Riot Ventures Files for $75 Million Fund – Los Angeles Business Journal


Downtown-based Elementary Robotics' IR1 inspection and traceability robot

Downtown-based Elementary Robotics’ IR1 inspection and traceability robot

Venice-based Riot Ventures Management is aiming to raise $75 million for its second fund, according to a regulatory filing by the company. It is a significant step up from the firm’s first fund, which closed in 2017 with just $10 million.

Riot invests in what it calls “hard tech” — generally robotics and artificial intelligence-driven products and platforms spanning areas from communications and security to manufacturing. The low-profile fund mainly targets early stage businesses, although it has also made opportunistic investments in later-stage companies.

Some of Riot’s local investments include downtown-based Elementary Robotics Inc., which raised $13 million in a July Series A funding round, and Playa Vista-based gaming internet company Subspace Inc. The firm is a backer of several other applied robotics companies including retail robotics firm Simbe Robotics Inc. and construction robotics startup Rugged Robotics Inc.

Some of the firm’s prominent later-stage investments include Burlington, Mass.-based Desktop Metal Inc., a 3D printing company which recently announced plans to go public through a reverse-merger at a $2.5 billion valuation, and Boston-based restaurant operating platform Toast Inc., currently valued at $4.9 billion.

Riot co-founders Stephen Marcus and Will Coffield have been relatively closed-lipped about their firm, but have previously indicated that Riot’s first $10 million vehicle was a litmus test for the viability of their investment thesis. 

The larger raise and continued focus on bleeding-edge “hard tech” seems to indicate that the test was successful and that the founders are getting ready to double-down on their involvement in the space.

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While demand for AI-enabled technologies has been growing steadily in recent years, robotics has seen a particular boost from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As contagion risks made nearly any job involving human contact a potential risk, demand for robot substitutes has skyrocketed. The fastest uptake has been in areas such as medicine, where risk can be relatively higher, although fields as diverse as food service, retail and manufacturing have all been impacted.

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