Self-driving tech startup Aurora to go public in $13 billion SPAC deal
Driverless tech startup Aurora Innovation becomes the latest company to join the SPAC craze. Today, Aurora announced it has agreed to go public via a merger with Reinvent Technology Partners Y, a blank-check firm backed by Silicon Valley heavyweights including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga Inc. founder Mark Pincus.
The IPO is part of a major step for Aurora to commercialize its self-driving technology. In a statement, the Mountain View, California-based startup said it expects to have $2.5 billion in cash at closing, raising nearly $2 billion from the transaction. The deal represents an equity value of $11 billion for Aurora, and the combined company will be valued at $13 billion, according to the statement.
A blank-check company sometimes called a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), is a shell company that has no operations but plans to go public with the intention of acquiring or merging with a company utilizing the proceeds of the SPAC’s initial public offering (IPO).
Led by former heads of self-driving programs at Google, Uber, and Tesla, Aurora was founded in 2017 by Chris Urmson, J. Andrew Bagnell, and Sterling Anderson. The company is developing next-generation technology and building the business to bring it to market at scale. Aurora currently has approximately 1,600 employees.
The company said it plans to focus initially on automating heavy trucks, with its first product slated to enter the commercial market in late 2023. In addition to freight, it will focus on the delivery and ride-hailing markets.
“We believe Aurora will be the first to commercialize self-driving technology at scale for the U.S. trucking and passenger transportation markets,” said Mark Pincus, co-founder of gaming company Zynga and co-founder of Reinvent.
Meanwhile, the red-hot Special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) market continues to grow with no sign of slowing down. So far this year, there are more than 362 SPAC IPOs of the 463 IPOs, a 70 percent increase, according to data from the SPAC analytics firm, SPACAnalytics.com.
“Our goal at Aurora is to make the movement of goods and people more equitable, productive, dependable, and—crucially—much safer than it is today,” said Chris Urmson, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Aurora. “By combining with Reinvent and with this incredible group of investors, we are even closer to deploying self-driving vehicles and delivering the benefits this technology offers the world.”