Embark Technology (NASDAQ: EMBK — $3.68 billion) describes itself as “an autonomous vehicle company building the software powering autonomous trucks” and merged with a SPAC in November. The company’s 26-year-old CEO projects no revenue in 2022 and 2023, but $867 million in revenue in 2024 and $2.7 billion in 2025. Embark’s current valuation appears to be based on puffery rather than actual substance. The company holds no patents, has only a dozen or so test trucks, and may be more bark than bite.
Founded in 2016 by Canadian college students, Embark Technology competes with Waymo, TuSimple (NASDAQ: TSP), Aurora Innovation (NASDAQ: AUR), Plus, and Tesla in the red-hot market for autonomous trucking. Embark does not make trucks but instead is developing software to help trucks drive autonomously between waypoints on highways. By 2024, Embark hopes to license its software to trucking companies and bill on a per-mile basis. Once a truck using Embark software reaches the outer edge of a city, a human will generally be needed to complete the more difficult task of driving the last mile in non-highway environments.
Embark is led by Alex Rodrigues, a 26-year-old dropout of the University of Waterloo with a background in robotics. The company’s Chief Technology Officer is Brandon Moak, a 25-year-old graduate from the University of Waterloo. They are joined by the company’s Chief Business Officer, Michael Reid, a 27-year-old graduate of the University of Waterloo. According to LinkedIn, around 15 Embark employees are graduates or dropouts of the University of Waterloo, including the company’s ~26-year-old Head of Product and its ~26-year-old Deep Learning Lead. Some former employees have complained that the founders “promote their close friends and roommates.”
One notable Embark hire that got media attention was Zeljko Popovic, who previously ran Tesla’s Perception Team for Autopilot. He left Embark in December 2020 after less than two years with the company and now works for Waymo.
More troubling is that Embark appears to lack true economic substance. For example, a July 2021 article titled, “Who's set to win Big Tech's 'insanely hot' race to self-driving trucks?” by the Commercial Carrier Journal didn’t even mention Embark. One reason may be that the company “holds no patents on its products” and instead “relies heavily on trade secrets [and] proprietary know-how” according to Embark’s SEC filings.