Nuro, the self-driving delivery startup joins the trés commas club

It is Tuesday, February 12, 2019. In case you forgot.
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Nuro, the self-driving delivery startup joins the trés commas club

Yesterday, Nuro announced that it raised $940 million in funding from Softbank to help fuel the growth of the company’s fleet of adorable autonomous delivery vehicles. The company is now valued at $2.7 billion.

A true marvel of efficiency, Nuro created an autonomous driving technology stack, built custom vehicles, and partnered with Kroger to launch a same-day delivery service all in the span of about two and a half years.

What’s the autonomous angle?

The self-driving vehicle race is a crowded and competitive one. Big players like Uber, Ford, GM, and Google (by way of Waymo) are all betting big on autonomous driving technology and the space has been filled with defection, poaching, and the occasional $245 million intellectual property lawsuit.

Nuro separates itself from the pack in two notable ways.

First, unlike the other companies which are all designing self-driving cars that drive people, Nuro’s vehicles are only eight feet long and cannot fit a person. Instead, the R1 vehicles are equipped with two compartments that fit six grocery bags each. Nuro is billing itself as a last-mile solution (like many e-scooter companies) to make running errands a thing of the past.  

Second, instead of safeguarding their IP, Nuro is licensing it to other companies. The company sold the rights to use its software to Ike, a self-driving truck startup (which recently raised $52 million of its own).

SoftBank goes hard

We should probably take a second to talk about who's behind Nuro’s latest funding round, the omnipresent SoftBank.

The name should ring a bell -- SoftBank has been on a spending spree over the last few years, shelling out cash from its $100 billion fund for investments in Uber, WeWork, and Slack (among many others).
SoftBank’s ability to toss around a casual billion dollar investment is having far-reaching effects in the venture capital world.
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Brendan Uyeshiro
Brendan Uyeshiro