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Waymo's self-driving lineup (Photo courtesy of Waymo)

Waymo said it has raised $2.25 billion in new funding — adding its first non-Alphabet investors — and said it will likely bring in other first-round investors as its self-driving technology moves closer to commercialization.

Why it matters: It's a strong signal that these investors believe Waymo — the self-driving tech startup from Google parent Alphabet — is leading the race to bring automated vehicles to market. But it's also a reminder that the technology is incredibly expensive, and eventually, parent company Alphabet expects Waymo to stand on its own.

Details: The round was led by private equity firm Silver Lake, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Mubadala Investment Company, a UAE sovereign wealth fund. Additional investors include Magna International, AutoNation, VC fund Andreessen Horowitz as well as Alphabet.

  • Waymo declined to share its post-money valuation.

Between the lines: In a call with reporters, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said the strategic help from its new investors is just as important as their money.

  • Magna, a top auto industry supplier, is already a partner on manufacturing and engineering, helping to integrate Waymo's "driver" into Chrysler Pacifica minivans at a facility in Detroit. The two firms may now collaborate on new sensors, Krafcik said.
  • AutoNation, a large car dealership chain, services and maintains Waymo's fleet of 600 self-driving minivans in Phoenix.
  • Egon Durban, co-CEO of Silver Lake, will join Waymo's operating board, along with a representative of the Canadian pension fund.
  • “We’re deeply aligned with Waymo’s commitment to making our roads safer, and look forward to working together to help advance and scale the Waymo Driver in the U.S. and beyond," Durban said in a blog post.

The big picture: Seeking outside investment for Google's big bets like Waymo is not unexpected, according to Krafcik.

  • "This is really along the evolutionary path we had imagined, that the companies would move in the direction of more independence and autonomy...We're right on path with the Alphabet plan."
  • Alphabet's life-sciences unit, Verily, raised $1 billion from outside investors, led by Silver Lake, in 2019.

What's next: Waymo also let slip the commercial name for its new cargo delivery division — Waymo Via. It had planned to reveal the name at this week's Geneva Auto Show in Switzerland, which was cancelled due to coronavirus fears.

Go deeper

31 mins ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.

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