Funding Round One of Largest in the Maker Movement; Barry Schuler Joins Board; Veteran Talent from LEGO and MakerBot Join Executive Team
NEW YORK--littleBits Electronics, Inc., the hardware startup that is democratizing hardware by empowering everyone to create inventions, large and small, with its easy-to-use electronic building blocks, today announced $44.2 million in new funding to further fuel its growth. This additional funding round was led by DFJ Growth -- investors in SpaceX, SolarCity and Box -- with additional participation from new investors Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners, Grishin Robotics and Wamda Capital, among others. Prior investors that participated in this new funding round include Foundry Group, True Ventures, VegasTechFund, Two Sigma Ventures and Khosla Ventures.
Barry Schuler of DFJ Growth, one of the pioneers of the modern Internet, former chairman and CEO of America Online Inc., with extensive expertise in e-commerce and education, will join the board.
"littleBits is at an inflection point and we are thrilled to back the company, Ayah and her team, through this next chapter of explosive growth," noted Barry Schuler. "Over the past decades we have seen the disruption of several industries, from media to software and app development. Hardware is up next and littleBits is leading the charge."
littleBits will use this latest round of funding to invest in further STEM/STEAM education distribution, push global expansion, and develop new enterprise initiatives building on its most recent work with SAP, Twilio, Salesforce and others. The company will also be expanding retail availability in the coming quarter as well as partnering with Barnes & Noble Stores to put littleBits in its retail stores across the U.S.
"The stories we hear everyday, from school programs using littleBits to teach STEAM and language learning to immigrant youth, to Fortune 100 companies tapping littleBits to unleash creativity in the workplace, to children's hospitals using littleBits as alternative therapy, show the true power of the littleBits as a hardware platform," said founder and CEO Ayah Bdeir. "Our goal is to have littleBits in every home, every school, every creative space and unleash the creativity inspired by understanding electronics so that everyone can become an inventor."
To support that goal, littleBits has brought on several key executives to the team: Jenny Lawton, former CEO of MakerBot, joins the leadership team as chief strategy officer; former LEGO executives Paal Smith-Meyer, a veteran and innovation pioneer with LEGO and Christian Thor Larsen, former senior marketing director for LEGO U.S., have joined the company's strategic committee on global product and marketing expansion. Joey Neal, previously at MakerBot and R/GA, has joined as vice president of user experience and digital product, while Shirish Joshi, previously leading supply chain and operations at Pluribus Networks, Magellan Navigation and Sun Microsystems, joins as vice president of supply chain.
As part of the company's focus on international expansion, littleBits has recently rolled out a Global Chapters Program, an initiative to empower local communities to use its electronic building blocks to reinvent the world around them, in support of President Obama's "Educate to Innovate" initiative announced at the 2015 White House Science Fair. Since launching at the end of March, there have already been more than 100 chapters opened in cities around the world, from Beijing to Rio de Janeiro, Lagos to Oslo, Chicago to Kuala Lumpur and beyond. littleBits will look to grow its Global Chapters presence and increase its global footprint, which already includes more than 100 countries, 8,000 educators and 2,100 schools and universities who are using littleBits to create inventions.
littleBits is the New York-based hardware startup that is on a mission to Democratize Hardware by empowering everyone to Create Inventions, large and small, with a platform of easy-to-use Electronic Building Blocks. The company's innovative building blocks snap together with magnets to allow anyone to build, invent, and prototype with electronics independent of age, gender and technical background - no soldering, wiring, or programming required. littleBits breaks down powerful technology - from music with the littleBits Synth Kit, to space exploration with the littleBits Space Kit, and the Internet of Things with the Smart Home Kit - and makes the technology accessible and easy to understand. The company was founded in 2011 by MIT graduate, TED Senior Fellow and cofounder of the Open Hardware Summit, Ayah Bdeir, and has grown to be a global leader in hardware. Bdeir was named one of Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business, one of Popular Mechanics' 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream, and one of MIT Technology Review's 35 Innovators Under 35. The littleBits platform includes more than seven kits and 67 interoperable modules with millions of products sold in over 100 countries around the world. The company was named in CNN's "Top 10 Startups to Watch", one of the CNBC Next List, and has been profiled by the BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Wired, Popular Mechanics. To learn more, visit littleBits.cc.