Amazon acquires self-driving startup Zoox

Updated: Amazon now has access to a team of fresh talent dedicated to smart city transport.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Update 14.27 GMT: Amazon has now confirmed the acquisition. 

Amazon is reportedly on the verge of announcing a deal to acquire self-driving startup Zoox for over $1 billion. 

According to The Information, unnamed sources close to the matter say the deal could be announced as soon as Friday. 

If confirmed, the acquisition of the startup would give the e-commerce giant access to a pool of over 1,000 staff and additional talent in the self-driving space. 

California-based Zoox, which also has offices across the San Francisco Bay Area, was founded in 2014 by Tim Kentley-Klay and Dr. Jesse Levinson. 

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The startup describes itself as a company focused on building "autonomous mobility from the ground up," which includes self-driving software for vehicles to safely navigate city streets. 

To date, the startup has raised $955 million over four funding rounds. Previous investors include Alium Capital, Blackbird Ventures, and Grok Ventures. 

It is not known, however, whether or not the startup's technologies would be directed towards package delivery only, or whether or not Amazon is keen to explore the wider applications of self-driving solutions -- such as intelligent vehicles and passenger transport.

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However, one particular Zoox project may be of interest to Amazon. Earlier this week, Amazon introduced a new $2 billion fund to invest in innovative technologies for combating climate change. 

Amazon's Climate Pledge will invest in companies developing both products and services aimed at reducing carbon footprints across industries including travel, logistics, energy, and manufacturing, among others. 

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Zoox is currently designing a zero-emissions vehicle capable of autonomous mobility, using "the latest in automotive, robotics, and renewable energy," according to the firm, and this scheme could be one of the first investments made via Amazon's new renewables and carbon emissions program.

Update 14.27 GMT:

While the purchase price has not been disclosed, on Friday, Amazon confirmed the acquisition. In a statement, the tech giant said Zoox CEO Aicha Evans and Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and CTO, will continue to lead Zoox as a standalone business "as they innovate and drive towards their mission."

"Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience," commented Jeff Wilke, Amazon's Worldwide Consumer chief executive. "Like Amazon, Zoox is passionate about innovation and about its customers, and we're excited to help the talented Zoox team to bring their vision to reality in the years ahead."

The deal is subject to closing conditions and regulatory approval.

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