Waymo Scores $2.25B in First Outside Funding

March 02, 2020

Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet Inc., has raised $2.25 billion in funding, mostly from outside investors.

It is the first external investment for the Mountain View-based autonomous vehicle technology business, which grew out of Google's early attempts at creating driverless cars in 2009.

The huge funding round was led by led by Silver Lake, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and the Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Investment Company. They were joined by Magna International, Andreessen Horowitz and AutoNation, as well as Alphabet.

Silver Lake also led last year's funding of Alphabet's San Francisco-based life science company Verily last year. Alphabet is increasingly looking to bring in outside investors for its ambitious "Other Bets" companies that operate outside its core business.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Autonation said in an SEC filing on Monday that it invested $50 million in this week's big Waymo funding.

"We've always approached our mission as a team sport, collaborating with our OEM and supplier partners, our operations partners, and the communities we serve to build and deploy the world's most experienced driver," Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in a blog about the investment.

"With this injection of capital and business acumen, alongside Alphabet, we’ll deepen our investment in our people, our technology, and our operations, all in support of the deployment of the Waymo Driver around the world,” he added.

This week's investment comes as Waymo boasts that its technology has driven more than 20 million miles on public roads across more than 25 cities, and over 10 billion miles in simulation.

Waymo and General Motors Co.'s Cruise Automation subsidiary accounted for about 79 percent of the autonomous vehicle test miles reported from the most recent year by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Waymo logged nearly 1.5 million miles in the state and Cruise did about 831,000 miles.

The company said a human had to take the wheel only once every 13,219 miles on average. Cruise said it averaged just one disengagement per 12,221 miles. 

Waymo also said that engineers and technicians at its Detroit factory have shipped the first vehicles (electric cars and Class 8 trucks) integrated with fifth-generation hardware and new and more powerful compute and improved sensing. It is the first factory dedicated to the mass production of Level 4 autonomous vehicles. This is the level where no human driver is ever required for safety but human controls are still included.

It said its Waymo One public self-driving ride-hailing service has transported thousands of customers in Arizona and provided thousands of fully driverless rides to our riders, in a high-speed mixed usage market area larger than San Francisco.

Silver Lake Co-CEO Egon Durban, who has been nominated to Waymo's operating board, said in the funding announcement: “Waymo is the proven leader in self-driving technology, is the only autonomous vehicle company with a public ride-hailing service, and is successfully scaling its fully driverless experience.”