Self-driving car startup Zoox zooms ahead with new $1.55 billion price tag

In the self-driving car arms race, cash is key.

On that front, Menlo Park-based startup Zoox seems to be cleaning up. The company, which is working its own autonomous vehicles, reportedly raised $50 million last month — driving its valuation up to $1.55 billion.

Hong Kong hedge fund Composite Capital was one of the investors, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The Journal attributed news of the round of funding to anonymous people familiar with the matter.

The 2-year-old company, co-founded by Stanford engineer Jesse Levinson, so far hasn’t given the public much in the way of a sneak-peek into its technology. Zoox’s website, unhelpfully, offers nothing more than the company’s logo. Its LinkedIn page says: “We’re developing fully autonomous vehicles and the supporting ecosystem required to bring this technology to market.”

The latest round of funding comes after Zoox reportedly raised $200 million at a $1 billion valuation last summer.

That chunk of cash gives Zoox a leg up to compete with others racing to get their self-driving cars on the market, including Google and Uber. The ride-hailing giant recently rolled out a fleet of self-driving Ubers in Pittsburgh.

Zoox, along with 18 other companies, has approval from the California DMV to test its autonomous vehicles on public roads in the state.

But there are still plenty of roadblocks for self-driving car companies. Last month, Comma.ai put the brakes on technology it was developing that would have given self-driving capabilities to certain regular cars. The startup received a letter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration highlighting safety issues with the technology and threatening fines of $21,000 per day. Comma canceled the launch of its coming product, the Comma One, explaining on Twitter: “Would much rather spend my life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers. It isn’t worth it.”

Photo: A screenshot of the Zoox logo, as it appears on the startup’s website. (Zoox)

 

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  • Kirk Hilles

    I’m still curious as to how this “mysterious” company can raise so much money without showing off anything. I don’t see how having a fully-self-driving vehicle go across the US reveals any secrets. I mean, Delphi did that a year and half ago. No biggie.

    Oh, and one more time for Hotz:

    “Would much rather spend my life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers. It isn’t worth it. -GH 2/3”

    Yeah, he’d rather release a product that’s pretty much untested and puts people’s lives at risk rather than go through the “right” process to ensure your product is safe. Kinda like someone coming up with a “miracle pill” but not really interested in having it lab tested or anything. Good riddance.

 
 
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