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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Cyngn, a company that began as an attempt to build a more open flavor of Android and later pivoted to autonomous driving tech, is set to begin trading today following its initial public offering.

Why it matters: While special purpose acquisition companies got a lot of flack over the past year for acquiring expensive pre-revenue companies — especially in the automotive space — Cyngn's deal suggests IPOs of nascent, futuristic tech businesses aren't limited to SPACs.

Zoom in: Cyngn is focused on industrial applications of autonomous driving (a trend I've previously highlighted as being much more attractive to AV investors these days, than building robotaxis).

  • The company also has no real revenue, and net losses of $​​9.3 million and $8.3 million for 2019 and 2020.

Between the lines: While investors in the slew of electric vehicle and other auto companies that merged with SPACs were pretty excited at the outset, that didn't last.

  • Shares of companies like Fisker, Canoo, Lordstown and Nikola plunged in the spring.
  • Meanwhile, the big automakers saw their stock prices go up following positive EV news.

Yes, but: As we've said in the past, risky, pre-revenue bets going public is common in sectors like biotech. Companies developing treatments and drugs are often still in the midst of their FDA approval process, which means that investors will either end up owning a piece of a company that succeeds at developing an effective drug — or one that fails.

  • Cyngn is valued at $420 million — modest compared to the billions we saw with EV companies.

What to watch: How investors react to Cyngn's quarterly reports — and, of course, whether Cyngn delivers.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 17, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Investors shower love on Rivian and Lucid

Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Here are two numbers that say a lot about how investors view two key electric vehicle startups: $232,000 and $89 billion.

Driving the news: That's luxury EV startup Lucid Motors Q3 revenue and its market capitalization at yesterday's close of trading.

Updated 41 mins ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.