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Online farmer network joins Uber in Google Ventures portfolio

Google Ventures led the $15m Series B round into Farmer Business Network, which was founded by an ex-Google employee. Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers joined the round.

Google Ventures has invested into an agtech company founded by a former employee, and led its Series B round of funding.

The California-based computerised farming network, Farmers Business Network (FBN), raised $15 million in Series B capital including investment from VC giant Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and impact-focused VC firm DBL Investors. Both were existing investors.

Charles Baron, co-founder of FBN, used to be in charge of energy projects at Google. He told Agri Investor that the company will use the funding to expand its network, by adding more farmers to the system, and to grow the technology. He said the company’s focus right now is on US but in the future countries such as Canada and Australia will be added to the network.

FBN has now raised nearly $24 million in Series A and B rounds since April 2014, according to CrunchBase. The company launched in January 2014 and connects farmers through its data-powered farmer-to-farmer network to help them share knowledge and gain trusted insights about each others’ farming practices. It provides farmers with reliable information to help them decide which seeds to buy, how many to plant and which fertilisers or nutrients will give them the best outcome in different regions.

To date, FBN has aggregated data from seven million acres of farmland across 17 states, and the database is growing by 30 percent every month. The platform is currently able to assess the performance of 500 seeds and 16 different crops, Agri Investor learned.

FBN charges each user $500 a year for access to seed optimisation analysis of thousands of seed trials; hourly field level weather information; field and enterprise benchmarking information; data cleaning; and unlimited data storage, according to the company website.

Google Ventures, a $2 billion venture capital fund, invests independently of Google and has backed more than 300 companies, according to its website. Its portfolio includes Uber, About.me, AngelList and Upstart. It invests across health, science, data, enterprise, mobile and consumer products.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is a venture capital firm with more than 40 years of history. It has 654 investments in 368 companies and 31 IPOs and 60 acquisitions. Funds raised to date top $2.8 billion, according to CrunchBase records.