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The race to build general-purpose humanoid robots is heating up.

In my last blog, I discussed the latest (rapid) developments with Tesla's Optimus robot, but this past week a new and powerful contender has emerged in the humanoid robot arena: Figure Al.

Brett Adcock, CEO of Figure, just announced a massive financing deal:

Figure just received $675 million of fresh cash from Jeff Bezos, Microsoft, OpenAI, NVIDIA, Intel, and Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest to build humanoid robots.


Valuing the company at $2.6 billion, Brett and Figure are getting the horsepower to go up against Optimus. (Full disclosure: my venture fund BOLD Capital is an investor in Figure from an earlier round.)

Also, as part of the deal, Figure announced that it would partner with OpenAI to create “next generation AI models for humanoid robots.”

What’s Elon’s response to Figure as competition? “Bring it on!”

Which company will develop the best AI-powered humanoid robots at scale first: Tesla or Figure?

In today’s blog, I want to share the story of the evolution of Figure and the vision of the company’s Founder and CEO, Brett Adcock, based on my recent conversations with him.

Let’s dive in…


NOTE: This year at the Abundance Summit we’ll dive into the latest advancements in humanoid robots—plus we’ll have a number of robots onsite, at our Tech Hub. The Summit is now officially Waitlist Only. Learn more and apply for the Waitlist here.


Founding Figure AI – Brett Adcock’s Story...

Brett Adcock has been a sci-fi nerd his entire life, more specifically a robot geek and a super fan of Issac Asimov’s Robot series.

At the age of 12 he was devouring books like iRobot, Robot Dreams, and Robot Visions. Brett, reflecting on his lifelong fascination, remarked, “Who hasn't thought about building robots and who hasn't wanted to work on this?”

Brett was born in 1986 and raised on his family's farm just outside of Moweaqua, Illinois. At the age of 16, he began working on web companies, a passion that would pay off a decade later. At the age of 26, in 2012, he founded Vettery, an AI-based talent marketplace which quickly grew to hundreds of employees, matching 20,000 interviews per month, and helping thousands find their dream jobs. Six years later in 2018, Vettery was acquired for $110 million, chalking up Brett’s first major success.

Next up, Brett set his sights on the skies, co-founding Archer Aviation, an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft built to reinvent urban air mobility. After raising more than $1 billion of capital, flight-testing 5 generations of eVTOL aircraft and signing a $1.5 billion commercial agreement with United Airlines, Archer went public on the NYSE in 2021 at a valuation of $2.7 billion.

It was this second major success that gave Brett the capital to pursue the vision inspired by Asimov decades earlier. After selling 9-figures worth of Archer stock in 2022, he founded Figure, an AI-Robotics startup based in Sunnyvale, California focused on building general-purpose humanoid robots.

How do you get started building a robot company? Brett’s first move after committing his 9-figures of capital was to assemble an impressive team of engineers gathered from the likes of Boston Dynamics, Tesla, Google DeepMind, and Apple.

“Now, finally, with the cash on hand and a world-class team of engineers, it was time to start building robots.”


Brett acknowledges another key timing element that made 2022 a good year to get going. “The tech required to build these robots has only really materialized during the past three or four years. Elements like the necessary compute, AI algorithms, advanced locomotion, and battery technology central to making humanoid robots have only recently been demonstrated. And despite these advances, we still had to build nearly all of the key components ourselves from scratch—everything from the firmware, embedded systems, actuators, motors, sensors, battery systems and joints.”

Chief among the advances breathing life into robots in 2024 is the combination of GPT models and computer vision.

Brett explains as he shows me a demonstration: “This is one of our Figure robot arms that we’ve placed in front of a Keurig pod coffee maker. We hooked up the robot’s vision system to the GPT-4 vision model and then had it watch one of our employees make coffee over and over again, 50 times to be precise. By watching a human repeatedly place the coffee pod, and then the mug and then press the brew-button, we trained its neural net on how to make a coffee. What would have taken us 30 days to code in C++ was learned by Figure’s neural net in just seven hours.”

Last week’s announcement of the “collaboration agreement” with OpenAI will accelerate these developments.

As reported in Popular Science, the partnership will increase Figure 01’s abilities to “process and reason from language.”

