Deals That Matter

Top VC deals: Chinese AI robots land $150 million; a high school esports league picks up a major league backer

Key Points
  • Autodesk agrees to buy construction software company PlanGrid for $875 million.
  • Jiobit, a start-up that makes location trackers for parents and pet-owners, raises $6.5 million in fresh capital.
  • Agriculture start-ups in Vermont and India close rounds. 


Autodesk president and CEO Andrew Anagnost.

Autodesk this week agreed to buy construction software company PlanGrid for $875 million. The San Francisco-based start-up previously raised $69 million in funding from investors including YCombinator, Sequoia Capital and Tenaya Capital. PlanGrid enables real-time construction tracking for contractors and and architects. Autodesk "makes software for people who make things."


Beijing-based robotics company Geek+ completed a $150 million Series B round from backers including Warburg Pincus, Volcanics Venture and Vertex Ventures. The company develops artificial intelligence and robotics technology for supply chain and warehouse applications., announced $70 million in Series C financing, led by Coatue Management and with participation from SIG, Morningside and Shunwei Capital. The start-up has raised $125 million to date. Agora offers a platform for developers to embed real-time voice, video and interactive live broadcasting into a website or mobile app.

AEye, a maker of laser sensing systems for autonomous driving applications, closed $40 million in Series B funding, led by Taiwania Capital. Kleiner Perkins, Intel Capital and Airbus Ventures also participated in the round.

Bain Capital led a $32 million Series C round in Wonolo, an on-demand staffing platform for businesses. Sequoia Capital and others also participated in the round, which brings total funding for Wonolo to $60 million.

VOI is a Scandinavian green mobility company offering electric kick scooter sharing in partnership with cities and local communities.
Source: VOI

European e-scooter start-up VOI raised $50 million in a Series A round led by Balderton Capital. VOI launched in August and has since expanded beyond Scandinavia to operate in Spain. The company counts Amazon CEO of Worldwide Consumer Jeff Wilkes and Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff among its angel investors.

PlayVS, a start-up working to get esport competition into high schools, raised $30.5 million in Series B financing, led by Elysian Park Ventures, the venture arm of the L.A. Dodgers. The company has raised $46 million in total financing from backers including NEA, Science Inc, and Crosscut Ventures.

Fintech firm Plastiq raised $27 million in Series C financing, led by Kleiner Perkins and with participation from DST Global. The start-up aims to make any expense payable by credit card. It partners with major credit card companies and has signed up more than 1 million users.

Botkeeper, a Boston-based automated bookkeeping firm, closed $18 million in Series A financing, led by Greycroft. Gradient Ventures, Google's AI-focused venture fund, Ignition Partners and Halfcourt Ventures also participated in the round. The investment brings Botkeeper's total funding to $22.5 million.

An Indian farmer carries sugarcane to load on a tractor to sell it at a nearby sugar mill in Modinagar in Ghaziabad, some 45km east of New Delhi, on January 31, 2018.
Prakash Singh | AFP | Getty Images

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Strategic Investment Fund participated in a $8 million Series B financing for CropIn Technology Solutions. The start-up uses artificial intelligence and cloud computing to optimize crop yield for farmers in India.

Hardwick, Vt.-based Green Mountain CBD, soon to be rebranded as SunSoil, announced $7 million in new funding from Raleigh-based One Better Ventures. The company grows organic hemp and makes cannabis products.

Jiobit, a start-up that makes location trackers for parents and pet-owners, raised $6.5 million in fresh capital. The Jiobit device is about the size of two quarters, and can be slipped into a kid's backpack, pocket, or clipped to their shoe or sleeve. It uses a combination of WiFi, cellular networks, GPS and Bluetooth for real-time tracking and monitoring of parent-designated "safe zones." The company has raised $11 million to date.

This device can track your child or pet even if they are in another country