Otto plans self-driving trucks for 2017. nuTonomy looks to raise. Unbundling logistics providers.
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Long haul

Hi there,

Pressure on traditional freight and logistics providers has ratcheted up from all angles, as tech corporates and startups alike continue pushing into the space:
  • Flexport, a freight forwarding tech startup, raised a $65M Series B at a valuation "well over" $300M.
  • Following its acquisition by Uber, self-driving trucking startup Otto outlined plans to expand its fleet and forge partnerships, aiming to begin hauling freight as soon as next year. Uber is also recruiting heavily to expand its UberEats delivery services internationally.
  • The WSJ detailed Amazon's ambitions to not just supplement its logistical partners, but supplant them altogether with a growing number of delivery hubs and industry hires. Amazon is also building its logistics assets by leasing aircraft, buying trucks, and developing delivery drones.
On that last point, this week also saw Starship Technologies and UPS announcing expanded testing of self-piloted drones (the latter collaborating with startup CyPhy Works).

These tech companies are targeting major cost drivers with automation (long-haul trucking, last-mile fulfillment) and attacking stodgy, traditionally-managed processes with software and analytics (freight forwarding, routing).

Startups zeroing in on specific needs now cover the full spectrum of transportation and logistics services, with some complementing incumbent providers and others going toe-to-toe with them.

Silicon gold rush

Besides automakers, suppliers, and software developers, semiconductor companies are yet another stakeholder looking to cash in on the rise of self-driving and connected vehicles.

Two of these players made news today, as Qualcomm was reported to be in talks to acquire NXP Semiconductors, a deal likely worth north of $30B. Both companies are listed on the Nasdaq (although NXP is Netherlands-based).

Qualcomm has been looking to diversify its smartphone-heavy business, and NXP would bring the San Diego chipmaker healthy revenue streams from growth markets.

Following its acquisition of Freescale last year, NXP is currently the world's largest provider of automotive silicon, with over a third of its total revenue now coming from the sector.

Nvidia, which was early to pivot towards the self-driving space, also unveiled its new Xavier system-on-a-chip for autonomous vehicles. A Strategy& forecast this week had new tech and software suppliers grabbing an increasing share of the automotive profit pool at the expense of incumbents.

Have a great rest of the week, everybody.


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This Week in Auto Tech
A curated mix of recent articles on auto tech financings, exits, announcements, hirings, partnerships & perspectives.
Flexport raises $65M. The San Francisco startup announced its Series B from new investor Joe Lonsdale and existing investors like Founders Fund, Bloomberg Beta, Felicis Ventures, First Round Capital, and others.

Karamba Cybersecurity raises $2.5M. The Israeli auto cybersecurity provider raised a Series A from new investor Fontinalis Partners, joined by YL Ventures and GlenRock.

Company News & Personnel Moves
Plug and Play Insurance's first batch. The accelerator's first insurance batch includes a number of self-driving and auto telematics startups.

Qualcomm targets NXP. The San Diego company is in talks to purchase the Eindhoven-based NXP amid a wave of consolidation in the semiconductor industry. Nearly 40% of NXP's revenues come from automotive clients.

nuTonomy partners with Grab, looks to raise. The self-driving startup has partnered with Uber's Singapore-based rival to further its trials in the city-state. nuTonomy is also seeking to raise a fresh round of funding.
Fortune / Bloomberg

Uber expands food delivery, plots VTOL. The company is gearing up for an international push of its UberEats service. Product head Jeff Holden also said that Uber is seriously researching vertical-takeoff craft for short-haul flying in cities.
Reuters / Recode

Otto's goals for 2017. Uber has already started pitching Otto's services to shippers, truck fleets, and independent drivers for deployment next year.

Amazon plans to unseat UPS and FedEx. The e-commerce giant has been assembling capital assets and industry talent in an ambitious push towards logistical independence.

German automakers collaborate for data sharing, 5G telecom. BMW, Daimler, and Audi (of VW) will contribute to live traffic data sharing through their jointly-owned HERE mapping company. The automakers also partnered with telecom companies to accelerate 5G development.
Reuters / Fortune

More delivery drone developments. DC will be the first US municipality to see ground drones, as regulators cleared Starship Technologies for trials this fall. UPS and CyPhy Works also tested urgent drone deliveries for remote areas.
Recode / UPS

Articles & Perspectives
Strategy&'s 2016 connected car report. PwC's consulting unit analyzes the prospects, commoditization risks, and security challenges facing automakers in the connected car era.

KBB Autonomous Vehicle Driver study. A survey of over 2,000 US respondents saw a mixed reaction to self-driving tech. However, respondents with actual exposure to semi-autonomous vehicles were significantly more favorable towards the technology.
Kelley Blue Book

Analyzing NYC taxi data. Todd Schneider (@todd_schneider) updates his analysis of ridership data in New York, comparing Uber, Lyft, and traditional yellow cabs.
Todd Schneider
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