Jibo, the Personal Robot Startup, Lands $25 Million in Funding
Last summer Jibo Inc., makers of a social table-top family robot, cleaned up on Indiegogo, raking in $2.3 million toward a $100,000 goal. Now the Cambridge, Mass., robotics startup is announcing another major money win -- a none too shabby $25.3 million in Series A funding.
In a statement released today, the company said it will use the cash injection to make good on the 4,800 robots it pre-sold through its record-breaking crowdfunding campaign. It will also use the funds to expand its workforce “seven-fold.”
To get the ball rolling on production, the startup is in the market for contract manufacturers in Asia, reports Forbes.
New York venture capital firm RRE Ventures led the funding round, with additional investments from Charles River Ventures, CRV, Fairhaven, Flybridge Capital, Formation 8, Osage University Partners, Samsung Ventures and Two Sigma Ventures. Several angel investors pitched in as well.
Jibo also announced today that it’s switching up its top leadership roles. Social robotics pioneer and creator of the Jibo robot, Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, also founder and director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s MIT Media Lab, will segue into a chief scientist role. Meanwhile, Jibo’s current executive chairman Steve Chambers will become Jibo, Inc.’s CEO, with the primary goal of “making Jibo a household name.”
When Jibo’s Indiegogo bid launched last July, Breazeal told Entrepreneur that her quirky brainchild -- an oddly endearing 11-inch, 6-pound “friendly” personal robot assistant -- can remind you of important dates, snap pics and, well, get to know you over time.
"Jibo is a social robot that comes with a core set of skills," she said. "[It] can perform these skills for you through natural and intuitive interaction -- speech plus other inputs such as vision and touch. Jibo learns from interacting with you in the context of his skills to personalize them to you. Jibo also can learn who you are by recognizing your face and voice."
For a peek at Jibo in action, check out the promo video below:
Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper, HealthCentral.com, PsychCentral.com and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here.