A former Uber executive who also co-founded two successful tech startups has just raised a bunch of cash for a mysterious robotics startup located on Western Avenue in downtown Seattle, federal filings show.
Maka Autonomous Robotic Systems Inc., founded and headed by serial entrepreneur Paul Mikesell, who most recently worked at Uber as director of infrastructure engineering, has completed an $8.9 million funding round with the participation of nine investors, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission records show.
In January of this year, according to SEC filings, Maka raised $900,000 through an initial funding round. Tech publication GeekWire earlier this year reported on Mikesell and his robotics startup, indicating that it was a “secretive” venture, quoting Mikesell as follows: “We’re not talking about what we’re building yet, other than what you can guess from the name of the company.”
Maka’s website indicates only that it is hiring engineers and that the company is “designing robust, intelligent robots that will revolutionize the way common tasks are done.” Investment-intelligence platform PitchBook, however, describes Maka as an “operator of a robotics company designed to develop robots for weed control.”
“The company’s products specialize in robotics, autonomous and deep learning technologies focused on eliminating weeds and unwanted plants, enabling cultivators to optimize crop yield,” PitchBook’s description states. So, essentially, it appears the company is creating robotic weed-eaters with AI brains, assuming PitchBook is on the mark.
Mikesell, a computer scientist and University of Washington graduate, co-founded with Sujal Patel the digital-content storage company Isilon Systems in 2001, which was acquired by EMC in 2010 for $2.25 billion. In 2006, he co-founded another tech startup in the database-tech space called Clustrix Inc. in San Francisco, which was acquired by MariaDB in 2018.
Mikesell joined Uber in 2014, before moving on to Facebook’s Oculus Research for a brief stint as an engineer prior to launching Maka Autonomous Robotics Systems in October of last year.