Alphabet's Autonomous Driving Unit Waymo Announces a New $2.5 Billion Funding Round

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【Summary】​Waymo, the self-driving division of Alphabet that spun out of Google’s self-driving car project, secured a significant new investment. On Wednesday, the company announced a new $2.5 billion funding round led by Waymo’s parent company Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz and others.

Eric Walz    Jul 23, 2021 9:05 AM PT
Alphabet's Autonomous Driving Unit Waymo Announces a New $2.5 Billion Funding Round
A Jaguar I-PACE SUV outfitted for self-driving by Waymo.

Waymo, the self-driving division of Alphabet that spun out of Google's self-driving car project, has bold plans to transform mobility with autonomous vehicles that carry people or goods. Now the company has once again secured a significant outside investment round.

On Wednesday, the company announced a $2.5 billion funding round. 

Participants in the funding round are Waymo's parent company Alphabet Inc., Andreessen Horowitz, AutoNation, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Magna International, Mubadala Investment Company, Perry Creek Capital, Silver Lake, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Temasek, and Tiger Global.

With its latest funding, Waymo is emerging as one of the most well-funded autonomous driving developers.

Last year, Waymo raised $3 billion in its first-ever outside investment round. The company announced a $2.25 billion funding round in March 2020 then added another $750 million to that amount in May.

Since March 2020, Waymo has raised a total of $5.5 billion as it works to commercialize and scale its autonomous driving technology.

Waymo said it will use the funding to continue its work on the Waymo Driver, which is its AI-powered autonomous driving hardware and software stack that can be added to a vehicle. 

Waymo is considered the industry leader out of dozens of companies working on self-driving vehicles. As an industry leader, the company also shares the data it collects to help others working on autonomous driving technology. 

In March, Waymo updated its "Open Dataset" by adding a "motion dataset", which is the largest interactive dataset ever released for research, the company says. The data includes behavior prediction and motion forecasting for autonomous driving. 

With the financial backing of Google for over a decade, Waymo has made great progress with its technology. The company's fleet of self-driving vehicles has traveled over 25 million miles on public roads in over 25 U.S. cities. 

Waymo has driven billions of more miles in computer simulation improving its technology even further. 

Waymo was also the first company to operate a fully autonomous, public ride-hailing service called Waymo One that allows customers to summon one of Waymo's self- driving vehicles to pick them up. The company said it has served thousands of rider-only trips in the Phoenix metro area so far, the first launch city for the Waymo One ride-hailing service

Waymo is also testing its driverless vehicles in San Francisco, which is one of the toughest environments for self-driving vehicles to operate in with its hilly terrain and streets packed with pedestrians and bicyclists. Waymo deployed a fleet of self-driving electric Jaguar I-PACE vehicles throughout the city equipped with the Waymo Driver.

Waymo plans to launch the Waymo One service next in San Francisco. However the state of California doesn't allow operators of autonomous test vehicles to collect fares from the public, leaving Waymo unable to start generating revenue on its own, at least for now. The company however is still also exploring ways to license its autonomous driving technology to others.

Waymo says its building the most advanced technology stack for urban driving, but the company is also working on self-driving trucks for highway freight delivery with its business unit Waymo Via.

Waymo is currently working with its freight partners, including J.B. Hunt, with its growing fleet of Class 8 trucks for autonomous freight delivery. Other partners in Waymo Via include UPS and AutoNation.

Waymo's latest funding comes after the sudden departure of CEO John Krafcik in April who left the company after 5.5 years. Waymo's Chief Financial Officer Ger Dwyer announded her departure a month later in May.

Krafcik was replaced by Waymo CTO Dmitri Dolgov and COO Tekedra Mawakana. The two are now leading the company as co-CEOs.

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