Samsara raises $25 million for end-to-end industrial sensor platform

Samsara, which aims to provide a comprehensive solution for large-scale deployments of connected sensors, announced on Monday that it has raised $25 million in a seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz. Marc Andreessen will join Samsara’s board of directors.

The company’s founders, Sanjit Biswas and John Bicket, rode the crest of the Wi-Fi networking wave with their previous startup Meraki, which in 2012 was bought by Cisco for $1.2 billion. At Meraki, they pioneered a new approach to networking by providing a self-contained solution of hardware, software, and cloud management services for wireless networks.

Seeing the cost of sensors and connectivity hardware dropping rapidly, Biswas and Bicket decided a similar approach was in order for industrial sensors. Industries from manufacturing to transportation are increasingly interested in capturing real-time data from their equipment, which can be analyzed and brought to bear on day-to-day operations as well as long-term business strategies.

Dozens of companies sell small-scale sensor networks that can be deployed in a home or used by hobbyists, often complete with software and cloud services for managing the sensors and processing the data they produce. But implementing a similar network with thousands of sensors across a large business enterprise often requires an expensive hodge-podge of companies and services to handle the hardware, network infrastructure, and data analysis.

Samsara intends to “collapse the stack” by bundling all of those functions into a unified set of products and services that can be deployed cheaply and quickly.

In a blog post, Biswas acknowledged that Samsara’s plans are ambitious, as there are a lot of moving parts that need to come together. Plenty of companies can mass-produce sensor hardware, and plenty of others offer large-scale data analysis services. But doing both well, and integrating them together, requires a diverse set of specialized competencies.

Samsara plans to start shipping its sensor hardware to early access customers soon, but has yet to reveal the specifics of what the devices can do or how they are made. The Wall Street Journal reports that they contain the same kinds of sensors that have become cheap and widely available in other gadgets in recent years—accelerometers, thermometers, and so on—which means that their utility may be limited in some settings where specialized sensing equipment is required. But as a first step toward making large-scale sensor deployments commonplace, it makes sense to keep costs low and allow companies to discover the unexpected potential that the technology unlocks.

We believe that if we make it easy to deploy sensors and analyze data, that customers of all types will finally be able to install them by the thousands in places they’ve never been used before,” Biswas wrote. “Dreams we had in grad school about connecting everything around us are becoming a reality.

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