May 2017 fundings, acquisitions, IPOs and failures
by Frank Tobe
May 2017 had two robotics-related companies get $9.5 billion in funding and 22 others raised $249 million. Acquisitions also continued to be substantial with Toyota Motor’s $260 million acquisition of Bastian Solutions plus three others (where the amounts weren’t disclosed).
- Didi Chuxing, the Uber of China, raised $5.5 billion in a round led by SoftBank with new investors Silver Lake Kraftwerk joining previous investors SoftBank, China Merchants Bank and Bank of Communications. According to TechCrunch, this latest round brings the total raised by DiDi to about $13 billion. Uber, by comparison, has raised $8.81 billion.
- Nvidia Corp, a Santa Clara, CA-based speciality GPU maker, raised $4 billion (representing a 4.9% stake in the company) according to Bloomberg. Nvidia’s newest chips are focused on providing power for deep learning for self-driving vehicles.
- ClearMotion, a Woburn, MA automotive technology startup that’s building shock absorbers with robotic, software-driven adaptive actuators for car stability, has raised $100 million in a Series C round led by a group of JP Morgan clients and NEA, Qualcomm Ventures and more.
- Echodyne, a Bellevue, WA developer of radar vision technology used in drones and self-driving cars, has raised $29 million in a Series B round led by New Enterprise Associates and joined by Bill Gates, Madrona Venture Group, and others.
- DeepMap, a Silicon Valley mapping startup, raised $25 million in a round led by Accel and included GSR Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.
“Autonomous vehicles are tempting us with a radically new future. However, this level of autonomy requires a highly sophisticated mapping and localization infrastructure that can handle massive amounts of data. I’m very excited to work with the DeepMap team, who have the requisite expertise in mapping, vision, and large scale operations, as they build the core technology that will fuel the next generation of transportation,” said Martin Casado, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz.
- Hesai Photonics Technology, a transplanted Silicon Valley-to-Shanghai sensor startup, raised $16 million in a Series A round led by Pagoda Investment with participation from Grains Valley Venture Capital, Jiangmen Venture Capital and LightHouse Capital Management. Hesai is developing a hybrid LiDAR device for self-driving cars. Hesai has already partnered with a number of autonomous driving technology and car companies including Baidu’s Chinese electric vehicle start-up NIO and self-driving tech firm UiSee.
- Abundant Robotics, a Menlo Park, CA-based automated fruit-picking tech developer, raised $10 million in venture funding. GV (Google Ventures) led the round, and was joined by BayWa AG and Tellus Partners. Existing partners Yamaha Motor Company, KPCB Edge, and Comet Labs also participated.
- TriLumina Corp., an Albuquerque, NM-based developer of solid-state automotive LiDAR illumination for ADAS and autonomous driving, closed a $9 million equity and debt financing. Backers included new investors Kickstart Seed Fund and existing stakeholders Stage 1 Ventures, Cottonwood Technology Fund, DENSO Ventures and Sun Mountain Capital.
- Bowery Farming, a NYC indoor vertical farm startup, raised $7.5 million (in February) in a seed round led by First Round Capital and including Box Group, Homebrew, Flybridge, Red Swan, RRE, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, and Tom Colicchio – a restauranteur and judge on reality cooking show, Top Chef.
- Taranis, an Israel-based precision agriculture intelligence platform raised $7.5 million in Series A funding. Finistere Ventures led the round, and was joined by Vertex Ventures. Existing investors Eshbol Investments, Mindset Ventures, OurCrowd, and Eyal Gura participated.
- Ceres Imaging, the Oakland, CA aerial imagery and analytics company, raised a $5 million Series A round of funding led by Romulus Capital.
- Stanley Robotics, a Paris-based automated valet parking service developer, raised $4 million in funding. Investors included Elaia Partners, Idinvest Partners and Ville de Demain. Stanley’s new parking robot is a mobile car-carrying lift that moves and tightly parks cars in outdoor locations.
