Zoox “explores new opportunities”

Since its founding six years ago, self-driving startup Zoox has devoted its efforts exclusively to creating a brand-new, bespoke people mover. But amid the current pandemic, the company has explored the possibility of using its prototypes for package deliveries. 

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Translation: If we don’t raise capital or sell the company soon, Zoox is going to go bankrupt. We’re working hard to come up with a reason why we should be allowed to continue operating at all.

“This gave us the opportunity to think about moving beyond people,” CEO Aicha Evans said Tuesday. “In times of an emergency like this, we’re helping the health sector, and cities and states, do essential services. We see this as an opportunity.”

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It’s not a disaster, it’s an oppurtunity!

Whether the exploration remains a short-term anomaly or evolves into part of the company’s overall strategy might hinge on the fate of Zoox itself. 

Evans did not address reports of a prospective sale during an appearance Tuesday at the virtual EcoMotion mobility technology conference. But in recent weeks, multiple news outlets have reported the company has explored the possibility.

Given the capital-intensive challenges of developing self-driving technology and a car platform simultaneously and the possibility that funding is constrained amid COVID-19 disruptions, Zoox may be primed for a sale, according to Asad Hussain, mobility analyst at PitchBook. 

“We believe Zoox is likely to face a significant downward revaluation in the near term,” he said in a research report. 

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Experts say the long term strategy will largely depend on whether the company has a future at all.

Evans made an oblique reference to the possibility of a sale. “In a crisis, bad companies go away, good companies survive, and great companies thrive,” she said. “It has given us the opportunity to focus on what we want to do from a partnership standpoint, and we feel good about where we are, articles not withstanding.”

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We’re not running out of cash… we had the “opportunity” to sell the company.

Zoox has suspended its on-road testing during the pandemic, but Evans said the stoppage has allowed software engineers to accelerate the company’s simulation testing.

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Leaving aside that a simulation can’t come anywhere close to capturing the complexity of the real world, how does shutting all the cars down allow you to do more simulation? Isn’t it more like they have to do more simulation because that’s all they’ve got?

Best of luck to Zoox. Unfortunately I have a hard time understanding their plan to bring their technology to market. Hopefully, they’re able to find a strong buyer like Amazon that hasn’t been affected too much by the current economic crisis.

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