Waymo's Fundraising Might Hint at an Upcoming IPO

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Mar. 19 2021, Published 12:52 p.m. ET

Two years after Waymo CEO John Krafcik co-founded the vehicle autonomy tech company in 2009, Google acquired the brand. Since then, Waymo's corporate interest has traded under Alphabet stock (NASDAQ:GOOGL). Investors hope that Waymo will have its own IPO in due time.

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Now, with a multi-billion dollar fundraising round under its belt, there's actually a reason to believe that Waymo is working toward a market debut sooner rather than later. 

Waymo raises $2.25 billion from late-stage venture firms and governments

While some of Google's publicly-raised capital helps propel its autonomous vehicle unit, that isn't the only place Waymo gets its funds. The $2.25 billion mainly came from outside investors.

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The leaders of the pack included:

  • Silver Lake
  • Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
  • Mubadala (Abu Dhabi state investment)

Silver Lake is known for late-stage pre-IPO growth investing, which it performs through a strategy titled Silver Lake Waterman. Silver Lake's focus is on tech and tech-adjacent companies, which makes Waymo is an ideal target. The fact that the other key investors are outside of the U.S. sparks the notion that Waymo's global growth is inevitable.  

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The Waymo taxi is "never drunk, never tired, and never texting."

Waymo has equipped the Chrysler Pacifica minivan into a level five autonomy beast. Julianne McGoldrick, Waymo's communication manager, touted the vehicle's capabilities on NBC's Today. Some features are particularly relevant right now, including the built-in social distancing feature as well as the fact that the van circulates 99 percent of the air between passengers for minimized viral transmission risk.

McGoldrick said that the Waymo taxi is "never drunk, never tired, and never texting," which is more than can be said about the manually driven roads at large.

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Recent research suggests that Waymo is deemed a safe driver based on "a wide variety of road types in different urban environments," according to The Verge. The brand expects to prove this by 570 hours of data that will be publicly available soon. Potentially, Waymo used the data to lure in venture capitalists, which helped it score that $2.5 billion. 

Waymo's delivery program 'Via' is also en route

EV delivery? No, we aren't talking about Workhorse. In early March, Waymo announced its fully autonomous delivery program, Via. This was likely another siren for institutional investors, but it's also noteworthy for retail investors. Granted, the program will take years to eclipse the pilot level. Presumably, we'll see the taxi program launch first since it was announced two years ago. However, an expansion of efforts is always a good sign.

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Waymo's IPO plans

Now more than ever, Waymo looks like it's working toward an IPO. There are absolutely no SEC documents (they aren't there yet). However, the fact that Waymo is expanding its international reach and getting in with known IPO-prep investors makes the prospect seem plausible, if not impending.

As for when we'll see steps forward in the public offering process, it's too soon to say. Interested investors should keep their nose to the ground for updates. 

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