by Connie Loizos
Customers are notoriously fickle when it comes to sophisticated kitchen devices. On the one hand, there’s undoubtedly a market for items that are deemed useful and priced appropriately. Consider, for example, the Anova Precision Cooker, a $145 WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled device that managed to get its parent company sold to the appliance giant Electrolux in February for $250 million.
On the other, make your device too complicated and expensive, and you get mocked. Yes, Juicero, we’re talking to you.
Brava, a stealth-mode IoT company with plans to create a suite of domestic hardware and software products, would seem to face the same risk. But investors clearly like what it’s cooking up. Indeed, the company — which last year raised $12 million in Series A funding led by the venture firm True Ventures — just raised an undisclosed amount of additional funding that more than doubles that amount.
TPG Growth led the round. Additional investors in the financing include The Rise Fund (which is TPG’s social impact fund), Lightspeed Venture Partners, Next Coast Ventures, Lead Edge Capital, DGNL Ventures, and earlier investors. Some of these include Chris Anderson, who runs the TED conference; Rob Reid, founder of the Rhapsody music service; and Cowboy Ventures’s founder Aileen Lee.
Brava, which now employs 46 people in Redwood City, Ca., is headed by CEO John Pleasants, who has led a number of digital media companies over the last couple of decades, including as co-president of Disney Interactive Media Group, COO of Electronic Arts, CEO of Ticketmaster, and most recently as an EVP at Samsung.
Pleasants also spent a year as the CEO of Playdom, a social gaming company that was acquired for $563 million by Disney in 2010 (which is how Pleasants landed there). In fact, it was at Playdom where he met Brava cofounder and Chief Product Officer Dan Yue, who went to high school with Brava’s other cofounder and its Chief Technology Officer, Thomas Cheng.
Yue was Playdom’s chief product officer and headed to Disney with Pleasants after the sale, logging a couple of years with the entertainment giant as an SVP of product. Cheng meanwhile cofounded the smart parking company Streetline and recently spent a year as the head of hardware at August, the smart lock company.
Pleasants wouldn’t tell us much about Brava when we chatted last year, and he’s still not saying much about the company’s plans, except to offer that it’s “building a system that makes it easier to cook and eat well at home.”
Pleasants also says Brava is still targeting a public launch by the end of this year, which is the timeline he’d given us last year. And he says its products will be available for purchase through its site. (It isn’t announcing any distribution partners — at least, not right now.)
Asked if Juicero’s challenging publicity of late has made him think twice about demand for complicated kitchen appliances — even well-made ones — he declined to comment.