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Strategic acquisition of robotics start up for $250M

Farm machinery giant, John Deere, acquires Silicon Valley robotics start up, Bear Flag Robotics for $250M. This ongoing, long-term strategy roll out aims to create smarter machines with advanced technology to support individual customer needs.

In this article, we’ll uncover why higher multiples can be achieved for the seller in a company sale where there is innovative technology, strong and protectable IP, and a dream team of experienced professionals.

John Deere‘s strategy began over two decades ago in 1999 with the introduction of GPS and guidance in its farm machinery. This advanced in 2011 by introducing connectivity and digital solutions and leaped forward again in 2015 by adding automation / AI and machine learning. The latest acquisition of the robotics start up will help accelerate the development and delivery of automation and autonomy on the farm, but why?

John Deere acquires Silicon Valley robotics start up Bear Flag Robotics for $250M

Today’s farmers are facing one of the world’s greatest challenges. That of feeding a growing global population whilst overcoming obstacles such as inclement weather, changing markets and fewer available resources.

Automation and autonomy technology on the farm will enable farmers to tackle these issues head-on by strategically leveraging their resources in order to increase efficiency and therefore profitability.

Founded in 1837, John Deere is renowned for making tractors, it currently boasts a world-class dealer channel. The Bear Flag Robotics strategic acquisition allows it to include autonomous technology in its machinery to make farming more efficient. This acquisition is the second agricultural robotics acquisition by Deere in the past four years. In 2017 it acquired Blue River Technology for $305m (£220m).

Founded in just 2017, Bear Flag Robotics start up, develops autonomous driving technology that is compatible with John Deere’s existing machines. Their solution leverages a combination of Lidar, Radar and camera sensors and the necessary computer resources that mirror the situational awareness of a human operator. The autonomy can be integrated across all steps of production making everything more efficient. The Bear Flag team consists of agriculture professionals, engineers and technologists focused on autonomy, sensor fusion, vision, data, software and hardware.

The two companies first started working together in 2019 as part of Deere’s Startup Collaborator program, an initiative focused on enhancing work with startup companies whose technology could add value for its customers. Proof of concept was established by successfully deploying the autonomous solution on a limited number of farms as a trial in the US.

Automation & Autonomy Director at Deere, Dan Leibfried, commented: “Deere and Bear Flag are highly complementary from both a technology and mission perspective.” He looks forward to working even closer together with the robotics start up under the ultimate goal of helping farmers achieve the best possible outcomes through advanced technology like autonomy.

This deal is a perfect example of a strategic acquisition in M&A. It was a great fit as John Deere’s strategy is to pioneer game-changing tech and innovation.

Think your company has a similar advantage to the robotics start up? For a confidential discussion on your potential strategic company sale and the multiples you could achieve contact us here or call 01202 828266.


Deere & Company is a world leader in providing advanced products, technology and services for customers whose work is revolutionising agriculture and construction — those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich and build upon the land to meet the world’s increasing need for food, fuel, shelter and infrastructure.

Bear Flag Robotics‘ mission is to increase global food production, while decreasing the cost of growing food through machine automation. The robotics start up company makes autonomous technology for agricultural tractors, increasing safety, reliability and profitability on farms.

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