Kodiak Robotics is one Of the last private self-driving car company focused on trucking still standing. Almost everything else is obsessed with the public market and the capital it can provide. But co-founder and CEO Don Burnette says the company’s three-year-old strategy of staying focused and small is paying off.
He said in an interview below that he could run a commercial-scale business with about $ 500 million in funding. An overview of these bring-to-market costs is 10% of Waymo’s external funding, which is less than 25% of the total funding of its newly listed company, TuSimple.
Kodiak’s strategy is to adopt a hyperfocused approach specifically for autonomous trucks that outsources many technologies such as data labeling, lidar, radar and mapping to existing enterprises. Burnett, one of the four founders of Uber-acquired self-driving truck startup Otto, is moving towards faster, cheaper, and more efficient commercialization than building its own systems and teams. I think it’s the way.
The company is working with technology partners within its existing ecosystem to enter the market and move cargo to commercial customers. According to Burnett, Kodiak’s driver technology has reached maturity to handle whatever the highway throws. In December, the startup achieved “free delivery” between Dallas and Houston. This meant that you didn’t have to turn off the autonomous system for safety reasons.
The following interview is part of an ongoing series with the founders who are building the shipping company and has been edited for length and clarity.
Earlier, you said that Kodiak would need a total of about $ 500 million to use a commercial unmanned vehicle. You also said there were some private funding rounds, but publicly you have raised only $ 40 million. Can you still carry out your vision so far?
absolutely. Like startups, we are always in funding mode. We are always in talks with investors. And now there are a lot of great things happening behind the scenes that we haven’t announced yet. If we can see it as an indicator of the health of the company, we are growing and adopting it.
Our technology and plans are very sound and we are stepping up our commercialization efforts in a very exciting way for the industry as a whole and the market. As you pointed out, we need to raise more money, which is certainly not a secret, but I think there are multiple options for doing so.
“Kodiac is one of the only full-fledged AV truck companies still in the private sector, and I think it gives us some advantages in many ways.”
How are you going to fill that gap? Are you looking at venture capital or are you looking for an IPO or SPAC?
We are considering all of the above. It is a constant discussion within the company about what is the best path for Kodiak and the appetite and strategic relationships of different forms of investors. Nothing is excluded.
The stock market is clearly very attractive and exciting. I think TuSimple has demonstrated that an IPO with the right set of indicators and the right set of momentum and partners is possible and has the potential to succeed. I think there are many opportunities in VCs and private markets. Kodiak is still one of the only full-fledged AV truck companies remaining in the private sector, and I think it gives us some advantages in many ways.
What do you think of the current autonomous venture funding environment? For example, is it harder now than it was four years ago?
My appetite has changed. In particular, investors are skeptical of timelines and promises. There is no Wild West excitement like it was four or five years ago. It was certainly a golden age of financing for early-stage companies.
Kodiak was at the end of that era, and now the goal post has changed, and the target investor has changed. Companies like Kodiak are no longer talking about early-stage venture capital. It is a large number of growing funds, and growing funds look for different types of indicators. They demand commercial traction, product and market compatibility, users, efficiency and more.
Kodiak Robotics’ founder says tight focus on autonomous trucks is working – TechCrunch Source link Kodiak Robotics’ founder says tight focus on autonomous trucks is working – TechCrunch