PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s not often a Pittsburgh start-up gets $2.6 billion.
But that’s what just happened to Argo AI with implications for the city’s high tech reputation.
“For Pittsburgh, it means we are going to continue to operate here,” company founder and CEO Bryan Salesky told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
“We’re going to be adding jobs. We’re going to be hiring lots of great engineers and really people from all different disciplines to join Argo to continue to build self-driving cars.”
WATCH: KDKA’s Jon Delano report
That’s the dream of Salesky: to design the SDS, or self-driving system, that becomes the best technology for all self-driving auto manufacturers in the world.
The $2.6 billion from Volkswagen follows an earlier investment of $1 billion from Ford.
“Ford was an early investor and great partner to us, and really now Volkswagen becomes our second customer, a second investor,” noted Salesky.
“And the two combined means we now have two of the largest global automakers aligned around the Argo self-driving platform.”
Based in the Strip District, two-year old Argo AI already employs 250 people.
“We’re building the computers, sensors, and software that is able to drive a car without any human intervention.”
But as it ramps up, watch for new jobs to be posted.
“I can see us over the next few years getting to 500 people in Pittsburgh.”
Of course, many are still skeptical of self-driving vehicles.
Delano: “How do you reassure people that this is really a safe technology for the future?”
Salesky: “It’s a good question, and I’m glad you asked it. So we’re still very much squarely in what we call the development phase which means that any Argo vehicle that’s out there today has two drivers in the vehicle at all times.”
In fact, it’s likely to be several years before fully autonomous vehicles are out on the roads.
Delano: “What excites you the most about this deal?”
Salesky: “Well, it gives us great capital obviously to continue building our platform, but even just beyond that, it really turns us into a global company.”