Waymo, the former Google self-driving car project that is now a business under Alphabet, said Monday it raised $2.25 billion in a fundraising round led by Silver Lake, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Mubadala Investment Company.
This is the company’s first external investment, which also included Magna, Andreessen Horowitz and AutoNation and its parent company Alphabet.
“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,” said Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in blog the company posted Monday. “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. 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.”
The round follows a flurry of activity in the past year that illustrated Waymo efforts to ramp up into a commercial enterprise. Much of the activity has focused on mapping and testing its autonomous vehicle technology in new locales such as Florida, while continuing to expand its core fleet in Mountain View, Calif., and the Phoenix area.
Waymo has long focused on testing and eventually launching an on-demand ride-hailing service called Waymo One using its autonomous vehicles in the suburbs surrounding Phoenix. In October, Waymo began pulling safety drivers out of some of the vehicles on its Waymo One service.
But there have been other expansions, including a focus on finding new business applications for its autonomous vehicle technology such as delivery and trucking and even a plan to start selling its custom lidar sensors, to companies outside of self-driving cars such as robotics, security and agricultural technology.
In January, Waymo announced that it would begin mapping and eventually testing its autonomous long-haul trucks in Texas and parts of New Mexico.
Waymo has also expanded through acquisitions and partnerships. Waymo acquired in December a U.K. company called Latent Logic that spun out of Oxford University’s computer science department. The company uses a form of machine learning called imitation learning that could beef up Waymo’s simulation efforts. The acquisition marked the launch of Waymo’s first European engineering hub, which will be in Oxford, U.K.
Last spring, Waymo hired more than a dozen engineers from Anki, the robotics startup that shut down in April. The 13 robotics experts includes Anki’s co-founder and former CEO Boris Sofman, who is leading engineering in the autonomous trucking division.
Waymo also locked in an exclusive partnership with Renault and Nissan to research how commercial autonomous vehicles might work for passengers and packages in France and Japan.