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Humanoid robot startup Figure AI in funding talks with Microsoft, OpenAI

By Mark Gurman, Bloomberg News
Published: February 4, 2024, 6:05am

Figure AI Inc., a startup developing humanlike robots, is in talks to raise as much as $500 million in a funding round led by Microsoft Corp. and OpenAI, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The startup is seeking additional investors for the deal, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the conversations are private. In one scenario being discussed, Microsoft would invest about $95 million and OpenAI would put in $5 million.

The deal could give Figure a $1.9 billion pre-money valuation, this person said, a measure of startup value that doesn’t include the funding raised. Figure’s post-money valuation could be significantly higher depending on the amount raised — easily making the startup a unicorn twice over.

The funding round isn’t finalized, and the investment amounts could change or the deals could still fall apart. Microsoft, OpenAI and Figure declined to comment.

Figure is working on an AI-powered robot that looks and moves like a human. The company has said it hopes its machine, called Figure 01, will be able to perform dangerous jobs that are unsuitable for humans and that its technology will help alleviate labor shortages.

Last May, Figure raised a $70 million in funding round led by Parkway Venture Capital. At the time, Chief Executive Officer Brett Adcock said, “We hope that we’re one of the first groups to bring to market a humanoid that can actually be useful and do commercial activities.”

The AI robotics industry has been busy lately. Earlier this month, OpenAI-backed Norwegian AI robotics startup 1X Technologies AS raised $100 million. Vancouver-based Sanctuary AI is developing a humanoid robot called Phoenix. And Elon Musk has previously said Tesla Inc. is working on a robot called Optimus.