Argo AI, the autonomous startup backed by Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG is considering going public as early as this year, according to people familiar with its plans.
Bryan Salesky, a co-founder of Argo, told employees at a general meeting on April 1 that the company seeks to increase its funding as it moves closer to commercializing its autonomous driving technology, said the people, who asked not to be identified, revealing internal information discussions. Ford, what invested $ 1 billion in Argo in 2017, plans to Implement robo-taxis and driverless delivery capsules by 2022.
Argo had a market value of more than $ 7 billion when Volkswagen completed its $ 2.6 billion investment in the company last July. VW, the world’s best-selling automaker, plans to put autonomous vehicles on the road later this decade.
As technology approaches reality, major players such as Waymo from Alphabet Inc., General Motor Co. and Cruiser Backed by Amazon.com Aurora Innovation Inc. is expected to consider public offerings to meet growing financing needs. Start of Chinese autonomous trucks TuSimple Inc. only disclosed its intention to sell shares in an IPO. Driverless Truck Start Plus is in talks with special-purpose acquisition companies for a merger, a route several electric vehicle firms have used to go public.
For Argo, the time is right because it is in the advanced stages of development of its technology, with tests underway in six cities, including Miami, a new lidar guidance system and a clear path to commercialization through partnerships with two of the world’s largest automakers, the people said.
The startup is still working out details with its automotive partners and it is unclear whether it will make a traditional initial public offering or merge with a SPAC, the people said. And plans could slip next year, people said.
“We have a solid financial track due to investments from our partners Ford and Volkswagen, but we have always said that we are open to partnerships or additional investment opportunities to further accelerate our growth,” Argo said in a statement.
Information previously reported on Argo’s plans to go public.
Salesky, who helped launching Google’s self-driving car project that became Waymo, Argo co-founded in late 2016 with Peter Rander, a former student of Autonomous Autonomous Operations of Uber Technologies Inc. Salesky has expressed interest in partnering with a Asian automaker for Argo to reach all major regions.
“We have a strong global player, strong in Europe with VW and Ford being strong in the United States,” Salesky said in 2019 when the deal with VW was announced. “A third player is absolutely possible.”
Argo’s workforce has grown to 1,300 and it now has operations in the US and Germany.