When Betabeat first met Russian tycoon Dmitry Grishin in June, the CEO of Mail.ru was arguing that personal robotics companies needed to put the same emphasis on customers and user experience as their consumer Internet counterparts.
Today, Grishin Robotics, his New York City-based venture capital firm, has made an investment that could mean a step in that direction: $250,000 in funding for RobotAppStore, which bills itself as the first-ever marketplace for apps that “extend the functionality of any types of robot–from Roomba vacuum cleaners and NAO humanoids to the AR.Drone quadcopter and Sphero (the robotic ball).”
Rallying the Robots
When longtime Wired editor in chief Chris Anderson left his post earlier this month, it wasn’t for another Condé title or a sabbatical to write his fourth book. He decamped for a robotics startup. It’s just the latest sign, along with drones appearing on the cover of every magazine from The New Yorker to The Economist, that robotics is no longer relegated to science fiction.
New York has never been known as a robotics capital, unlike Boston, with its MIT hackers, or Pittsburgh, with its Carnegie Mellon engineers. But one Russian oligarch wants to change that.
Grishin Robotics, the New York City based robot investment firm started by the “Russian Mark Zuckerberg,” Dmitry Grishin, announced its very first portfolio company today via a $250,000 investment in Double Robotics.
Double Robotics is a recent Y Combinator graduate based in California. They have already sold 600 units of their first product, Double, a bot that puts your iPad on wheels and turns it into a mobile telecommunications device. It’s perfect for bosses in remote locations who want to supervise more than just the conference room from afar.
Last week, Betabeat met 33-year-old Dmitry Grishin, the so-called “Russian Mark Zuckerberg,” to talk about robots. Or more specifically, to talk about the $25 million investment Mr. Grishin just made to launch Grishin Robotics, a global investment firm–based in New York City!–with the goal of bringing personal robots into every household in the world.
Mr. Grishin is the CEO of Mail.ru, one of the largest Internet companies in Russia, offering services like email, instant messaging, and social networking. After going public on the London Stock Exchange in 2010, Mail.ru currently has a market cap of $7 billion. Mail.ru also happens to have sold a hefty chunk of its Facebook stock in the company’s recent IPO, which might explain why Mr. Grishin decided the time was right to pursue his dream. “I have personal passion for robotics,” Mr. Grishin, a graduate of Moscow State Technical University’s Robotics and Complex Automation program. “I really believe this is a cool, cool area.”
As it happens, talking to Mr. Grishin was not our first conversation about the impending robot revolution in recent weeks.