Update: this story has been corrected to reflect newly updated numbers directly from Zoox.
Two years after its co-founder and CEO left the company, and weeks after it admitted to stealing documents from rival Tesla, self-driving car startup Zoox ($ZOOX) is reportedly looking for a buyer. Meanwhile, the company is tightening its belt. Nearly a hundred employees, under 10% of the entire staff, were laid off in April. In a dramatic move, the company immediately locked some employees out of their email and Slack workspace and asked to return their laptops and badges.
What will the startup's data look like and how a potential sale could impact the future of self-driving cars? At last count, the startup was valued at $3 billion after raising a billion.
Zoox's job openings were the same in February as they were in October, and have fallen 31% since then. In comparison to the hundreds of companies we've seen, tracked, and written about over the last several months, 31% is a slower pace of hiring slowdown than other startups, especially when it comes to transportation startups.
Zoox has been hovering around 1,100 employees for the last six months, and the cuts will be the first real big knock to the company's staff count. The (reported) quest to find a buyer might stem from having to compete with the likes of Argo AI, Google-owned Waymo, and GM's Cruise.
The main competitor in the space is the aforementioned Tesla ($NASDAQ:TSLA), which essentially won the settlement with Zoox for an undisclosed amount of money. All of these rivals are racing to get self-driving cars on the road first, and Zoox is at a disadvantage in terms of total headcount.
The other good news is that social media for Zoox has been steadily going up for the last six months. Instagram and Twitter followers have increased by 35% and 26% respectively. So with a new buyer, and more word of mouth, you could be hearing from Zoox more soon. And if the technology passes muster, you'll be seeing self-driving cars everywhere in the future.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.