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From Russia, With Robotics

Dmitry Grishin, CEO of Mail.ru, wants to invest in companies that can sell robots for less than $2,000.

Source: Bloomberg
May 28, 2013
Dmitry Grishin knows a lot about the virtual world, serving as CEO of Mail.ru, a Russian social networking and games website worth more than $6 billion. But when the 34-year-old decided to start his own company on the side, he opted instead for something far more physical robots stemming from his own childhood passion for playing with construction sets.

Last year, Grishin set aside $25 million to found Grishin Robotics, which invests in companies creating consumer robots.

"While information technologies and the Internet have made a giant leap in the last two decades, there have been no revolutionary breakthroughs in the offline world," Grishin wrote in an e-mail. "Robots may become one of them."

This week, Grishin Robotics invested $500,000 in Swivl, which makes a $199 robotic video device that can be used for online education. Last year, it invested $250,000 in Double Robotics, a developer of $1,999 telepresence robots that look something like unmanned Segways with cameras. And it has plowed $250,000 into RobotAppStore, a website offering software for robots.

Grishin wants to invest in companies producing robots that can sell for less than $2,000 anything more expensive is unlikely to gain much traction with consumers, he says.

"Once cheap and powerful smartphones became available to everyone, a boom in mobile applications happened," said Grishin, a graduate of the Faculty of Robotics and Complex Automation at Moscow State Technical University. "The same may be true with robots."