Autonomous cars are fast-approaching, and so are those building the platforms that will help operate them. Today, Pony.ai — the startup whose autonomous driving platform powers the first fully self-driving fleet in China — announced that it has raised $102 million in funding — a follow-on round that comes about seven months after its previous $112 million Series A . The funding — co-led by China’s ClearVue Partners and Eight Roads (which is part of Fidelity International) — is catapulting Pony.ai into unicorn territory: the company said that it takes it to “close to” a $1 billion post-money valuation. Other new investors include Green Pine Capital Partners, China Merchants Capital, Redpoint Ventures China, Adrian Cheng (Founder of K11), and Delong Capital, and previous investors Sequoia Capital China, Morningside Ventures, DCM Ventures, and Hongtai Capital also participated. The funding will be used to expand its business with more partnerships, hiring, and perhaps most importantly to continue expanding its testing and training in multiple locations. “I truly believe the next major challenge for autonomous cars will be small and medium scale deployment—this is an absolutely critical step to validating the system’s overall stability and reliability. We are grateful for the new and continued support in helping us to achieve this future,” said Pony.ai CEO James Peng in a statement. The funding news signifies a few things. First, we are continuing to see a huge amount of interest from investors to capitalise on the development and trajectory of self-driving services: despite some of the tragic setbacks we’ve seen, many have firmly planted autonomous technology into the category of “when”, not “if.” “Automotive is an essential component of large-ticket consumption,” said Partner of ClearVue Partners Kathleen Ying in a statement, “and autonomous vehicles will be a defining characteristic of future mobility. We at ClearVue have been seriously monitoring this space for some time and are very impressed with Pony.ai’s team and technology caliber. We look forward to leveraging our expertise in the consumer space and working closely with Pony.ai to further its mission.” Second, autonomous — along with transportation in general — remains an extremely capital-intensive space (partly because it is very complex, so engineers and designers not only need to tackle computing problems but hardware problems as well)
Amazon increasingly looks like a traditional retailer, with Prime as a loyalty program, Basics as its house brand, and seller ad placements via search…
Steven Sinofsky / Learning By Shipping : Amazon increasingly looks like a traditional retailer, with Prime as a loyalty program, Basics as its house brand, and seller ad placements via search results — The narrative of Amazon's total disruption of traditional retail and ultimate dominance is well-known.