2015 fundings, IPOs, acquisitions and failures

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From the 2015 archives of The Robot Report: 54 fundings of $1.267 billion, 31 acquisitions totaling over $1.97 billion, and one IPO all adding up to some surprisingly large figures.

[All citations below can be found in the 2015 archives of The Robot Report or by searching in the red search box on the right side of the menu bar above.]

$1.97+ billion in Acquisitions:

$42 million in a single IPO:

$1.267+ billion in equity fundings (seed, crowd, series A,B,C,D, VC, etc.):

Large and small -- but steadily throughout the year, all types of funding for robotic startups and spin-offs occurred during 2015.

Large fundings:

Smaller fundings:


What does it all mean?

2015 fundings are almost triple 2014 and the number of acquisitions has also grown. UAS, robots, robotics and robotic-like apps are entering our lives and workplaces everyday and everywhere - and getting funded. Unmanned systems were a big component in this year's fundings as can be seen in this chart by CBInsights:

Looking back at the beginning of the digital era, hobbyists and early adopters dabbled for years but not too much happened until three software applications showed businesses how PCs and software could change the way they worked. Business people became aware mostly by word-of-mouth of the qualities and uses of WordStar, VisiCalc and dBase. Even though none of those three companies still exists, their concepts are ubiquitous in our world today.

As robot moves from behind fixed and caged locations to alongside us - as the new collaborative robots are doing; as they move from heavy-duty industrial applications to providing assistance and augmenting skills - as the new surgical systems and low-cost data collecting drones are doing; business people once again can see that rising tide and they want in (or said another way, they don't want to be left out). Ray Kurzweil said that auto companies don't want to be Nokia'd, i.e., they don't want to be pushed aside as typewriters, secretaries and stand-alone word processors were by WordStar, WordPerfect and MS Word, or Nokia's operating system was by Google's Android.

This awareness accounts for why companies of all types and sizes are finding strategic reasons to acquire robotic ventures to add to their arsenal of products and services. They don't want to be left behind, to be Nokia'd. And they are paying high prices for their acquisitions. Many thought the multiples Teradyne paid for Universal Robots were unreasonably high. Others suggested that the growth Universal has shown - and continues to show - make it worth every penny.

To me, I see that acquisitions make sense to and for the acquirer; I'm just disappointed that the acquired companies won't go public (there was only a single IPO in 2015!) so that investors such as myself can share in the fun and ride the wave.

Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report. After selling his business and retiring from 25+ years as a provider of computer direct marketing and consulting to the Democratic National Committee, major presidential and other campaigns and initiatives, he has energetically pursued a new career in researching and investing in robotics. In 2013 he co-founded Robo-stox™ LLC (renamed to ROBO-Global) which developed a tracking index for the robotics industry: the ROBO-Global™ Robotics & Automation Index.