LittleBits Raises $44 Million in New Funding Round to Expand

LittleBits Electronics Inc., the startup maker of do-it-yourself kits for electronic circuits, raised $44 million in new financing to fuel global growth and expand its range of products.

The latest round was led by DFJ Growth and brings the total funding to $59.8 million, the company said in a statement Thursday. Barry Schuler, managing director at DFJ Growth and former chairman of AOL Inc., will join LittleBits’ board.

The company, which produces modules with magnetic ends that snap together to form electronics, sells its kits to educators and businesses as well as consumers. Some of the new funds will be used to expand distribution to educators and develop and produce new products geared toward enterprises, Chief Executive Officer Ayah Bdeir said in a phone interview Wednesday.

“More and more we’re seeing a lot of enterprise and professional use,” she said. Companies such as Salesforce.com Inc. “are using LittleBits internally and externally to prototype the next generation of products.”

LittleBits, founded in 2011, originally planned to raise about $30 million and increased the round to accommodate investor interest, Bdeir said.

“The investors that we have, they’re growth investors that look at traction that’s proven and then they put money behind it,” she said. LittleBits has sold millions of units, with revenue growing at a multiple of three to four times year over year, Bdeir said. She declined to disclose details on sales and the company’s valuation.

Hardware Investments

Venture capital firms poured about $1.9 billion into U.S.- based hardware startups last year, up 11 percent from 2013, according to data from CBInsights. So far this year, venture investors have spent about $1.07 billion on hardware companies, the data show.

LittleBits also will use the new funds to expand in global markets, Bdeir said. The company plans to grow to more than 100 employees from about 90, she said, primarily in marketing and engineering.

To that end, the company named Jenny Lawton, former CEO of MakerBot, a manufacturer of 3-D printers, chief strategy officer. Former Lego A/S executives Paal Smith-Meyer and Christian Thor Larsen joined the company’s strategic committee on global product and marketing expansion.

New investors in this round included Morgan Stanley, Grishin Robotics, Dubai-based Wamda Capital and Beirut, Lebanon-based Daher Capital participated in the round, the company said. Existing investors including Foundry Group, True Ventures, and Khosla Ventures also participated.

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