Waymo raises $2.25B as it continues expanding self-driving operations

Waymo Via

The Via truck includes the Waymo Driver autonomous technology. Source: Waymo

Yesterday, autonomous vehicle maker Waymo LLC said that its first round of external fund raising had garnered $2.25 billion. On its blog, the company said it will use the investment to expand its staff and continue developing self-driving software and hardware.

Silver Lake, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), and Mubadala Investment Co. led the round. Other investors included Magna International, Andreessen Horowitz, Autonation, and parent company Alphabet Inc.

“Waymo is the proven leader in self-driving technology, is the only autonomous vehicle company with a public ride-hailing service, and is successfully scaling its fully driverless experience,” stated Egon Durban, co-CEO of Silver Lake and a nominee for Waymo’s operating board. “We’re deeply aligned with Waymo’s commitment to making our roads safer, and look forward to working together to help advance and scale the Waymo Driver in the U.S. and beyond.”

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company was founded in 2009, received accelerator funding in 2016, and got an $8 million grant in January 2019, according to PitchBook. In December, Waymo acquired Latent Logic, a U.K.-based startup working on simulations of pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist behavior to improve detection for self-driving car safety.

“This investment in Waymo, the clear leader in developing autonomous vehicle technology with the potential to create several global markets of tremendous scale through deployment of the Waymo Driver, will enhance our ability to deliver long-term, sustainable returns for the fund’s 20 million contributors and beneficiaries,” said Ryan Selwood, managing director and head of direct private equity at CPP Investments.

The funding round is among the largest so far in multibillion-dollar transactions around self-driving cars, with Nuro raising $840 million from the SoftBank Vision Fund a year ago and General Motors’ Cruise unit raising $1.15 billion last May. In 2017, Intel Corp. acquired vision startup Mobileye for $15.3 billion.

Waymo celebrates milestones

The company touted recent developments, including the 20 million miles that its Driver system has logged on public roads in 25 cities, plus more than 10 billion miles in simulation. The company’s vehicles drove more than 1.4 million miles in California last year.

A new Detroit factory has shipped Waymo’s first Level 4 autonomous vehicles, including electric cars and Class 8 trucks. The company said they are equipped with “fifth-generation hardware,” including “more powerful compute and more capable sensing.”

The Waymo One ride-hailing service, which the company claimed is the first self-driving one in the world, has transported thousands of customers in Arizona. It is also working on applying its Driver technology to delivery vehicles such as the Waymo Via.

“We’ve always approached our mission as a team sport, collaborating with our OEM and supplier partners, our operations partners, and the communities we serve to build and deploy the world’s most experienced driver,” said John Krafcik, Waymo CEO. “Today, we’re expanding that team, adding financial investors and important strategic partners who bring decades of experience investing in and supporting successful technology companies building transformative products. With this injection of capital and business acumen, alongside Alphabet, we’ll deepen our investment in our people, our technology, and our operations, all in support of the deployment of the Waymo Driver around the world.”

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