Israel Based Self-Driving Firm, Mobileye, to File for Nasdaq IPO Valued at $50B - The Jewish Voice
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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Israel Based Self-Driving Firm, Mobileye, to File for Nasdaq IPO Valued at $50B

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By: Fern Sidman

Intel’s self-driving technology firm Mobileye has filed for an initial public offering (IPO), according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to a CNBC report.  Mobileye specializes in making the chips and software that powers autonomous vehicles, as was reported by TheVerge.com.

The company which is based in Israel was acquired by former Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in 2017 for $15.3 billion. Kraznich’s predecessor Bob Swan bought mapping technology outfit Moovit in 2017 for $900 million, which was folded into Mobileye, according to Yahoo Finance.

According to Bloomberg, Intel initially expected the IPO to value Mobileye at $50 billion. A report at the Bloomberg.com web site indicated that soaring inflation and other adverse market conditions have led Intel to reevaluate the company’s evaluation at around $30 billion. Still, a $30 billion evaluation would make Mobileye’s IPO one of the biggest to take place in the US this year, as was reported by the Times of Israel.

According to Reuters, public listings in the US have raised just over $7 billion so far this year, compared to a whopping $154 billion throughout 2021.

Mobileye’s SEC filing indicates steady revenue growth over the past few years, jumping from $879 million in 2019 to $967 million in 2020, and topping out at $1.4 billion in 2021. The filing doesn’t provide any information on how much a share could cost, the report indicated.

In terms of breaking ground on the manufacture of self driving vehicles, Mobileye is leading the pack in autonomous driving technology and the Yahoo Finance report indicated that Mobileye has conducted major deals with the likes of the Ford Motor Company and Geely.

Intel’s long-term commitment to the automotive market is underscored by recently announced programs, including the Intel Foundry Services Accelerator and dedicated capacity for the automotive industry. Intel will continue to support Mobileye with technical resources to deliver industry-leading sensor technologies, while Mobileye’s strength in the automotive sector will continue to enable Intel to address the automotive sector’s fast-growing silicon BOM opportunity. Intel’s global reach along with its ability to offer a geographically diverse supply chain, global manufacturing network and expertise in radar, lidar and software continues to position Mobileye for ongoing collaborative success.

The money that Intel will make in spinning off Mobileye will help them with freeing up resources for other projects they have in the corporate pipeline, according to the Yahoo Finance article. One of those commitments include the $20 billion cost of building new factories in Arizona so that Intel can make computer chips for other companies.

Intel will remain the majority owner of Mobileye, and the two companies will continue as strategic partners, collaborating on projects as they pursue the growth of computing in the automotive sector. The share of semiconductors is expected to be 20% of a premium vehicle’s total bill-of-materials (BOM) by 2030 1. The Mobileye executive team will remain, with Israeli born Prof. Amnon Shashua continuing as the company’s CEO. Recently acquired Moovit as well as Intel teams working on lidar and radar development and other Mobileye projects will be aligned as part of Mobileye.

Mobileye was founded in Israel in 1999, by Prof. Amnon Shashua, when he evolved his academic research at the Hebrew University into a monocular vision system to detect vehicles using only a camera and software algorithms on a processor. The inception of the company followed Shashua’s connections with the auto manufacturers through his previous startup Cognitens. Following a critical meeting with an Asian OEM, which secured funding for a concept demo,

Shashua formed a team with two of his close friends, Ziv Aviram and Norio Ichihashi. Shashua and Aviram became a two-in-the-box in managing the new startup where Aviram was responsible for the operations, finance and investor relations and Shashua for the technology, R&D, and the strategic vision of the company. The two-in-the-box arrangement continued through taking the company public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014, and until 2017, when Mobileye was acquired by Intel Corp. After the acquisition, Aviram retired and Shashua took over the CEO position. Ichihashi was responsible for the Asian market which was the first engagement market with OEMs and Tier-1s until 2001.

It was at that time when Dr. Gideon Stein, who had recently completed his doctoral studies at MIT under Shashua’s co-supervision, was called to lead the R&D of Mobileye. In 2005, Dr. Gaby Hayon took over R&D – a position which he holds to this day – while Stein became the Chief Scientist, a role which he held until 2019.

