Goodyear mostly has stuck to the themes of mobility and autonomous vehicles, but even within those, Goodyear has found opportunities with young companies involved in a variety of technologies and applications.
Goodyear Ventures' most recent investment is in Seattle-based Recurrent Motors Inc., a company involved in the analysis of electric-vehicle battery health. Goodyear Ventures was one of several participants in a recent founding round of $4.5 million that Recurrent said would provide not only capital, but "noteworthy partnerships."
Goodyear didn't disclose how much it invested or what portion of Recurrent it purchased — as has been the case with its other acquisitions.
At the end of March, Goodyear Ventures invested in Nova Labs, a San Francisco company involved in decentralized, long-range wireless communications that could play a role in the development of autonomous vehicles. Goodyear reportedly was one of 10 participants in a $200 million Series D funding round for Nova Labs.
Other investments include Gatik AI Inc. (rhymes with attic), a California company that is developing autonomous trucks for "middle-mile" deliveries, such as those between a retailer's warehouses and its brick-and-mortar stores. That company already is operating its trucks in several U.S. states and Canada, and it said it's expanding throughout the U.S.
Other investments include:
- Envoy Technologies, a California company that provides on-demand, shared electric vehicles that it markets as a community amenity;
- Formant Inc., another California company that offers a robot command center to deploy and manage robots and the data they collect; and
- Starship Technologies, a San Francisco company that provides autonomous robots that make local deliveries of food, groceries and packages.
While the money raised is important to the young companies seeking capital, "partnership" is a word you'll see used quite a bit by the portfolio companies. And for Goodyear, it's really the main point of the whole endeavor.
"With any company we invest in, our strategic interest, our learning goals and our relationship-building goals are a fair amount of our interest," Ganguly said.
"We are not a pure-play financial player, we are a strategic player — and definitely, we start with the question of, 'How will this startup help us?'"
Not that Ganguly doesn't want to see his portfolio do well in terms of direct investment returns; it's just not the most important measurement of Goodyear Ventures' success.
"How do we define success? Financial success is one answer, but there is strategic success also," Ganguly said. "I'm extremely happy with the way the portfolio is operating and performing (financially), but even happier to see some of the strategic relationships we've built with some of the portfolio companies. ... That is a bigger measure of success for us."