Whirlpool has announced plans to buy Yummly

This week Whirlpool announced their intention to acquire Yummly, one of the Internet’s biggest food and recipe sites.

The acquisition comes as part of Whirlpool’s effort to accelerate its development for the smart kitchen of the future. At CES this year, the company announced new cooking automation features for its lineup of smart appliances, including new Alexa skills, scan to cook and guided cooking. This just a year after the company showed off a number of connected kitchen efforts at CES 2016, including Amazon Dash integration.

The guided cooking feature announced in January is particularly interesting in light of the Yummly deal.  The new feature enables users of the Whirlpool Smart Kitchen Suite app to send a recipe directly to a Wi-Fi powered appliance such as an oven, which will then follow the cooking instructions. It’s easy to envision how this cooking automation capability could be coupled with Yummly’s massive database of recipes.

This Is About Smart Kitchen Self-Sufficiency

Making the deal more interesting is the fact that Whirlpool recently parted ways with Innit, a smart kitchen platform company that had started working with the company’s Jenn-Air division in 2016. As I wrote in March, the breakup was in part due to Whirlpool’s decision to start forging its own technology path as it saw the smart kitchen becoming a reality over the past year:

With 2017 rolling around and the company viewing the market for connected kitchen products as more viable, it decided to more actively develop and expand their own connected product technology.  As one source told me, “if a startup can do with a few million dollars, why can’t the world’s biggest kitchen brand do it?” 

In other words, Whirlpool had decided it wanted to determine its own technology destiny rather than relying too heavily on external partners to forge a path forward. What the Yummly deal shows is that the company will not hesitate to acquire others as part of its effort to realize smart kitchen self-sufficiency.

And this deal does just that by bringing Yummly’s smart kitchen technology platform in-house. As Brett Dibkey, Whirlpool’s vice president of Integrated Business Units, said: “Yummly brings an outstanding platform on which to begin building our digital product offering.”

A Year Of Change For Yummly

For Yummly, the acquisition by Whirlpool comes after a year of management change. In October of last year, the company’s Chief Revenue Officer Santiago Merea left to start a baby food startup, and then in November the company’s head of product, Ankit Brahmbhatt, left to become Innit’s head of product (yes, Innit, the company who parted ways with Whirlpool this year).  Yummly also saw its CEO David Feller step back and hand the reigns to Brian Witlin, who in a previous life was the cofounder of Shopwell, a company recently acquired by…you guessed it…Innit.

Both Merea and Brahmbhatt came to Yummly through Yummly’s acquisition of Orange Chef, a smart kitchen company who had built it’s own connected scale, and had started to build  smart kitchen operating system and platform for appliance companies. For whatever reason, Yummly never partnered with any appliance companies, which could in part explain the departure of Merea and Brahmbhatt last year. It looks as though the Yummly-powered connected kitchen will finally be built, only now as part of the world’s biggest appliance company.

Whirlpool Becomes A Content and Community Company With Yummly Deal

Lastly, one important aspect of this deal is that it gives Whirlpool a massive infusion of cooking content and community. As newer companies in the connected kitchen like ChefSteps have shown, having strong recipe content and an associated community can create fertile soil upon which to launch new hardware products. With Yummly, Whirlpool now has a built-in community to tap into as it expands is smart kitchen product lineup in the coming years.

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