Automotive Companies and Venture Capitalists

Paul Lienert has an interesting piece in Reuters today about self-driving car startups. The piece touches on a few things: a particular startup called Nullmax, the geography of self-driving car startups, and valuations.

Two things caught my eye in the piece, though. One is the outsized role of Israeli startups in the autonomous vehicle space. There are relatively few Israeli startups working on full, end-to-end self-driving cars, but Reuters counts more Israeli startups in the perception and automotive connectivity spaces than the US has, respectively.

It’s notoriously difficult to count startups and I’m not sure I quite believe that Israel has more startups in any sector than in the US, but it’s nonetheless worth considering Israel as one of the world’s centers for autonomous technology.

The other part of the article that caught my eye is the dichotomy between how venture capitalists view autonomous startups and how traditional automotive companies view the same startups:

“While big automotive and technology companies are pouring billions into the autonomous vehicle space, Silicon Valley investors so far have been fairly restrained in increasing their bets.”

On the one hand:

With the notable exceptions of Andreessen Horowitz and New Enterprise Associates, few of the big Valley venture capital firms are heavily invested in the sector. Overall, only seven of the top 30 self-driving startups have received later-stage funding…

On the other hand:

All told, U.S. automotive and technology firms likely have invested some $40 billion to $50 billion in self-driving technology in recent years, mainly through acquisitions and partnerships…

Among the top corporate investors in the sector are Samsung Group [SAGR.UL], Intel Corp (INTC.O), Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), Delphi and Robert Bosch GmbH [ROBG.UL].

Read the whole thing.

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