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Caterpillar ends investment in Uptake, data mining startup launched by Groupon co-founder Brad Keywell

Caterpillar is ending its investment in Uptake, Groupon co-founder Brad Keywell’s data analytics startup.

The equipment manufacturer took an early minority stake in Uptake, which CEO Keywell and fellow Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky launched in 2014. Caterpillar, now based in Deerfield, has been gathering data from its machinery using Uptake’s technology in an effort to make that equipment more efficient for customers.

Caterpillar will no longer hold a stake in Uptake, according to a statement from Caterpillar. It will remain a customer of Uptake, said Abby Hunt, a spokeswoman for the startup.

Caterpillar said it plans to refocus “its areas of cooperation with Uptake.”

Neither Hunt nor Caterpillar spokeswoman Rachel Potts would elaborate on the terms of Caterpillar’s exit. The size and terms of the investment were never disclosed.

“The digital environment continues to rapidly evolve, and we are likewise adapting to deliver to our customers transformational technology to maximize value obtained through data-driven, real-time fleet management,” said Robert Charter, a Caterpillar group president with responsibility for driving the company’s digital vision.

Uptake has grown “significantly across industries,” Keywell said in a statement. Uptake did not make him available for an interview.

Earlier this year, the startup announced a $40 million funding deal that valued it at $2 billion. In April, Uptake announced that it added $50 million to that round of funding. It also entered into a deal with famed investor Warren Buffett’s energy business portfolio.

“The scale and scope of our expansion warranted the realignment of our relationship with Caterpillar,” Keywell said in the statement.

The 3-year-old company has expanded to analyze data in 10 industries, including agriculture, aviation, mining and energy. The valuation Uptake secured earlier this year placed it among the unicorns, or startups valued at $1 billion or more.

It has raised about $146 million in funding overall, according to research firm Crunchbase. Other investors include Revolution Growth, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm headed by AOL founder Steve Case; Chicago-based GreatPoint Ventures; and Lightbank, Keywell and Lefkofsky’s venture capital firm.

Uptake employs about 800 people, most of whom are at its headquarters in the Goose Island neighborhood, Hunt said. It announced in October that it hired two former General Electric executives.

amarotti@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @AllyMarotti

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