The Self-Driving Car Company, Aurora, has managed to raise a whopping $530 Million in the funding round led by Sequoia Capital and Amazon, for the development of its Self-Driving Technology. Post this funding round, Aurora will be valued more than an impressive $2.5 Billion. This adds one more Billion Dollar Company to the Self-Driving Segment, only after Waymo, Tesla, Uber, and Cruise.
According to a blog post from Aurora, apart from Sequoia and Amazon, T. Rowe Price Associates and Index Ventures will also be seen as making considerable investments on the company in this Series B Funding Round. Earlier, in February 2018, Index Ventures had already made investments as a part of the Series A Funding.
Chris Urmson, Aurora Co-Founder and CEO, in an interview with Bloomberg, was seen as expressing his excitement on this achievement. On being asked on Why Amazon is getting into Self-Driving Cars, Chris’s reply was more or less from Aurora’s perspective.
Apart from being an E-Commerce and Technology Giant, Amazon also has a huge Logistics Division. It is the Logistic Division of Amazon, that Chris thinks could make Amazon a potential customer to Aurora. Hence, in the near future, there is a possibility that we may see Aurora’s Self-Driving Cars delivering goods for Amazon. A similar approach is already being tested by Cruise Automation – by pairing up with DoorDash to use Self-Driving Cars for Food Delivery.
However, Amazon investing in a company focusing on Autonomous Navigation does not come as much of a surprise. Being a tech giant, Amazon has come up with some of the most innovative technologies of the current time, Amazon’s Smart Home Division being one of the best examples for the same.
Amazon Robotics themselves has recently been investing heavily in the research and development of Self-Driving Technology and AI. The recent launch of Amazon’s Self-Driving Delivery Robots, the Scouts, in Washington is such an attempt.
Self-Driving Cars, when used in the Logistics Industry has the power to yield major positive outcomes. Having Self-Driving Cars in delivering goods will help these companies in diverting their human resources to other work streams thereby ensuring efficient utilization of resources. This could be one major reason as to why Amazon is investing heavily in the Self-Driving Segment.
Index Ventures, however, attributes the fact of Aurora being a complete Stack Provider of Self-Driving Technology as the distinguishing factor to be one of the main reasons for their investment in the company. Aurora’s notable Leadership Community, Independent Nature as a firm, and their unique road map to achieve goals are other factors that piqued Index’s interest in Aurora.
Aurora is currently led by a Leadership community of people who once played key roles in developing Self-Driving Technology at Google, Waymo, Uber, and Tesla. Hence, it is of no doubt that this startup is led by some of the best people in the industry.
On the other hand, Sequoia, in one of their official posts, cites Aurora’s Culture, Dedication, Humility, Leadership community, and Continuous Discussions as some of the reasons that encouraged them to understand Aurora in depth and move forward with the funding
Sequoia’s choice of picking startups for funding is truly commendable. In fact, some of the most notable companies in the Fortune 500 space were funded by Sequoia in their early days. The list includes Google, Yahoo, Cisco, Linked In and many other prominent names. Hence, if Sequoia did pick on Aurora from the Self-Driving Segment, then it definitely means they see the notable potential.
This funding round could be a major booster for Aurora at this point. Aurora is currently in need of a huge growth curve if they are to compete with some of the major players in the Self-Driving Segment – Waymo, Tesla, Uber, and Cruise. Of these, Waymo and Tesla already have a commercial fleet of Self-Driving Cars on the road. Cruise is also in the process of taking its Self-Driving Technology to people.
Though Aurora has not provided much clarity on how it plans to spend the funded money, we could make some general assumptions. Expanding as a company in terms of more human resources, office spaces and technical advancements could be some of the key action items in the list. We could also expect to see more of Aurora’s Self-Driving Test Cars on the road.