016, Shaquille O'Neal acquired an equity stake in Ring, and subsequently became a spokesperson in the company's marketing.[7]

Since then, the company raised more than $200 million in investments and counts Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Qualcomm Ventures, Goldman Sachs, DFJ Growth and Sir Richard Branson—founder of Virgin Group—as prominent investors.[8][9][10]

Ring was acquired by Amazon in February 2018 for an estimated value of between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion.[11][12]

Products and services[edit]

Ring Video Doorbell[edit]

The Ring Video Doorbell is the company's flagship product; it is a smart doorbell that contains a high-definition camera, a motion sensor, and a microphone and speaker for two-way audio communication. It integrates with an associated mobile app, which allows users to view real-time video from the camera, receive notifications when the doorbell is rung, and communicate with visitors at the door via the integrated speaker and microphone. It is also capable of operating as a surveillance camera, and can automatically trigger recordings when rung, or when its motion sensors are activated.[13][14][15][16] A second-generation model (Ring Doorbell 2) was released in 2017, with refreshed hardware, and a 1080p camera with improved low-light performance.[17]

The "Ring Chime" accessory is a unit plugged into a power outlet to play the doorbell's chime. The "Chime Pro" is an extended version that also doubles as a wireless repeater for Wi-Fi networks.[18]

Home security[edit]

In 2015, Ring first released the "Stick-Up Cam", a wireless IP camera. It was updated in 2018 with a cylindrical form factor, motion detection, two-way audio, as well as battery, wired, and solar power options.[19] In 2017, Ring released the "Floodlight Cam", a camera integrated with a pair of motion-activated LED floodlights.[20]

In July 2018, Ring launched an alarm security kit, which includes a keypad, siren, and motion sensors.[21][22][23] At CES 2019, Ring announced a peephole camera.[24]

Subscription plans[edit]

Ring products require a "Ring Protect" subscription plan in order to store and view recordings from the cameras; without a subscription, the user is limited to real-time footage only. The "Ring Protect Basic" plan allows footage to be retained for 60 days, while the "Ring Protect Plus" subscription adds "unlimited" storage of footage, enables professional monitoring and LTE cellular backup on the Ring Alarm, and extends the warranty on the user's Ring products from one year to the life of the devices.[25][26][27]

Neighbors app[edit]

In 2018, Ring launched Neighbors, a hyperlocal social networking app. Described as being akin to a neighborhood watch, it allows users to crowdsource information on and discuss safety and security concerns in their area. The service allows users to share footage captured from Ring products, so that others can help to identify suspects. All posts are anonymous (except for official posts by Ring and police departments) and do not include specific location information, and are moderated to remove off-topic content (in contrast to services such as Nextdoor, it focuses exclusively on crime and safety). Ring also has partnerships with local police departments in some cities to incorporate Neighbors into their crime monitoring processes. The company has credited the service with having helped to solve crimes, and noted that activity on the service surged in California regions affected by wildfires in November 2018.[28][29]

Reception[edit]

TechHive gave the second-generation Ring doorbell a 4 out of 5, noting improvements in hardware and ease of installation over the first-generation model, but criticizing a lack of printed and online documentation.[30]

Privacy concerns[edit]

In January 2019, it was uncovered that employees at Ring's two offices have access to the video recordings from all Ring devices.[31] In addition, The Intercept reported that the video data is stored unencrypted.[32]

In June 2019, Ring faced criticism over a "Community Alert" program, under which the company has made geographically-targeted sponsored posts on social media services such as Facebook, asking readers to provide tips on suspects in verified cases, based on imagery posted on the Neighbors service by a Ring customer. The service's terms of use grant Ring an irrevocable, unlimited, and royalty-free license to use shared content "for any purpose and in any media formats in any media channels without compensation to you"; Ring states that it seeks permission from the user before using the content in this manner. However, these discoveries did lead to concerns over the use of such footage in material deemed to effectively be advertising, as well as concerns over other possible uses of the footage (such as for training facial recognition) due to the wide copyright license that users are required to grant, and Ring's partnerships with local law enforcement agencies.[33][34]

