There are no surefire bets in this – or any – business. Automation, agriculture and climate change are green flags, but no category is immune to economic headwinds on the already daunting task of launching a successful startup. . While robotics has seen a slowdown in investment so far compared to many other sectors, there is no such thing as a recession-proof business in startup land.
Bay Area-based Iron Ox certainly has no shortage of supporters. Agritech company raised $100 million north, culminating in Series C worth $53 million announced last September. But earlier this week, a robotics farming tech start-up launched massive layoffs. All told, 50 jobs were cut this week, a number that equates to nearly half of the company’s “just over 100” employees.
Chief legal officer, Myra Pasek, told TechCrunch that the decision was made to “expand” [its] Cash runway. Passek added,
We have decided to focus heavily on our core competencies in engineering and technology; As a result, we have eliminated many roles that are not core to our innovation focus. However, layoffs are comprehensive and include positions throughout the organization — that is, not limited to certain departments.
Cutting the Iron Ox team was a painful decision — one that we didn’t take lightly. We are working with our board members and relying on our broad ecosystem across Silicon Valley to help employees find meaningful new work at the right companies. mission. Iron Ox is always recruiting world-class talent, and I am confident that the individuals we unfortunately had to cut this week will have plenty of options open to them. As a policy, we will not provide further details or comment on specific personnel and we ask that you respect their privacy at this sensitive time.
That’s a huge blow to a well-funded company across the cross-section of several growth areas. Iron Ox’s game has focused on fully automated greenhouses, thanks to robotic arms, Kiva seedling carts, and other technologies. Using indoor growing techniques and a trove of data, the pitch promises wider growing seasons in more diverse climates and using fewer resources than standard farming , while still harnessing the sun in a way that is often completely eliminated from vertical farming.
It remains to be seen exactly what the shape of the new focus will look like, though the company’s website reflects a range of different satellite categories, including botanicals, data science, and robotics. Speaking to TechCrunch, Iron Ox explained that it has no intention of shutting down, although the company seems willing to seek more funding and possibly even a sale.
“[A]T iron ox, our attitude is us always willing and eager to meet mission-aligned investors who want to decarbonize the agricultural industry,” said Pasek. “Like other competing startups, we never stop raising funds. We’re not talking about downsizing — we’re focusing more than ever on our core engineering and technology capabilities.”