Jul 20, 2017

Vertical farming startup raises $200 million from SoftBank, Bezos

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Plenty, a South San Francisco-based indoor vertical farming startup, has raised $200 million in Series B funding at what Axios has learned is a pre-money valuation north of $300 million. SoftBank Vision Fund led the round, and was joined by Eric Schmidt's Innovation Endeavors, Jeff Bezos' Bezos Expeditions, Kirenaga Partners, DCM, Data Collective and Finistere Ventures.

  • Bigger than it seems: This is basically a shock-and-awe sort of transaction, aimed squarely at rival vertical farming upstarts like Bowery and Freight Farms. A source says that the deal includes pre-commitments for a subsequent round on top of the $200 million — both from participants and some who couldn't get Series B allocations — which would include hundreds of millions of "non-dilutive global expansion capital."
  • Record harvest: This appears to be the largest-ever VC financing for an agricultural tech company.
  • Bottom line: "[SoftBank's Masa] Son is particularly interested in how Plenty can help nations grow sufficient food to support the population. His Vision Fund backers include sovereign wealth funds from the Middle East, where drought, population growth and a lack of arable land are fueling concerns about food shortages and political instability." — Selina Wang, Bloomberg
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