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Self-driving car company Waymo raises $2.25 billion in first external round of funding

Waymo, the self-driving arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet, announced Monday that it has raised $2.25 billion in its first external round of funding. And, it said, it expects to raise even more money as it looks to scale and expand its business.

The investment was led by private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Mubadala Investment Company, the sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates. Other investors included venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, auto parts supplier Magna and auto retailer AutoNation. Alphabet also invested in the round.

Waymo did not disclose how much the investment currently values the company at.

But company CEO John Krafcik said the investment will enable the company to add key partners and grow its operations.

“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,” Krafcik said in a statement.

Building the technology needed for fully autonomous vehicles is extremely expensive, even for a large company such as Alphabet. Cruise, the self-driving subsidiary of GM, has already raised $7.25 billion from GM and outside investors. Argo AI, Ford’s self-driving team, received an outside investment of $2.6 billion in 2019 from VW.

Advocates of self-driving vehicles say the technology will dramatically improve road safety. But the general public still needs to be won over. Research has shown that most Americans are uncomfortable riding in a self-driving vehicle.

There are also regulatory hurdles. Federal legislation to make it legal to operate fully autonomous vehicles is moving slowly. Questions remain about how to test the safety of self-driving cars, and prove that they are safe enough to operate on public roads.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Krafcik told reporters in a phone call. “We’ve also put a lot of important milestones behind us.”

Waymo launched as the Google self-driving car project in 2009. Its self-driving vehicles have driven more than 20 million miles on public roads. Waymo operates a ride service in Chandler, Arizona, where it has more than 1,500 monthly active riders.

Article Topic Follows: Biz/Tech

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