It's official: they're getting married!
Amazon ($AMZN) is diving into the world of self-driving cars by acquiring Zoox ($ZOOX) for $1.2 billion dollars, the company announced today. Amazon is no stranger to the world of robotics M&A, having acquired Kiva Systems in 2012 in a deal worth nearly $800 million, to bring bots to its warehouse floors.
So, you might be asking 'what is Zoox and why is it worth a billion dollars to Amazon?' right now. Zoox is from California, it was founded in 2014 "with the vision of purpose-built, zero-emissions vehicles", and the last time we reported on the startup, it was looking for a buyer. How prescient that was, because it's much easier to rely on arguably the biggest company in the history of business than to make it out on your own. So, Zoox got its buyer in Bezos and now we have to start examining why this deal was made.
All 1,100+ Zoox employees will now aid Amazon in competing with Apple ($AAPL) and Google ($GOOG) not only in the tech industry, but for entertainment, advertising, video games, and now cars. Waymo, Cruise, Uber, Lyft, and anything other projects going on at traditional automakers is what Amazon wants to go up against, and by acquiring Zoox it ensures lots of money is going to be spent trying to win and be the first to market with a self-driving car.
But in order to be the first to do that, or the best to do it, Amazon might have to pump more resources and staff into Zoox. Hiring has been down since October, and considering Amazon has the most to gain from a fleet of autonomous vehicles, we expect Zoox to start growing sooner rather than later.
Imagining the goal for Amazon long term is easy: they want to be able to ship anything to anyone anywhere, and having AI drivers on 18-wheelers or smart cars darting through the streets of New York City to deliver a package is what gets them to that lofty dream.
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