Police partnerships[edit]

The advocacy group Fight for the Future has accused Ring of using its cameras and Neighbors app to build a private surveillance network via partnerships with local law enforcement agencies, which encourage them to promote the products. The group stated that these partnerships "undermine our democratic process and basic civil liberties".[35][36] The Electronic Frontier Foundation similarly accused Ring of using these partnerships and its marketing strategies to foster fear, which leads to a "vicious cycle" that spurs hardware sales. It also accused Ring, as well as Neighbors and similar "neighborhood watch" apps such as Citizen and Nextdoor, of "[facilitating] reporting of so-called 'suspicious' behavior that really amounts to racial profiling."[37]

In July 2019, Vice publication Motherboard obtained records revealing the extent of Ring's partnership with the Lakeland Police Department (PD); the department was granted access to a "Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal" for making posts on Neighbors and the ability to "request videos directly from Ring users", and received a donation of 15 Ring cameras. However, the memorandum of understanding stated that the PD would be required to participate in "outreach efforts on the platform to encourage adoption of the platform/app" (receiving $10 credits for Ring camera purchases for each new user). Ring also recommended that the PD establish specific new positions for the partnership, including a "social media coordinator".[38] Later in the month, Motherboard obtained public records containing an officer's notes from an April 2019 training webinar, which stated that Ring had partnered with at least 200 law enforcement partners.[39] In early-August 2019, Motherboard also reported that Ring would match payments by cities to cover the subsidized purchase of Ring cameras, so that they can be resold to residents at a discount.[40]

