Listen to this article now

Serve Robotics, the innovative autonomous sidewalk delivery robot startup that originated from Uber’s acquisition of Postmates, is poised to make its public debut through a reverse merger with a blank check company. The merger with Patricia Acquisition Corp has recently concluded, as indicated by regulatory filings. Prior to this merger, Serve successfully secured $30 million in funding in a round led by established investors such as Uber, Nvidia, and Wavemaker Partners. Noteworthy new investors like Mark Tompkins and Republic Deal Room also participated, bringing Serve’s total funding to an impressive $56 million.

Upon the finalization of the merger, Uber retained a 16.2% stake in Serve, while Nvidia held an 11% stake, according to official regulatory records. Notably, Sarfraz Maredia, Uber’s VP of Delivery and Head of the Americas region, has joined Serve’s board, marking a significant step in their collaboration.

Serve Robotics had its origins as Postmates X, the robotics branch of the on-demand delivery giant Postmates. Beginning in 2018, the self-guided sidewalk robots commenced deliveries to Postmates customers across several neighborhoods in Los Angeles. By 2020, they launched a full-fledged commercial service.

In late 2020, Uber completed its acquisition of Postmates for $2.65 billion, a mere three months before Postmates X transitioned into an independent entity under the name Serve Robotics. The moniker was derived from the autonomous sidewalk delivery robot developed and trialed by Postmates.

Heading the helm as co-founder and CEO of Serve Robotics is Ali Kashani, the driving force behind Postmates X. Kashani shared with TechCrunch that while he hadn’t been in a hurry to take the autonomous delivery robot enterprise public, he recognized the advantages of a faster and more efficient route through an initial public offering.

A stroke of luck may have also played a role. Last March, Serve was in the midst of securing another funding round from venture capital firms when concerns about the stability of Silicon Valley Bank led to one of the most significant bank runs in history. Although Serve had 100% of its funds tied up in SVB (which were all eventually recovered), the incident prompted a reevaluation of the company’s capital-raising strategy. Kashani noted, “We needed a broader scope of investors,” leading to the decision to diversify the investor base.

Interestingly, the blank-check merger opportunity presented itself just a few days later. Serve Robotics intends to channel the additional financing towards entering new markets within the United States and advancing its technological capabilities. Moreover, the company aims to scale its current fleet of 100 delivery robots. Notably, Serve has a commercial agreement with Uber to deploy up to 2,000 robots for Uber Eats deliveries.

Kashani is confident in the company’s scalability, highlighting that delivery volume has consistently grown by over 30% month-over-month for the past 18 months. He summarized the situation by stating, “This thing is working—and what it requires is fuel.”