#DealMonitor – GetHenry sammelt 16,5 Millionen ein – Footprint.Club übernimmt Frischepost – Unbound Nation bekommt 3 Millionen


Im #DealMonitor für den 11. Mai werfen wir einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

GetHenry
+++ Der Londoner Geldgeber LocalGlobe, GreenPoint Partners, EnBW New Ventures, Founder Collective, Third Sphere, Visionaries Club und mehrere Angel-Investoren investieren 16,5 Millionen Euro in GetHenry. “Die Investitionssumme setzt sich aus 10 Millionen Eigenkapital und 6,5 Millionen Fremdkapital zusammen”, teilt die Jungfirma mit. Das Berliner Startup, das 2018 von Luis Orsini-Rosenberg und Nikodemus Seilern gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als B2B-Abodienst für E-Bikes. Zielgruppe sind dabei Kuriere, Lebensmittelhändler und Logistikunternehmen. “Wir bieten Lieferdiensten maßgeschneiderte Mobilitätslösungen an, die von der Beschaffung der Fahrzeuge bis hin zu Software und Service reichen”, teilt die Jungfirma mit. Rund 100 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für das Unternehmen. Mehr über GetHenry

Unbound Nation
+++ Greenfield One, BlackPool, BLN Capital (Kolibri-Gründer) und Daedalus investieren 3 Millionen US-Dollar in Unbound Nation. Das Startup mit Sitz in Zug, das von Philipp Huebner und Steven Figura gegründet wurde, bezeichnet sich selbst als “decentralized GameFi ecosystem and community”. In der Selbstbeschreibung heißt es weiter: “Unbound Nation disrupts boundaries for a fair virtual world through NFT lending in the blockchain gaming industry that enables people globally to be onboarded to the metaverse economy”.

unown
+++ Der Schweizer Impact-Investor Übermorgen Ventures, Nicolas & Loïc Brunschwig (Bongenie-Grieder), Maximilian Böck (Marc O’Polo), Vealo Ventures und Altinvestor APX investieren 2 Millionen Euro in unown. Das Hamburger Unternehmen, das 2019 von  Linda Ahrens und Tina Spießmacher gegründet wurde, entwickelt einen Fashion-Leasing-Service. “Neben dem bestehenden B2C-Angebot auf der Website und in der UNOWN-App wird die Software in den kommenden Monaten auch bei Herstellermarken und Händlern implementiert”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Mehr über unown

Eloop
+++ Der European Super Angels Club, C&P Ventures und Bitpanda-Gru?nder Christian Trummer investieren “rund eine weitere Million Euro” in Eloop. Der Wiener Carsharing-Anbieter, 2017 von Frederic Nachbauer, Nico Prugger und Leroy Hofer gegründet, setzt auf “leise und emissionsfreie Fahrzeuge”. “Mit dem siebenstelligen Investment sollen die Expansion nach Deutschland sowie der weitere Ausbau der Wiener E-Flotte als auch des eigenen Krypto-Tokens Eloop One forciert werden”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.

GovRadar 
+++ Business Angels wie Wolfgang Reitzle (Continental) und Andreas Kupke (Finanzcheck) investieren eine sechsstellige Summe in GovRadar. Das Münchner Startup, das 2020 von Sascha Soyk gegründet wurde, entwickelt eine Software für Behörden, um die Beschaffung im öffentlichen Sektor zu beschleunigen. “Die Finanzierung wird eingesetzt, um die Präsenz bei deutschen Kommunen auszubauen, eine Integration von Lieferanten in die Plattform zu entwickeln und um die Software-as-a-Service-Lösung für die Verteidigungsbeschaffung anzupassen”, teilt das Startup mit.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Frischepost 
+++ Das Berliner Unternehmen Footprint.Club übernimmt das Hamburger Startup Frischepost, einen Lieferdienst für regionale Lebensmittelhersteller, der 2015 von Eva Neugebauer und Juliane Willing gegründet wurde. Hinter dem Footprint.Club, einer Art Holding für E-Food-Themen, stecken Jens Gützkow, Michel Stumpe und Jens-Uwe Heinrich. Zum jungen Konglomerat im Thrasio-Stil gehört bereits Alles vom Land, ein Shop rund um regionale Produkte. Der Lieferdienst Frischepost ist derzeit in Hamburg, im Rhein-Main-Gebiet, Berlin und Köln unterwegs. 130 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für das Unternehmen. Investoren wie BonVenture, Sunrise Capital und der Haferflockenhersteller Peter Kölln investierten in den vergangenen Jahren rund 4 Millionen Euro in Frischepost. Die beiden Gründerinnen hielten zuletzt noch jeweils rund 21 % an Frischepost. “Mit der Transaktion übernimmt Gründerin Eva Neugebauer die alleinige Geschäftsführung der Frischepost GmbH. Mitgründerin Juliane Willing und Interim CEO Tom Mayer werden weiterhin beratend für das Unternehmen und die neuen Eigentümer tätig sein”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung zur Übernahme.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #alles-vom-land, #apx, #berlin, #blackpool, #bln-capital, #cp-ventures, #carsharing, #eloop, #enbw-new-ventures, #footprint-club, #founder-collective, #frischepost, #gethenry, #govradar, #govtech, #greenfield-one, #greenpoint-partners, #hamburg, #localglobe, #mobility, #munchen, #super-angels-club, #third-sphere, #ubermorgen-ventures, #unbound-nation, #unown, #venture-capital, #visionaries-club, #wien

