Force is Strong With Sphero: $45M in Funding from Mercato, Disney

Sphero, maker of a line of robotics products that can be controlled with a mobile phone app, gained fame beyond its toy-like devices after news broke last month that the company was helping make a droid for the new Star Wars movie.

Now Sphero, which has one namesake device and a second called Ollie, has received more than fame: it announced yesterday $45 million of venture funding from Mercato Partners and a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Boulder,CO-based company first made the Disney connection after participating in the 2014 Disney Accelerator.

As a part of the financing, Mercato Partners co-founder and managing director Greg Warnoc is joining the company’s board.

The business, formerly known as Orbotix, made headlines when it revealed that the Star Wars droid, to be known in the upcoming film as BB-8, was indeed the real thing and not computer generated. Multiple reports indicated that the droid will be for sale later this year.

Sphero plans to use the money from the new financial round for product research, IP development, and for global expansion.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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