The freeway of startup ambitions is suffering from the wreckage of corporations that aimed to deliver autonomy to the long-haul trucking trade.
Earlier this week, we documented the downward inventory market trajectory of Embark Know-how, a startup — backed by a number of big-name VCs — that has seen nearly all of its valuation evaporate since going public the previous 12 months.
However we’d be remiss to create the impression that Embark is the one high-valuation startup to search out obstacles on the street to implementing autonomous trucking. Loads of upstarts devising labor-saving methods to truck items from level A to level B have discovered something however a straightforward path to market.
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Utilizing Crunchbase information, we recognized at the least six corporations, along with Embark, which have raised enterprise capital for autonomous truck expertise. Of these six, three have shut down and one has seen its valuation crumble. A pair extra are nonetheless trucking forward, having final raised financing in sunnier instances for the house.
Beneath, we take a look at probably the most outstanding funding recipients, and the place they’re now:
No. 1 Otto: San Francisco-based Otto, one of many earlier startups targeted on self-driving vehicles, offered to Uber for $680 million in 2016. About two years later, Uber shuttered its self-driving truck division and stated it could focus its autonomous driving efforts on vehicles.
No. 2 Starsky Robotics: Starsky Robotics, a venture-backed San Francisco-based autonomous trucking upstart, was one other casualty. The corporate shut down in 2020 after its Sequence B fell via. Starsky had raised simply over $20 million in funding because it was based in 2015.
No. 3 Peloton Know-how: An analogous destiny befell Peloton Know-how, a Silicon Valley-based autonomous and related driving expertise startup that developed a automobile “platooning” system to allow pairs of vehicles to function at an in depth following distance. The corporate raised over $78 million in recognized funding earlier than shuttering final 12 months.
No. 4 TuSimple: Subsequent up is TuSimple, a San Diego-headquartered developer of robotic truck expertise that carried out an IPO in April 2022. It has additionally fared poorly. After going public at an preliminary valuation round $8.5 billion, the corporate now has a market cap round $500 million, and what seems to be a unfavourable enterprise worth. Shares fell final month when the corporate fired its CEO amid an investigation into improper ties to a Chinese language startup.
No. 5 Kodiak Robotics: Yet another that’s nonetheless on the street is Kodiak Robotics, which has raised $165 million in enterprise funding up to now. Notably, the Silicon Valley firm took on debt financing for its final spherical of $30 million in October. Whereas we don’t know Kodiak’s particular motive for taking debt, it’s typically a technique for corporations that want progress capital however want to keep away from a VC-funded down spherical in a time of declining valuations.
No. 6 Aurora: Final however not least is Aurora. Based in 2017, the Pittsburgh-based firm introduced in summer season of 2021 that it could go public by way of a merger with a SPAC, Reinvent Know-how, at an preliminary market capitalization of round $13 billion (together with about $2.5 billion in money). On the time, the corporate deliberate to first launch its autonomous driving expertise for the trucking trade in 2023, with last-mile supply and ride-hailing markets to observe. Shares are actually down greater than 90% from their post-debut peak a couple of 12 months in the past.
The broad takeaway? This can be a onerous market to crack and, whereas spectacular expertise abounds, nobody has but succeeded commercially. Traders are presently not trying so optimistic in regards to the prospects that anybody will both.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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