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Nuro, an autonomous vehicle delivery company with deployments in California and Texas, laid off about 300 employees, or 20% of its staff, on Friday, according to reporting from Tech Crunch.
The company’s co-founders, Jiajun Zhu and Dave Ferguson, sent an email to employees Friday morning informing them of the layoffs and saying they would receive another update informing them if they would be impacted.
Ferguson and Zhu told employees that the layoffs were the company’s attempt at preserving cash amid a generally poor economic outlook. The founders took responsibility for the layoffs, stating the company overhired in 2021.
2021 was a big year for the company. In November, it brought in a $600 million investment led by Tiger Global Management, putting the company at an $8.6 billion valuation. The round also included participation from Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and the parent company of Waymo, another autonomous vehicle company. After the investment, Nuro doubled its team in less than two years.
Nuro had gained a lot of traction in 2020 when it became the first U.S. autonomous vehicle developer to be given exemptions by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for testing on public roads without needing controls for human operators. Later that year, Nuro received a second permit to test the R2 on certain public roads in sections of nine cities within Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.
Since then, Nuro has worked with Domino’s, Walmart, FedEx, 7-Eleven, Kroger and Uber for various delivery activities. But the company hasn’t been without its challenges. Earlier this year, it announced it was laying off a handful of employees in Texas, California, and Arizona, and started winding down its Phoenix Depot operations.
In its latest round of layoffs, Nuro is offering the affected employees 12 weeks of severance pay, and up to 14 weeks of severance pay for those who have been at Nuro for over two years. The company will also pay out bonuses to eligible employees, waiving the one-year vesting cliff on the equity front.
Nuro will subsidize 100% of COBRA healthcare premiums, including for families, through March 31, 2023, for laid-off employees. The company is also providing career transition support, and giving its Visa holders a notice period to help ease the transition.