Self Driving Car

10 VC Firms Funding Self Driving Research You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

As self-driving cars have become more of a reality and less of a science fiction prop, global VC firms are stepping up to invest funds in the next big wave of the future. Investors are pouring cash into companies developing mapping software and firms creating cutting-edge navigation programs for brand-new fleets of autonomous cars. While you’ve probably heard of Waymo, Tesla, and the BMW – Mercedes partnership, there are actually hundreds of companies working and investing in self driving technologies worldwide.  Here are 10 VC firms getting a jump on the future by investing in self-driving cars.

1. IDG Capital

When the prestigious VC firm announced in October 2017 that they were beginning a significant $1.5 billion push to fund autonomous vehicle startups, the tech community stood up and took notice. Within a two-month period, they raised over $330 million for Xiaopeng Motors in its run-up to the release of the G3 SUV crossover. More recently, IDG raised $112 million for’s self-driving platform and funded Kuandeng’s high definition mapping technology.

2. Maniv Mobility

Since 2015, Michael Granoff’s Israeli VC firm has been targeting and funding promising autonomous vehicle startups worldwide. The company has poured millions of dollars into a wide variety of self-driving startups, including raising $25 million for Otonomo’s platform for designing autonomous vehicle apps. Maniv has dabbled in the automated fleet sector, funding a Series A round for Ridecell and raising $9 million for Upstream Security. The VC firm also raised $12 million for to further develop its autonomous driving software.

3. Samsung Catalyst Fund

Launched by Samsung in 2013, the Catalyst Fund finances early-stage startups in the US and abroad. The company’s portfolio is full of nascent companies developing self-driving technologies. In 2017, the VC firm raised $30 million for Autotalks and $10 million for Renovo Auto. More recently, the company has moved into funding startups working on 3D sensing and accurate mapping for self-driving vehicles.

4. Toyota AI Ventures

Explicitly created by the Toyota Research Institute to invest in AI startups, Toyota AI Ventures has spent the last year raising money for a host of autonomous vehicle startups. The company has raised over $160 million for Nauto, a Palo Alto-based startup whose self-driving system uses computer vision, GPS, and motion sensors to navigate. The VC firm has also invested heavily in May Mobility, an autonomous vehicle manufacturing startup from Michigan.

5. Matrix Partners China

Although Matrix has historically focused on the fin-tech sector, the Chinese branch of American VC firm Matrix Partners has been increasingly eying the self-driving market. Since the beginning of 2018, the company has been sinking millions of dollars into burgeoning automotive vehicle companies. In January, Matrix raised over $320 million for self-driving vehicle manufacturer Xiaopeng Motors. They also participated in a $448 million Series B funding round for CHJ Automotive, a Beijing-based startup working on an autonomous electric vehicle.

6. 360 Capital Partners

Since it took charge of the $93 million Robolution fund in 2016, the Paris-based VC firm has shown increased interest in the self-driving sector. While other investors have bankrolled American and Chinese companies, 360 Capital Partners has spent its funds on French and Israeli startups. The firm raised $34.7 million for Navya’s fleet of autonomous cabs and shuttles in 2016 and recently contributed to a $10 million Series A round for Arbe Robotics’ high-performance vehicle radar systems.


7. Synapse Partners

Synapse Partners has its focus firmly on the future of AI in transportation. Managing director Evangelos Simoudis is a longtime champion of autonomous vehicles, and the company’s portfolio reflects this interest. Synapse is a staunch backer of Renovo Auto, a startup that makes a self-driving platform for automotive vehicles. The company has also provided seed funds for and Metamoto, newer startups dedicated to developing autonomous software.

8. GGV Capital

With some of the deepest pockets in the venture capital world, it’s no surprise that GGV Capital has also made forays into the emerging self-driving vehicle market. The company gave a boost to Momenta’s HD mapping technology and raised Series B funding for Xiaopeng Motors. The firm was also an early investor in Ehang, a Shanghai-based company that is attempting to develop the first autonomous air vehicle.

9. Greycroft

While best known for successful exits from startups like Venmo and Blue Apron, Greycroft has also flirted with autonomous vehicle startups. The firm has been a significant funder of Optimus Ride, a Massachusetts-based company that makes self-driving software and whose cars can be seen traversing the streets of Boston. Greycroft has raised more than $20 million for the company’s low-speed electric vehicles.

