Top mobility VCs on the risks and rewards in partnering with giants like Amazon

At our recent TechCrunch Mobility event, we spoke with Amy Gu, the founder and managing partner of Hemi Ventures, Olaf Sakkers, a founding partner at Maniv Mobility and Reilly Brennan, the founding general partner at Trucks VC. We discussed a wide range of things, from frayed U.S.-China relations, to the mobility industry’s eager embrace of SPACs as a way to get capital-intensive companies into the public market.
We also talked partnerships. Specifically, we wanted to know how one determines whether a corporate leviathan that asks for information from a young startup — and maybe even invests in it — is really a friend or foe.
Our sense from the VCs is that mobility startups no longer have a choice but to partner with bigger and deeper-pocketed companies.
For example, Brennan wrote one of the first checks to autonomous shuttle company May Mobility and became its first board member. He suggested that the company, which has faced numerous engineering and operational challenges, had ambitions of going it alone when it was founded in 2017. At the time, other companies were operating in the world with apparent plans to remain independent, including self-driving software startups Cruise Automation and NuTonomy.

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