- AIRY3D Inc, a Canadian start-up in 3D computer vision, raised $3.5 million in a seed round co-led by CRCM Ventures and R7 Partners. Other investors include WI Harper Group, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Nautilus Venture Partners and several angel investors that are affiliates of TandemLaunch, the Montreal-based incubator that spun out AIRY3D.
- SkyX Systems, a Canada-based unmanned aircraft system developer, raised around $3 million in funding from Kuang-Chi Group.
- Catalia Health, a San Francisco-based patient care management company applying robotics to improve personal health, raised $2.5 million in funding. Khosla Ventures led the round.
- vHive, an Israeli startup developing software to operate autonomous drone fleets, raised $2 million (in April) in an A round led by StageOne VC and several additional private investors.
- Vivacity Labs, a London AI tech and sensor startup, raised $2 million from Tracsis, Downing Ventures and the London Co-Investment Fund and was also granted an additional $1.3 million from Innovate UK to create sensors with built-in machine learning to identify individual road users and manage traffic accordingly.
- Bluewrist, a Canadian integrator of vision systems, raised around $1.5 million (in February) from Istuary Toronto Capital.
- American Robotics, a Boston-based commercial farming drone system and analytics developer, raised $1.1 million in seed funding. Investors included Brain Robotics Capital.
- Kubo, a Danish educational robot startup, raised around $1 million from the Danish Growth Fund. Kubo is an educational robot that helps kids learn coding, math, language and music in a screenless, tangible environment.
- Zeals, a Japanese startup which produces interaction software for robots such as Palmi and Sota, has closed a $720k investment from Japanese adtech firm FreakOut Holdings.
- Kitty Hawk, a San Francisco drone platform startup, raised $600k in seed money in March from The Flying Object VC.
- Kraken Sonar, a Newfoundland marine tech startup, raised around $500k from RDC, a provincial Crown corporation responsible for improving Newfoundland and Labrador’s research and development. The funding will be used to develop the ThunderFish program which will combine smart sonar, laser and optical sensors, advanced pressure tolerant battery and thruster technologies and cutting edge artificial intelligence algorithms integrated onboard a cost effective AUV capable of 20,000 foot depths.
- Motörleaf, a Canadian ag sensor, communications and software startup, raised an undisclosed amount in a seed round (in March).
- Toyota Motor Corp paid $260 million to acquire Bastian Solutions, a U.S.-based materials handling systems integrator. Toyota is the world’s No. 1 forklift truck manufacturer in terms of global market share. With this acqisition Toyota is making a “full-scale entry” into the North American logistics technology sector and will also use Bastian’s systems to make its own global supply chain more efficient.
- Ctrl.Me Robotics, a Hollywood, CA drone startup, was acquired by Snap, Inc. for “an amount less than $1 million.” Ctrl Me developed a system for capturing movie-quality aerial video but was recently winding down its operations. Snap acquired its assets and technology as well as talent. Snap was already using one of Ctrl.me’s products: Spectacles, which captures video for Snap’s mobile app.
- Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA), an employee-owned scientific research and engineering company, acquired Neya Systems LLC on April 28, 2017. Neya Systems LLC is known for their development of unmanned systems for defense, homeland security, and commercial users. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- Trimble has acquired Müller-Elektronik and all its subsidiary companies, for an undisclosed amount. Müller is a German manufacturer and integrator of farm implement controls, steering kits and precision farming solutions. The transaction is expected to close in the Q3 2017. Financial terms were not disclosed. Müller was key in the development of the ISOBUS communication protocol found in most tractors and towed implements, which allows one terminal to control several implements and machines, regardless of manufacturer.
- Gamma 2 Robotics, a security robot maker, launched a $6 million private offering to accredited investors.
- Aquabotix, a Fall River, MA-headquartered company, raised $5.5 million from their IPO of UUV (ASX:UUV) on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Aquabotix manufactures commercial and industrial underwater drone/camera systems and has shipped over 350 units worldwide.
- FarmLink LLC
- EZ Robotics (CN)
, Frank Tobe
, The Robot Report