Alphabet, the parent company of Google, announced last December that its self-driving project would have its own division inside the corporation. That division became Waymo, which analysts at Morgan Stanley believe could be worth $70 billion if it is ever spun-out to a standalone company.
The analysis works off the assumption that Waymo cars and software will, someday, account for one percent of all vehicle miles globally and that Waymo will rake in $1.25 per mile traveled. It uses the recent partnership with Lyft as a potential route to commercialization.
Waymo has made a few moves in the past year that hint at its route to commercialization and it looks to be through a collaborative effort with automakers and ride-sharing firms. One of these could be Alphabet’s own Waze, the navigation app that recently started a carpooling service.
The valuation estimate is enormous, higher than that of Tesla, Ford, and Uber, valued at $50 billion, $44 billion, and $50 billion respectively. The analysts consider the sophistication of Waymo’s self-driving system to be far ahead of other vendors, which could lead to a stranglehold on the market, similar to Android on mobile.
Waymo path is not yet clear
It is not clear why Alphabet would want to make Waymo a standalone company, other than to avoid potential regulation and legal action. The Internet conglomerate has already swapped most of the original leaders of the project for business figures, like John Krafcik, and doesn’t seem too fussed paying for the legal costs of the Waymo vs Uber lawsuit.
That said, Alphabet has sold some of its companies that are less to do with Internet and unlikely to make a profit in the short term, the most recent being Boston Dynamics sold to Softbank. Waymo could fall into the same camp if Alphabet does not see an easy road to commercialization.