The autonomous vehicle war is very much a money war

March 3, 2020, 2:44 PM UTC

Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous driving unit, has raised its first external round of capital. And it’s quite the round. 

The company raked in $2.25 billion in fresh capital from investors including Silver Lake, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Mubadala Investment Company, Magna International, Andreessen Horowitz, AutoNation, and Alphabet itself.

This means that Alphabet no longer has full ownership of Waymo, and more importantly, no longer has to shoulder the hefty financial burden alone. According to a report in The Information, Alphabet was spending at least $1 billion per year on Waymo.

Waymo’s not the only one to raise big cash for its autonomous driving dreams. You may remember that last year, Volkswagen agreed to invest approximately $2.6 billion in Ford’s autonomous vehicle partner, Argo AI, in a deal that valued the Pittsburgh-based startup at $7 billion. Soon afterward, China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing also announced that it had spun out its autonomous driving unit into an independent company.

The autonomous vehicle war is very much a money war. The company most willing to spend will be able to outlast any rival not willing to shell out the cash necessary to fund the innovation. Hence the spin-offs. Outside funding can help cut costs for the parent companies while bringing in deep-pocketed partners and forming alliances that will pay off in the (very expensive) future.

Data Sheet’s Adam Lashinsky also had some thoughts on this. Read them here.

PEOPLE MOVES: Cyan Banister is leaving Founders Fund (where she was a partner) to join a firm called Long Journey Ventures. In a blog post, she writes, “[Founders Fund] was always supportive, however they are also stage agnostic and generalists and hoped I would be able to do all stages and I can not. I just can’t.” She will be working on early-stage deals in her new role. (Read Term Sheet’s Q&A with Cyan from 2018.)

Polina Marinova
Twitter: @polina_marinova


- GameOn Technology, a San Francisco-based conversational application platform company, raised $10.5 million in funding. Quest Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Mirae Venture Partners and Paxion.

- Sonantic, a London-based provider of expressive and realistic artificial voices, raised €2.3 million ($2.6 million) in funding. EQT Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Entrepreneur First, AME Cloud Ventures, and Horizons Ventures.

- Zapata Computing, a Cambridge, Mass.-based enterprise software company for quantum applications, raised funding of an undisclosed amount from Honeywell Ventures.

- Mize, a Tampa, Fla.-based provider of connected customer experience platform and service lifecycle management software for manufacturers, raised funding of an undisclosed amount from M33 Growth.


- C16 Biosciences, a Somerville, Mass.-based producer of sustainable alternatives to palm oil using biotechnology, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Breakthrough Energy Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including  Waldencast, Future Tech Labs, Y Combinator, DCVC, Sound Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures and Liquid 2 Ventures.


- Francisco Partners agreed to acquire Smith Technologies, a wholly-owned subsidiary of J M Smith Corporation. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Graycliff Partners sold NAL Group, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based provider of last mile logistics and on-premise installation services, to CRST International, Inc. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Argand Partners acquired Midwest Can Company and Container Specialties, Inc. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 


- Knowlton Development Corporation acquired Cosmetic Laboratories of America, a Chatsworth, Calif.-based developer of personal care and beauty products. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 


- GFL Environmental Holdings, an Ontario, Canada-based waste management firm, raised $1.5 billion at the midpoint of an offering of 75 million shares (2% insider sold) priced at $19 apiece, an upsized IPO below its previous $20 to $21 range. The company also raised $775 million through a concurrent offering of 15.5 million tangible equity units priced at $50. The firm posted $3.3 billion in revenue for 2019 and loss of $451.6 million. BC Partners, Ontario Teachers, and GIC back the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE and TSX as “GFL.” Read more.

- Springer Nature, the London-based publisher of science magazines Nature and Scientific American, is preparing to list next week in Frankfurt, but may delay plans if the coronavirus continues to impact markets, Reuters reports citing sources. BC Partners and publisher Holtzbrinck back the firm. Read more.

- Imara, a Boston-based biotech developing small molecule therapies for rare genetic disorders, filed for an $86 million IPO. It posted a loss of $23.5 million in 2019. New Enterprise Associates (31.8% pre-offering), Lundbeckfond Invest (16.3%), and Pfizer (11.2%). It plans to trade on the Nasdaq as “IMRA.” Read more.

- Warner Music Group Corp and Cole Haan Inc have sidelined plans to kick off their IPOs early this week due to coronavirus’ impact on markets, Reuters reports citing people familiar with the matter. Read more.


- AE Industrial Partners acquired Adcole Maryland Aerospace, a Crofton, Md.-based developer of spacecraft components and small satellites, from Adcole Corporation, a portfolio company of Artemis Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Criteria Corp, a portfolio company of Sumeru Equity Partners, acquired Revelian, an Australia-based in the field of emotional intelligence and game-based assessments. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- RevSpring, a portfolio company of GTCR, acquired Loyale Healthcare, a Lafayette, Calif.-based provider of solutions that develop financial relationships between providers and their patients. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Stone-Goff Partners sold NAS Recruitment Innovation, a Cleveland, Ohio-based marketing agency, - offers human resource marketing, and recruitment advertisement services, to M3 USA. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 


- Bregal Sagemount, a New York-based private equity firm, raised $1.5 billion for its third fund, Bregal Sagemount Fund III.

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