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Waymo raises an additional $ 2.5 billion for self-driving car project

Waymo raised an additional $ 2.5 billion, as a range of investors continued to support its driverless car project, stoking concerns about the rate of cash consumption at the Alphabet-owned company.

Waymo, which started as a Google Project in 2009, is widely regarded as the industry leader and its unmanned “robottaxi” service in Phoenix has no rival in the United States.

But competition intensifies as its rivals consolidate. In the past year alone, Uber’s driverless group merged with Aurora, Lyft’s “level 5” unit was sold to a division of Toyota and Cruise, GM’s driverless unit, acquired the travel start-up.

Waymo declined to comment on his valuation, which was said to have been north of $ 30 billion last year. Cruise is also worth more than $ 30 billion and last week received the first permit from California regulators to operate driverless passenger service in the state.

Deploying driverless technology is taking much longer than most industry players anticipated a few years ago. The huge amounts of cash needed also favored Alphabet, which has $ 135 billion in cash.

Co-CEOs Dmitri Dolgov and Tekedra Mawakana said on Wednesday: “There is no greater challenge in artificial intelligence than building and deploying fully autonomous technology at scale.

Waymo said new funds would help “keep driving forward” what he called the “Waymo Driver,” an Android-like operating system that he seeks to deploy through partnerships, notably with Volvo Cars. , Daimler Trucks and Stellantis.

Waymo raised $ 3.2 billion from outside investors in early 2020. The company declined to disclose how fast it was burning money, but confirmed it had more than 2,000 employees. LinkedIn lists 2,407 employees.

A former Google employee estimated operating costs at around $ 1 million per capita, suggesting the new funding round would only pay for 12 months of activity. A rival executive suggested that Waymo’s annual costs could be significantly lower, but still over $ 1 billion.

The fundraiser follows at least eight senior executive departures over the past few months, including chiefs of finance, manufacturing, safety, automotive partnerships, future automotive and relationships with Investors.

John Krafcik stepped down as chef after a five-year stint in April. Krafcik was an automotive production specialist who had led Hyundai’s North American operations and his departure was widely seen as Waymo acknowledging the role he was to fulfill – deploying tens of thousands of driverless robots in multiple cities – would take much longer than expected.

Alphabet led the round and Tiger Global participated for the first time. All existing investors participated, including Andreessen Horowitz, T Rowe Price, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Fidelity, Mubadala, Perry Creek Capital, Silver Lake, Temasek, as well as automotive supplier Magna and the auto retailer AutoNation.

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