This week the FT reported that Amazon is in “advanced talks” to acquire the self-driving startup Zoox. This would be Amazon’s first acquisition in the space, though it did lead a $530M funding round in Aurora in early 2019.
Zoox last raised two years ago and was valued at $3.2 billion. Rumor has it that its valuation will be less than that today. Some of its investors, according to FT, include Breyer Capital and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.
The move seems reasonable. Amazon wants to build out its (driverless) logistics capabilities. It’s also in keeping with what we have been seeing from big tech. Companies that can are using this environment to be acquisitive, invest in the future and, hopefully, gain market share. It’s probably also inevitable that the self-driving space will see some consolidation going forward.
If you go back to this post from earlier this year, Zoox and Aurora weren’t near the top in terms of R&D spending on autonomy. And it has become increasingly clear that this a giant problem/opportunity requiring giant funding capabilities. It’s going to take time.
I recently heard Chamath Palihapitiya refer to Jeff Bezos as the greatest investor of our time — even more so than Warren Buffet. Why? Because he is consistently, and sometimes exclusively, investing in the future. Is this one of those moments?