Prototypes Zoox VH4 (left) and VH5 (right).
Amazon is preparing to take a big step in the world of unmanned vehicles. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon is in talks to acquire Zoox, a technology developer for unmanned taxis. Along with Amazon, other interested parties are considering startup offers in Silicon Valley.
The Amazon team rated Zoox below its estimated market value and is not ready to pay more than $ 3.2 billion – a startup received this assessment during the last round of financing. There is no final agreement yet, and when the transaction will take place is unclear. Some investors at Zoox hope that a company that seeks to create its own fleet of unmanned taxis and advance its technology will be able to remain independent.
California-based Foster City said in an email that “Zoox does not comment on rumors and speculation as part of the company’s policies.” Amazon also declined to comment on this issue.
“We believe that $ 1.1 billion is a fair price to buy a company. This is 65.6% less than the previous estimate of $ 3.2 billion, ”said Assad Hussein, an analyst at Pitchbook, who tracks and evaluates startups.
Zoox was founded Australian artist and designer Tim Kentley Clay and Stanford Computer Specialist Jesse Levinson in 2014. Zoox sought to create a business of unmanned taxi and delivery vehicles that would combine all the advanced aspects of autonomous driving along with electric motors. This would effectively serve customers in urban markets. Zoox specially created a vehicle designed for use in a company fleet, and not for personal use. They want to put it into operation at the end of this year. Kently Clay was fired in 2018, shortly after the company announced a round of financing of $ 500 million. At the beginning of 2019, the CEO of Intel INTC, Aisha Evans, took over as CEO.
Despite the fact that Zoox has raised nearly $ 1 billion since its inception, the company’s plans require significantly more capital for the development and production of automobiles. Since getting a few billion dollars is problematic, Zoom thought about a deal for a potential purchase of the company.
“Zoox is likely to be bought by a large technology company and then the startup will undergo revaluation, given its precarious financial position due to the costly approach to developing unmanned vehicles,” says Hussein. “The acquisition of Zoox should enable Amazon to expand its capabilities in the unmanned vehicle market.”
Amazon has invested 440 million US dollars in electric car manufacturer Rivian and announced plans to buy 100,000 cars from them For delivery. Despite this, the company has become more cautious about unmanned vehicles.
Amazon also participated in the round $ 530 million investment at Aurora Innovation, another stand-alone technology startup from Google, Tesla, and Uber. However, Amazon did not say anything about their plans for using Aurora technology.
“If Zoox were acquired for about $ 1 billion, this price would put the company on a par with the largest unmanned haulers. That decision would be logical given Amazon’s interest in logistics, ”says Hussein. Such companies include TuSimple, valued at $ 1.2 billion after investment round D in September 2019, and PlusAI, which is currently valued at $ 1 billion, according to Pitchbook.