Ford’s Argo AI considers going public this year

Sources familiar with the plans say that Argo AI, the self-driving startup backed by Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG, is considering going public as soon as this year.

Bryan Salesky, Argo’s co-founder, told employees in an all-hands meeting April 1 the company is looking to boost its funding as it comes closer to commercializing its self-driving technology, the sources added.

Ford, which invested $1 billion in Argo in 2017, plans to roll out robo-taxis and driverless delivery pods in 2022.

Argo had a market value of more than $7 billion when Volkswagen completed its $2.6 billion investment in the company last July.

VW, the world’s top-selling automaker, plans to put self-driving vehicles on the road later this decade.

For Argo, the timing is right because it is in the advanced stages of developing its technology, with tests running in six cities including Miami, a new lidar guidance system and a clear path to commercialization through partnerships with two of the world’s largest automakers, the sources say.

The startup is still working out specifics with its automotive partners and it’s not clear if will do a traditional IPO or merge with a SPAC.

Salesky, who helped start the Google self-driving car project that became Waymo, co-founded Argo in late 2016 with Peter Rander, an alumni of Uber Technologies Inc.’s autonomous auto operations. Salesky has expressed interest in tying up with an Asian automaker to give Argo reach into all major regions.

Argo’s workforce has grown to 1,300 and it now has operations in the U.S. and Germany.

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