Locus Robotics raised $117 million in a round led by Goldman Sachs.
The Series F round brings the company's valuation to nearly $2 billion.
CEO Rick Faulk said the company is headed for an IPO as soon as the markets wake up.
Locus Robotics announced a $117 million Series F round Tuesday, led by Goldman Sachs' growth equity division and G2 Venture Partners — both new investors.
Goldman Managing Director Mark Midle, who will be joining Locus' board, called the company a "market leader" in the warehouse automation space in a statement accompanying this announcement. Locus CEO Rick Faulk told Insider that Goldman, G2, and other investors in the oversubscribed round have been watching Locus for more than four years. Faulk's ambition to take the company public in the next year or two encouraged him to bring new talent to the board.
"If the window does open, hopefully in the next 12 to 24 months, we're ready to go. We've got the numbers to do it," Faulk told Insider.
Locus's core product is a "co-bot" — a 5-foot tall robot with a small screen on top and a 2-foot circular base that can hold a box, bin, or shelves. Human workers take items off of warehouse shelves and the robots show up to ferry the items to a conveyor belt or packing station.
The system cuts miles of walking out of workers' shifts, according to the company, and ups productivity by a factor of two or three. Crucially, it offers a relatively straightforward integration process for warehouses, according to the company.
The company now has more than $100 million in contracted, recurring revenue, said Faulk.
The pandemic spring boarded robotics adoption in e-commerce warehouses, and a tight labor market has kept demand high. But that doesn't mean all warehouse robotics startups are flourishing. Venture funding is tightening and those without proven results are in trouble, Faulk said.
Beyond the efficiency brought by the robots themselves, Locus's "robots-as-a-service" business model doesn't require a multi-million upfront purchase, which makes it an easier sell for warehouse operations. Faulk said it's also more resistant to corporate belt-tightening because over the course of multi-year contracts, warehouses get more efficient at utilizing the system, which drives down their costs per order.
Founded in 2014, Locus robots are in use in more than 320 warehouses around the world. Existing customers include DHL, Geodis, CEVA Logistics, Whiplash, Radial, and more.
While waiting for a more favorable climate for an IPO, Faulk said, Locus will grow its headcount to 500 this year from 280 at the end of 2021, expand into the Asian market, and consider acquisitions "opportunistically."
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