$300m to ‘zero’: Blackbird-backed start-up stalls

Venture capital investors in $300 million self-driving car sensor start-up Baraja have written down their stakes to zero, leaving the Sydney-based company facing a grim future after mass redundancies and a staff exodus.

Baraja was once a doyenne of the deep tech sector that aims to commercialise original inventions, but its lead investor, Blackbird Ventures, has slashed its valuation to nil across several funds.

“It felt like a real company because there was so much VC money, but obviously we weren’t selling enough,” said one former Baraja employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Baraja, which makes lasers to help cars “see”, known as LiDAR, achieved a valuation of $300 million in 2021. But it was losing money rapidly despite receiving almost $50 million from Blackbird, and being heralded by the VC investor as among its likely winners.

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