BOULDER, CO--(Marketwired - May 5, 2014) - Orbotix, the connected play company bringing mobile device controlled robots Sphero and Ollie into living rooms across the globe, today announced that it has raised $15.5M from Shea Ventures, Grishin Robotics, and Foundry Group. Orbotix will use the funding to write the next chapter in the history of human play, while changing the toy industry forever.
"Kids today see no difference between what is virtual and what is physical," said Richard Gottlieb, Principal and Founder of Global Toy Experts, and Publisher of Global Toy News. "So, if you want to know what the future of play looks like, it's with toys that seamlessly embrace both. For that reason, I see companies like Orbotix as exemplifying that future."
Connected play encompasses a growing category of companies, emerging from powerfully built app-controlled toys. Consumer electronics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and robotic hardware are being fused together to create a renaissance within a very traditional industry of which Orbotix has been at the forefront since 2010. Today's combined investment from both leading robotics, and technology investors, signals a clear belief that the toy industry is primed for disruption.
"Connected play lives at the intersection between a physical toy, an immersive game experience, and a greater, more meaningful social context," said Paul Berberian, CEO, Orbotix. "Connected play results in a user to expect more from their toys. If we expect more, traditional companies will be forced to listen. It's the crux of any true movement. And we're serious as hell about it."
The investment will also be used to continue the build out of hardware roadmaps, optimize the game mechanics needed for connected toys, and add accessory ecosystems to extend the play experience for over 30 SKUs and 35 games offered by the end of 2014.
"Four years ago when I woke up in the morning, I would think about how do we get into Techstars," said Ian Bernstein, co-founder and CTO. "Today I wake up in the morning and think, how do we get a Sphero in the hands of every kid, every teacher, educator, parent, and help inspire the next generation of innovators? The toy market is ripe for disruption. Somebody needs to take these toys, make them connected, make them social, and make them better."
The lines between what a traditional toy looks like, and a connected toy, are being blurred. Some traditional toy companies, like Mattel, have struggled recently, while the robotics and technology venture capital community has continued to fund connected toy and physical play startups.
Brad Feld, Managing Partner of Foundry Group, shared his thoughts on Orbotix's latest round of funding here, at his popular site Feld Thoughts.
"Both Sphero and Ollie are a unique blend of robotics and entertainment and it's clear this company has a strong potential to disrupt and redefine an entire product category," said Dmitry Grishin, co-founder of Mail.Ru Group, and Grishin Robitics. "There is an impressive team in place that has brought the unique concept of connected play into consumers' lives. Sphero is iconic and I'm even more excited about future form factors that grow this platform."
To purchase Sphero 2.0 or be put on the reserve list for Ollie, Orbotix's newest connected toy, please visit:
About Shea Investments
Since 1968, Shea Ventures has actively invested over $1 billion in the venture capital ecosystem. Notable companies backed by Shea Ventures include AES, Affymax, Altera, Brocade, Fabrinet, Salesforce.com, and SolarCity. As a patient and growth-oriented investor, we look to partner with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who are leaders in their markets to build enduring companies.
About Grishin Robotics
Grishin Robotics is a global investment company with a mission of advancing innovation in robotics for the mass consumer market. Grishin Robotics is focused on investing in personal robotics technologies. The firm is led by Dmitry Grishin, co-founder & CEO of Mail.Ru Group. For more information, or to submit your company for investment consideration, visit http://www.grishinrobotics.com.
About Foundry Group
Foundry Group is a venture capital firm focused on making investments in early-stage information technology, Internet and software startups. Their passion is working alongside entrepreneurs to give birth to new technologies and to build those technologies into industry-leading companies. They are centrally located in Boulder, CO, but invest in companies across North America.
Orbotix creates connected toys, fusing emerging technology with the latest innovations in robotics to offer a new kind of open play experience. Founded by Ian Bernstein and Adam Wilson, passionate robotics and software engineers, Orbotix creates fun robots that bring innovative mobile and augmented reality games to your smartphone. Based in Boulder, Colorado, the Orbotix team takes fun very seriously.