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Waymo's first outside investment round includes car industry heavyweights

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Believe it or not, Waymo hasn't really leaned on outside help to fulfill its self-driving car ambitions -- Alphabet (and earlier, Google) has shouldered much of the load. Now, however, it's expanding its sources of cash. Waymo has announced its first external investment round, and you might recognize a few of the names contributing a shared $2.25 billion. Car tech giant Magna International and retailer AutoNation are making investments, as are well-established investment groups like Andreessen Horowitz, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Silver Lake and Mubadala.

Alphabet is also contributing, but it appears to be in the minority this time around.

Waymo was vague about how it would use the funds, saying only that this would help "our people, our technology, and our operations." One look at Waymo's business suggests that it has plenty of need for cash, though. In addition to its general autonomous driving research, it also has to grow its fledgling Waymo One ride hailing service and Waymo Via goods delivery outfit. The investment could help those projects thrive without forcing Alphabet to reach into its coffers quite so often.

The timing is also significant for Magna. It recently wound down its partnership with Lyft for self-driving tech -- clearly, the money wasn't as much of an obstacle for the company as it seemed at first. It's not shocking that Magna would stay invested in the field, though. It's going to need a substantial stake in driverless cars if it's going to remain relevant in the long run, and that means getting into the field early.