Waymo, the Alphabet subsidiary and Google sister, announced today the closure of an investment round with its first outside investors led by Silver Lake, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Mubadala Investment Company. Other investors include Magna International, Andreessen Horowitz and AutoNation, and Alphabet. The Souvereign Wealth Fund of Abu Dhabi is also expected to be involved. How many shares had been issued and how high the valuation of Waymo is now, was not included in the announcement.
In the past, Waymo had been led by analysts at UBS and Morgan Stanley with valuations of up to $250 billion, even though the company had hardly had any income so far. Revenues are mainly generated by the Waymo One autonomous taxi service, which the company has been operating in Chandler, Arizona, since November 2018, and a few commercial deliveries. These revenues are in no way comparable to the $3.5 billion that Alphabet has invested in Waymo for 2019 alone, as estimated by The Information. As Google has been working on the technology since 2009, an investment of around $10 billion so far does not seem unreasonable.
With cash reserves of 120 billion dollars, Alphabet certainly does not need to bring new investors on board. However, the entry of new investments seems to indicate several other things. Firstly, that Waymo should go public at some point. Second, that additional partners will be brought in, who with their experience and networks can accelerate the market conquest. Thirdly, that Waymo has reached a level of maturity with its technology, so that a broader market introduction of the product is now to be tackled.
At the same time Waymo also introduced Waymo Via, the second brand from the company after Waymo One. While Waymo One is designed for autonomous passenger transport, Waymo Via is used for freight transport, from local deliveries to end consumers to large semi-trucks for for logistics customers.
An interesting detail in passing: as can be seen in the picture, the truck has a new sensor design.
This article was also published in German.