Last year, Amazon established the $100 million dollar "Alexa Fund" for developers and manufacturers both large and small. The idea was fairly straightforward -- support people with good ideas on how to put the voice-recognition technology in the Amazon Echo smart speaker to good use. Now, the online mega-retailer is ponying up for its biggest investment yet and joining in on a$35 million-dollar funding round for the makers of the Ecobee smart thermostat.
The funding round brings Amazon in with Thomvest and Relay Ventures, and comes several months after the Ecobee3 became the first smart thermostat to sync up with Alexa, Amazon's increasingly popular virtual assistant.
To that end, Steve Rabuchin, Vice President of Amazon Alexa, called Ecobee "instrumental" in the development of the Alexa Skills Kit, the set of open-source tools that allow third-party developers to put Alexa to work.
"We've been impressed with Ecobee's innovative smart home technologies and their ability to improve the everyday lives of homeowners," said Rabuchin. "We're excited to see what the future holds for this growing company and the new voice experiences they'll bring to Amazon Alexa customers."
The $35 million marks Ecobee's largest fundraising haul to date, and brings their venture capital total up to $51 million.