Startup founders should care more about Serve Robotics’ listing

We love mergers and acquisitions here at TechCrunch. We even kind of like reverse mergers. But this latest development in the robotics industry sure has us excited!

Delivery robots maker Serve Robotics is going public via a reverse merger with a blank-check company, and it raised $30 million just before the deal. That could be great for the company, but we’re more interested in the visibility this deal grants us into the economics of building, deploying and running a fleet of delivery robots.

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On one hand, using people to move goods around cities is expensive and can contribute to congestion and pollution. On the other, when has anything about robotics been cheap?

Using tech instead of flesh and blood usually results in savings — you only need to look around yourself to realize the benefits of the industrial revolution and the Internet. But robotics can prove tricky even for smaller sidewalk-level devices, despite recent advances.

So, how good is Serve’s business? We do not know. What we can tell from the numbers, however, is that it’s still early days for companies deploying hundreds or even thousands of robots to bring you food and groceries.

Serve’s numbers

When a company files to go public, we usually sigh with excitement because we get to pore over its last few years’ financial results to understand the business’ health and valuation prospects. Serve doesn’t fit that model well.

The company recorded no revenue in 2021 and managed a mere six figures of topline in 2022, so we are not dealing with your traditional tech shop on its way to the public markets. Serve has a good reason for working to go public, though: As my colleague Kirsten wrote, following the SVB crisis, the company found itself on uncertain financial ground, which led its co-founder and CEO Ali Kashani to take a closer look at the company’s approach to raising capital, and he decided Serve needed a broader scope of investors.

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