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Maker of snap-together electronics kits for kids LittleBits has just raised $44.2 million to overhaul its executive team and expand its products into more markets.
LittleBits has hired former MakerBot CEO Jenny Lawton to be the company’s chief strategy officer. Joey Neal, also formerly on the MakerBot payroll, will join LittleBits as vice president of user experience and digital product. The New York-based startup has also brought on a couple of leads from Lego, including Paal Smith-Meyer, who worked on Lego’s Mindstorms, Ideas, and Architecture products, and Christian Thor Larsen, Lego’s former senior marketing director, to focus on LittleBits global marketing strategy.
The company has often been compared to Lego, so it’s no surprise LittleBits is scooping up former Lego employees. LittleBits makes a kit that lets kids easily create their own electronics by replacing soldering with snapping together.
The reason it’s bolstering its executive team is mainly in preparation for big expansion plans. LittleBits has plans to grow its products both globally and to new retail outlets like Barnes & Noble.
LittleBits is also endeavoring to develop new enterprise initiatives through its existing partnerships with SAP, Twilio, and Salesforce. Late last year, Salesforce MVPs got access to the LittleBits cloudbit starter kit, a programmable electronics kit that can connect dumb appliances to the cloud (in this case, the Salesforce cloud). And ahead of Twilio’s developer conference earlier this year, LittleBits teamed up with the communications startup to create a “Hackable Backpack,” featuring an LED screen scrolling the Twilio name.
New and expanded partnerships with these companies and others could mean a bigger play for the connected workplace.
LittleBits first raised eyebrows when the circuitry set raised $11 million in 2013. Since then it’s rolled out a do-it-yourself smart home kit and BitLabs, a crowdsourced invention platform for creating new LittleBits blocks.
The round was led by DFJ Growth. Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners, Grishin Robotics, and Wamda Capital, and others contributed to the raise as well.
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