Car Tech Startup Aurora Snags $530M From Amazon, Others

Car Tech Startup Aurora Snags $530M In Funding

Aurora, a self-driving car technology company, has raised upwards of $530 million in a series B financing round led by Sequoia Capital, with a large investment from Amazon and T. Rowe Price Associates, according to reports.

The announcement follows a $90 million funding round in February of 2018 from Index Ventures and Greylock Partners, bringing the total amount raised to around $620 million. Aurora’s valuation is now at $2.5 billion.

Other participants in the round include Shell Ventures, Geodesic, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Greylock.

Carl Eschenbach, a Sequoia partner, is going to join Aurora’s board. Other notable names on the board include LinkedIn Co-founder Reid Hoffman and Mike Volpi from Index Ventures, a previous investor.

The company has expanded rapidly since it was founded in 2017, with offices in Palo Alto, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. It hired Jinnah Hosein, the former head of software engineering at SpaceX, to lead its software engineering team. Aurora also has current partnerships with Volkswagen, Hyundai and Byton, a Chinese electric vehicle startup.

Amazon and Sequoia’s participation signify a long-term strategy for the company, said Chris Urmson, one of the founders of Aurora. “We’re trying to be strategic about it and have people around the table who share the vision of where we want to go as a company and who understand how hard the problem is — this is not a short-term play — knowing that ultimately, we will need more capital,” he said.

Amazon didn’t say if there was a direct relationship in terms of customers, but Amazon said Aurora was a forward-thinking company.

“We are always looking to invest in innovative, customer-obsessed companies, and Aurora is just that,” Amazon said. “Autonomous technology has the potential to help make the jobs of our employees and partners safer and more productive, whether it’s in a fulfillment center or on the road, and we’re excited about the possibilities.”

Aurora engineers are trying for Level 4 autonomy in their vehicles, which would mean that the car handles all of the driving in certain conditions, according to SAE International designations. It doesn’t necessarily mean the transportation of just people, as it could be applied to the transportation of goods.


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