April 2017 had 16 robotics-related fundings totaling over $337 million – a fourth solid month for 2017 – $995 million year-to-date. Acquisitions also continued to be substantial with ABB’s $2 billion acquisition of Bernecker & Rainer, plus Baidu, iRobot and Cognex each making strategic acquistions. And there was some IPO activity (but no new stocks).
When asked about the few IPOs but many acquisitions in the digital, tech and robotics industries, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said in an interview in Fortune Magazine:
When Steve and I started Apple we were so naïve and young. We didn’t know anything about business. We didn’t know that it’s often the case that you start a company and then you get bought out as an exit strategy. We thought that you start at home, you make a product, and become profitable so you have your company forever. As long as it makes a profit, it never goes away. That’s how I thought companies worked. Boy, it’s a different story now in Silicon Valley.
I think there are an awful lot of people who have a quick exit plan like selling the business to another big company to get enough money to buy a house in San Francisco. Then they move on to the next one. There are many companies that are started by business people and not engineers. Engineers say, “What would be a cool product? What would make the world greater and better?” That’s where I come from.
“Right now, the largest tech players are scrambling to catch Uber, which has a big head start on virtually everyone. That means that if you don’t have the capability in-house, you have to acquire it. XPerception has expertise in processing and identifying images, an important part of the sensing for autonomous vehicles. The purchase may help push Baidu closer to the leaders, but it is just one piece… it has a long way to go.”
Lots of activity, but no new stocks just yet.