Breaking News
Investing Pro 0
🚨 Our Pro Data Reveals the True Winner of Earnings Season Access Data

Robots Driving Forklifts Score Venture Capital, Create Jobs

Stock Markets Sep 15, 2020 10:09AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. Robots Driving Forklifts Score Venture Capital, Create Jobs

(Bloomberg) -- Silicon Valley investors are increasing bets on a Pittsburgh company that turns a venerable machine of the past century of industrialization -- the forklift -- into a driver of the e-commerce boom.

Seegrid Corp., a maker of autonomous forklifts and robot-powered vehicles used to move materials around warehouses and factories, just closed on equity financing totaling $52 million from Menlo, California-based venture fund G2VP LLC and an undisclosed group of tech and robotics investors.

The deal, with UBS Group AG (SIX:UBSG) serving as an adviser, brought to $150 million the total amount of funding received by Seegrid, which has a valuation of more than $400 million.

The fresh round of financing during a pandemic underscores the rising demand to shore up supply chains increasingly dependent on warehouses and distribution hubs as consumer dabbling with online shopping turns more habitual. Seegrid expects to double revenue this year and plans to add 100 workers to an existing payroll of 240 employees, Chief Executive Officer Jim Rock said.

“2021 is looking to be an even bigger and better year,” he said in an interview. “We’re adding customers like mad and our existing customers are adding more, so it’s a good time to be in the robot business.”

Made by divisions of Toyota and Mitsubishi and then outfitted with software and robotic technology, Seegrid’s vehicles are joining workplaces teeming with humans.

In the U.S., employment in warehousing and storage rose to a record 1.22 million in August, government data show, marking a recovery of all such jobs eliminated during the depths of Covid-19 lockdown in April.

The pandemic is turning the traditional seasonal patterns in e-commerce demand into a year-round lift to online consumption. That’s forcing companies to invest in better technology and more labor to ensure their supply chains can identify and adjust to the new purchasing patterns.

“They’re teaching people how to work with the technology, not how to replace people by technology,” said Peter Bolstorff, executive vice president of corporate development at the Association for Supply Chain Management, an industry group based in Chicago. “The idea is, how do you scale that supply-chain workforce to be able to work more effectively with technology -- either physical robots or system robots.”

Seegrid, founded in 2003 by scientists including robotics pioneer Hans Moravec from Carnegie Mellon University, remains heavily influenced by the school renowned for scientific and industrial research. Giant Eagle Inc., a Pittsburgh-based chain of grocery stores, is a majority shareholder.

Rock said the coronavirus crisis is accelerating what had been a more gradual embrace of automation not unlike the advances of America’s industrial past that raised worries about job losses for people.

“The wheel barrel and the conveyor belt didn’t put people out of work -- they made companies more competitive so they can hire more people and that’s exactly what’s happening with robots,” he said. “There will be shifts in the nature of work, but I don’t buy into the overall net decrease in available work and labor opportunities -- it’s an evolution to a different type of job.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.


Robots Driving Forklifts Score Venture Capital, Create Jobs

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.
  • Any comment you publish, together with your profile, will be public on and may be indexed and available through third party search engines, such as Google.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email