Starship Technologies raises $90 million as its robots hit 6 million deliveries on the sidewalk

Starship Technologies raises $90 million as its robots hit 6 million deliveries on the sidewalk

Sidewalk delivery robot services have struggled, but a company that was among the first to implement the concept has raised $90 million to expand and meet demand. Estonian startup Starship Technologies has raised $230 million. Plural, NordicNinja, the European Investment Bank, Morpheus Ventures, and TDC are among the investors who have already put money into the company. The company was started by Janus Friis and Ahti Heinla, who also helped to make Skype. Starship’s robots have collectively traveled 11 million miles across neighborhoods and campuses in 80 locations across the U.S. and Europe, making 6 million deliveries.

Founders and Transition to CEO

Heinla, the CTO who was quietly promoted to CEO in December, said that the new funds will fuel more geographic expansion, launch a new robot manufacturing scheme with an unannounced partner to produce its vehicles more quickly, and continue to invest in its software and delivery services. Its robots currently operate at Level 4, very close to fully autonomous, with 18 hours of battery life, and are now getting upgraded to charge wirelessly.

Starship Technologies is not disclosing its valuation. However, it is notable that Starship is around and profitable at all. The shutdown of high-profile sidewalk delivery robot efforts from FedEx and Amazon, the restructuring at Nuro, and issues at other businesses all speak to the struggles of building operations in this space. A legal dispute that Starship’s investors were facing in the U.S. complicated matters.

Support for Leadership Change and Mission

As the market changes, Starship has been thinking about how to best move into the next phase. One idea is to focus more on Europe instead of the U.S. Heinla said that the company is not focusing exclusively on the U.S. at the moment.

Taavet Hinrikus, the Plural partner who was an early investor in Starship, said that the leadership change happened independently of the fundraise but that he supported it.

“Building tech companies is hard,” he said. “You know, the magic is about the founders, and here we have co-founders who are on a hell-bent mission to change the world.”

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