10. O.G. Tech Ventures

Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer launched his own tech VC firm in 2017, and since its inception, the company has concentrated on security and self-driving startups. Using its sizeable dedicated fund, O.G. has raised more than $18 million for Arbe Robotics. The Tel Aviv-based startup is working on an improved version of 4D radar to help self-driving cars navigate around obstacles in the road.


Developing self-driving platforms comes with a high cost; however, these VC firms have chosen to bankroll the next big trend by adding the most promising autonomous vehicle startups to their portfolios. As tech companies perfect dynamic radar cruise control and prepare urban centers for automated fleets, these firms are making the future possible.


Uber Ipo

Lyft Releases Its First Earnings Report, Uber Prepares for IPO as Rideshare Drivers Strike Worldwide

This Week In Mobility – May 10, 2019

This week, Uber’s IPO is finally here as Lyft releases its first quarterly earnings report as a publicly traded company. In other news: Is Elon Musk out of his mind?

Lyft First Quarter Earnings Report is No Surprise

Lyft is officially a publicly traded company, and posted its first quarterly earnings report showing a loss of $9.02 per share. We’ve reported before about Lyft’s lack of revenue and falling stock prices, so it’s no surprise that the company’s first report was less than stellar.

Can Lyft and Uber prove to investors that there is money to be made in the rideshare industry? While many financial experts are skeptics, evidence shows that Uber and Lyft are transforming the way the world deals with commuting. Even US government transit authorities are using rideshare companies to avoid having to replace aging vehicles and handle other issues.

So yes, there’s money to be made, but investors shouldn’t expect the same quick returns they get from other publicly traded companies that are already profitable.

Rideshare Drivers Strike Just in Time for Uber’s IPO

On Wednesday, drivers from both Lyft and Uber logged off their driver apps and banded together to protest mistreatment from rideshare companies worldwide.

Because rideshare drivers are considered contractors and not employees, they are not able to benefit from basic employee rights such as minimum wage, Social Security (for US drivers), and other benefits.

The timing of the strike is a precarious one for Uber, as it is in the midst of setting share prices and preparing for today’s IPO. While it may seem like business as usual for Uber, the strikes may be why experts believe that prices will fall around the midpoint of their sale price range of $44 to $50. In addition to the strike, the recent NYC driver hiring freeze has hit both Uber and Lyft pretty hard in terms of future growth.

Uber and Lyft are the world’s largest rideshare companies, and many drivers work for both organizations.

Love Using Bird? Now You Can Buy One of Their Scooters

E-scooter rentals are doing so well that micro-mobility company Bird is betting that you’ll want to buy your own.

Bird announced Wednesday that the Bird One scooter, expected to be ready for sale this summer, will sell to anyone who wants to buy their own for $1,299.

Sound ridiculous? After you recover from the high price tag, it’s important to note that e-scooter rentals are booming worldwide. California-based Bird is making a smart move by taking advantage of their current popularity and announcing the scooters are now available for sale.

Back in April, Bird rival Lime announced that their scooters have weathered more than 50 million trips since they launched in 2017. But sharing scooters isn’t always ideal for some. Yes, expensive scooters are definitely a gamble. There’s a big jump between a $15 scooter rental and a $1,299 investment in an electric vehicle.

But handling the worldwide commuting crisis is going to involve risky moves from companies like Bird who are willing to experiment with new ways to get people around.

The Autonomous Vehicle Industry and Elon Musk Go Head-to-Head

Is Elon Musk a visionary or just plain crazy? Autonomous car experts are abuzz this week about Elon Musk’s latest claim: that Tesla will have a million fully autonomous “robo-taxis” on the road by 2020.

Technology publication The Next Web pointed out that “there isn’t a single consumer-facing vehicle with level five autonomy in production today.”

So yes, visionary seems a little far-fetched in this situation. Elon Musk is a highly intelligent guy, but he is a businessman. His Tesla taxi idea has legs, given the fact that Tesla owners are already renting their cars out on Turo.

A million fully autonomous Teslas making money for owners while they sleep by 2020 is not happening. The Tesla Network will take a little longer than a few months to get up and running. For now, Tesla owners will continue to recoup their investment in their vehicles by sharing them 11 days a month with “less fortunate” drivers.

On Demand Logistics Company Flexe Raises $43M

Logistics is quietly coming up in the on demand industry as a way for retailers to make money delivering goods. With heavy hitters like Amazon investing in their own delivery network, smaller retailers are looking for ways to compete.

Venture capitalists recognize the importance of competition, and are investing in ways to help retailers without deep pockets deliver items as efficiently as possible.