Peer-to-peer car rental startup Getaround fined nearly $1M by DC’s Attorney General

Getaround was fined nearly $1 million by the Washington D.C. Office of the Attorney General for operating without a license and other violations, part of a settlement of what the peer-to-peer car rental startup calls “politically motivated allegations.”

The AG’s office started investigating the company early last year, after it received reports of vehicle thefts of cars listed on the Getaround platform. The settlement, released Friday, requires the company to pay the city $950,000, in addition to implementing other changes, including paying restitution to customers whose vehicles were stolen or damaged while it was listed for rent on Getaround’s platform.

Getaround, the winner of TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield at Disrupt NYC in 2011, lets individual car owners rent their vehicles by the hour or day via its website and app. The site, much like competitor Turo or home rental analog Airbnb, mediates this exchange (and takes a cut off the top). The company’s attracted a lot of interest from investors, most recently raising a $140 million Series E that brought its total venture funding to $600 million.

The settlement is what’s known as an “assurance of voluntary compliance,” and it’s not an admission of guilt. The settlement document makes clear that Getaround denies it violated any consumer protection or tax laws.

“Gig economy companies must abide by the same rules as their brick-and-mortar counterparts,” Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement. “They must provide clear and accurate information to consumers, especially about the safety of their services, and they must pay their fair share of taxes like everyone else does.”

The AG’s office claims that Getaround operated without a license in the district, misrepresented its service, and made “untrue or misleading representations” about the safety of its car rental services. As part of the settlement, the company must create a written policy for user complaints regarding vehicle damage or theft, including a way for users to report any issues. It also must clearly disclose limitations of its safety features, such as its “Enhanced Security” software feature, which Getaround says on its website can immobilize your car when it’s not being used. Getaround must also more clearly state the terms and conditions for insurance coverage.

The AG’s office also claimed that Getaround misled consumers by creating fake owner profiles for vehicles that it owned and operated. The company must now disclose its fleet cars clearly in listings.

A Getaround spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company “categorically disagrees” with the AG’s allegations.

“With regard to safety and security, as the Attorney General acknowledges, as soon as Getaround was notified of security issues affecting certain cars in the District, the company took immediate corrective action,” the spokesperson said. “As is its practice, Getaround will continue to compensate car owners who have filed valid claims for loss or damage. Finally, Getaround never disputed liability for the taxes it is paying pursuant to this settlement.  Getaround will continue to pay applicable taxes to the District and in every jurisdiction in which it operates.”

The company spokesperson went on to say that “while the Attorney General is focused on scoring political points, Getaround remains focused on connecting safe, convenient, and affordable cars with District residents who need them to live and work.”

#attorney-general, #automotive, #car-rental, #carsharing, #getaround, #tc, #transportation

Despite flat growth, ride-hailing colossus Didi’s US IPO could reach $70B

Didi filed to go public in the United States last night, providing a look into the Chinese ride-hailing company’s business. This morning, we’re extending our earlier reporting on the company to dive into its numerical performance, economic health and possible valuation.

