Monday 2 March 2020 10:07 pm

Alphabet's Waymo nabs $2.25bn in first external funding round

Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet, said tonight it has raised $2.25bn (£1.76bn) in its first external investment round.

In addition to Alphabet, investors included car parts supplier Magna International, US dealership chain Autonation, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and three large investment firms: Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz and sovereign wealth fund Mubadala.

Alphabet also invested an undisclosed amount in the round. John Krafcik, chief executive of Waymo, declined to confirm whether Alphabet plans to sell or spin off the unit, telling reporters it was “certainly a possibility for the future”.

The move followed a slash in Waymo’s projected valuation by Morgan Stanley to $105m, from its earlier estimate of $175m, saying the commercialisation of self-driving vehicles and technology was taking longer than expected.

The investment is similar to the amount plugged into General Motors’ self-driving arm Cruise by Softbank last year.

Read more: General Motors scales back workforce as it pushes for self-driving cars

“We’ve always approached our mission as a team sport, collaborating with our [manufacturers] and supplier partners, our operations partners, and the communities we serve to build and deploy the world’s most experienced driver,” said Krafcik.

“Today, we’re expanding that team, adding financial investors and important strategic partners who bring decades of experience investing in and supporting successful technology companies building transformative products.”

Krafcik added that the capital will be used to “deepen our investment in our people, our technology, and our operations”.

Waymo is currently operating a series of on-road trials of its self-driving vehicles in Phoenix, Arizona, although with drivers behind the wheel in case of emergencies.

Self-driving technology has come under fire recently, following a spate of incidents with other operators. It was revealed last week by investigators that an Apple employee, who died after his Tesla car hit a concrete barrier while in the semi-autonomous Autopilot mode, was playing a video game at the time of the crash.

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