Russia's best-known tech company Yandex, which sometimes referred to as the Google of Russia has spun-off its subsidiary MLU-BV which it has been running in partnership with Uber. Yandex had MLU-BV which it was running as a part of a ride-hailing and food-delivery JV both the companies had. In 2019, Yandex and Uber were planning an IPO for MLU-BV but it seems like the plans have changed thanks to the pandemic which has ravaged ride-hailing businesses the world over. MLU-BV has been valued at $7.7 billion but in the wake of the losses Uber has had in the last six months is sure to have impacted it.
Yandex is however characterising this as a doubling down on the self-driving unit. “From a business standpoint, we are increasing our stake in a strategically important business with lots of potential for growth. From a technology standpoint, self-driving technology is quickly moving forward to become a viable business,” said a spokesman reports TechCrunch.
IPO has been put on the backburner for the time being. But Yandex has invested another $150 million which comes in form of $100 million in equity and $50 million in the form of a convertible loan. Till now Yandex had invested only $65 million in the business.
“In just a short period of time, we have achieved breakthrough results in autonomous driving. We firmly believe in the future of autonomous mobility as a safe and cost-effective form of transportation with a vast addressable market. The additional capital that we are investing in SDG will allow it to continue to pursue the R&D and productisation of autonomous mobility,” said Arkady Volozh, CEO and co-founder of Yandex.
Dimitry Polishcuck remains the CEO of MLU-BV which is now solely focussed on self-driving. Back in 2017, the unit which included broader ride-sharing businesses too was worth more than $3.72 billion which means the valuation has doubled over the last couple of years. They already have a fleet of 130 vehicles in Russia, Israel and US for the sake of testing. These cars have clocked more than 4 million autonomous miles. The start-up licenses its autonomous technology to Hyundai.