Zoox, Inc.
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryAutomotive
Founded2014; 8 years ago (2014)
Founder
  • Tim Kentley-Klay
  • Jesse Levinson
HeadquartersFoster City, California
Key people
Aicha Evans, CEO
ProductsSelf-driving cars
ParentAmazon.com, Inc.
Websitewww.zoox.com

Zoox is a subsidiary of Amazon developing autonomous vehicles that provide Mobility-as-a-Service. It is headquartered in Foster City, California and has offices of operations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle, Washington. Zoox sits in the Amazon Devices & Services organization alongside other Amazon units like Amazon Lab126, Amazon Alexa, and Kuiper Systems.[1][2][3]

History

Left to right: Jesse Levinson, Tim Kentley Klay, Steve Jurvetson and ... (2015)
Left to right: Jesse Levinson, Tim Kentley Klay, Steve Jurvetson and ... (2015)
Early test vehicles at Zoox headquarters in 2016
Early test vehicles at Zoox headquarters in 2016
Zoox prototype testing in San Francisco in 2019
Zoox prototype testing in San Francisco in 2019

Zoox was founded in 2014 by Australian artist-designer Tim Kentley-Klay[4][5] and Jesse Levinson, son of Apple Inc. chairman Arthur D. Levinson, who was developing self-driving technology at Stanford University.[6] The name "Zoox" is a reference to Zooxanthellae, a marine organism that, like the Zoox robo-taxi, depends on renewable energy and is able to maintain a symbiotic relationship with organisms in its surrounding habitat.[7]

In January 2019, Zoox appointed a new CEO, Aicha Evans, who was previously the Chief Strategy Officer at Intel.[8][9] On June 26, 2020, Amazon and Zoox signed a definitive merger agreement, under which Amazon acquired Zoox as a wholly-owned subsidiary for over $1.2 billion.[10][11] As is the case with other Amazon subsidiaries like Amazon Web Services, Zoox has no independent board of directors, but operates as a separate legal entity with its own governance structure. Zoox sits within the Amazon Devices & Services organization with Evans reporting into Amazon Senior Vice President, Dave Limp.

Development and operations

Zoox is creating an entirely new autonomous vehicle targeted at the robo-taxi market.[12] The company's approach is centered around the fact that a retrofitted vehicle is not optimized for autonomy. Zoox has applied the latest techniques in automotive, robotics and renewable energy to build a symmetrical, bi-directional battery-electric vehicle that solves for the unique challenges of autonomous mobility.[13][14]

The company had previously retrofitted Toyota Highlanders with their self-driving system in final preparation for their commercial vehicle reveal in December 2020. The present-day test driving is taking place in both San Francisco's Financial District and North Beach districts, as well as Las Vegas.[15]

Progress and competition

In December 2018, Zoox became the first company to gain approval for providing self-driving transport services to the public in California.[16][17][18] By July 2018, according to Bloomberg, Zoox had raised $800 million in venture capital, at a valuation of $3.2 billion.[19] Draper Fisher Jurvetson is an investor in the company. In September 2020, Zoox became the fourth company in the State of California to receive permit to test driverless automobiles on public roads.[20] On December 14, 2020, Zoox showcased a fully autonomous, all-electric, purpose-built vehicle that is capable of driving up to 75 mph.[21][22]

On March 20, 2019, Tesla, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Zoox and several now-former Tesla employees (who left Tesla for employment at Zoox) alleging theft of Tesla's proprietary information and trade secrets related to warehousing, shipping, and logistics in late 2018 and early 2019.[23] The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed sum in April 2020 where Zoox "acknowledged that certain of its new hires from Tesla were in possession of Tesla documents pertaining to shipping, receiving, and warehouse procedures when they joined Zoox's logistics team".[24]

References

  1. ^ "Amazon to acquire autonomous driving startup Zoox". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-12-04.
  2. ^ Patel, Nilay (2021-10-12). "How Amazon runs Alexa, with Dave Limp". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  3. ^ Insider, Business (2020-10-28). "Amazon owned Zoox now under Alexa and hardware boss Dave Limp - Business Insider". Head Topics. Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  4. ^ "Company Overview of Zoox Inc". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  5. ^ "Secretive robot-car maker Zoox opens up". San Francisco Chronicle. 2018-09-12. Retrieved 2019-02-11. Zoox sprang up in 2014 as the brainchild of Australian artist-designer Tim Kentley-Klay, who had no tech background but was excited about self-driving cars' potential.
  6. ^ "The Wild Ride Of Zoox". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  7. ^ Swisher, Kara (2020-03-06). "Aicha Evans and Jesse Levinson: Self-driving taxis will be here in 2021". Recode Decode (Podcast). Vox. Retrieved 2020-03-07.
  8. ^ Higgins, Tim (14 January 2019). "Autonomous Vehicle Startup Zoox Names Intel Executive Aicha Evans as CEO". The Wall Street Journal.
  9. ^ "Zoox CEO Aicha Evans reveals what will set the company's electric, self-driving cars apart from the rest". Business Insider.
  10. ^ Amazon acquires self-driving start-up Zoox for over $1.2bn. Financial Times.
  11. ^ Levy, Annie Palmer,Ari (2020-06-26). "Amazon to buy self-driving technology company Zoox". CNBC. Retrieved 2020-07-17.
  12. ^ "Zoox's driverless cars will operate like Lyft and Uber". CNBC. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  13. ^ Ohnsman, Alan. "Robotaxi Startup Zoox Becomes A Big Acquirer Of Tesla-Incubated Talent". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  14. ^ "Zoox car: Mysterious Australian start-up worth $1.9b, but what do they do?". www.news.com.au. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  15. ^ Davies, Alex (2018-07-20). "Zoox Flashes Serious Self-Driving Skills in Chaotic San Francisco". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  16. ^ "California lets self-driving startup Zoox offer autonomous rides". Reuters. 2018-12-21. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  17. ^ "Zoox Inc. Snags First California Permit To Transport Passengers In Self-Driving Cars". NPR. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  18. ^ Keck, Catie. "Self-Driving Car Company Zoox to Offer Free Rides in California". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  19. ^ "$800 Million Says a Self-Driving Car Looks Like This". Bloomberg.com. 17 July 2018. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
  20. ^ "Zoox becomes fourth company to land driverless testing permit in California". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-09-24.
  21. ^ "Amazon's Zoox Unveils Robotaxi for Future Ride-Hailing Service". Bloomberg.com. 2020-12-14. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  22. ^ Matt McFarland. "Here's the robotaxi Amazon wants you to ride around in". CNN. Retrieved 2021-02-19.
  23. ^ "UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA, Case No. 3:19-cv-01462, Document 1". 2019-03-20 – via Scribd.
  24. ^ "Self-driving startup Zoox settles Tesla lawsuit, lays off 100 workers". 16 April 2020.