Didi is approaching the American public markets at a fortuitous moment. While the late-2020 IPO fervor, which sent offerings from DoorDash and others skyrocketing after their debuts, has cooled, valuations for public companies remain high compared to historical norms. And Uber and Lyft, two American ride-hailing companies, have been posting numbers that point to at least a modest recovery in the ride-hailing industry as COVID-19 abates in many parts of the world.

As further grounding, recall that Didi has raised tens of billions worth of private capital from venture capitalists, private equity firms, corporations and other sources. The size of the bet riding on Didi is simply massive. As we explore the company’s finances, then, we’re more than vetting a single company’s performance; we’re examining what sort of returns an ocean of capital may be able to derive from its exit.

In that vein, we’ll consider GMV results, revenue growth, historical profitability, present-day profitability, and what Didi may be worth on the American markets, given current comps. Sound good? Into the breach!

Inside Didi’s IPO filing

Starting at the highest level, how quickly has gross transaction volume (GTV) scaled at the company?

GTV

Didi is historically a business that operates in China but has operations today in more than a dozen countries. The impact and recovery of China’s bout with COVID-19 is therefore not the whole picture of the company’s GTV results.

COVID-19 began to affect the company starting in the first quarter of 2020. From the Didi F-1 filing:

Core Platform GTV fell by 32.8% in the first quarter of 2020 as compared to the first quarter of 2019, and then by 16.0% in the second quarter of 2020 as compared to the second quarter of 2019.

The dips were short-lived, however, with Didi quickly returning to growth in the second half of the year:

Our businesses resumed growth in the second half of 2020, which moderated the impact on a year-on-year basis. Our Core Platform GTV for the full year 2020 decreased by 4.8% as compared to the full year 2019. Both our China Mobility and International segments were impacted, but whereas the GTV for our China Mobility segment decreased by 6.6% from 2019 to 2020, the GTV for our International segment increased by 11.4% from 2019 to 2020.

Holding to just the Chinese market, we can see how rapidly Didi managed to pick itself up over the last year. Chinese GTV at Didi grew from 25.7 billion RMB to 54.6 billion RMB from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021; naturally, we’re comparing a more pandemic-impacted quarter at the company to a less-affected period, but the comparison is still useful for showing how the company recovered from early-2020 lows.

The number of transactions that Didi recorded in China during the first quarter of this year was also up more than 2x year over year.

On a whole-company basis, Didi’s “core platform GTV,” or the “sum of GTV for our China Mobility and International segments,” posted numbers that are less impressive in growth terms:

Image Credits: Didi F-1 filing

You can see how quickly and painfully COVID-19 blunted Didi’s global operations. But seeing the company settle back to late-2019 GTV numbers in 2021 is not super bullish.

Takeaway: While Didi managed an impressive GTV recovery in China, its aggregate numbers are flatter, and recent quarterly trends are not incredibly attractive.

Revenue growth

#carsharing, #china, #didi, #ec-mobility, #ec-news-analysis, #fundings-exits, #lyft, #startups, #tc, #uber, #unicorn, #united-states, #venture-capital

SoftBank, Uber, Tencent set to reap rewards from Didi IPO

After years of speculation, Didi Chuxing, China’s ride-sharing behemoth, finally unveiled its IPO filing in the U.S., giving a glimpse into its money-losing history.

Didi didn’t disclose the size of its raise. Reuters reported the company could raise around $10 billion at a valuation of close to $100 billion.

Cheng Wei, Didi’s 38-year-old founder owns 7% of the company’s shares and controls 15.4% of its voting power before the IPO, according to the prospectus. Major shareholder SoftBank Vision Fund owns 21.5% of the company, followed by Uber with 12.8% and Tencent at 6.8%.

The nine-year-old company, which famously acquired Uber’s China operations in 2016, is more than a ride-hailing platform now. It has a growing line of businesses like bike-sharing, grocery, intra-city freight, financial services for drivers, electric vehicles and Level 4 robotaxis, which it defines as “the pinnacle of our design for future mobility” for its potential to lower costs and improve safety.

Didi set up an autonomous driving subsidiary that banked $500 million from SoftBank in May last year. The unit now operates a team of over 500 members and a fleet of over 100 autonomous vehicles.

For the twelve months ended March, Didi served 493 million annual active users and saw 41 million transactions on a daily basis.

