Toyota Woven Planet

Toyota’s Woven Planet subsidiary announced this week that it will acquire Lyft’s Level 5 self-driving car team. What is Woven Planet?

Woven Planet is the new-ish name for what was formerly Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development (TRI-AD). Last fall Toyota re-branded TRI-AD as Woven Planet, and attached an $800 million investment fund, called Woven Capital. Woven Planet also consists of Woven Core (autonomous vehicles), Woven Alpha (future bets, like “Woven City”), and Woven Planet Holdings (executive leadership of the entire group).

Toyota communicated the Lyft Level 5 acquisition as a deal by Woven Planet Holdings, rather than Woven Capital. I’m not sure how much to read into that. The original announcement of Woven Capital highlighted $800 million to invest over 10 years, so $550 million spent on Lyft Level 5 within the first year would be quite a shot out of the gate. Perhaps this $550 does not count against the original $800 million.

I’m also struck by the difference in how Uber and Lyft divested their self-driving units. Uber essentially paid Aurora to take ATG, providing about $400 million to the smaller start-up, in exchange for an ownership stake.

Lyft, on the other hand, sold Level 5 to Toyota for $550 million cash (paid out over several years).

The announcement from Woven Planet CEO James Kuffner doubles down on weaving.

“This deal will be key in weaving together the people, resources, and infrastructure that will help us to transform the world we live in through mobility technologies that can bring about a happier, safer future for us all.”

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