Nuro has raised $600 million in a fundraising round led by new investor Tiger Global Management, capital that the autonomous delivery startup will use to ramp up commercial operations.
The funding has pushed Nuro's valuation to about $8.6 billion — or some 72% higher than a year ago — according to people familiar with the round who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak for the company. A group of mostly existing investors joined the Series D round, including Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Management & Research Company, China-based venture firm Gaorong Capital, grocery retailer Kroger, SoftBank Vision Fund 1, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. and Woven Capital, a venture arm of Toyota subsidiary Woven Planet. Google, a new investor, also joined the round.
"With the boost of this new funding, we're turning our focus to commercializing and scaling the production of our third-generation vehicle at our new facility in Southern Nevada," Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president said in an email to TechCrunch. He added that construction on its manufacturing facility will begin in December and is expected to be completed in 2022.
As part of Tuesday's funding news, Nuro also announced a five-year partnership with Google Cloud. Securing a cloud computing platform partnership is on the to-do list of any autonomous vehicle company hoping to commercialize. Self-driving vehicles — on the road or in a computer simulation to test the technology — generates vast amounts of data, making cloud services one of the bigger costs for an AV company.
Under this particular deal, Nuro and Google said they will also "explore opportunities together to strengthen and transform local commerce." What's unclear is how this partnership and investment in Nuro fits in with Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a standalone business under parent company Alphabet.
Nuro is developing autonomous vehicle technology. Unlike others in the burgeoning segment, Nuro has focused its capital on designing and deploying a low-speed electric self-driving vehicle that transports packages, not people.
Nuro has found a steady and ready stream of investors since former Google engineers Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu founded the company in June 2016. Nuro’s Series A funding round of $92 million, which officially closed in June 2017, included Greylock, Banyan and gave NetEase founder Ding Lei (aka William Ding) a seat on Nuro’s board. Less than two years later, a $940 million investment made by the SoftBank Vision Fund helped push Nuro ahead of numerous other startups attempting to commercialize autonomous vehicle technology.
Nuro has also landed several high-profile partners. The company has completed or is currently piloting its technology with a number of companies, including CVS pharmacies, FedEx, Kroger grocery stores and Walmart.
Correction: A previous story listed Chipotle as a partner; the fast-casual restaurant chain is solely an investor.