Didi had been operating in the red from 2018 to 2020, when it finished the year with a $1.6 billion net loss, but managed to turn the tide in the first quarter of 2021 by racking up a net profit of $837 million, which it recognized was primarily due to the investment income from the deconsolidation of Chengxin, its cash-burning grocery group buying initiative, and an equity investment disposal.

Revenue from the quarter also more than doubled year-over-year to $6.6 billion. China accounts for over 90% of Didi’s revenues as of late. The company has tried to expand its presence in a dozen overseas countries like Brazil, where it bought local ride-hailing business 99 Taxis.

Of its mobility revenues in China, more than 97% came from ride-hailing between 2018 and 2020. Taxi hailing, chauffeur and carpooling, a lucrative business that was revamped following two deadly accidents, made up a trifling share.

Didi plans to spend 30% of its IPO proceeds on shared mobility, electric vehicles, autonomous driving and other technologies. 30% will go towards its international expansion and another 20% will be used for new product development.

#asia, #automation, #carsharing, #china, #didi, #didi-chuxing, #funding, #robotaxi, #robotics, #softbank, #softbank-group, #transport, #transportation, #uber

#DealMonitor – Trade Republic sammelt 900 Millionen ein – Bewertung: 5 Milliarden


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 20. Mai werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTS

Trade Republic
+++ Sequoia, TCV und Thrive Capital sowie die Altinvestoren Accel, Creandum, Founders Fund, also Peter Thiel, und Project A Ventures investieren 900 Millionen US-Dollar in Trade Republic. Die Bewertung liegt bei beachtlichen 5 Milliarden Dollar. Somit ist der Neobroker Trade Republic das neuste Unicorn im Lande. Über das Interesse von Sequoia, bei Trade Republic einzusteigen, hatten wir bereits Mitte Dezember im Insider-Podcast berichtet (siehe unten). Das Berliner FinTech, das 2015 von Christian Hecker, Thomas Pischke und Marco Cancellieri gegründet wurde, erhielt zuletzt 62 Millionen Euro – unter anderem von Accel und Founders Fund. Hinter Trade Republic verbirgt sich ein mobiler und provisionsfreier Broker mit dem Kunden mobil und provisionsfrei mit Aktien, ETFs und Derivate handeln können. “Der frühe Geldgeber Sino verkauft Anteile im Wert von rund 150 Millionen Dollar, 750 Millionen Dollar fließen in die Firma. Die Bewertung steigt dabei von 730 Millionen Dollar Ende des vergangenen Jahres auf 5,3 Milliarden Dollar”, schreibt FinanceFWD zum Mega-Investment. “Mit dieser Finanzierung werden wir unsere Mission vorantreiben, Millionen von Europäern einen sicheren, einfachen und kostenlosen Zugang zum Kapitalmarkt zu ermöglichen”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Über 400 Mitarbeiter:innen wirken bereits für Trade Republic. Nach eigenen Angaben verfügt das Fintech in Deutschland, Frankreich und Österreich derzeit über “mehr als eine Million Kunden”. Mehr über Trade Republic

Dabbel
+++ Target Global, SeedX, main incubator und weitere Investoren investieren 3,6 Millionen Euro in Dabbel. Das PropTech aus Düsseldorf setzt künstliche Intelligenz ein, um die Energieeffizienz in gewerblichen Gebäuden zu steigern. Dazu entwickelt Dabbel “eine cloud-basierte, selbstlernende Gebäudemanagement-Software, die sich in bestehende Gebäudemanagement-Systeme einfügt und die Steuerung von Heiz- und Kühlsystemen auf eine Art und Weise übernimmt”.

Miles
+++ Emmanuel Thomassin, Christian Ga?rtner, Rex Jackson und Stine Rolstad Brenna investieren in den Carsharinganbieter Miles. Die Jungfirma unterscheidet sich von der vielen Konkurrenz vor allem durch sein Abrechnungssystem. Abgerechnet werden, anders als bei anderen Carsharing-Anbietern, nur die tatsächlich gefahrenen Kilometer, nicht die Fahrtzeit. In der Vergangenheit investierte vor allem Seriengründer und -investor Lukasz Gadowski in das Berliner Startup. Im vergangenen erwirtschaftete das Unternehmen nach eigenen Angaben einen Umsatz in Höhe von 20 Millionen Euro. Mehr über Miles

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #berlin, #carsharing, #fintech, #miles, #mobility, #neobroker, #proptech, #sequoia, #tcv, #thrive-capital, #trade-republic, #venture-capital

Getaround raises a $140 million Series E amid rebound in short-distance travel

Amid a rebound in short-distance travel, Getaround, a Silicon Valley car rental startup, has raised some new money to meet demand. The startup, which allows customers to instantly rent cars near them in over 100 cities, announced today that it has raised $140 million in a Series E deal, bringing its total known venture funding to $600 million.

