It’s a big, BIG, day at littleBits!
First, we are thrilled to announce that we just closed our very first round of financing! After 3.5 years of bootstrapping, research and development (translation: blood, sweat and tears), littleBits is taking in investment from some of the biggest technology leaders in the world, including two of my personal heroes: Joi Ito and Nicholas Negroponte .
As a student at the MIT Media Lab, I experienced first hand Nicholas’s vision for what technology can mean when it becomes a tool for creativity. littleBits is a system of modular electronics that snap together with magnets for prototyping and play. It’s the pipe cleaner and popsicle stick of the 21st century, it’s about breaking the barrier between the electronics we consume, and the ones we create, and helping to nurture the next generation of problem-solvers.
Joi, as the former CEO of Creative Commons – where I was a fellow – (and current director of the Media Lab), brought openness to a new level, solidifying our belief that a creative society is an open one. littleBits is open source and building a community of contributors that can redesign, share online and learn from each other’s creativity. We are very excited to have Joi and his fund (Neoteny Labs) leading the round — and with this first investment in open hardware, giving our movement a vote of confidence and support.
The round also includes some of the biggest technology leaders in the Arab world like Lebanese telecom pioneer Taha Mikati, and Fadi Ghandour, CEO of Aramex, the 1st Arab company to go public in the US. Also included in the round are angel investors Josh Spear, Jason Port, Joanne Wilson and Salah Chamma.
Second, I just got word yesterday that littleBits has been acquired by MoMA for its collection! This means our first edition bits will now have a home snuggled in between a Picasso and the Post-It. Needless to say, this is an extraordinary honor. We were already humbled to be in amazing company with some of the best contemporary interactive works at the Talk To Me show (up until November 7th, 2011).
We’ve had an amazing year so far. We’ve been featured in the New York Times Magazine, and showcased on Inc Magazine … and just launched our first starter kit at Maker Faire (available in limited quantities, get yours quick!), winning an Editor’s Choice Award along the way.
We’re grateful to so many people who supported us over the years and helped us get to this point, and especially Eyebeam Art and Technology center and Creative Commons. Also, we could not have done it without our great friends at SparkFun (particularly Nate, Abe, Casey and Chris).
So what’s next? We’ve just taken office space at the wonderful collab in the West Village, we’re working on the next 30 modules to grow the library and will be expanding our manufacturing capability. Maybe most exciting, we will be working with teachers to bring littleBits to schools, after school programs, and universities (if you’re interested in chatting about this, email us).
It’s been a thrilling month for open hardware. Arduino just got adopted by Google as an SDK, Instructables got bought by Autodesk, MakerBot closed a big round of financing, the Open Hardware Summit (that Alicia Gibb and I founded) was a raging success… And now, littleBits is taking off… Something is in the air, we hope you’ve braced yourself for the Open Hardware revolution…