Kodiak Robotics, a self-driving vehicle startup, announced that it raised $40 million in Series A funding, led by global investment firm Battery Ventures. CRV, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tusk Ventures participated in the funding round as well. Battery Ventures General Partner Itzik Parnafes will join Kodiak’s board as part of the investment.
“Autonomous driving is likely one of the most major technology shifts of the last 100 years,” said Parnafes in a press release. “We have been researching this trend for several years and feel confident we are backing an experienced, savvy team that can capitalize on the opportunity in a unique way.”
Founded by Don Burnette, a co-founder of self-driving trucking company Otto (which was acquired by Uber in 2016), and Paz Eshel, a former venture capitalist, Kodiak aims to alleviate the strain on the freight market through self-driving technology. While freight volume is at record levels, there is a significant shortage of drivers. In fact, the American Trucking Association (ATA) estimated an industry shortage of 51,000 drivers at the end of 2017, compared to a shortage of 36,000 in 2016.
In just three months, Kodiak has hired a world-class team of engineers, with experience in shipping self-driving vehicles on public roads.
Earlier in Burnette’s career (before Otto), he was one of the early engineers of Google‘s self-driving car team. Eshel was most recently a VP at Battery Ventures, where he led its autonomous-vehicle investment project.
“This financing, coming just three months after founding Kodiak Robotics, is a huge validation for our vision,” Burnette said. “We believe self-driving trucks will likely be the first autonomous vehicles to support a viable business model, and we are proud to have the support of such high-profile investors to help us execute on our plan.”
Kodiak Robotics will use the funds to expand its team and further product development.