Tuesday, on demand warehouse startup Flexe announced a $43M Series B funding round to help companies with “‘pop-up’ storage space” needs. The company compares itself to Airbnb.

Instead of finding rooms for vacationers like Airbnb, Flexe finds temporary warehouse space for companies to efficiently move products to consumers. This model is wonderful for growing ecommerce companies that don’t have physical warehouse space or distribution partners where they need them.

Image Credit: Picture Lake


Getaround Buys Drivy

Tesla Ridesharing, Waymo Plans New Factory, Getaround Buys Drivy

This Week In On Demand― April 26, 2019

This week, a new charging station includes dedicated chargers for ridesharing EVs, Waymo announces its plans to open a self-driving car factory, and Ireland takes a cue from the US and begins questioning how legal eScooters are on its streets.

Waymo Announces Autonomous Car Factory Is Coming to Detroit

After a rocky start in Arizona (literally, people were throwing rocks at them), Waymo announced it was opening a driverless car factory in Detroit sometime this year. The company will be using a repurposed factory so it can get started as early as June 2019.

According to Waymo’s blog, this will be the first factory in the world that’s 100% dedicated to driverless car manufacturing. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved an $8 million grant for autonomous car production back in December 2018.

The news comes as a much-needed boost for the Motor City, which has been struggling to regain lost ground after the Great Recession of 2008. As Waymo brings 100 jobs and a capital investment of $13.6 million to the area, we believe that a bright future is in store for Detroit.

EVgo and Maven Unveil New Electric Charging Hub in LA

Electric charging station company EVgo teamed up with Maven (GM’s ridesharing division) and the City of Los Angeles to test a new concept in charging stations.

The charging station includes EV chargers for public use, as well as dedicated chargers strictly for Maven Gig drivers. Maven Gig provides car rentals exclusively for rideshare drivers. This is a first in the country, and if all goes well, EVgo and Maven plan on expanding the program nationwide.

It’s hard to say how successful the program will be. As rideshare drivers continue to contend with pay cuts and legislation that is decreasing the demand for rides, they will likely be unable to afford to rent cars for work. But electric vehicles help with this since there are no fuel costs.

Maven EVgo Charger


Tesla Getting Closer to Unveiling Autonomous Ridesharing Service

Tesla released some details about their plans to open their new car-sharing service, Tesla Network. The company says their tech should be ready to open and drive unsupervised within three years.

Tesla plans to create a ridesharing service that allows owners of the Model 3 to make money by allowing their driverless cars to give rides when they’re not using them. ARK Invest Founder Kathi Wood says that research indicates that Model 3 owners could make up to $10,000 yearly if they “participate fully” in the Tesla Network program.

The Tesla Model 3 costs $45,000. Owners who participate could recoup their investment within five years.

Tesla Network is certainly an innovative way to create a ridesharing service that benefits both drivers and owners. By tapping Model 3 owners, they likely will not have the same labor issues that companies like Lyft and Uber are experiencing right now.

European Car-sharing Service Drivy Bought for $300M

Getaround, a car-sharing service based in San Francisco, bought European car sharing platform Drivy for $300 million this week.

Drivy is headquartered in Paris and touts 2.5 million users in Europe. The acquisition of Drivy by Getaround allows it to significantly expand its customer base in Europe. Getaround now supports car sharing in 300 cities throughout the US and Europe.

At the heart of Getaround’s success is its proprietary technology that lets users immediately locate and unlock cars with their smartphone, similar to what Uber does with its scooter service. This eliminates the hassle of having to meet with the owner to get keys.

As car sharing and ride sharing replace car ownership in major urban markets, companies like Getaround will continue to Thrive.

Ireland Questions the Legality of eScooters on Its Roads

As the mobility and on demand sectors continue to increase in popularity, governments are beginning to examine current legislation to find ways to legislate and tax ride-sharing services and mobility companies.

Ireland is the latest country to begin debating the legality of eScooters.

According to Irish law, it is illegal to drive motorized scooters on the country’s sidewalks. Drivers are also required to have a driver’s license and proper insurance for the vehicles. Police have “turned a blind eye” to the law because it is impossible to find a company willing to write an insurance policy for the vehicles.

While the safety of eScooter rides is constantly being questioned by governments around the world, we don’t believe that this will have any effect on the industry as a whole.

That’s the news for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s roundup.

driving uber on christmas

Driving Lyft Or Uber Around Christmas – What To Expect

Driving around Christmas usually results in decent to good money. This year should be a little better because Christmas falls right after a weekend. Overall, business should be steady most of the time this coming weekend, with some periods of really busy ridership.

