Symbotic to Go Public in $5.5B SPAC Deal

The company is seeking to accelerate its efforts to provide mobile robots to the warehouses of major retailers, grocers, and wholesalers.
Matthew HellerDecember 13, 2021

Robotics maker Symbotic said Monday it will go public through a merger with a SPAC sponsored by SoftBank to accelerate its push into warehouse automation.

Symbotic makes AI-powered mobile robots that are already being used in the warehouses of major retailers, grocers and wholesalers, including Walmart, Albertsons, and C&S Wholesale Grocers.

The Wilmington, Mass., company’s deal with SVF Investment 3, a special-purpose acquisition company, is expected to raise up to $725 million, including a $150 million private investment in public equity from Walmart and a $200 million forward stock purchase by another affiliate of SoftBank.

“We have successfully invented and developed a truly disruptive solution that reimagines the traditional warehouse from the ground up. Not only that, but we have also proven its power in partnership with some of the world’s biggest retailers,” Symbotic CEO Rick Cohen said in a news release.

“Now is the time to take Symbotic to the next level,” he added, citing SoftBank’s “tremendous experience investing in leading-edge artificial intelligence and robotics innovators.”

The deal values Symbotic at $5.5 billion and, according to the company, will “enable Symbotic to accelerate its growth plans, provide Symbotic with the flexibility to continue innovating to streamline its customers’ supply chains and to efficiently deliver on its contracted backlog while achieving its growth targets.”

Symbotic expects to have revenue of $211 million this year, more than double the $92 million it brought in last year. In July, it announced an expansion of its partnership with Walmart to bring robotics to 25 of the retail giant’s distribution centers.

The link to the grocery industry has been a key strength for Symbotic, according to Worcester Polytechnic Institute professor Michael Gennert.

“They understand all the ins and outs of the grocery warehouse supply chain,” he told the Boston Globe. “They know the problem, they know what a great solution looks like, and they went out and built it.”

SVF 3, which raised $320 million in an IPO in March, had been looking for a new merger partner after talks with location data services provider Mapbox reportedly collapsed.

Photo: Symbotic