Waymo’s co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana on steering through autonomous car challenges | StrictlyVC LA

[Laughter] Right there they Are thank You thank you so Much all Right thank you so much for joining me Tonight and Teedra especially for Joining me here tonight in La um you've been wh's been in La now For a few months now since October not Commercially operating but touring Around I actually took a robo taxi ride Today and it was really interesting Because there was a car crash right in Front of the robo taxi that I was in not At all involving wh by the way but um it Was really interesting because it Actually backed up after a few minutes Was able to sort of maneuver around and Um take me to my destination which so Kind of interesting to see how much it's Changed since the early days when I was First in the vehicles way way back when It was just the little prototype the Little Firefly on a definitely not a Public street so um it was really Interesting I'm wondering how the Reception has been here in La since October yeah well first and foremost Thank you thank you all this is great um And also I'm so glad you took a ride Today we launched here in October with This tour where we've been sort of Touring different neighborhoods and we

Have uh over five 15,000 folks in Los Angeles who've taken rides so far um We've received a very warm welcome and One of the biggest insights I mean I was Talking to the team about this is who's Taking rides and what are they taking Rides for because there is this you know There's a newness Factor right like are People really integrating it into the Their lives or is it like tourism and Just something people are curious about And so it was exciting to see that like 2,000 of those trips are like people Going to very very basic errands right Which is that's going to run an erand in AO is like using it for your life Similarly people are taking it to Restaurants and bars at the same number Like 2,000 trips and then 300 uh of the Trips are people going to school college As well as K through 12 so we like that Signal that people aren't just giving us A warm welcome but they are really Integrating it into their lives and That's here in La those here in La okay Well it was interesting I got uh honked At yelled at a couple people wanted to Experiment with the robo taxi and I'm Curious how Different populations because you're in Phoenix commercially you're in San Francisco commercially here you're not Able to charge for rides yet and you're Also in

Austin how are the these different Population centers different um and how They treat the roboox yeah I love that Question so we've been in Phoenix the Longest as you know I mean we've been in Phoenix since 2017 but we've been Offering a 247 um fully autonomous ride healing Service with no one behind the wheel for Those of you who don't have context for Wayo it's a Service Ride hailing the weo Driver takes you where you want to go There's no human in the car sitting Behind the wheel so when it pulls up you Use the wio app it pulls up you either Sit in the passenger seat or in the back Seat and it takes you where you want to Go and so in Phoenix we're in 225 square Miles it includes the Sky Harbor International Airport so you can fly in Download the app take AO to downtown or Tempy or Scottdale so there it's Integrated into the fabric of the Community and so when we expanded our Territory to include ASU like like all Of those students first they're digital Natives but then second they're already Accustomed to taking some TR mode of Transportation home from the bar or to Wherever they're going and so they just Immediately integrated it into their Lives so it's been a very very long time Where people have been seeing the whmo Cars the number of people when I go to

Phoenix those cars pull up at the Airport someone gets in someone's Getting out someone's getting in like It's really exciting to see San Francisco we off for the service in all Of the sort of 50 square miles of San Francisco you know it's a more Challenging and dynamic city both from a Technological development perspective Right you you have cyclists you have Pedestrians you have double parked cars And deliveries and there's a lot you Have you know mountains you have fog um And so we have always taken sort of a Safety first approach engaging with the Communities getting feedback so when we Showed up in San Francisco we were able To leverage everything we'd learned in Phoenix and one of the things we've Learned is getting feedback directly From the community for what service Would be most valuable in their lives And so we really selected you know we Ended up with about 200,000 people Signing up on our weight list and then Over time taking people off the weight List and really prioritizing different Use cases so that we could learn early How people would value the service and So that's been tremendous ly exciting we Give tens of thousands of rides every Week um between San Francisco and Phoenix and it's growing every week so It's very exciting so to me though it's

Hard to ignore the tension that happens In San Francisco I mean a group of People lit one of the robot toxis on Fire and that hasn't happened in Phoenix As far as I know um so yes there's Clearly demand there you have you Mentioned 200 ,000 people on the weight List I don't know how many people are Off that weight list now um there's Clearly a demand there but how are you Dealing with this clear there is a group Out there in San Francisco specifically That seems very opposed to robotaxis how I mean can you win them Over yeah I think as it relates to sort Of vandalism and arson I mean people Commit crimes against property and um Unfortunately we've experienced that you Know I'm still super hopeful that Everyone in San Francisco will come Along for this ride with us but even That aside the reason we exist is To offer trust trust trusted Safe Transportation to people and the reality Is especially in covid the number of Preventable deaths in San Francisco on The streets row like most cities around The country you know 40,000 people not Making it home for dinner to us is Entirely unacceptable and so I think the People who focus on whatever it is they Don't like about whether it's Tech or Specific to autonomous vehicles aren't Really thinking about whether or not