As Brett put it, “We see a tremendous advantage of having a large language model or multi model on the robot so that we can interact with it and give what we call ‘semantic understanding.’”

The goal is ultimately for people to be able to speak to the humanoid robot in plain language, and have the robot create a list of tasks and then perform them autonomously. Although Figure 01 is already able to speak, the partnership with OpenAI could enhance its ability to self-correct and learn from mistakes, leading to accelerated improvements in performance.


Bringing “Figure 01” to Life: A Vision of the Future

Figure HQ occupies a vast 30,000 square foot floorplan with 50-foot towering ceilings and specialized areas for motor development, actuator development, electronics buildup, and AI learning perception systems.

Once an old-school warehouse for a shipping company, Brett describes his factory with pride: “We have labs for industrial design, for battery system development, for in-the-loop testing facilities and for fabricating almost anything we need. It’s also where we do our full integration and demonstrations. This past week we demonstrated a full end-to-end autonomous robotic mission for one of our customers. We've now shown fully autonomous end to end operations of our Figure 01 doing human level work.”

The pace at which Figure has made progress is nothing short of extraordinary, having gone from a clean-sheet design to walking dynamic bipedal humanoid robots in less than 12 months. For Brett, the key to that success is the company’s culture. “It is one hundred percent what sets Figure apart from other robot companies,” he exclaims. “Our culture is very different. We move extremely fast. There's no team like this ever assembled to do this,” Brett stated, underlining the uniqueness of their approach.

Figure's crowning achievement to date is the “Figure 01” humanoid robot. Standing at a height of 5 feet 6 inches and weighing-in at 132 pounds (60 kg), Figure 01's design is fully electric and is capable carrying a payload of 44 pounds (20 kg), a 5-hour runtime, and walking speed 2.7 miles per hour (1.2 meters per second).

Looking ahead, Brett envisions a future where humanoid robots are ubiquitous. His prediction is impressive: “I think the world will eventually need about 10 billion humanoid robots from all the various manufactures...” His personal near-term and ambitious goal is to manufacture and deploy 1 million Figure units by 2030. He backs up how difficult this would be to achieve in the next 6 years, “After all, it took Ford and Tesla something like 10 or 12 years to put the first million cars on the road.”

When I asked Brett to explain his belief that Figure could be one of the biggest, most important companies on the planet yielding an age of abundance, he explained:

“We are in the human-labor business, and today 50% of Global Domestic Product (GDP) is paying humans to do work every day, in other words human labor. That amounts to a marketplace of $40 trillion a year. It's 10 times bigger than all of transportation combined. So, you think the car market's big, you haven't seen anything like the physical labor market.”


Why This Matters

In one of my recent conversations with Brett, he made a unique and important point about the implications of having humanoid robots walk among us:

“Another reason is the importance of robots in an AGI world. One dystopian post-AGI scenario is that AIs are basically going to be bossing us humans around to do their manual labor and that sounds super depressing. Already in a lot of jobs such as warehouse labor and manufacturing, you're holding a barcode scanner, and a computer is telling you where to go and what to do next…

“We don’t want this to happen to us. I think having the ability to have humanoid robots in the world doing work instead of humans at the point of AGI is going to be extremely important for humanity.”


Figure, under Brett's visionary leadership, is not just developing advanced humanoid robots; it is redefining the future of labor and technology.

Brett’s dream, deeply rooted in his childhood love for science fiction, is unfolding into a reality where humanoid robots could bring about a world of abundance and uplift humanity, fundamentally changing the way we interact with technology—and each other.

In the next blog in this series, we’ll look at the robotics company Boston Dynamics and dive into the latest developments with Atlas, perhaps the most popular robot on the internet.



My Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) is “to inspire and guide entrepreneurs (like you) to create a hopeful, compelling, and abundant future.” 

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If you are an entrepreneur, and the idea behind this program is potentially interesting, would you mind taking a 5-minute survey? There is zero obligation, and I would be grateful.


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Best wishes,



How do you keep up with exponential change?

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I discuss how humanoid robots will transform society and help create a world of abundance on my podcast. Here’s a conversation I recently enjoyed:

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Peter H. Diamandis

Written by Peter H. Diamandis


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