SoftBank and Goldman invest in electric supercar group Rimac
SoftBank and Goldman Sachs have invested in Rimac in a €500 million financing round that gives the Croatian electric supercar maker and technology group a valuation of more than €2 billion, according to the company.
The company will use part of the new investment to build its fledgling self-driving robotaxi business, which has been developing in secret for the past three years, founder Mate Rimac told the Financial Times.
The new company is still “in stealth mode” and may not be ready for another five years, but it will eventually “become bigger than anything we’ve done before,” he said.
The company has been prototyping for two years but wants to wait until the technology is ready before revealing it to the public.
“We’re different from other people who show things that are far from finished,” Rimac added.
Several companies, from Cruise, backed by General Motors, to Alphabet’s Waymo, promoted self-driving vehicles long before the technology reached the commercial stage.
The €500 million investment is the latest round of funding for Rimac, which began in the founder’s garage in 2009 and has grown into one of the most sought-after technology providers in the automotive industry.
The company crafted eight high-performance, €1.2 million Concept One cars to promote the brand, and its first mainstream model, the €2 million Nevera, will begin deliveries this summer.
Volkswagen’s Porsche, one of the first automakers to back the company, invested in the round to maintain its stake, while Italian investment group Investindustrial increased its stake.
By adding incumbent financial investors SoftBank and Goldman’s wealth management arm, the company has expanded its shareholder base and potentially paved the way for an IPO.
Rimac said the direction of the deal “will likely be an IPO [initial public offering] one day, but no hurry”.
He said his main priority is to “focus on building a strong company with a long-term perspective.”
His decision to avoid an IPO bucked the trend with an onslaught of IPOs by competitors through reverse mergers using special purpose entities or spacs.
Nearly 20 startups have gone public through IPOs or reverse mergers in the past two years, with many scoring higher than established car brands.
US electric car maker Rivian briefly overtook VW in market value last year, despite not having delivered a single vehicle to a customer at the time.
However, as a result, the market has spiraled out of control with falling valuations, with many new electric car startups trading below their stock price.
Rimac told the FT Future of the Car Summit in 2020 at the height of the flotation frenzy that he was “terrified” of the trend for companies to list in their infancy – comments that have proven prescient.
“I mean, it’s amazing that you can really get that kind of money now for companies that don’t have a product,” he said at the event.
Last year, Rimac’s company signed a deal to oversee VW’s Bugatti brand, with him leading the new Bugatti-Rimac group, which will produce models under both brands.
The company also plans to hire 700 people this year and complete the development of its new campus in Croatia, which will serve as the headquarters for the Bugatti Rimac company.