Therese Poletti’s Tech Tales: The wild mystery ride of Roomba maker iRobot

A once obscure robotics company known for robotic vacuums has seen its stock gone on a wild run that is even more perplexing than trying to use a Roomba without getting it stuck on your area rug.

In the past year, iRobot Corp. IRBT, -1.18% —founded 27 years ago by a trio of Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists—has suddenly seen its stock soar 155% in the past year, as the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.00% has seen a 13% gain. Sales of its Roomba vacuums, the first commercially successful consumer robot, have also grown, but not that much: iRobot’s sales were up a bit more than 25% in the first six months of the year.

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