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Home » What’s Up: Week of May 22nd

What’s Up: Week of May 22nd

AI startup Figure raises $70 million to build humanoid robots


Brett Adcock, founder and chief executive at Figure, invested $20 million personally in the round. Other investors include Aliya Capital and Bold Ventures, reports Reuters.

Based in Sunnyvale, California, Figure develops general-purpose humanoid robots that could work in different environments and handle a variety of tasks, from warehouses to retail. It’s in talks with retailers about commercialization opportunities, the company said.

Adcock, former founder of Archer Aviation, said Figure differentiates from other robotics companies such as Boston Dynamics and Amazon Robotics by developing robots that can handle general tasks, with an eventual goal to enable its robots to learn and interact with the environment.

“We believe general-purpose humanoid robots have far more potential than single-purpose robots,” said Adcock, “The deployment into the workforce can help address labor shortages and over time lead the way in eliminating the need for unsafe and undesirable jobs.”

Big tech companies and startups like Figure are racing to develop the next commercially viable humanoid robot.

Tesla, for example, revealed a prototype of its humanoid robot ‘Optimus’ last year. Chief executive Elon Musk predicted the electric vehicle maker would be able to take orders for the robot in three to five years, and sell them for under $20,000.


Latam ‘property tech’ startup La Haus to build up digital infrastructure


Riding off its latest funding round, Latin American “property tech” startup La Haus is looking to strengthen its digital muscle and improve its online infrastructure for home buyers, reports Reuters.

The company, founded in Colombia but now focused mainly on Mexico’s real estate sector, is a marketplace for new developments. The firm raised $62 million last year in a previously unannounced Series C funding round, said Chief Executive Jeronimo Uribe.

“It’s hard to know who you’re buying from, what the property’s legal history is; if it’s clean,” Uribe said, referring to details his company’s products aim to confirm.

In both countries, irregular constructions are also common.

The firm is increasingly moving to offer more “verified” options on its site, though it also advertises other developments for comparison, said Uribe.

In recent months, the startup market has grown bumpy in the region, with some firms opting instead to finance growth with debt, and others forced to forego additional funding rounds.

“It’s a difficult environment,” Uribe said. “We’re fortunate to have a runway a few years out, so we’re able to focus completely on building value for our users.”

Uribe added he expects the company to turn a profit within the next 24 months.

Uribe did not rule out future financing rounds, or even possible public listing, but said La Haus was focused on “owning its own destiny, without depending on” external funds.


3D printer maker Stratasys to merge with Desktop Metal in deal valued at $1.8 billion


Stratasys, a maker of industrial 3D printers, will merge with peer Desktop Metal in an all-stock transaction valued at about $1.8 billion, reports Reuters.

The transaction comes after Stratasys rejected multiple takeover offers from Nano Dimension, its largest shareholder with a 14.2% stake. Nano on Thursday launched a hostile $18.00 per share all-cash offer to boost its stake in Stratasys to between 53% and 55%.

Stratasys said it will “carefully review and evaluate” the unsolicited special tender offer and intends to advise its shareholders of the board’s stance within 10 business days.

Desktop Metal stockholders will receive 0.123 ordinary shares of Stratasys for each share of Desktop Metal Class A common stock.

Shares of Stratasys reversed course to trade up 3.2% before the opening bell, while Desktop Metal rose 7.4%.The transaction, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year, has an equity value of $604.3 million and the combined entity is expected to generate $1.1 billion in revenue by 2025.

Stratasys, which operates in industries such as aerospace, automotive and consumer products, seeks to diversify its customer base by offering designing, prototyping and tooling to mass production under the combined entity.

Stratasys shareholders will own about 59% of the combined company.

“We are excited to complement our portfolio of production metal, sand, ceramic and dental 3D printing solutions with Stratasys’ polymer offerings,” Desktop Metal chief Ric Fulop said.

J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is acting as the financial adviser to Stratasys, while Meitar Law Offices and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz are its legal counsel.