Amazon in talks to acquire autonomous-driving startup Zoox

The acquisition would breathe new life into the “once-high-profile startup”

The Wall Street Journal’s reporting that Amazon is in “advanced talks” to acquire autonomous-driving company Zoox. The companies are reportedly discussing an acquisition that would cost Amazon less than the $3.2 billion valuation Zoox received during a 2018 funding round. According to those familiar with the closed-door talks, the deal between the two companies is still weeks away and “could still fall apart.”

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Founded in 2014, Zoox has focused its efforts on developing the hardware and software needed to create electric-powered robot taxis that could be summoned by a smartphone app. Over the years, though, Zoox has struggled to reach the funding level needed to achieve its goals. According to WSJ, “A successful deal could give new life to a once-high-profile startup that has seen its fortunes dim as it struggled to raise money.”

While Amazon has yet to comment on the news, a Zoox spokesperson shared with WSJ that the startup “has been receiving interest in a strategic transaction from multiple parties and has been working with Qatalyst Partners to evaluate such interest.”

Zoox emerged at a time when Silicon Valley investors were intrigued by the thought of autonomous taxis and delivery vehicles. Ultimately, interest in the company has waned as co-founder Tim Kentley-Klay was unable to secure the kind of investments Zoox needs to keep pace with its better-funded competitors. The Zoox board removed Kentley-Klay from the company in 2018.

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Should Amazon acquire Zoox, it wouldn’t be the company’s first foray into driverless tech. Amazon previously created a team devoted to driverless technology and has made several investments within the space over the last few years. The company recently participated in Aurora Innovation Inc.’s $530 million funding round and made an investment in electric-car maker Rivian Automotive.

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