January 21, 2020

Berkshire Grey scores $263 million for global expansion and acquisitions

Berkshire Grey scores $263 million for global expansion and acquisitions

VC funding follows company's move last month to bulk up its executive ranks with new VP & GM, new president and COO.

By Ben Ames

Just over a year since it emerged from stealth mode, robotic fulfillment solution provider Berkshire Grey has hired two top executives and landed $263 million in venture capital funding to fuel its global expansion, acquisitions, and team growth.

The "series B" financing round was led by with SoftBank, Khosla Ventures, and New Enterprise Associates, with additional participation from Canaan Partners.

The news comes shortly after Berkshire Grey added to its leadership ranks, moving last week to name technology executive Craig Hattabaugh as vice president and general manager, following his previous position as CEO of the business software application vendor Cimcon Software. Hattabaugh will report to Steve Johnson, who was named just a month earlier as Berkshire Grey's president and chief operating officer after working as chief commercial officer of Intelex, a global enterprise software provider.

The new executives did not replace anyone, but were hired to fill new positions and to accelerate commercial growth, Berkshire Grey's vice president of marketing, Peter Blair, said in an email. Tom Wagner remains as the firm's founder and CEO, and both of the new hires ultimately report to him.

Addressing the Lexington, Massachusetts-based company's expansion plans, Blair said that certain customers had asked the company to deploy in international locations, so some of the new funding will be used to establish Berkshire Grey's international capabilities. That investment will complement additional spending to drive growth "in all dimensions - customers, team members, solutions, technology, geographies," Blair said.

At the center of those ambitious growth plans is the company's technology solution set. Aside from Berkshire Grey's product catalog, the fulfillment automation market offers a healthy menu of choices to retail, e-commerce, and logistics providers, ranging from autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to each-picking robot arms, self-driving forklifts, automated guided vehicles (AGVs), good old fashioned conveyors.

However, Berkshire Grey argues that its robotics solutions can significantly accelerate the transformation of customers' logistics operations at a time when they are under more pressure than ever to cope with consumer expectations, labor shortages, and competition from rivals.

"As the recent holiday shopping period showed, online buying habits combined with very high consumer expectations have put tremendous pressure on operations and supply chains of both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce retailers," Hattabaugh said in a release after his hiring. "That pressure will not go away and must be proactively mitigated by new technologies."

The company says it combines artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to automate omni-channel fulfillment, deploying intelligent robotic solutions to automate tasks never before performed by machines in commercial settings. Specifically, the firm's solutions automatically pick, pack, and sort individual items, inner packs, cases, and parcels to automate omni-channel warehouse and distribution operations.


About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

More articles by Ben Ames

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