The Series E deal was led by PeopleFund with new investors including Reid Hoffman’s and Mark Pincus’ Reinvent Capital, AmRest founder Henry McGovern, Pennant Investors, VectoIQ partners Steve Girsky, Mary Chan, and Julia Steyn also deploying capital. Participating prior investors include SoftBank Vision Fund, Menlo Ventures, and more.

The money comes after the car-sharing service faced its own set of hurdles before and during the coronavirus pandemic. In January, the startup reportedly laid off 150 employees, reducing field operations and the size of numerous global teams. In March, bookings dropped 75%, according to CEO Sam Zaid. Getaround laid off 100 employees. Zaid pointed to struggles within SoftBank, which did a $300 million Series D round in the company in mid-2018, as part of the reason.

Now, Zaid says that “Softbank has been an extremely supportive partner to Getaround at every critical stage of our journey this year including in January and through COVID,” in a statement to TechCrunch. The investor, noted above, participated in the latest financing.

The pandemic seems to have gone from a pain point to an opportunity for growth at Getaround. After the March layoffs, Getaround saw demand for its service come back in May: people didn’t want to fly because of the risk of catching COVID-19, but they didn’t mind driving. Getaround focused on contactless access to passenger cars and improving the platform. As short-distance travel to local joints became a more attainable option for those seeking a way to travel, Getaround found green shoots. By July 1, Getaround rehired all of its furloughed employees, according to Zaid.

Zaid estimates that Getaround has seen worldwide revenue more than double from its pre-COVID baseline and says gross margins have continued to improve. The financing, which was raised in the summer, will be used to help the business invest in car technology, bring on new partners, and reach global profitability.

Getaround, per Zaid, currently has over 6 million users globally.

Getaround isn’t alone in benefitting from consumers’ new travel tastebuds. Airbnb, which cut 1,900 jobs or 25% of its entire global workforce, is finding hope in focusing on local rentals. In June, according to the WSJ, Airbnb entirely redesigned its website and algorithm to show travelers where they could rent in their neighborhoods. The travel company is rumored to be going public in November.

Along with the financing, Getaround announced four new executives: Head of North American business Dan Kim, who formerly worked as the head of Airbnb plus and head of global sales and delivery at Tesla; CFO Laura Onopchenko, who is the former CFO of NerdWallet; vice president of people and culture Tia Gordon, formerly the director of people operations at Google; and vice president of customer experience Ruth Yankoupe, former vice president of Customer Experience at OYO.

#carsharing, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #getaround, #sam-zaid, #softbank-vision-fund, #startups, #tc

#Brandneu – 5 neue Startups, die gerade richtig loslegen


Jeden Tag entstehen überall in Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz neue Startups. deutsche-startups.de präsentiert an dieser Stelle wieder einmal einige ganz junge Startups, die zuletzt, also in den vergangenen Tagen, Wochen und Monaten an den Start gegangen sind sowie einige junge Firmen, die zuletzt aus dem Stealth-Mode erwacht sind und erstmals für Schlagzeilen gesorgt haben.

Flowers
Das junge Unternehmen Flowers will mit seiner B2B-Produktivitätsplattform Unternehmen dabei unterstützen, “wiederkehrende Abläufe sicherer, einfacher und besser abbildbar machen zu können”. Das Maschinenbauunternehmen Ruwi setzt bereits seit dem Start auf die Software des Startups.

URL: www.flowers-software.com
Hashtags: #Software #B2B
Ort: Müllheim
Gründer: Daniel Vöckler, Andreas Martin

Fyx
Mit Fxy drängt einer weitere transaktionaler Messenger auf den Markt. Wie bei Lupiter und Simplo sind auch bei diesem Startup Handwerker bzw. das Baugewerbe die Zielgruppe. Gründer Thomas von Pilar wirkte zuletzt unter anderem bei Viessmann Wärme. Davor baute er bereits TopCheck auf.

