You might of heard about this deal or you might not have. It is not as big as Microsoft acquiring Skype, but the impact towards the world is definitely bigger. Otto is a self-driving software/hardware creator aimed at trucks.
Otto was started by Anthony Levandowski, Lior Ron, Don Burnette and Claire Delaunay. A bunch of ex-googlers who worked on the autonomous car division of Google and with experience from Tesla, Apple and so on. This is a dream team.
Anthony Levandowski is one the best autonomous car makers in the world. The goal for Otto was to make self-driven trucks because trucks travel the most distance and also are part of the most number of accidents more than any other transport.
Otto didn’t focus on building autonomous trucks. They focused on making a kit. This kit was a combination of hardware and software that made a truck autonomous. The driver could rest and sleep while the truck drove itself.
Why did Uber jump in and acquire otto by paying $680 Million?
Uber’s future is in self-driven cars. Uber as a business will die if they only rely on their current business model. They have to invest money into self-driven technology to be able to compete in this business. Uber’s goal is to replace cars for normal people and use autonomous cars as transportation for the future. Uber’s goal is also about minimalizing the number of accidents that’s causing thousands of deaths a year.
Uber is tying up with Volvo to make self-driven cars.
How was Otto able to pull this off?
Otto chose their market and their vision really well. If you want to build a company. nailing your vision is super important. They didn’t go after the self-driven market. They also didn’t go after manufacturing these trucks. They went with something that was completely doable with a team of 90 people.
What are the lessons here?
One of the most important aspects of this story is the pursuit of big ideas. Ask yourself where the world is heading? Read reports, see what the big companies are doing, and understand the technologies that are coming out in the world. When you work on technology that is not there yet, but is going to take over the world, you will go places. One of my favourite examples is the case of Cheetah Mobiles. They made simple mobile apps that were functional and they rode the mobile app wave. This made them a multi million dollar company.
It’s easier written than done. You need to put yourself in positions where the action is happening. If you are an employee, make sure to pickup the skills that is in demand with these big guys and make yourself the best in the world. If you are in business, point your company towards bigger and better technology and create leverage for yourself.