Autonomous delivery startup Nuro is in the midst of a restructuring that will result in layoffs and shift resources away from commercial operations and toward R&D.
This is the second time in less than a year that Nuro — a darling of the AV world that has raised $2.13 billion — has laid off workers in a bid to cut costs and extend capital runway. In November, Nuro laid off about 300 people, or 20%, of its workforce. Nuro declined to share how many of its roughly 1,100 employees will be affected.
This time, the company isn’t just cutting jobs; Nuro is changing its operations, a shift that will pause plans to ramp up commercial operations this year and delay volume production of its Nuro bot — the third-generation, or R3, delivery robot designed to be the flagship of its commercial strategy. Nuro will be able to double its runway by making these changes, giving it enough capital to operate another three years without raising more money, co-founders Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu wrote in a blog post.
“We’ve entered a new capital environment that will shape the next few years or more. In this new reality, we need to be more efficient with our balance sheet,” they wrote.
The company, flush with capital from high-profile investors including Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Management & Research Company and Google, had the funds to tackle everything at once from R&D and custom vehicle design to deploying commercial pilots with partners like Kroger and Uber. Now, it’s going to scale back or pause commercial operations and put the bulk of its resources and people on developing its autonomous system.
Nuro said it will continue small-scale commercial operations for testing and learning with select partners. The company has been operating in the Bay Area and Houston and plans to continue operations in those two markets.
The company is also scaling back its manufacturing plans. In 2021, Nuro announced plans to invest $40 million to develop a closed-course track and a 125,000-square-foot factory to “build tens of thousands of robots” in partnership with BYD North America. Ferguson told TechCrunch that Nuro is still planning to use its R3 (Nuro bot), but it will hold back on manufacturing them at scale. It also plans to continue to use its closed-course test track. The facility is still under construction.
“The idea is that as autonomy gets more and more mature and frankly as it’s able to operate over much larger areas and we basically have generalized autonomy, then we’re going to come back and scale up what the manufacturing and the deployment will be,” he said.