Posted on Wednesday, Sep 14th 2016
Self-driving seems to be the hot, new sector for funding. General Motors this year bought autonomous-driving startup Cruise Automation for $1 billion while other leading automakers like Mercedes, BMW, and Tesla are also making large investments in this sector. Self-Driving car startup Zoox raised $200 million this year at a billion dollar valuation. And now, all this attention in the sector is working in favor of Quanergy Systems, which makes sensors for self-driving cars and has just joined the Billion Dollar Unicorn Club.
Quanergy Systems’ Offerings
Sunnyvale, California-based Quanergy Systems was founded in 2012 by CEO Louay Eldada. Quanergy is the leading manufacturer of 3D Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensors. It has eight patent applications for its sensors that address several markets like passenger vehicles, automation, security, robotics, construction, logistics, geology, and aeronautics, to name a few. It has partnerships with Mercedes, Hyundai, Sensata, and Renault-Nissan.
Its star application is in the automotive space where LiDAR sensors enable broad deployment of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving systems. It believes that about 80% of transportation accidents are avoidable with this technology. However, these sensors can be highly expensive and this is the opportunity that Quanergy Systems is seizing.
Some of the first LiDAR systems developed by Velodyne cost $80,000. While that price has fallen to about $8,000 today, it still is very expensive. Early this year, Quanergy Systems introduced S3, a solid state LiDAR sensor, which will cost about $250. A smaller and simplified version called the S3-Qi is designed for drones and costs about $100. Its low price could make its technology an enabler for shared vehicle sevices like Uber.
Quanergy Systems’ Financials
Quanergy Systems is a privately held company and does not disclose its financials. It has raised $150 million from investors including Delphi Automotive, GP Capital, Lahlouh, Markis, Motus Ventures, Newbury Ventures, Rising Tide Fund, Samsung Ventures America, San Feliu Partners, Sensata Technologies Holding, TEEC Angel Fund, Wardenclyffe Partners (Tesla Founders), and Wicklow Capital. Its latest round of funding was held in August 2016 when it raised $90 million at a valuation of $1.59 billion.
Quanergy Systems is not the lone beneficiary of the interest in the sector. A week prior to its funding round, Ford Motor Co. and Chinese search engine Baidu had invested $150 million in Velodyne to help it lower the cost of its LiDAR to a target price in the mid- to lower-$100s by 2018.
According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, the LiDAR sensor market is expected to reach $3.22 billion in 2022, up from $1.39 billion in 2016 at a CAGR of 12.4% from 2016 to 2022.
There are several socio-economic issues that governments will need to consider before self-driving technology is commercialized. While self-driving tech might have put the spotlight on Quanergy Systems, it is not its sole application, which makes this company interesting.
More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. Unicorns will also be discussed with some special guests during our 1M/1M Roundtable programs over the next few weeks. To be a part of the conversation, please register here. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.
Photo Credit: arnie2105/Flickr.com
This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns
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