Sep 11, 2017

Self-driving car startup Zoox talks funding with SoftBank

Eugene Hoshiko / AP

Zoox, the secretive Silicon Valley startup building a completely self-driving car, has held discussions with SoftBank Group about a new funding round that could value the company at between $3 billion and $4 billion, Axios has learned from multiple sources. The talks are still at a preliminary stage, the sources caution, and may not result in a deal.

Big checks: It's no surprise that Zoox is raising so much money — one source tells Axios it's seeking to raise at least $1 billion —given its ambitions. Unlike other startups in the self-driving car realm, Zoox wants to build the entire robot car from the ground up, not just specialized software. This takes huge amounts of money and resources.

SB plan: SoftBank has spread its money around in the self-driving car wars, apparently more interested in betting on a secular shift than in any particular winner.

Funding history: Zoox so far has raised just over $250 million, most recently at a post-money valuation of around $1.55 billion. Shareholders include Breyer Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Lux Capital, Raptor Group and Thomas Tull. It's also made some notable hires in the last few months, including former NHTSA Mark Rosekind, rocket scientist Brandon Pearce, and recently poached 17 engineers from Apple.

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Details: Tuesday night's grim milestone came hours after President Trump said it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the novel coronavirus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place. "They are going to be facing a war zone," he said of medical workers.

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  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
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  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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