iRobot names former Timex head Gary Cohen as CEO

iRobot has announced the successor to longtime CEO, Colin Angle. Gary Cohen, who previous held chief executive role at Timex and Qualitor Automotive, will be heading up the company, marking a major shift from his predecessor, Angle, a cofounder of the company who held the role from 1997 until January of this year.

Cohen joins iRobot at a tumultuous time. At the beginning of 2024, after regulators quashed Amazon’s planned acquisition, the Roomba-maker laid off nearly a third of its headcount.

In 2002, iRobot effectively birthed the robotic vacuum, launching what is, to date, the only mainstream home robot category. In the intervening two decades, however, the company has struggled to diversify its portfolio beyond the Roomba – though certainly not for lack of trying. The competition, meanwhile, has since grown far stiffer, with many players offering lower price alternatives as iRobot has continued to focus on the premium sector.

The chairman of iRobot’s board of directors, Andrew Miller, says the company has already made “significant progress” in its on-going restructure post-Amazon.

“Gary’s leadership qualities and areas of expertise, including commercial growth, product innovation, brand-building, global distribution, and operational efficiencies, are a strong match to address the opportunities that lay ahead for iRobot,” Miller notes in a release. “His proven track record of successfully leading global consumer businesses through challenging times gives us even greater confidence that he is the right person to lead the company on its path toward returning to profitable growth.”

Cohen himself represents a shift in focus for the company. Angle and cofounders Helen Greiner and Rodney Brooks are all roboticists by training, having met at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. Cohen’s background is much more steeped in the boardroom. Likely the new CEO will have to make more difficult decisions as the company works to turn its fortunes around.

“I look forward to working with the board, the leadership team,” Cohen noted, “and our employees across the company to reinvigorate the category, create value, bring new products to market, and continue building the future of consumer robotics.”

Interim CEO Glen Weinstein will stay on for another two months as iRobot transitions to new leadership.