[Fundraising] Pony.ai: a bi-cultural vision of the autonomous car

Raising funds is often an obligatory step for any startup and no doubt even more so when the project focuses on the vehicle of the future. There have been a succession of new announcements in the sector and $214 million have just fallen into the accounts of Pony.ai (announcement made on 11 July 2018), a player that focuses on the development of software and the infrastructure necessary for the perception of the environment to render vehicles autonomous.

Pony.ai, a dual identity company

This company claims a dual identity: founded in San Francisco, it is also Chinese thanks to its installation in Guangzhou and Beijing. It defines its mission as being one to provide the safest and most reliable technology to motor vehicle manufacturers. It has already obtained T3-type permits to test self-driving vehicles in both in California and China, with, for example, a fleet of robot-taxis in Beijing, and, more recently, open-road tests in the Chinese capital.

A unicorn to take seriously

On the strength of this dual location that offers collaborations with Waymo and Guangzhou Automobile Group, Pony today claims valorisation exceeding 1 billion dollars. Another unicorn in the landscape of the car of the future that it may be necessary to take seriously. The company’s teams are increasing in size and their diversity is a guarantee of future success if we are to believe founder James Peng, who was with Baïdu before spending 7 years with Google as a software developer. The startup’s dual culture is embodied by the career of its leader, who obtained not only a PhD from Stanford University but also a BS from Tsinghua University. There is something about this Sino-American alliance that may send a few shivers down the spines of its competitors around the globe.