Conference camera startup Owl Labs lands $25M and partners with HP • TechCrunch.

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Owl Labs, a startup developing Linux AI-powered conferencing hardware, today announced a $25 million Series C round led by HP Tech Ventures (HP’s venture capital arm), with participation from Sourcenext, Matrix Partners, Spark Capital and Playground Global. . The closing of the deal marks the start of a strategic partnership with HP, said Frank Weishaupt, CEO of Owl Labs, which will see HP invest in sales coverage and engagement with enterprise customers across a range of product offerings.

HP, in particular, recently acquired Poly, which develops a variety of video and audio equipment and software for virtual conferencing. Weishaupt sees no conflict, saying Poly’s products are complementary to Owl Labs’ and “shows HP’s commitment to transforming the workplace into a hybrid model.”

The funding will enable Owl Labs to continue its accelerated growth. [Owl Labs’] product line,” Weishaupt told TechCrunch in an email interview. The funding will be used to expand Owl Labs’ global footprint and expand go-to-market partnerships, starting with a commercial agreement between Owl Labs and HP France to sell HP Owl Labs products through their local sales team.

Owl Labs was founded in 2014 by Mark Schnittman and Max McCave, who strived to develop a better video conferencing experience than cameras could achieve at the time. (Weishaupt, a former CarGurus exec, joined Owl Labs as CEO in early 2019.) Drawing on their work with iRobot, Schnittman and Schnittman created Owl Labs’ first product, the self-oscillating Rally Owl Pro, to test the concept. A laptop on a rolling chair.

Today, Owl Labs sells a number of products, including a unique whiteboard camera, a meeting room control console, and its latest generation meeting camera, the Meeting Owl 3. It informs who is speaking.

There are countless “smart” conference cameras on the market, including from heavy hitters like Microsoft and Google. But Weishaupt’s software from Gut Labs makes a difference. Called the Owl Intelligence System, it allows customers to connect up to two meeting owls to expand the range of video and audio and develop facial recognition.

“The Owl Meeting Owl 3 is the only 360-degree video conferencing device on the market to connect with others and expand reach across large spaces,” Weishaupt said. “Owl Labs technology learns its location to create a more seamless experience, getting smarter over time.”

Owl Labs found itself in the negative press cycle earlier this year when security firm ModZero discovered vulnerabilities in a number of meeting pods and whiteboard cameras that attackers could use to gain access to confidential information. Owl Labs has fixed the exploit, which for the most part doesn’t seem to be a clear sell — Weishaupt says more than 130,000 organizations are using Owl Labs products, including 84 Fortune 100 companies.

We can share a strong 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 precise revenue figures. “Owl Labs has become the first company to build AI-powered, 360-degree video conferencing solutions for hybrid organizations. Owl Labs was a hybrid company pre-pandemic and are experts in using technology to bridge the gap between remote and physical work environments.

So far, Boston-based Owl Labs, which has more than 100 employees, has raised $47 million in funding.

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