Quantifying the driverless startup boom

To get driverless car startups, raising capital seems to take place on autopilot. Acquirers and investors have put billions into the space within the past few years at the race to get early mover advantage. They’ve shown no desire to hit the brakes lately either, as signaled by a spate of recent prices, for example last week’s $450 million purchase of autonomous driving software developer NuTonomy into Delphi Automotive.

In an effort to put the deal-making in view,  Crunchbase News has aggregated some of those metrics for startup investment at the space. Our finding — that driving is a sector that is red-hot — is already evident.

However, in addition, we discovered:

  • Startup investment so far this year is over double 2016 totals.
  • While Silicon Valley is a known hotspot for autonomous driving, Israel is a fairly good No. 2 for startup prices, with all of the 10 biggest rounds this year. Intel’s $15.3 billion purchase of Mobileye, an Israel-based startup, can also be the largest M&A bargain to get an autonomous driving-related company for this or any year.
  • Self-driving technology rounds are fairly crowded. For U.S. investments at the space this year, we discovered just 1 financing — Ford’s investment in Argo AI — with a lone investor. (And that wasn’t a traditional VC deal, since it’s Argo developing technology specifically for Ford.) On average, U.S. autonomous vehicle-related deals this year had a mean of seven recorded investors each round.

Valuations for self-driving technology organizations are going up together with around sizes, Chris Stallman, spouse at transportation-focused venture firm   Fontinalis Partners, informs Crunchbase News. Part of the impetus stems from suppliers and automakers, many of whom therefore are making acquisition supplies to promising companies and are aggressively expanding their capacities.

“They are trying to shore up their supply chains and are fearful of getting tied to a technology company that can ultimately be acquired by a competitor,” Stallman says. Meanwhile, traditional VCs and corporate venture investors are also actively expanding term sheets to gifted startup teams.

In the following sections, we take a look at some key metrics for your car startup space: greatest rounds, year-over-year comparisons and biggest M&A deals.

Investment revs up

Like 2016 was a remarkably bullish interval for driving investments, it seemed. However, at first glance, 2017 makes year look kind of slow.

So far this year, investors have poured about $1.4 billion into companies in the space, over double 2016 levels ($630 million), based on Crunchbase data. Deal count is relatively flat, with approximately 43 rounds at the first ten months of this year compared to 48 in all of 2016. We compiled a list of notable deals for this season  here and also for 2016 here.

As always, metrics are not imperfect. Some companies, such as Lyft and Uber, aren’t called self-driving automobile startups, but do have tactical plans , inner R&D and partnerships. For this practice, we concentrated mostly on firms that principally characterize themselves as engineering companies, leaving out ride-sharing and new auto brands. Also worth noting is that the biggest bargain for this year, Ford’s $1 billion investment into Argo AI, has attributes of both a partnership bargain and an acquisition.

There is some blurring of categories, including companies that operate in sectors like security or vehicles. (When looking at more mature companies in the space, another thought is that many, such as computer vision juggernaut Mobileye, started out before driverless vehicles existed as a discrete category.)

The biggest bargains of 2017

Not only are autonomous car startups raising big rounds, but they’re doing so at early stages of development.

In the chart below, we take a look at the 10 biggest rounds for self-driving tech firms this year. Half of the top 10 are less than three years old.

Have checkbook, desire startup

Acquirers have continued to snap up companies this year. Definitely the largest deal rsquo Intel &buy of Mobileye — involved a mature, publicly traded company. But buyers also picked up startups, such as rsquo October &purchase of NuTonomy into Delphi Automotive.

In the chart below, we look at the Biggest M&A transactions lately between technology startups that are self-driving:

Parking all that capital

For vehicles that are autonomous, potentially the capacity will be able to brake when necessary. For investors that are autonomous car, but the greatest concern seems to be whether they’re accelerating.

“I don & rsquo Even though valuations have crept up;t believe we’ve attained an oversaturation in rdquo; Stallman says, & autonomous car companies. 1 reason automakers are prompted to move fast is that much of the early invention in autonomous vehicles came from the years following the 2008 financial crisis, when U.S. automobile firms were fighting for survival and R&D endured. Now they’re needing to catch up.

However while rsquo, they &;re paying for self-driving talent, acquirers and investors are aware of the risks Stallman says. Technologies on the street requires beating a variety of challenges and will require understanding of the automobile & rsquo; s better maps surroundings processing capacities and decision making.

There will be losers and winners. Inside this space, but the race to the finish point is occurring at a remarkably rapid pace.

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