In most markets, Friday, Saturday will probably be the busiest days overall, although don’t count on the evenings being busier than a normal weekend evening.

Expect a fair number of airport runs throughout the weekend and even on Christmas Eve.

Christmas itself should be okay, but most of the driving money will be made in the days before and after Christmas

Here’s what you can expect, and how to have a successful Christmas if you choose to drive Uber or Lyft this weekend.

Driving Uber Or Lyft Christmas Week – What To Have In Your Car

This weekend you should have in your car whatever you would normally have with the one exception. On Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, keep the following items in your car:

  • paper towels
  • plastic bags
  • Clorox wipes

You’ll need these items because on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, people may be transporting food to other peoples houses. If possible, have the passenger put the food in the trunk.

Just in case, you want some paper towels around (and a plastic bag to put them in) to take care of any inadvertent spills that may occur during transport.

Better safe than sorry.

What To Expect – Driving Uber Or Lyft The Weekend Before Christmas

The whole weekend should be steady, with some busy spikes.

You should expect a fair number of airport rides as people start leaving and coming into town throughout Friday.

Saturday should be steady all day and get increasingly busy towards the evening. The morning and early afternoon should see a pretty good brunch crowd, along with a lot of shoppers.

While Friday and Saturday nights should be busy, don’t expect them to busier than an average weekend night. While a lot of people will be going out, they usually do anyways.

And for every person visiting, someone else probably left town.

Shopping areas should also be busy all weekend as people get their last minute Christmas gifts. Many people will have Monday off, so expect a busier Sunday evening than normal.

Another consequence of many people taking Monday off is that the morning commute that day won’t be super busy.

However, a lot of people will still be headed to the airport. Expect things to start getting busier around noon as even more people catch their Christmas eve flights, and people who did have to go to work, go home early.

Monday night should be steady throughout, but not overwhelming. People who stayed in town will likely be going out. People who flew in, and already need a break from their families will also be going out.

Expect A Lot Of Last Minute Shoppers

driving lyft on christmas


What To Expect – Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, expect to be driving around tons of last-minute shoppers. You may also get a couple of airport runs during the day. Towards the late afternoon and early evening, many of your rights will be taking people to other peoples houses for Christmas Eve get togethers.

Don’t Wait At Grocery Stores

If any passengers want you to wait while they pick up just one thing from the grocery store, politely decline.

Starting Sunday, supermarkets are going to get busy, and going in to get one or two items can wind up taking twenty minutes.

So, end the ride, and move on to the next one.

What To Expect – Christmas Day

In most markets, Christmas Day is steady (but not spectacular) in the morning and early afternoon. Business tends to die down a bit from the late afternoon until later in the evening.

In the morning, don’t be surprised if you get at least one airport run.

More and more people fly home on Christmas day, because it’s usually cheaper than flying the couple of days beforehand.

Other than that, you’ll be taking a steady stream of riders to their friends and families places to celebrate Christmas.

If you drive later in the evening, after 7 PM, you’ll have a steady stream of riders going home. Oh, and if it seems slow out, head to a multiplex.

A lot of people actually go to the movies on Christmas Day.

What To Expect – The Day After Christmas

In most markets, the day after Christmas should be decent, but not super busy. However, traffic will be light, and there will be a lot of people going to the airport.

The morning should be steady, and rush hour traffic will be lighter than normal most places. If you plan on driving the day after Christmas, your best bet is to be on the road by 7 or 8am.

One Final Tip

While you should always drive defensively, it’s even more important this week. Unfortunately, there are likely to be a few people drink, and then get behind the wheel this weekend. So, always be aware of your surroundings, and constantly scan the road ahead.

If you plan on driving for Lyft or Uber this Christmas weekend, hopefully this guide helps you drive profitably.

Best of luck out there and have a merry Christmas.

Looking For The Best Rideshare Company To Sign Up With?

Sign up to drive with Lyft today and get a sign up bonus.

With Lyft, you can sign up to drive even if you don’t have a car!


Uber driver after collecting his signup bonus.

Uber CEO was rebuffed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk

Last year, after Apple invested $1 billion in Didi, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick approached Elon Musk about teaming up in the self-driving car sphere. Elon Musk said no and advised Mr. Kalanick that Uber should stick to its strengths. It’s looking like Mr. Musk may have been right.

The book is called Wild Ride: Inside Uber’s Quest for World Domination.

Source: Bloomberg

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