Another big leap by Amazon by acquiring the deal with Zoox, an electric self-driving car startup with manpower of 1000 members. It is really a great move for the e-commerce giant to tie up with an automobile company.
To maintain its vision, Zoox will continue its operations as a standalone company. Amazon also said that the leadership team of Zoox, comprising the CEO Aicha Evans and the CTO Jesse Levinson, will continue to lead the team.
The CEO of Amazon’s Global Consumer Jeff Wilke said, “Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience. Like Amazon, Zoox is passionate about innovation and its customers, and we’re excited to help the talented Zoox team to bring their vision to reality in the years ahead.”Source
Certain chatter related to the deal surfaced a little earlier than last month when “The Information” reported that the company had hired Frank Quattrone’s Qatalyst Partners to help them find a buyer. Rumours of the acquisition then started emerging around last month when it was reported that Zoox would be acquired for less than $3.2 billion, which is the amount it was valued at in July 2018. This deal has been worth $1.2 billion, although not confirmed yet, to Amazon which would give it control of the nearly 1,000-person technology startup. Reports suggest it is one of the biggest purchases in its history, after Whole Food which was acquired for $13.7 billion in 2017. Generally, Amazon has always made acquisitions for less than $1 billion.
The important question here and one that has raised many speculations is- how Amazon would choose to utilize this technology? One of the answers that came up was by “The Information” which suggested that Amazon would want to use it to make autonomous deliveries. Another response was from “The Financial Times” which mentioned that it would be used to produce an autonomous ride-hailing fleet to compete with other companies like Alphabet’s Waymo. Amazon has not yet clarified its further action through Zoox’s technology, but some are expecting them to offer fast and cheap deliveries.
It is no secret that Zoox had been going through slightly tumultuous times in recent years. When the co-founder and ex-CEO Tim Kentley-Klay was fired from his leadership post in 2018, this Silicon Valley company took a major hit. It is accused by Tesla saying that some of the former employees of it who are currently working with Zoox have leaked their trade secrets. After laying off about 120 of their contractual staff, Zoox then had to cut about 100 jobs, essentially 10% of its staff in April.
Numerous companies like Uber, Tesla, Alphabet’s Waymo, GM’s Cruise are already working on the development of autonomous cars. However, there is a wide array of challenges that these companies face. The operational, technical and regulatory challenges are mammoth in acting as hindrances to these car-technology oriented companies. Some of these companies, like Aurora, Alphabet’s Waymo already established an automated driving system and are united into the vehicles of other well-established automakers. Zoox’s technology can turn wheels sideways for much tighter manoeuvres, taking parallel parking to another level. Up until now, Zoox had been testing their technology on the road in retrofitted Toyota automobile models. Amazon’s leadership undoubtedly has the potential to speed up the process and the ability that resides within Zoox to deliver this automated technology to the world.