Softbank Vision Fund has decided to put in a hefty $ 940 Million into the Self-Driving Delivery Robot Company Nuro. This week seems to be a ‘Funding Week’. Earlier this week, Amazon, Sequoia and Index Ventures had invested a notable amount into the Self-Driving Car Startup Aurora Inc.
Like Amazon, Softbank seems to be pretty focussed on the Self-Driving Segment. After investing in Cruise and the Self-Driving Wing of Uber, Nuro has now come under Softbank’ Vision Fund.
Earlier last year, Softbank had invested nearly $2.25 Billion into Cruise Automation and thereby acquired a 19.6% share in the company. After Cruise, in terms of the size of the paycheck, Nuro marks Softbank’s second largest investment in the Self-Driving Segment.
With this nearly Billion Dollar Investment, it is not quite clear as on whether Soft Bank would acquire a stake in the company. However, there is a very high probability that Soft Bank might do so.
Other notable fundings received by Nuro are from Greylock Partners and Gaorong Capital. The combined funding from all these investors (including Soft Bank) goes easily over $1 Billion. The funding numbers are pretty impressive for a startup such as Nuro, which is just completing three years of age.
Per a report from the Wall Street Journal, Nuro is currently valued at a whopping $2.67 Dollars. This makes Nuro an entrant to the most elite Billion-Dollar Startups in the Self-Driving Segment. Other Billion Dollar companies in the Self-Driving segment include Waymo, Uber, Tesla, Cruise and Aurora.
Since its inception, Nuro has been performing pretty well, as a company. Nuro currently has 6 Delivery Bots catering to customer needs on the streets of Arizona. Arizonians seem to be loving these extremely cute looking delivery robots. Post their deployment, there has been widespread positive reviews and feedbacks on the Nurbot’s service.
The company had also increased its employee count to 200 within a span of 2 years. Though this increase in the count is smaller compared to the likes of companies such as Cruise, the number is still notable considering the niche in which Nuro plans to thrive.
Nuro’s performance as a company could only be one of the factors that made Softbank put in this investment. Yet another factor that may have attracted the Investment Giant would be the unique niche in which Nuro has set foot.
With most of the top companies focussing on Self-Driving Cars for commercial deployments as Taxis or Public/Joint Commute Vehicles, Nuro’s vision and roadmap on the establishing themselves as the prominent players in the Self-Driving Delivery Segment are what sets it apart from a traditional Self-Driving Company.
Though Nuro’s vision focuses on a specific objective as compared to other companies, the industry that Nuro has set eyes is on is indeed huge. In the United States alone, consumers spend a hefty 30 Billion Dollars on Food Delivery in a year. This unique niche selection by Nuro could yet another be a major driving factor that put them in Soft Bank’s radar.
Now that Nuro has received the funding, they will need to start showing some sort of returns on the invested amount. This will require the company to deploy more Nuro bots on the road – for testing as well as for delivering orders.
As of now, Nurobot deliveries are restricted to local routes. We may start seeing these bots start taking up slightly longer trips as a part of the post-funding action items. An increase in the size of the company in terms of more office spaces and human resources could also be list of action items to be done with the funding money.