URL: www.fyxapp.de
Hashtags: #Messenger #Handwerk #B2B
Ort: Berlin
Gründer: Thomas von Pilar

twist
Das junge Startup twist, hinter dem der Company Builder Bridgemaker und EnBW stecken, tritt an, um CarSharing in den ländlichen Raum zu bringen. Kommunen sollen “so ihre Mobilitätswende aktiv mitgestalten und beispielsweise den öffentlichen Personennahverkehr vor Ort durch gemeinsam genutzte Elektrofahrzeuge sinnvoll ergänzen” können.

URL: www.twist-mobility.de
Hashtags: #Mobility #CarSharing #CorporateStartup
Ort: Stuttgart
Gründer: Samuel Rumpf, Martin Cremer

Superlist
Nachdem Microsoft die nach wie vor beliebte Wunderlist-App eingestellt hat und Gründer Christian Reber die Überreste nicht erwerben konnte, baut der millionenschwere Pitch-Gründer nun mit Superlist einen Wunderlist-Nachfolger. Vor dem kommenden Jahr soll das Projekt aber nicht fertig werden.

URL: www.superlistapp.com
Hashtags: #Tool #Software
Ort: Berlin
Gründer: Christian Reber

Meet Your Master
Schauspieler Heiner Lauterbach setzt zusammen mit seiner Frau Viktoria Lauterbach auf das Trendthema E-Learning. Auf Meet Your Master erzählen Prominente wie Filmacher Nico Hofmann über ihren Werdegang und ihr Business. Das Motto dabei lautet: “Lerne von den Besten der Besten”.

URL: www.meetyourmaster.de
Hashtags: #eLearning
Ort: München
Gründer: Viktoria Lauterbach, Heiner Lauterbach

Tipp: In unserem Newsletter Startup-Radar berichten wir einmal in der Woche über junge, frische und brandneue Startups, die noch nicht jeder kennt. Alle diese Startups stellen wir in unserem kostenpflichtigen Newsletter kurz und knapp vor und bringen sie so auf den Radar der bundesweiten Startup-Szene und im besten Fall auf die Agenda von Investoren, Unternehmen und potenziellen Kooperationspartnern. Jetzt unseren Newsletter Startup-Radar sofort abonnieren!

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#aktuell, #brandneu, #flowers, #fyx, #meet-your-master, #startup-radar, #superlist, #twist

SoftBank pours $500M into Didi in China’s biggest autonomous driving round

The race to automate vehicles on China’s roads is heating up. Didi, the Uber of China, announced this week an outsized investment of over $500 million in its freshly minted autonomous driving subsidiary. Placing the bet — the single largest fundraising round in China’s autonomous driving sector — is its existing investor Softbank, the Japanese telecom giant and startup benefactor that has also backed Uber.

The proceeds came through Softbank’s second Vision Fund, which was reportedly lagging in fundraising as its Fund I recorded massive losses in part due to the collapsing valuation of WeWork.

As China’s largest ride-hailing provider with mountains of traffic data, Didi clearly has an upper hand in developing robotaxis, which could help address driver shortage in the long term. But it was relatively late to the field. In 2018, Didi ranked eighth in kilometers of autonomous driving tests carried out in Beijing, far behind search giant Baidu which accounted for over 90% of the total mileage that year.

It’s since played aggressive catchup. Last August, it spun off its then three-year-old autonomous driving unit into an independent company to focus on R&D, building partnerships along the value chain, and promoting the futuristic technology to the government. The team now has a staff of 200 across its China and U.S. offices.

As an industry observer told me, “robotaxis will become a reality only when you have the necessary operational skills, technology and government support all in place.”

Didi is most famous for its operational efficiency, as facilitating safe and pleasant rides between drivers and passengers is no small feat. The company’s leadership hails from Alibaba’s legendary business-to-business sales team, also known as the “Alibaba Iron Army” for its ability in on-the-ground operation.

On the tech front, the subsidiary is headed by chief executive Zhang Bo, a Baidu veteran, and chief technology officer Wei Junqing, who joined last year from self-driving software company Aptiv.

