In this episode, Ron Vanderkley interviews Mark Pivac, Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of FBR (formerly Fastbrick Robotics) about the world’s first end-to-end autonomous bricklaying robot, ‘Hadrian X’. Three years after his first interview, we catch up with Pivac to see how FBR has expanded its operation and chat about their latest commercial prototype, ‘Hadrian X’, as well as the future of the robotic construction industry.
In 2015, after much research, I wrote about China having 194 robot companies and used screen shots of The Robot Report’s Global Map to show where they were and a chart to show their makeup. We’ve just concluded another research project and have added hundreds of new Chinese companies to the database and global map.
SoftBank, the giant telecom company, is venturing out into the world of robotics and transportation services. DealStreet Asia said that SoftBank is trying to transform itself into the ‘Berkshire Hathaway of the tech industry’ with the recent launch of a $100 billion technology fund.
UPDATED 5/24/17: SoftBank’s acquisition of 4.9% of the outstanding shares of Nvidia Corp.
After reading the press releases for this batch of 24 research reports, although they vary widely in their forecasts, they almost all agree that most segments of the robotics industry are expected to grow at a double-digit pace at least through 2022.
iRobot (IRBT on the NASDAQ stock exchange) jumped from $70 to $80 per share on news that iRobot’s quarterly earnings were so good that the company raised their forecast for 2017 to new highs. KUKA also had good Q1/17 earnings as did Intuitive Surgical.
According to AgFunder’s 2016 AgTech Investing Report (supported by The Robot Report’s own research), 2016 drone funding fell 64% from 2015 levels. Also, the type of companies getting funded were sensor, payload and analytics-based add-ons or service-providing companies rather than drone makers.
What does Magic Johnson and a twenty foot robot have in common? You guessed it, Automate 2017. While this might seem like an odd pairing, it accurately reflects the current state of the robotics industry. Already 2017 is on pace to beat last year’s $19 billion investment record, with the recent announcements of Intel’s $15B purchase of Mobileye; ABB’s $2B acquisition of Bernecker & Rainer; and Ford’s $1B investment in Argo AI.
ABB, one of the Big Four global robot makers, has acquired Austrian industrial automation integrator and components manufacturer B&R (Bernecker & Rainer) Automation for an undisclosed amount but estimated to be “close to $2 billion.” The purchase is being funded from ABB’s own cash and is expected to close by mid-year.
In this episode, Audrow Nash speaks to several robotics companies at the company showcase at RoboBusiness 2014, which took place in Boston, Massachusetts.
RoboJobs is a new dedicated jobs board for the global robotics community that connects both seasoned robotics experts and recent top graduates with entrepreneurs and established businesses seeking the brightest minds to fill their ranks. We’ve just launched our beta site in collaboration with Silicon Valley Robotics in an effort to connect our readers with the top jobs in robotics. Roboticists can post their resumes and view ads for free. Prospective employers can publish job postings at competitive rates, and at the same time know that the dollars they are spending will help support Robohub’s non-profit efforts to bring you the latest in robotics news.
Throughout my 35-year career in the computer business, I always read and thought about what disruptive technology was ahead. When I had an IBM mainframe, I was looking at the DEC mini-computers and even the stand-alone word-processors to see if they could do my work without the humongous monthly lease rates and $250,000 computer room (with its special flooring, power supply and air conditioners) that I was paying for at the time.
The definitive list of private funding in robotics–or at least the most widely cited is the Hizook VC Funding for Robotics list. The list for 2012 is out. Please help make it complete by adding a comment if you know of private funding for a robotics company that is not included. I am certain that there are deals that are not included.
iRobot’s stock (ISRG:NASDAQ) jumped 15% today on yesterday’s earnings report which exceeded analysts’ expectations for both the quarterly earnings and the annual projections.
Before I start bashing bankers, I’d like to congratulate the ExOne Company on a successful initial public offering (IPO). I haven’t seen much about ExOne [NASDAQ:XONE] on the robotics sites, but if we’re calling Stratasys [NASDAQ:SSYS] a robotics company, we should call ExOne a robotics company. It is wonderful to see another company in our industry succeeding and listing their stock in the public markets. Hopefully, this will encourage more investment of both capital and entrepreneurial energy in our industry.
By the criteria of the market commentators, the ExOne IPO was a huge success. You can Google things like “3D printing red hot.” The IPO was priced at $18, at the top of the range $16-18, it opened around $26 before shooting up over $33. Almost a week later it is trading roughly at its opening price.
Now this is all fine and dandy as far as it goes, unless you were an ExOne shareholder. One shareholder sold 300,000 shares in the IPO. This shareholder transferred a gain of $2.4M to some connections of the underwriters–great if you know the underwriters, not so great if you’ve built the company from nothing. This shareholder is getting $5.4M, less fees and discounts–call it $5M–from the IPO, so $2.4 is not exactly a rounding error. Presumably, this shareholder is also more inclined to build companies with the capital than whatever speculators are hovering around the IPO. Similarly, the company lost out on $40M of capital that could be invested in projects. Think about that! The company is worth less than $350M and the IPO mis-pricing cost it $40M of cash. Cash! That is cash that could be invested to grow the company and make even more money.
I’m not familiar with the track records of FBR, BB&T, and Stephens, the underwriters for the ExOne IPO, but I’d think twice or three times about hiring them if I was making an initial offering. They seem to have not only underpriced the IPO, but also floated too much of the company–almost 40%. Underpricing the IPO might be tolerable if the bankers had only floated 5-10% of the company. To raise additional capital, the company could have done a secondary offering once the stock had a well established market price instead of getting ripped off during the IPO. However, the large offering certainly did do one good thing for the bankers: it increased the underwriting fee.
It is hard to explain an IPO price that is so far below the fair market value of the company. There are a lot reasons why bankers and even executives try to justify under pricing an IPO, but giving-up over 10% of the firm’s market value in a single transaction is really hard to justify no matter what. Some small part of the economic gains from listing publicly could be given to financial intermediaries and incoming investors to get a deal done, but giving up more than 10% of the company is excessive. These new shareholders have no restrictions on ownership and are quite likely to flip their shares instead of taking an active roll in growing the company, which seems to further erode any claim they might have to extraordinary gains.
If my company ever goes public, I hope I’ll have the good sense to hire Morgan Stanley–because unless an underwriter is involved in litigation for overpricing an IPO, how can you be sure they’re any good? Heck, they even give discounts. What’s not to like?
UPDATE: This post is adapted from the original posted on robocosmist.com following the ExOne IPO. At market close on March 4th, a bit less than a month after the IPO, ExOne shares were priced at $27.26–more than 51% over the IPO price and very close to the opening price.
Bolt, Ben Einstein’s hardware and robotics accelerator in Boston, today announced the close of their first funding round and the opening of the first round of applications for 2013 hardware startups. Bolt has a 4000 sq ft high end prototyping shop under their offices in the Downtown Crossing district and plans to open the doors in May.