Startup Watch: By

Six months ago I wound up on a plane next to an executive from BYTON, an autonomous vehicle startup targeting the Chinese market.

At the time, I was unfamiliar with the company. But since then, BYTON has appeared more in the press. Most recently, they announced a partnership with Chris Urmson’s Aurora to power the autonomous stack in BYTON vehicles.

BYTON is notable for a few things.

First, the company seems to be a hybrid of China, Europe, and Silicon Valley, with leaders coming from all three locations. I wonder if more startups will be organized that way in the future.

Second, the are raising a ton of money. $200M so far, and they’re rumored to be raising a $400M round right now. Designing and manufacturing cars is capital-intensive.

Third, they are betting big on China’s electric vehicle mandate. The exact number or percent of vehicles that must be electric is a little hard to pin down, but it seems to be on the order of ten percent by 2020. BYTON is presumably hoping that being an electric-first vehicle company will give them an advantage.

Fourth, look at that dash screen.

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