- Indoor farm robotics startup Iron Ox cut 50 jobs this week, which amounts to nearly half of its staff.
- The layoffs are part of the company’s move to refocus on its core areas of technology and engineering.
- Iron Ox operates indoor farms that rely on a mix of humans and robots to plant, manage and harvest crops such as leafy greens and berries.
- To date, the California-based company has raised $103.2 million including a $50 million Series C last year led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
- The company’s other investors include Pathbreaker Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Amplify Partners and Y Combinator, among others.
Why it matters:
Iron Ox’s Chief Legal Officer Myra Pasek told TechCrunch that the company made layoffs to “extend [its] cash runway.”
According to Pasek, Iron Ox decided to eliminate roles that were not part of its “core competence of engineering and technology; as a result, we eliminated many roles that are not core to our renewed focus. However, the layoff was comprehensive and included positions throughout the organization — i.e., not limited to only certain departments.”
Iron Ox’s layoffs come just days after another ag robotics startup, Fifth Season, shut down its own indoor farm robotics operation.
These developments are happening amid a surge of layoffs across tech from Lyft, Stripe, Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat and many others.
What they’re saying:
The breadth of Iron Ox’s layoffs is apparent from messages impacted employees posted on LinkedIn:
“I’m very proud of the work we have done for the learning and talent development teams at Iron Ox,” wrote chief learning architect Christopher Lin. “If you’re also looking for anyone from product management, project management, sales, a whole host of roles unfortunately today were let go.”
“Sad to report that Iron Ox had a large layoff yesterday, including myself. Network peeps, I can recommend many, many dedicated, hardworking people if you have openings, from design engineers to manufacturing techs to field service engineers to learning and development creators and more,” said technical writing manager Wendy Lo.
David Silver, director of robotics for the company, noted that, “It was a very sad day at Iron Ox yesterday, as roughly half of the company was let go. Every part of the company was impacted, including every engineering department and most of the #robotics team (myself included).”
Vertical farming should be one instrument in a farmer’s toolbox, not the whole operation or the farmer’s competition