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Ouster raises $60M; opens final assembly site in San Francisco

26 Mar 2019

Lidar firm says it is now engaged with more than 400 customers, on applications ranging from aerial land surveying to robotics.

Ouster, the San Francisco startup that has developed high-resolution, multi-beam flash lidar sensors for a variety of applications, says it has raised another $60 million in “series A” funding.

The combination of equity and debt finance, led by Runway Growth Capital and Silicon Valley Bank, also saw additional funding from earlier investors Cox Enterprises, Constellation Tech Ventures, Fontinalis Partners, Carthona, and others.

Ouster says that the additional cash will help to accelerate its expansion into new industries and geographic markets, and support the rapid pace of technology development.

The company also says it has just opened a new final assembly facility in San Francisco, where it is already producing hundreds of sensors per month. That figure should ramp to “thousands” of lidar sensors per month by the end of this year.

Market traction
Ouster adds that it now has a roster of more than 400 customers across applications ranging from autonomous vehicles to robotics and mapping, demonstrating that its particular take on lidar sensing has gained significant adoption and traction in what is now a hugely competitive market.

“Ouster's technology is finding its way into virtually every industry where high-performance lidar has been used - in addition to some new ones,” boasts the firm, specifically mentioning industrial robotics, agriculture, mapping, defense, and drones.

“With its all-semiconductor approach to lidar, the company's 3D sensors are smaller, lighter, more durable, and less expensive than other solutions,” it adds. “Transparent pricing and short 2-3 week lead times for sensor delivery also help the company stand out in a crowded market.”

Ouster, which had previously raised $27 million in late 2017, says the additional investment has helped it to develop more product lines, including the launch of its “OS-1-128” sensor at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, and funded the production facility expansion.

CEO Angus Pacala, who co-founded the company with CTO Mark Frichtl, said in a release: “The momentum we're seeing in our business is driven by the demand we're seeing in the market for customers wanting to push the performance frontier.

“It's amazing that just a year ago we could count our customers on one hand, and now over 400 engineering teams around the world are using Ouster's sensors to build new industries and re-shape old ones.”

Headcount growing fast
The company’s new final assembly manufacturing center, housed at its headquarters in San Francisco, includes space for nearly a hundred staff. “The manufacturing facility will have the capacity to assemble, calibrate, and ship several thousand sensors per month toward the end of 2019,” stated Ouster.

It has also appointed Susan Heystee, formerly an executive responsible for Verizon’s global automotive business, to its board of directors. Prior to joining Verizon, Heystee was executive VP of sales at software startup Telogis, which grew to become a dominant player in the emerging market for connected vehicles, and was snapped up by Verizon in August 2016.

So far, Ouster has revealed four different lidar sensors, with resolutions ranging from 16 to 128 channels, as well as two product lines: the OS-1 and OS-2. “What started as a four-person team working in a tiny warehouse three years ago has grown to over 100 full-time employees across engineering, operations, business development, and marketing,” states the firm, adding that it expects to nearly double its headcount in the coming year.

Among various job openings currently available, the company is searching for business development managers for its lidar offerings.

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