In 2001, Mobileye’s leadership realized that designing a full System-on-Chip dedicated to the massive computational loads of the computer vision stack was the way to realize the company’s full potential. At that time, most companies focused on hardware or software and did not design both simultaneously and in concert. This was considered a rather radical and even risky decision, but Mobileye’s leadership felt it was critical in order to achieve their ambitious goals. To tackle this challenge, Elchanan Rushinek joined the executive team to form and lead Mobileye’s SoC design team. The first SoC, EyeQ1 running on 180 nanometer process, was sampled in 2004. Today, five EyeQ generations and close to 100 million EyeQ chips later, Rushinek is still running Engineering at Mobileye.

When the company was founded in Israel, the category of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) was in its infancy and the industry was dominated by the belief that expensive radar sensors were necessary in order to perform the necessary functions, or at the very least two cameras (stereo vision) that utilize traditional triangulation methods to calculate range and velocity. Based on his pioneering academic research, Shashua proved that critical safety functions such as Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) and basically all perception tasks could be achieved using a single camera (mono vision). The ability to combine those revolutionary algorithms with a custom designed and highly efficient EyeQ SoC mounted on the windshield was a true game changer for the industry, making ADAS relevant for the mass market. From that point on Mobileye established many industry firsts and pioneered many of the vision-based ADAS functions prevalent today.

After becoming a world leader in computer vision for ADAS, around 2013, Mobileye came to the understanding that the ADAS technology it had been developing made up some of the crucial building blocks needed to develop a fully autonomous car, and began pursuing this in earnest. It was at that time that Prof. Shai Shalev-Shwartz, a close friend, colleague and research partner of Shashua joined Mobileye in a full-time capacity. In 2019, Shalev-Shwartz became the CTO of Mobileye – a position he holds to this day.

Graduating from ADAS to AV did not only require additional sensors and more advanced algorithms, but also requires solving the industry-wide challenges of regulating AV safety, creating HD maps for AVs at scale, and driving down the cost of the hardware needed for each vehicle – all areas where Mobileye is a leader in the industry by tackling the challenges of scale head on. In the area of defining safety for AVs, Shalev-Shwartz and Shashua co-authored a seminal research paper about a new formal model for defining what safety means in the context of making driving decisions.

The model, called Responsibility-Sensitive-Safety (RSS), has gained momentum with industry and regulatory bodies for defining the assumptions, in a mathematical form, that drivers make in balancing safety and utility while providing formal guarantees against causing an accident. RSS also became the backbone of Mobileye’s “driving policy” by replacing “predictions” that classical robotics-inspired Policy algorithms rely on – while consuming huge computational resources – with “intentions” thus requiring a fraction of the computational capacity.

Additionally, Mobileye’s AV mapping technology – Road Experience Management™ – again utilizes Mobileye’s computer vision expertise to create a highly compelling solution for cost effective and geographically scalable mapping. REM™ leverages the global crowd of Mobileye-equipped vehicles to collect relevant data from the road, and send it to the cloud at very low bandwidth, automatically creating a map of the world for AVs.

Since the acquisition by Intel, Mobileye has experienced vast growth. In March 2017, Mobileye had over 750 employees whereas today there are over 2500 employees in a full time capacity. Revenue as well went from just over $350 million at the end of 2016, to close to $1B at the end of 2020, and during the first nine months of 2021 ending September, the year-on-year revenue growth stands at 62%.

Today, the company offers a variety of autonomous mobility solutions, headed by Erez Dagan who has been with Mobileye since 2002 joining as a student intern, and today leads the Product & Strategy division. Mobileye has revealed a production ready L4 robotaxi with commercial deployments in Tel Aviv and Munich in 2022, and is performing AV testing on three continents, all alongside its significant ADAS business. In fact, the ADAS business has significantly benefited from having R&D for autonomous driving under the same roof. Most notably, based on its computer vision expertise, Mobileye has built a fully autonomous vehicle which can drive on cameras alone.

This 11-camera subsystem has now been productized into the ADAS realm, offering one of the world’s leading premium driver assist solutions for a variety of hands-free driving functions: Mobileye SuperVision™. The first vehicle equipped with Mobileye SuperVision™ is already in production today with the Geely group. In this way Mobileye has come full circle from a leader in the ADAS revolution, to leading the ADAS evolution to autonomous driving, offering a suite of mature solutions from basic driver assist to premium driver assist, to fully autonomous, working toward safer and smarter mobility for more people each day.

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