It's worth the benefit to society and We're just going to stay focused on that And so when you say like specifically Around the arson you know that's Disappointing but every policy maker is On our side right like no one wants to See that happen and so we're going to Obviously continue to be very Vigilant On those cases but we're going to keep Our attention on those people who need a Way to get around all the people who Will never have a driver's license Either because they have epilepsy or Another limitation or because they've Aged out and they just they can't drive Anymore and so there's like this it's a Privilege to Object because you have options and what We're not going to do is get lost in That debate because we know there are People who don't have good options who Need this option are you committed so Much to San Francisco that even if I Mean forget about the regulatory Question because obviously if one of the Two main agencies the DMV and or the California Public Utilities Commission Were to pull a permit you wouldn't be Able to operate putting that aside if There was continued and repeated sort of Vandalism around this will you you still Stay committed to San Francisco because Of what you just said or will you would You have to make a decision to just go

To a different Marketplace yeah I don't even spend any Time thinking about if lawlessness would Run us out of town I mean I just think That would be such a sad State of Affairs uh for such a progressive City And so we're committed to staying in San Francisco um we're committed to going to Places like like Los Angeles like San Francisco Austin is our next location That have transportation pain points and Opportunity for the weo driver to help Solve those um circling back to LA I Think you're about to wrap up this tour Um you said there are 200,000 people on The wait list in San Francisco um La I Know is a little bit of a different Thing because you're going to different Neighborhoods so what's the demand that You're seeing um Just in those different communities Since you've been here since October Yeah since October we've had 50,000 People sign up for our weight list um as I said earlier over 15,000 trips to tens Of thousands of folks because people Bring their friends we actually have a a Rider George who lives in Santa Monica Who's 80 um who considers himself a Techie and he can't drive and so he's Been one of our Avid Riders and then we Have another writer who's actually Joined us at every stop on our tour in LA and um what he does is he brings his

Friends who are Skeptics so he can sort Of get them over their skepticism and so This is part of why we show up and give People the opportunity to experience the The whmo driver for themselves um one Thing there's a lot of people talking in The back so they won't hear me but for All of you sitting in the front one Thing I just want to say it's like my Little bit of like my Oprah moment which Is like we are giving codes to all of You so you can all enjoy wh Mo rides This weekend in Los Angeles so thank you For listening and uh you get a ride and You get a ride and you get a ride and You get a ride look under your chair Let's get it but we'll follow up and get You the codes yeah um I think that we'll Either communicate it through Tech Wrench or strict LC or something like That we'll get them to you um So based On what you know now in Los Angeles um you're wrapping up the tour Can we expect you to come back is it a City that is has is worth commercially Launching it not just building community Building I mean actually commercially Launching from what you know now Definitely and the reason we came is Because we knew that and the reason We'll stay is because we've received a Warm welcome you know there's like you Said we have to get our permits we're Not charging for rides right now we will

As we did in San Francisco expand our Service before we start charging and I Mean you know it's like we sort of show Up and you get to experience this for a Couple of months or several months Without paying and then we have that Moment of truth which we went through in San Francisco which is we start charging And then we figure out how many people Have really integrated into their lives What's the price point they're willing To pay and what we learned in San Francisco is people are so excited that There's no hurdle now they it's just a Public service and they can just take The rides whenever they want and so Definitely intend to stay in Los Angeles I mean it is one of the most dynamic Sort of Transportation cities in the World right you have sort of only a Handful that are this Complex um I I was thinking earlier Today like what does a successful Robo Taxi service look like in each City and One thing that we haven't talked too Much about um in the past is where Pro Where does profitability fall in that Metric because okay let's say you're You're providing Transportation great Take that box people accept it uh you I Don't know maybe there's a metric where You actually help like reduce um crashes Or something like that but you can't do That forever so where is the

Profitability piece and how far Away are you from that let's say in Phoenix where you've been there for Quite some time yeah so So my time thinking about which is how To build a sustainable profitable Business and so all the steps we're Taking are part of that obviously I Can't get into any specifics um but There are you know the sort of Transportation opportunity in Los Angeles is $2 billion um there's ample Room to build a profitable business in Los Angeles if you approach it the right Way and we're certainly focused on doing That same thing with San Francisco And same thing with Phoenix you know Expanding in Phoenix was a really Critical part of that because initially We were in Chandler obviously we needed To move to downtown incorporating the Airport is critical and then getting all Of those area Scottsdale where so many People come into the Phoenix ter area And they're kind of in Scottsdale or in Downtown so you're seeing us make the Moves that you have to make to build a Profitable business do you think Long-term sustainable profit profitable Business right to be profitable do you Have to unlock the airports is that like A key physical piece to that it depends On the city um it really depends on the City I think when you're talking about a

