SAN FRANCISCO • Apple Inc is preparing to buy start-up Drive.ai in a small deal that will bring more engineers with experience in autonomous vehicle technology to the iPhone maker, according to people familiar with the matter.
It’s unclear how much Apple is paying. Drive.ai has raised about US$77 million (RM320.32 million) in funding since it was founded in 2015, and was valued at about US$200 million in 2017, according to Pitchbook data.
The deal is a so-called acqui-hire, where larger technology companies buy small start-ups to gain talent.
Apple is planning to pick which Drive.ai staff it wants to keep, and the tech giant won’t be using any intellectual property from the start-up, the people said.
They asked not to be identified discussing private matters.
Apple and Drive.ai didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“We believe the potential acquisition price would be below their last US$200 million valuation,” Gene Munster, a veteran Apple analyst at Loup Ventures, wrote in a research note.
Drive.ai has been for sale for a while and the start-up has struggled to gain traction, according to a person familiar with the firm. It has a limited number of pilot tests.
Apple has been working on autonomous driving technology for several years.
The company cut about 200 workers from the initiative recently, but added that it is committed to the area. — Bloomberg