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Locus Robotics raises $117M, eyes IPO

Goldman Sachs Asset Management, G2 Venture Partners lead Series F round

A queue of LocusBots is lined up and ready for peak season picking (Photo: Locus Robotics)

One of the leading disruptors in the emerging warehouse automation industry is on the verge of going public.

Locus Robotics, which offers warehouse services like picking, putaway and person-to-person transport through a fleet of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), on Tuesday announced that it had raised $117 million and reached close to a $2 billion valuation. No robotics automation company has ever reached that milestone while remaining privately held, Locus said.

CEO Rick Faulk heavily implied that the Series F round, which was led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management and G2 Venture Partners, is the final piece of the puzzle for the Wilmington, Massachusetts-based firm before it goes public.

“If the window does open, hopefully in the next 12 to 24 months, we’re ready to go. We’ve got the numbers to do it,” Faulk told Insider, referring to the push for an IPO.

The Locus executive believes the company is well positioned to go public beyond the financing. According to him, the company now has more than $100 million in contracted recurring revenue. 

And just a month ago, the firm’s fleet of LocusBots completed its industry-first 1 billionth pick. The fleet is made up of three AMRs — the nearly 5-foot-tall Origin is the main offering, capable of carrying several bins or containers at once. Locus also offers the more compact Vector and the heavy-duty Max models.

All three designs rely on proprietary navigation software and an array of lidar (light detection and ranging) sensors, working alongside humans and the operator’s warehouse management system to boost productivity. 

The bots currently average more than 3 million picks per day globally at over 230 sites for customers like DHL, Ryder and Geodis.

Watch: More Providers Offering Robotics-as-a-Service

“Locus has established itself as an innovative, high-quality market leader for flexible automation in the massive warehouse fulfillment and distribution market,” said Mark Midle of Goldman Sachs, who joined Locus’ board of directors along with Zach Barasz of G2.

Barasz added, “Locus is clearly a winner in the flexible warehouse robotics space, and the consistency with which the Locus team has executed is extraordinary.” 

Goldman Sachs and G2 are betting big on the warehouse automation movement, which has gained traction as the technology improves and operators contend with labor shortages and inefficiencies.

“By 2026, 75% of large enterprises in product-centric businesses will have adopted some form of intralogistics robots in their warehouse operations,” said Dwight Klappich, an analyst with Gartner. “The lower price of entry and faster time to value of robotics opens the market to more companies that can justify automation … as companies adopt robotics, most organizations will expand and scale their use of robotics within the enterprise.”

Locus’ AMRs help ease the current pain points by cutting miles of walking out of workers’ shifts, allowing them to focus more on their actual tasks. In fact, the company boasts productivity gains of two to three times for every worker.

Because the robots integrate directly with existing warehouse systems, deployment takes a fraction of the time it would normally. And uniquely, Locus offers a robots-as-a-service model that allows customers to “subscribe” to a fleet for a few months rather than sign a multiyear contract.

That ability to scale quickly could be Locus’ differentiator as adoption of warehouse robotics picks up.

“As order volumes continue to increase and labor shortages persist worldwide, robotics automation is now a must-have for warehouse operators,” said Ash Sharma, managing director at Interact Analysis. “Locus is uniquely positioned as a leader in digital transformation in this enormous global market as warehouse operators increasingly focus on scalability, fast ROI and ease of deployment.”

As it gears up for an IPO, Faulk said Locus will grow its headcount to 500 people, up from 280 at the end of 2021. He also hinted at an expansion into Asia and the possibility for acquisitions, though he noted the latter would happen “opportunistically.”

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Jack Daleo.

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Jack Daleo

Jack is a staff writer for FreightWaves and Modern Shipper covering topics like last mile delivery and e-commerce fulfillment. He studied at Northwestern University, majoring in journalism with a certificate in integrated marketing communications. Previously, Jack has written for Backpacker Magazine and enjoys travel, the outdoors, and all things basketball.