Meeting camera startup Owl Labs lands $25 million and partnership with HP



owl labsa startup now developing AI-based meeting hardware linuep announcement that it raised $25 million in a Series C funding round led by HP Tech Ventures (the venture capital arm of HP) with participation from Sourcenext, Matrix Partners, Spark Capital and Playground Global. The tranche closing marks the start of a strategic partnership with HP, said Owl Labs CEO Frank Weishaupt, which will see HP invest in Owl Labs’ various product offerings while providing sales coverage and raising awareness among client companies.

HP, in particular, recently acquired Poly, which has developed a line of video and voice devices and software for virtual conferencing. Weishaupt sees no conflict, saying Poly’s products are complementary to those of Owl Labs and show “HP’s commitment to transforming the workplace into a hybrid model.”

“The funding will allow Owl Labs to continue its accelerated growth…Owl Labs will use the investment to support product development and increase global adoption of the company’s products, including the [Owl Labs’] product line,” Weishaupt told TechCrunch in an email interview. “The funding will also be used to expand Owl Labs’ global footprint and deepen go-to-market partnerships beginning with a commercial agreement between Owl Labs and HP France, where HP will sell Owl Labs products through their local sales team.”

Owl Labs was founded by Mark Schnittman and Max Makeev in 2014, who sought to develop a better video conferencing experience than cameras of the day could achieve. (Weishaupt, a former CarGurus executive, joined Owl Labs as CEO in early 2019.) Building on their work at iRobot, Schnittman and Schnittman created Owl Labs’ first product, the Meeting Owl Pro auto. -swivel, after testing the concept by putting a laptop on a rotating stool.

Today, Owl Labs sells several products, including a dedicated whiteboard camera, a meeting room control console, and its next-generation meeting camera, the Meeting Owl 3. The Meeting Owl 3 includes a set of microphones and of speakers paired with a 360-degree camera zooms in on the speaker.

There are countless “smart” meeting cameras on the market, including heavy hitters like Microsoft and Google. But Weishaupt argues that Owl Labs’ software is a differentiator. Called Owl Intelligence System, it allows customers to connect up to two Meeting Owls to extend their video and audio range and add facial recognition, including for masked faces.

“Meeting Owl 3 is the only 360-degree video conferencing device on the market that can be connected to others to extend reach in larger spaces,” Weishaupt said. “Owl Labs’ technology learns space to create a more seamless experience, getting smarter over time.”

Owl Labs was caught in a negative press cycle earlier this year when a security company, Modzero, discovered vulnerabilities in several Meeting Owl and whiteboard camera models that attackers could have exploited to obtain sensitive data. Owl Labs patched the exploit, which doesn’t appear to have significantly reduced sales – Weishaupt claims that more than 130,000 organizations use Owl Labs products, including 84 Fortune 100 companies.

“We can say we’ve had a solid growth trajectory with more than 3x year-over-year revenue growth and 7x revenue growth since the start of the pandemic,” Weishaupt said, declining to share more accurate revenue figures. “Owl Labs became the first company to create AI-powered 360-degree video conferencing solutions for hybrid organizations. Owl Labs as a company was hybrid before the pandemic and is adept at using technology to bridging the gap between remote work and in-person environments.”

To date, Boston-based Owl Labs with more than 100 employees has raised $47 million in funding.

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