The latest example is autonomous vehicle business Aurora, a prospective challenger to Tesla which announced Thursday that it has secured over $530 million in a Series B round led by Sequoia and including participation from Amazon, Lightspeed, Shell and T. Rowe Price. The funding values the less-than-three-year-old startup at more than $2.5 billion, per Bloomberg, and comes about a month after reports first emerged that the company was raising new cash.
That reported valuation is a significant jump from last February, when the Palo Alto-based business brought in a $90 million Series A at an estimated valuation of $583 million in a round funded by Greylock Partners and Index Ventures.
Aurora was founded in 2016 by a highly pedigreed team of former top-level employees at other companies working on the cutting edge of driverless tech. That includes Chris Urmson, a former CTO for self-driving cars at Alphabet and the leader of the company's Waymo project, as well as Sterling Anderson, who previously led Tesla’s autopilot team, and Drew Bagnell, a former member of the autonomous team at Uber. The company plans to use the latest funds to accelerate the development of the Aurora Driver platform, which aims to encompass the hardware, software and data service needed to power self-driving tech.
Sequoia partner Carl Eschenbach will join Aurora's board of directors as part of the deal. While the size of Amazon's commitment to the company is unclear, this isn't the first time the ecommerce power has explored the utility of autonomous transportation. Earlier this year at CES, Amazon unveiled a collaboration with Toyota, Uber and a handful of other large companies on a new automated delivery vehicle called the e-Palette.
Stock in Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) closed Thursday down more than 3% in the wake of Aurora's announcement.
Related read: Self-driving car startup launches amid funding boom