John Deere Acquires Bear Flag

Photo: John Deere

Earlier this week, John Deere acquired Bear Flag Robotics for $250 million. This is a solid exit for the agricultural autonomy startup founded in 2017.

A few points struck me independently about this one:

  1. Another win for Trucks VC.
  2. Agricultural autonomy is about labor cost savings, but it’s also about precision agriculture, which allows farmers to generate more revenue from the same land. More AV companies need to find business models that generate marginal revenue, in addition to (or in leiu of) reducing costs.
  3. Bear Flag’s model was to retrofit existing agriculture implements, rather than build new ones from the ground up. This seems like a more viable business model for high-value industrial machines, rather than consumer cars.
  4. Deere acquired Blue River Technology a few years ago to do something similar. Blue River is not mentioned in the Bear Flag announcement, despite that fact that both acquisitions are Silicon Valley startups. I wonder if they will be operated separately.

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