Zebra Technologies this morning announced its intention to purchased Bay Area-based warehouse robotics firm, Fetch. The $290 million deal finds the enterprise corporation snapping up 95% of the company, in addition to the 5% it already owns.
The deal comes as interesting in warehouse and fulfillment robotics is continuing to heat up, both in the wake of pandemic-fueled labor shortages and as retails are looking for any potential upper-hand in the battle against Amazon's dominance. It's been a huge driver for investments in small and large robotics firms alike, including the recently SPACed Berkshire-Grey.
Zebra, for its part, has been extremely aggressive in the category of late. In addition to launching its own retail robotics like the SmartSight inventory system announced early last year, the company has been investing in Fetch's direct competitors like Locus, for which it led a $40 million Series D last June.
From the outside, it seems that Zebra is may be looking to consolidate the market around a single unified play. As Locus CEO Rick Faulk told me during another recent round, "We think we can build the most and greatest value by operating independently. There are investors that want to invest in helping everyone that's not named 'Amazon' compete."
He added, at the time, that the company had no interest in being acquired. I can't say for certain that Zebra was actively pursuing it, but if today's news is any indication, it's clear that the company was looking to jump in with both feet - and Fetch's diverse, modular offering is a pretty good place to start.
"The acquisition of Fetch Robotics will accelerate our Enterprise Asset Intelligence vision and growth in intelligent industrial automation by embracing new modes of empowering workflows and helping our customers operate more efficiently in increasingly automated, data-powered environments," Zebra CEO Anders Gustafsson said in a release. "This move will also extend our ongoing commitment to optimize the supply chain from the point of production to the point of consumption. We are excited to welcome the Fetch team to the Zebra family."
Fetch CEO Melonee Wise adds, "The Fetch team is excited to join Zebra and accelerate the adoption of flexible automation through AMRs and our cloud-based robotics platform. Together we have the right team with the right technology to provide end-to-end solutions that solve real customer problems. By helping customers dynamically optimize and holistically orchestrate their fulfillment, distribution, and manufacturing operations, together we help enable their ability to stay ahead of growing demand, minimize delivery times and address shrinking labor pools."
We've reached out for additional comment. The deal is pending the standard regulatory approval. It's expected to close in Q3.