Report: Google’s Waymo seeks outside investment and a sky-high valuation

Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle subsidiary Waymo may raise outside capital for the first time at a valuation “at least several times” that of Cruise, the General Motors-owned autonomous vehicle business worth nearly $15 billion, according to a report published by The Information on Monday.

We’ve reached out to our sources to confirm. Waymo didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Waymo, which is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary, is a cash-intensive unit. Raising capital from outside investors, a move said to be encouraged by chief financial officer Ruth Porat, would help limit costs and would allow Alphabet the opportunity to display Waymo’s valuation for the first time in several years. Alphabet, however, does not want to relinquish too much equity in the business, formerly known as “Project Chauffeur,” per The Information’s reporting.

Waymo, years ago, was valued at $4.5 billion, though analysts claim it could surpass a valuation as high as $175 billion based on future revenue estimates. For context, a valuation north of $100 billion puts Waymo significantly ahead of Uber, Tesla, GM and Ford.

Google, currently touting an $817 billion market cap, can afford to support Waymo. This, however, is not the search engine’s first time seeking third-party investors for its very own moonshot bets rather than continuing to deploy solely its own capital to the businesses. Both Verily, a Google-owned life sciences research and engineering organization, and Makani, a wind energy business also spun out of Google X, have sold equity to Silver Lake and Shell, respectively.

Cruise, for its part, has similarly sought outside capital since being acquired by GM in 2016 for $581 million. In mid-2018, The Vision Fund invested $2.25 billion in Cruise, giving SoftBank a nearly 20 percent stake in GM’s self-driving business.

Waymo became a standalone business in 2016 and is today managed by chief executive officer John Krafcik, Porat and chief technology officer Dmitri Dolgov. The company made headlines late last year when it launched Waymo One, a commercial robotaxi service in the Phoenix area — its first profitable endeavor. More recently, Waymo announced it would sell its custom light detection and ranging sensors, or LiDAR, to companies outside the self-driving car industry in another move toward profitability.

According to estimates, Waymo could book $114 billion in revenue in 2030.