DoorDash has been on an acquisition tear of late, with Scotty Labsas its latest target. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but this comes after DoorDash acquired Caviar in a deal worth $410 million.
Scotty Labs, a tele-operations company that is working on technology to enable people to remotely control self-driving cars, raised a $6 million seed round from Gradient Ventures, with participation from Horizon Ventures and Hemi Ventures, last March. The startup had previously worked with Voyage for its self-driving cars in retirement communities.
…Meanwhile, DoorDash quietly brought on the two co-founders from Lvl5, another company that had built tech to create high-resolution maps for autonomous driving using crowdsourced imagery and computer vision to merge and process the images. In April, Lvl5 announced it was shutting down after the acquisition.
Details of how Scotty Labs and Lvl5 will fit into DoorDash’s business are nonexistent, but you could imagine DoorDash using Scotty’s technologies to remotely control delivery robots or other types of autonomous vehicles.
…This investment in autonomous tech through its acquisition of Scotty Labs and acqui-hire of the team from Lvl5 comes at a time when DoorDash says it is revamping its policies around driver wages.
The enthusiasm and potential of autonomous tech had led to startups creating literally dozens of interesting products that focus on different aspects of this field. But it will take a village to get this tech off the ground, which means that consolidation is inevitable.
DoorDash — operating on the principle of economies of scale — has been pretty aggressive in positioning itself as one of those consolidators. We have heard it tried to merge with Postmates. It bought Caviar this summer. And it has raised an absolute ton of money. In May, DoorDash raised a $400 million round, valuing it at $12.6 billion. Meanwhile, DoorDash’s main competitor, Postmates, is gearing up to go public this quarter. Just this month, the company received the first permit to deploy autonomous delivery bots in San Francisco.
As technology becomes a key way for the crowded arena of delivery startups to differentiate themselves, investing in its own autonomous tech R&D — by way of picking up some of these disparate startups that may have struggled to survive on their own — is one way for DoorDash to build out that tech cred.