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Self-driving tech startup Baraja just lost 75% of its workforce

Sydney-based autonomous driving startup Baraja has laid off about 75% of its workforce.

The layoffs come just a month after the company received an undisclosed level of investment from Swedish auto safety company Veoneer, which Baraja CEO and co-founder Federico Collarte said “confirms the company’s market traction”.

Baraja was founded in 2015 by Collarte and Cibby Pulikkaseril to solve the problems faced by existing LiDAR (light detection and ranging) systems used to provide visibility to autonomous vehicles.

It is headquartered in Ryde, an industrial suburb in northern Sydney.

The startup previously raised more than $90 million, including $45 million (US$32 million) in a Series A in 2019 backed by Sequoia China, Blackbird Ventures and CSIRO’s VC fund, Main Sequence, and another $40 million in 2021, led by Blackbird, at a $300 million valuation. Blackbird kicked off Baraja’s starting lap in 2016.

Japan’s Hitachi Construction Machinery is also a major strategic financier and user of the technology. Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals mining company as a client.

But fully self-driving (FSD) projects had a torrid time in 2022, with the Ford and VW-backed Argo AI project the most notable casualty. Ford then poured more than $1 billion into the project over five years announced it would close in Octoberhitting the $2.7 billion balance sheet.

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