Waymo LLC, Alphabet’s autonomous driving tech company, raised its first-ever external funding –US$2.25 billion, co-led by private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Mubadala Investment Company, on Monday.
Magna International, Andreessen Horowitz, AutoNation, and Waymo’s holding company, Alphabet, has participated in the funding. The head of direct private equity investment for the Canada Pension Plan, Ryan Selwood, will be joining the board.
Waymo expects to increase its funds as it looks to expand and scale its business. The company did not disclose the current valuation of the company tied to the funding round.
According to Waymo’s CEO John Krafick, the fresh fund will make it possible for the company to add key partners and expand its operations. It will be used to invest more in expanding the team, technology, and operations, to support the deployment of Waymo Driver globally.
“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,” John Krafcik said in a statement.
Waymo’s driving technology, Waymo One, is a ride-hailing service powered by the firms’ self-driving technology. The firm focuses on developing a versatile “driver” –a collaboration of hardware and software, that is put into everything from an electric taxi to a semi-truck.
It includes the firms’ commercial public service as well as an early rider program. The early rider program is a classified research group within Waymo One. It is where the firm asses its new features and receive feedback to help the firm improve its services.
“We’re not a self-driving car company, we’re building drivers,” said Krafcik.
Its ride-hailing service has amassed over 20 million miles on public roads and 10 billion simulated miles. It currently operates in the Phoenix, Arizona area.
In a blog post, Silver Lake’s co-CEO and a nominee for Waymo’s board, Egon Durban complimented Waymo as a proven leader in self-driving technology, since it is the only autonomous vehicle company with public ride-hailing service, and is successfully scaling its fully driverless experience.
The investment was somewhat unexpected since Waymo has been wholly funded by one of the world’s wealthiest tech companies, Alphabet. However, building the technology needed for fully autonomous vehicles is extravagant, even for a large company such as Alphabet.
Advocates claim that self-driving vehicles will particularly embellish road safety. But the approval of the general public is still needed.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us, we’ve also put a lot of important milestones behind us,” Krafcik said.