Amazon disclosed Ring's criteria for accepting requests from police departments for video footage shared to the Neighbors Portal in a response to Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey on November 1, 2019. Each police request must be associated with a case number and submitted individually, although no evidence is needed. Ring provides at most 12 hours of footage recorded within the previous 45 days in a maximum search area of 0.5 square miles for each request. Markey criticized Amazon's response, describing Ring as "an open door for privacy and civil liberty violations".[41][42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Murphy, Mike. "Ring, which Amazon just bought for $1 billion, was once rejected by 'Shark Tank'". MarketWatch. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Company Overview of Ring Inc". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  3. ^ Perez, Chris. "Doorbot Is Knocking Upon the Future of Doorbells". Apartment Therapy. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  4. ^ Hsu, Jeremy (January 25, 2013). "'DoorBot' for Homeowners Hits $250,000 Goal". Tech News Daily. Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  5. ^ "After This Entrepreneur Got Nothing on 'Shark Tank,' Richard Branson Wrote Him a Check". Inc.com. August 19, 2015. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "This guy turned his failure on 'Shark Tank' into a $109 million investment from Goldman Sachs". Business Insider. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  7. ^ Susan Adams (February 27, 2018). "The Exclusive Inside Story Of Ring: From 'Shark Tank' Reject To Amazon's Latest Acquisition". Forbes.com. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  8. ^ Friedman, Zack. "Shark Tank Reject Raises $209 Million, Fights Crime". Forbes. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  9. ^ "UPDATED: ABC's 'Shark Tank' makes its decision on Allen County native, veteran Bart Lomont's Robin Autopilot | News, Sports, Jobs - News-Sentinel". www.news-sentinel.com. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  10. ^ DFJ (October 19, 2017). "Jamie Siminoff, Ring". DFJVC. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  11. ^ Kim, Eugene (February 27, 2018). "Amazon buys Ring, the smart doorbell maker it backed through Alexa Fund". CNBC. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  12. ^ "Amazon is making its second-biggest acquisition ever — the doorbell company Ring". Recode. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  13. ^ Dave, Paresh. "Ring modernized the doorbell, then its inventor, Jamie Siminoff, went to war against crime". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  14. ^ "The real cost of setting up a smart home". USA Today. Retrieved December 13, 2017.
  15. ^ Pollicino, Joe (December 6, 2012). "DoorBot lets you see and talk with who's at the door from the comfort of your smartphone (video)".
  16. ^ Ashe, Dru (December 7, 2012). "DoorBot: The Wi-Fi Doorbell That Connects to Your Smartphone | Complex".
  17. ^ "Ring Video Doorbell 2 review: Better features, new frustrations". TechHive. August 23, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  18. ^ Hollister, Sean (November 19, 2018). "Pre-Black Friday deal alert: Ring Video Doorbell 2 and Echo Dot for $140". The Verge. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  19. ^ Cipriani, Jason. "Ring Stick Up Cam Battery review: An all around security camera, inside and out Review". ZDNet. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  20. ^ Delaney, John R. (August 2, 2017). "Ring Floodlight Cam". PCMAG. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  21. ^ Wollerton, Megan (July 20, 2018). "Ring Alarm Security Kit review". CNET. CBS Interactive. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  22. ^ Sawers, Paul (October 2, 2017). "Ring launches Protect, a DIY home security system starting at $199". VentureBeat. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  23. ^ Wetzel, Kim (October 2, 2017). "Affordable, DIY Ring Protect Looks to Lock Up the Home Security System Market". Digital Trends. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
  24. ^ Graham, Jefferson (January 7, 2019). "No doorbell, no problem: Ring introduces Door View Cam that replaces peephole in homes". USA Today. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  25. ^ Seifert, Dan (July 3, 2018). "Ring Alarm review: simple, cheap home security". The Verge. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  26. ^ "How much do Ring camera storage plans cost?". Android Central. January 24, 2019. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  27. ^ "Ring Floodlight Cam review: An excellent choice—if you're living in Ring's ecosystem". TechHive. January 26, 2018. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  28. ^ "In first move since Amazon acquisition, Ring launches Neighbors app to help users fight crime". GeekWire. May 8, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  29. ^ Rubin, Ben Fox. "How Ring's Neighbors app is making home security a social thing". CNET. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  30. ^ "Ring Video Doorbell 2 review: Better features, new frustrations". TechHive. August 23, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
  31. ^ Wiggers, Kyle (January 10, 2019). "Ring employees reportedly had access to all live and recorded customer videos". VentureBeat. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  32. ^ Biddle, Sam (January 10, 2018). "For Owners of Amazon's Ring Security Cameras, Strangers May Have Been Watching Too". The Intercept. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  33. ^ Reichert, Corinne. "Ring puts suspected thief in Facebook sponsored ads". CNET. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  34. ^ Alba, Davey; Mac, Ryan (June 7, 2019). "Amazon's Doorbell Camera Company Is Using Security Video For Ads. That May Only Be The Beginning". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  35. ^ "Amazon's Ring doorbell police tie-up criticised". BBC News. August 1, 2019. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  36. ^ Ng, Alfred. "This map tells you where police have partnered with Amazon's Ring". CNET. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  37. ^ Guariglia, Matthew (August 8, 2019). "Amazon's Ring Is a Perfect Storm of Privacy Threats". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  38. ^ Haskins, Caroline; Koebler, Jason (July 25, 2019). "Amazon Requires Police to Shill Surveillance Cameras in Secret Agreement". Vice. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  39. ^ Haskins, Caroline; Maiberg, Emanuel; Mead, Derek; Koebler, Jason (July 29, 2019). "Amazon Told Police It Has Partnered With 200 Law Enforcement Agencies". Vice. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  40. ^ Haskins, Caroline; Koebler, Jason; Mead, Derek (August 2, 2019). "US Cities Are Helping People Buy Amazon Surveillance Cameras With Taxpayer Money". Vice. Retrieved August 2, 2019.
  41. ^ Lecher, Colin (November 19, 2019). "Amazon lets police ask for Ring videos that are more than a month old". The Verge. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  42. ^ "Response Letter_Ring_Senator Markey January 11, 2019.pdf" (PDF). Ed Markey. United States Senate. November 1, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2019.