Zoox adds to the list of dozens of other Silicon Valley-based companies that are pursuing the creation of autonomous driving cars. It intends to create not only its own electric cars but also autonomous systems.
According to recent reports from Bloomberg Businessweek, the startup is said to be closing a funding round that has raised $500 million at a $3.2 billion valuation. What’s more, Mike Canon-Brookes from Grok Ventures led the round, which propelled the aggregate funding amount to $800 million.
Before the fundraising, Zoox told TechCrunch that it was valued at an estimated $2.7 billion. Also, Bloomberg revealed that the self-driving startup plans to publicly deploy self-driving cars by the start of 2020, which would operate as its ride-hailing service. Kentley-Klay, an Australian designer and Zoox’s founder, said that creating such a system under a single roof can allow faster marketing.
According to Kentley-Klay’s statement in an interview with Bloomberg, the new funding follows approximately $300 million secured in previous rounds. He said that the funds would assist in fueling Zoox’s creation and testing until late next year. The company currently boasts over 500 employees, which is an incredible feat having only been established fours ago.
Currently, over 50 companies including traditional automobile manufacturers and small startups have been testing their autonomous vehicles on California’s streets. Even with fatal car crashes involving under and Tesla’s self-driving cars earlier in 2018; the self-driving vehicles sector is still attracting a massive amount of capital from investors.
In fact, Pony.ai, a Silicon Valley and China-based startup, has secured over $200 million in the past few months while GM’s Cruise unit received a staggering investment of $2.25 billion from Softbank’s Vision Fund back in May.
Companies in this field are competing for engineering talent, particularly in line with safety, navigation, computer vision and artificial intelligence.
The California DMV, which is in charge of monitoring self-driving testing in the state, recently gave Zoox permits for 80 test drivers and 14 self-driving cars. This figure makes the startups public fleet of robot-taxis in California considerably smaller compared to that of its competitors like Apple with 66 permits, Waymo with 72 cars and GM Cruise with 117 vehicles.
Despite having such a smaller number of permits, Kentley-Klay said that Zoox’s technology was superior to that of its rivals including GM Cruise. The company tests its technology on the most complex and busiest streets in San Francisco. Furthermore, it tests both on private tracks and in virtual simulations.
Atlassian’s co-CEO and co-founder Mike Canon-Brookes will join Zoox’s board of directors after leading the startup’s round with an investment of $100 million from his personal Grok Ventures. Primavera Capital, co-led the round.
Mike praised Zoox by saying that the company was the best option for city driving. He added that the company’s vehicles are not only great for cruising on a sunny day but also in tunnels, darkness an in rainy days.
Cannon-Brookes concluded by saying Zoox is the only company that is looking forward to leveraging all three main changes in automobiles concurrently including ride-sharing, autonomy and electrification.