Nuro, the best known startup working on self-driving robots for transporting goods on city streets, said it would raise nearly $1 billion in financing from SoftBank after previously taking a little less than $100 million from other investors. Nuro’s new post-money valuation is reportedly $2.7 billion, which means SoftBank would take a roughly 35% stake. However, a person familiar with the deal said the full investment would not be paid up front.
No deal terms were disclosed, so we don’t know what kind of special financial protections SoftBank might be receiving from Nuro in exchange for the funds. SoftBank’s $100 billion tech investment fund, which is mostly made up of Saudi Arabian money, has not wasted any time trying to crown winners in the nascent field of autonomous vehicles, even though it will take many years to play out. SoftBank took a nearly 20% stake in General Motors’ self-driving passenger car unit Cruise last year.
Why is the Nuro Series B funding so big? It likely has to do with hardware development costs. Nuro has designed its own small unmanned vehicle that is currently being tested in suburban Phoenix. We have been watching Nuro from afar for the past two-plus years because of its core technical team, which has Google pedigree.