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Ex-Google self-driving car project picks up new investors

by Ace Damon
Ex-Google self-driving car project picks up new investors

SAN FRANCISCO —
Google's former autonomous vehicle project is becoming a more autonomous business, bringing it into its first investors, in addition to its corporate parent.

Waymo raised $ 2.25 billion from a group of investors led by Silver Lake and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board to help the company continue to develop its autonomous driving technology for its ride service and a recently launched truck division.

Other investors in the deal announced on Monday include Mubadala Investment Company, auto parts manufacturers Magna International, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and AutoNation, the largest chain of car dealers in the United States.

Until now, Waymo relied exclusively on funds from its parent company, Alphabet, which also contributed to the $ 2.25 billion investment.

The infusion of money from new investors marks Waymo's biggest step towards leaving Alphabet. This is something that analysts speculate will eventually happen as soon as their autonomous car technology becomes advanced enough to start generating significant revenue.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said that a split "has always been on the script" during a Monday conference call with reporters. "We see this investment as another validation of what we are doing," said Krafcik, who declined to disclose how much Waymo is being valued by investors, but said the company is still in discussions to raise even more money.

Alphabet does not specifically disclose Waymo's financial performance, but groups its results with a group of other projects and high-risk companies, known as "Other Bets". This division lost $ 4.8 billion last year, with revenue of just $ 659 million.

But analysts think Waymo could become a gold mine, because he is considered to be the leader in the race to manufacture robotic cars that can eventually eliminate the need for human beings behind the wheel and revolutionize the way people move.

So far, however, Waymo is operating only a small hitchhiking service in the Phoenix area, although it still plans to branch out in other parts of the U.S. and eventually internationally as well.

Correction:

This story has been corrected to reflect that the $ 2.25 billion raised by Waymo is being made through investments, not loans.

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