Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous-driving division, is looking for outside investors, The Information reports.
The company is reportedly targeting Volkswagen and other European automakers.
Waymo and Volkswagen did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s requests for comment.
Alphabet is seeking a valuation for Waymo much larger than $15 billion and is not likely to offer a stake equal to or greater than 20% to outside investors, The Information reports.
Alphabet spends a minimum of $1 billion each year on Waymo, according to The Information, which cites former Waymo employees and executives at other companies. Waymo’s annual cost is not financially prohibitive for Alphabet, but Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat has reportedly encouraged the company’s subsidiaries to reduce costs and become more efficient. Other Waymo units, like Verily and Makani, have received investments from outside firms.
Waymo launched an autonomous ride-hailing service in parts of Arizona in 2018 that is available to a limited number of users. The company recently announced it would sell LIDAR sensors to companies that won’t use them for competing autonomous ride-hailing services.
If Waymo reaches a deal with an outside investor, it would join competitors like Argo AI and Cruise, each of which has taken investments from major automakers in recent years. Volkswagen recently reached an agreement to invest in Argo AI, which counts Ford as a majority stakeholder, according to The Information.
Volkswagen will reportedly take on about half of Ford’s investment. Cruise, which is owned by General Motors, received a $750 million investment from Honda in 2018.
Outside investment could eventually lead Waymo to separate itself from Alphabet and become an independent company.
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