Amazon.com Inc. is in talks to buy driverless vehicle startup Zoox Inc, according to people familiar with the matter, a deal that would accelerate the e-commerce giant’s automation efforts.
Other automotive and chip industries also had discussions with Zoox about a potential investment. They added that at least one other company, business besides Amazon, has offered to buy the company. Zoox is unlikely to sell for less than the $1 billion that it has already raised, according to people, who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations.
"Zoox has received an interest in a transaction from multiple parties and has worked with Qatalyst Partners to evaluate such interest," the startup said. It declined to comment on Amazon's interest. A spokeswoman for Amazon declined to comment.
Zoox had great ambition and financial backing. The startup wanted to build a fully driverless car for this year. However, after a 2018 round of financing estimated Zoox at $ 3.2 billion, the startup board voted to oust CEO Tim Kentley-Klay. The executive criticized the move, saying the directors were “optimizing for a little money in hand at the expense of profound progress.”
Dow Jones reports that Amazon is in advanced talks to buy Zoox for less than the $3.2 billion valuations from 2018.
Amazon wants to spend heavily to automate its e-commerce business. Online retailing giant purchased warehouse robot-maker Kiva Systems Inc. In 2012 for $ 775 million and now has tens of thousands of robots in warehouses around the world.
However, paying drivers to deliver the packages remains one of the biggest costs in the company's operations. CEO Jeff Bezos announced plans for drone delivery in 2013, although they have yet to materialize at scale. Last year, Amazon revealed an experimental delivery robot called Scout in the Seattle area rolling on sidewalks like a shopping cart.
Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Jitendra Waral and April Kim wrote in a research note on Tuesday that buying Zoox could help Amazon "manage the increase in shipping costs that we project will exceed $ 60 billion by 2025".
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