The Strategist

Alphabet's Waymo welcomes first foreign investors

03/03/2020 - 08:44

Founded 11 years ago as one of Google’s small projects, Waymo is increasingly separating from its parent company. The developer of technologies for unmanned vehicles announced that it had invested $ 2.25 billion within the first round of attracting foreign investment. The independent Alphabet division announced that it does not intend to stop there and will continue to attract funds from outside investors.

The company said that its car business will be called Waymo Via. The developer is already considered one of the leaders in the direction, but experts believe that the company and its competitors are still far from building a large business focused on unmanned technology.

Nevertheless, experts believe that external investment will certainly benefit the company, and in particular, indirectly. So Alphabet chief financial officer Ruth Porat said at a Morgan Stanley investor conference that external investors, among other things, “discipline” the developer.

At the same time, Alphabet is in no hurry to share further plans for the growing subsidiary: will the parent company continue to develop this area, or will it sell the business? Waymo's Chief Executive Officer John Krafcik only noted at a media briefing that “of course, this is possible in the future,” without specifying exactly what.

Krafcik described external investment as part of the “evolutionary path that we have always imagined,” which could lead to “greater independence” for Waymo. At the same time, according to the top manager, at this stage Alphabet will continue to finance Waymo in parallel with other investors.

Among those who invest in a developer of unmanned technology, for example, is Magna International, with which Waymo has an assembly agreement. The American dealer network AutoNation also participated, which also serves Waymo cars. The project also included the Investment Council of the Canadian Pension Plan and three large investment funds: Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz and Mubadala Investment.

AutoNation said it had invested $ 50 million in the initial round of financing. It has not yet announced how much other external investors have directed into the project.


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