- Alphabet-owned autonomous vehicle (AV) company Waymo announced it raised $2.25 billion in its first external investment round, a move company CEO John Krafcik said would "deepen our investment in our people, our technology, and our operations."
- Google parent Alphabet is among the investors, alongside venture capital heavyweights Andreessen Horowitz and Silver Lake, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Mubadala Investment Company. Krafcik said in a statement the successful investment round means Waymo is "adding financial investors and important strategic partners who bring decades of experience investing in and supporting successful technology companies building transformative products."
- The investment comes on the heels of a report in The Information that said Waymo almost doubled its number of employees to 1,500, with its estimated expenditures at around $1 billion a year.
This first external investment round comes at a significant time for Waymo, which has made strides in testing its AV technology and ride-hailing capabilities. But given the company's massive expenditures and low levels of service thus far, it likely still has some financial worries.
The company said late last year that Waymo One, its app-based AV ride-hailing service, had delivered more than 100,000 rides in the Phoenix area. That signaled a sign of progress, but not enough to stem financial losses.
As for the investors, some have already made significant forays into the transportation technology space. Andressen Horowitz invested in dockless scooter company Lime in its A, B, C and D funding rounds, while Silver Lake invested in Didi Chuxing, China's leading transportation platform which managed to fend off the advances of Uber in that country.
Global auto parts supplier Magna International and car retail company AutoNation are investors too. With their help, it will be interesting to see what continued advances Waymo makes in its technology, especially as Magna partnered with Lyft to help build AVs. That partnership ended when Magna switched its focus to driver assist technology.
In its announcement of this funding, Waymo noted a "series of major operational and technical milestones," including the 20 million miles driven on public roads in 25 cities, and 10 billion in simulation. With numerous other AV companies and others looking to be first to roll out the technology in a widespread way — including Tesla, Lyft, Zoox and Via — there have been plenty of promises of public availability. With this money behind it, Waymo will hope this puts it at the front of the line.