WI Harper Group | November 11, 2021 | Source: Forbes
Embark, a leading autonomous trucking company, went public today via SPAC merger with Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp. II at a $5 billion valuation. It will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker EMBK. Embark raised $755 million through the merger, including private investment from: Mubadala Capital, CPP Investments, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global.
Since 2016, Embark has raised over $117M in funding, including WI Harper’s participation in its Series A round in November 2016, and the subsequent Series A+ & B rounds invested alongside Sequoia and Tiger Global.
Alex Rodrigues always wanted to be an inventor. Growing up in Waterloo, Canada, he spent his childhood scorching much older opponents in robotics competitions before engineering a self-driving golf cart at 19. Rodrigues launched Embark after meeting fellow University of Waterloo mechatronics engineer Brandon Moak (with whom he built the self-driving golf cart). After completing this feat, they raised $2 million to pioneer self-driving trucks, won Thiel Fellowships, dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco. WI Harper’s team met Alex and Brandon in late 2016, and were instantly impressed by the founders’ work ethic, talent, and ability to deliver such a great product so quickly with a very small team. In 2019, the duo earned a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. The IPO makes the 26-year-old the youngest CEO of a publicly traded company.
“The SPAC is just a means to the end,” says Rodrigues. “The end is when you go to bed and there’s no one in the truck, and it’s driving to hundreds of destinations in the U.S. You wake up, and it’s still driving.”
Embark’s business model has not changed much from its inception either; it has always been largely a SaaS company. It automates trucking by embedding its operating system into Peterbilt trucks (among others) and then allowing logistics companies to automate long-haul trucking around the U.S. on a per-mile subscription basis. The company also makes money on the sales of its operating system.
Rodrigues says Embark, which he believes to be the oldest autonomous trucking company, has at least doubled its funding and headcount annually since 2016. With the IPO, it plans to scale up operations with a goal of fulfilling over 14,200 reservations for Embark-enabled trucks by 2024. Rodrigues also announced a partnership with Luminar, a lidar tech company, to help power these new vehicles.
| About WI Harper Group
WI Harper is a pioneer and leading cross-border venture capital firm investing in early and expansion stage companies globally. With offices in San Francisco, Beijing, and Taipei, the firm actively oversees more than $1 billion in assets under management. Since inception nearly three decades ago, WI Harper has invested in over 400 startups and has successfully experienced more than 100 IPO and M&A exits.
We look for innovative companies and visionary founders in healthcare, technology and sustainability fields where there are high synergies and meaningful value added cross selling opportunities. While our healthcare team is presently honing on bioinformatics and digital biology, our technology team is focused blockchain, big data, analytics, artificial intelligence, AR/VR, IoT, robotics, drones, autonomous driving, as well as digital media and green energy projects.