City like San Francisco you can Certainly do it without an airport Because it's you know sort of unusually High demand in that city as well as uh Community that's become quite accustom To paying high fees for transportation Train right that you can get on the bar From the airport and so there is a way Right but for some cities certainly uh Airports will be required from earlier In our Launch Um the airport piece is interesting to Me because you might may or may not have Known but there was there's an Application right now that is expanding The footprint of San Francisco um and in That application it showed going into Parts of of San Mato County which just So happens I mean you don't you don't Outline it but if you look at it you're Like oh the airport right so can we Expect more of that um in the San Francisco area like talk to me a little Bit about how that footprint might grow What's the one to twoyear plan for that Area yeah yeah so that perment that We've applied for is so that we can not Only be in the full sort of San Francisco Main But also expand as you said to the Airport as well as adjacent um areas It's because we see where writers might Be interested in going um not only

Because we do actual sort of interviews With some of our writers but also There's an intent opportunity in the in The app and so we are interested in Going to places where people who are Sort of Leaning um so you can expect to see that You've already seen it in our permanent Application you know it's been a a Process I think where people can follow Along in California to our business Plans because we really have to Delineate this in the permitting Process um I want to get through a Couple of questions because I know we're Going down on time a little bit but I Would be remiss to not bring Up who's been watching or has any Interest in autonomous vehicles at All what has happened since October 2nd To now I think some people were quite Shocked I mean how quickly that company Really Um had a bit of demise to them and now They're trying to build back that trust So you are watching you probably had Some people who had worked at Cru and Were at weo what did you learn Specifically from how that all went down And did you change anything Internally yeah I think um it was a Opportunity for us as a company to Feel very Humble right because we're all here

Trying to make the road safer like That's what we're doing and so whenever Something awful happens to someone uh There's no rejoicing in that so that was First as far as our approach to safety That's been sort of foundational for us From the beginning um deep engagement With regulators and policy makers at Every level I mean this is my background That's always been foundational to how We function being transparent with the Communities in which we drive I mean we We published 20 safety papers last year Like we are we are always Exposing the lack of perfection in what We are doing we want to build confidence By being transparent but not by Suggesting that we're perfect um because It's just not setting expectations in The right place so we we didn't learn Specifically from them But it was a challenging Moment sort of like what Happ which is just that we have to stay Very humble and you have to take an Iterative approach and it's okay if it Feels to the outside world like it's Taking too long or like you're not cool Enough or Like because like lives are at stake and So I think it was like a real good Opportunity for everyone to look at each Other and say like there have been Moments where this has been really hard

And it's going to stay hard certainly What you're saying after you know this Kind of thing happens Regulators are Even uh more nervous uh but our team is Committed to doing this safely and Thoughtfully and so that's how that's What we're going to keep Doing what I found interesting is I've Been writing about weo before it was wh And it was Google self-driving project I Kind of feel like we've come in this Weird full circle where it was just kind Of Google self-driving project and a lot Of research projects happening at Carnegie melon and then this huge hype Cycle with all these startups and now We're back to like just a Handful So I'm wondering like what is your Prediction do you think That more will either fail or be Consolidated or do you think that they Will be some more competition moving Forward I definitely think there will be Competition um if we think about like a 5 to 10 year time Horizon because I Think that um we're just seeing the Speed of AI and ml right and there will Be people who solve these Challenges um it's just going to take a Long time and it requires a lot of Capital to get there so were you Relieved or neutral to win the secret Not so Secret Apple car project it's

Apparently dead Now I was Neutral um because who knows what that Means fair fair all right well last Question um just a quick two quick Questions one very quickly how many Humans does it take to sort of operate As have a single Robo toxy on the road Um so less than a human less than one Human because I we have wrer support So If you're in a car there's a group of Humans but they're not one to one um and So if you push the button and you say You know hey why did the car do this or Today actually the example you had is The car going to back up or am I going To be stuck behind this accident um or I Think I left my purse in the last car I Was in so that's a crital local one and Then we do have remote assistance but It's also not one to one with the cars And those are um when the car has a Question so if that accident wasn't an Accident but instead it had been like a Mattress in the middle of the street That doesn't have wheels and isn't Moving then there is an opportunity for The car to ask for support but there's No ability for anyone outside of the car To drive the car take over the car tell The car what to do it is driving based On its own semantic understanding of the Environment all right so here's the Billion dollar question um obviously it

Takes humans to support this it takes a Lot of money to build this up and Develop it and so what does weo need to Do to get to the next level how much Money does it need and to reach that Kind of capital do you foresee weo Potentially spinning out and having an IPO I Sav the best for LAX Right it was it's actually really an Easy one for me because I don't have Anything to say about whether or not We're going to IPO but I mean really at The heart of your question is what do we Need to do we need to keep doing what we Did in 2023 which is make the service Real in more people's everyday lives Which is why we're excited about what's Happening right here in LA and why we're Really excited about what's to come in Austin good answer thank you so much Thank you to Cudra and we'll get those codes yeah


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