Aerospace corporates in auto tech. Most active OEMs in startups. An AI religion.
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Investing at 35,000 feet

Hi there,

Beyond the usual (groundbound) stakeholders like automakers, their suppliers, and other mobility providers, aerospace players have also begun placing their own bets in auto tech private markets.

We analyzed investment and acquisition activity of the 10 largest aerospace corporations by revenue, with auto tech falling out as a top area of interest:

Much like automakers (and other corporations across the spectrum), aerospace companies have also been establishing venture units to tap into private markets, with Airbus launching its CVC in 2016 and Boeing establishing HorizonX this year.

These corporations are interested in bringing fleet visibility, advanced materials, and computer vision to airplanes, and auto tech lends considerable strategic value to that ambition. See the research brief for more on aerospace corporates and their other investments.

Aerospace startups are also exploring electrification; this week low-cost carrier EasyJet announced it would join forces with YC-backed startup Wright Electric to develop a fully electric commercial airliner within a decade. On the other hand, Boeing HorizonX and JetBlue Technology Ventures have also backed Zunum Aero, another startup working on hybrid-electric regional aircraft.

Keeping up with the OEMs

With automakers like Ford and Daimler sustaining their pace of startup activity (the latter snapping up flinc yesterday), we mapped out and analyzed dealmaking activity of the top 5 automakers in private startups. If you're an expert research client, check it out.

This week in auto tech
  • Dyson makes it official: The vacuum maker's EV program has made rounds in the rumor mill ever since its acquisition of Sakti3 in 2015; Dyson also has poached several Aston Martin execs this year. The company has now disclosed plans to launch a "radical" electric car in 2020.
  • The cost of AV development: More details emerged around the spend demanded by AV-related R&D, with HERE Maps spending $767M on R&D in 2016 (or 55% of its sales). Last week also saw revelations on Waymo's $1.1B spend through 2015 (more on Waymo's internal valuation below).
  • Lyft's Ford partnership, IPO plans: The #2 US ride-hailing player has stolen the spotlight with a steady stream of major announcements. Ford has also joined Lyft's autonomy platform, putting it in an interesting position with crosstown rival (and Lyft backer/collaborator) GM.
  • Startups investing in startups: Major transportation companies (TNCs) continue to spread their capital among other startups; Didi Chuxing invested in Chinese used-car marketplace Renrenche this week, while Grab also backed self-driving startup

Have a great weekend everybody!


(Expert Research) The 5 most active OEMs in startup investment and M&A

With automakers vying for access to tech and talent in autonomy and beyond, we analyze the most active OEMs in startups since 2014. Check out the post.
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Where aerospace corporates are making bets in auto tech, IIoT, and drones

We dug into the private market bets made by large aerospace companies including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Airbus, and more. See the analysis.
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Companies researching teleoperation for autonomous vehicles

Patents analysis shines a light on 4 companies researching remotely operated autonomous vehicles. Check out the patents.
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Uber strategy teardown: The giant's plans for autonomy, food delivery, and financial discipline

The $68B gorilla continues to expand globally in places like India and Brazil and is still chasing autonomous driving. See the report.
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This Week in Auto Tech
A curated mix of recent articles on auto tech financings, exits, announcements, hirings, partnerships & perspectives.

Deals & Funds
JingChi raises $52M. The Chinese autonomous driving company has raised a "pre-A" round and plans to deploy several hundred robotaxi vehicles by next year.
China Money Network

Didi invests $200M in Renrenche. The strategic investment is a boost for Renrenche as Chinese used-car startups furiously raise capital.
China Money Network

Grab invests in The $15M investment will go towards's international expansion, including a Singapore office.

Daimler acquires flinc. The automaker's Mobility Services division has acquired the peer-to-peer carpooling service.

Lyft preps IPO. The company is reported to be close to hiring an advisory firm for its public offering.

Faraday admits LeEco link. Faraday Future admitted that its employees designed parts for LeEco's EV.
The Verge

HERE spending in 2016. The mapping company spent $767M on R&D in 2016, or roughly 55% of the company's sales for the year. A Chinese-led group has also withdrawn an offer to buy a stake in HERE after US national security concerns.
Automotive News

EasyJet and Wright Electric. The startup is joining forces with EasyJet to develop a full-electric airliner within a decade.

Ford and Lyft. The Dearborn-based automaker has partnered to test and deploy its self-driving vehicles on Lyft's platform.

Toyota and Luminar. The OEM unveiled its latest self-driving platform, featuring two steering wheels and lidar units from startup Luminar.

Toyota, Mazda, and Denso's EV alliance. The Japanese joint venture will be 90% owned by Toyota, with each of the other partners taking a 5% stake (and building on a previously announced partnership between Toyota and Mazda).

Alexa auto. Amazon's voice assistant continues popping up in cars; BMW is the latest OEM to begin integrating Alexa into its new models.

US senators announce self-driving legislation. A bipartisan deal has been reached on legislation aimed at easing hurdles in AV development.

Articles, Perspectives, & Studies
Waymo's valuation and Levandowski's AI-religion. Google's internal valuation for its self-driving division is $4.5B; engineer Anthony Levandowski has also founded an artificial intelligence religious organization called Way of the Future.

Why battery startups fail. Charles Choi explores the hurdles facing startups pursuing battery tech, citing CB Insights data on the topic.
IEEE Spectrum

Not enough startups in self-driving. Reilly Brennan of Trucks VC believes that too many companies are working on dongles for car data, and not enough startups are tackling AV decision-making systems.
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