Warburg Pincus has led a US$60 million series B financing round in Geek+, a Beijing-based logistics robot developer whose technology, similar to Amazon's Kiva robot, is designed to improve automation at warehouses.
Existing shareholders including Volcanics Venture also participated in the round, which is the largest single round of fundraising in the logistics robot industry globally to date, says Warburg in an announcement.
The new round follows a RMB100 million (US$14 million) series A+ round in Geek+ led by Vertex Venture Holdings Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore's Temasek Holdings, in March.
Founded in 2015, Geek+ provides one-stop intelligent logistics robot solutions enabled by artificial intelligence and robot technologies. Its solutions cover storage, order picking, material handling and parcel sorting.
The robot can perform a wide range of functions such as order division and consolidation, intelligent inventory replenishment and products return, SKU correlation analysis, robots routes optimization, automated collision and congestion control, and dynamic shelf optimization.
"As the AI technologies are maturing, we are seeing increasing market demand and new applications. In particular, the traditional, capital-intensive and labor-intensive logistics industry provides huge market potential for AI technologies," said Jericho Zhang, principal of Warburg Pincus. "With the rapid development of China's e-commerce industry, China’s warehouse management industry is undergoing transformational changes. More complex warehouse operations and increasing costs are spurring demand for AI-enabled solutions, particularly logistics robots."
Geek+ has delivered the largest numbers of logistics robots among its peers in China, having delivering nearly 1,000 units of robots in warehouses for over 20 customers including Alibaba's Tmall, e-commerce firm VIPShop and retailer Suning, Warburg says.
"The use of AI solutions and logistics robots has clear advantages in cost, efficiency and flexibility over manual warehouse management and other automation technologies…We will leverage our experience and resources in the logistics and technology sectors to support Geek+’s business expansion, and help build Geek+ into a global leader in artificial intelligence," Warburg's Zhang added.
Geek+, which previously completed a RMB50 million (US$7 million) series A round from Banyan Capital and Volcanic Stone Investment last May, says it will use the proceeds to accelerate the upgrading of its logistics robotics products and expand product offerings to cover more applications. It will also accelerate geographical expansion and industry coverage, as well as to start exploring overseas markets.