VC Deals: SoftBank Puts $940M In Self-Driving Bots

by: VCDeals

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1. SoftBank bets $940M on autonomous delivery bots

SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBF, OTCPK:SFTBY) Vision Fund invested $940M in autonomous vehicle startup Nuro at a $2.7B valuation.

Nuro was founded by two vets of Google's self-driving project (now called Waymo) and last year launched an autonomous vehicle for grocery deliveries and other errands. Last year, Nuro and Kroger launched a pilot grocery delivery program in Arizona that uses a delivery bot without a safety driver. Nuro also licensed its tech to autonomous truck startup Ike.

The massive infusion will likely go towards expanding its delivery service, scaling up its fleet of self-driving bots, signing up new partners, and hiring.

2. Amazon makes another vehicle investment

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) led a $700M equity round in electric truck startup Rivian. GM (NYSE:GM) was reportedly still circling a potential investment.

Rivian plans to launch its R1T pickup truck and R1S sport utility in the U.S. next year with a global launch following in 2021. The vehicles are modeled on a "skateboard" platform the company says has the flexibility to accommodate several different vehicle body styles. Amazon's investment in Rivian came a week after the tech giant participated in a funding round for autonomous vehicle tech startup Aurora.

Competitors: Traditional truck and SUV automakers like GM and Ford (NYSE:F) plus Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA).

3. DoorDash seeks $500M

DoorDash (DOORD) is reportedly raising for a $500M round that would push its valuation to between $6B and $7B. Temasek is expected to lead the round. DoorDash has already raised nearly $1B in funding from backers that include SoftBank and Kleiner Perkins. Valuation was $4B when the company raised $250M last year.

Earlier this year, DoorDash expanded its operations to cover all 50 U.S. states. The company has also reportedly started to supplement its driver income with consumer tips, similar to Instacart.

Competitor: GrubHub (NYSE:GRUB), Uber (UBER) Eats, and Postmates (POSTM), which filed for an IPO earlier this month.

4. Reddit confirms Tencent investment

Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY, OTCPK:TCTZF) pitched in half of the confirmed $300M round in Reddit, the "front page of the internet." TechCrunch reported on the investment last week, and the confirmation followed. The Series B round also included Sequoia, Fidelity, and Snoop Dogg and brought the valuation up to $3B.

Reddit generated $100M in revenue last year and plans to double the figure in 2019. As of late November, Reddit had 330M average MAUs and 14B screen views per month. Tencent's investment rankled some Reddit users, but the company says it has no plans to create a censored version of the platform for the Chinese market, where the site is currently blocked.

5. Credit Karma for businesses gets $44M

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) participated in a $44M round in business credit startup Nav. Point72 Ventures and Experian Ventures. As part of its investment, Goldman's investment group managing director Rana Yared will join Nav's board.

Nav essentially serves as a Credit Karma for small businesses, showing their credit scores from the major consumer and commercial credit agencies for free, which makes it easier for the company to know its financing options. Nav's platform also contains over 100 financing products including loans and credit cards. Those payment partnerships are how Nav makes its money.

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