A UBS report has valued Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous driving division led by John Krafcik, at around $135 billion, based on its strong lead over its competitors, and meaning it will benefit from the introduction of self-driving taxis, goods transportation, the commercialization of its autonomous driving technology and its operating systems to other manufacturers, the monetization of the time spend in self-driving vehicles, as well as exploiting the real time maps obtained from those companies’ fleets.
Waymo emerged around nine years ago out of a project known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project incubated within the company’s project factory. It was incorporated as a company in December 2016 under the Alphabet umbrella, the holding dedicated to betting on alpha phase projects, and has established a considerable lead over its rivals, having notched up more than eight million miles; four times the distance of its competitors without the need for human intervention: almost fifty thousand kilometers. In 2018, the company received orders to adapt several thousand Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans and 20,000 electric Jaguar I-Pace and has obtained licenses to operate autonomous taxi fleets in several states in the United States.
Nine years ago, self-driving cars were still on the drawing board. When I first began writing about it, most people dismissed it as science fiction. Now, residents in several US cities see them on their roads every day: fleets made up of hundreds driverless vehicles transporting passengers with absolute normality, while any minor accidents are not due to them being driverless.
Nine years of billions of dollars in investments with no revenue, intense technological development and the introduction of new laws. While its rivals focused on vehicles, Waymo focused from the outset on developing the technology required to eliminate human intervention, for all functions to be handled by an algorithm constantly being improved by each kilometer traveled either on test tracks or in real traffic, by testing in virtual environments, by contact with each element of the driving process.
World-changing businesses are increasingly characterized by their long-term vision. Despite creating new landscapes with dizzying speed, is still a long-term business, reliant on commitment, of believing in ideas within the reach of very few or that are seen as follies by many others. Companies not ready, able or willing to make that type commitment will be relegated to the status of followers.
(En español, aquí)