Amazon has agreed to acquire autonomy startup Zoox for a sum in excess of $1 billion, according to sources cited by The Information. The news comes hot on the heels of a Wall Street Journal report last month indicating that such talks were taking place. The deal, expected to be announced formally today, would value Zoox at significantly lower than the $3.2 billion valuation it received during a funding round in 2018. But given the current state of the economy, a seven-digit payout is nothing to sniff at.
Zoox, which quietly started work in the early 2010s, burst into the public consciousness last year not so much thanks to its technology but rather a lawsuit. Tesla alleged that the company improperly acquired proprietary documentation along with some poached staff.
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That's a shame, because the company's technology is novel, focusing on bespoke vehicles designed exclusively for fully autonomous use. Its designing vehicles that don't even have a front or a back: They'll able to operate in either direction seamlessly and will be optimized for use in a ride-hailing environment.
Exactly how that squares with Amazon's goals remains to be seen. The mega-retailer has made numerous investments in the automotive space, including a $700 million stake in Rivian to create an electric delivery van. So the company has its money in electric and now, perhaps, driverless vehicles, too.