The autonomous segment can also benefit from Didi’s all-encompassing reach in the mobility industry. For instance, it’s working to leverage the parent company’s smart charging networks, fleet maintenance service and insurance programs for autonomous fleets.

The fresh capital will enable Didi’s autonomous business to improve safety — an area that became a focal point of the company after two deadly accidents — and efficiency through conducting R&D and road tests. The financing will also allow it to deepen industry cooperation and accelerate the deployment of robotaxi services in China and abroad.

Over the years, Didi has turned to traditional carmakers for synergies in what it dubs the “D-Alliance,” which counts more than 31 partners. It has applied autonomous driving technology to vehicles from Lincoln, Nissan, Volvo, BYD, to name a few.

Didi has secured open-road testing licenses in three major cities in China as well as California. It said last August that it aimed to begin picking up ride-hailing passengers with autonomous cars in Shanghai in a few months’ time. It’s accumulated 300,000 kilometers of road tests in China and the U.S. as of last August.

#aptiv, #asia, #automation, #automotive, #beijing, #carsharing, #china, #didi, #robotics, #self-driving-car, #shanghai, #softbank, #tc, #transport, #transportation, #uber, #vision-fund

Uber subsidiary Careem to slash workforce by 31%, suspends bus transport app

Careem, the Dubai-based ride-hailing and delivery company that was acquired by Uber last year, is cutting its workforce by 31% and suspending its mass transportation business due to affects from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The layoffs will affect more than 530 employees. Employees who are laid off will receive at least three months severance pay, one month of equity vesting, and where relevant, extended visa and medical insurance through the end of the year, according to the company’s blog post announcing the reductions.

“We delayed this decision as long as possible so that we could exhaust all other means to secure Careem,” Mudassir Sheikha, the company’s co-founder and CEO, wrote in a blog post Monday.

Careem started in 2012 as a ride-hailing company aiming to compete with Uber rival in the Middle East. In recently years, Careem has diversified its business, expanding into credit transfers, food and package delivery and bus services. Uber bought Careem in March 2019 for $3.1 billion.

Since the COVId-19 pandemic hit, Careem has seen business fall by more than 80%, Sheikha said.

The company made the cuts to preserve the business and its vision to create a consumer-facing “super app” that offers a suite of lifestyle services, including a digital payment platform and last-mile delivery. Those reductions will also affect some previously announced products, namely its mass transportation feature called Careem BUS.

“The economics of the mass transportation business have improved but remain challenging, and at this time, we need to accelerate our investments in deliveries and the Super App,”  We believe Careem BUS is a much-needed offering in some of our core markets, and I predict that the service will reappear on the Careem Super App in the future.” 

The announcement comes just hours after Uber Eats said it will shutter its on-demand food business in several markets, including in the Czech Republic, Egypt, Honduras, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Ukraine. Uber Eats said it will transfer its business operations in the in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Careem.

“Consumers and restaurants using the Uber Eats app in the UAE will be transitioned to the Careem  platform in the coming weeks, after which the Uber Eats app will no longer be available,” according to a regulatory filing detailing the operational shifts.

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GM exits car-sharing business and shuts down Maven

GM’s experiment with car sharing is over. The automaker Tuesday said its Maven car-sharing service, which launched in 2016, will shut down for good.

Maven had paused service due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company sent an email to customers Tuesday that after examining the business, the car-sharing industry and COVID-19, it decided to shutter the service permanently. The Verge was the first to report the story.

The car-sharing service has struggled for months, long before COVID-19 upended the “shared” mobility sector. Last year, Maven scaled back and stopped service in nearly half of the 17 North American cities in which it operated. Maven continued to operate in Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Toronto. However, two programs within Maven, its consumer car-sharing and peer-to-peer service, also stopped in Washington, D.C. Only a program directed at gig workers was still operational in that city.

GM confirmed to TechCrunch that it has started to wind down Maven. All assets and resources will be transferred to GM’s Global Innovation organization, as well as the larger enterprise, according to a GM spokesperson.

The company confirmed that all operations should be concluded by later this summer. Maven had already suspended its consumer car-sharing and a peer-to-peer service due to COVID-19. A separate program directed at gig economy workers has been “very limited and will continue to wind down,” a GM spokesperson said.

“We’ve gained extremely valuable insights from operating our own car-sharing business,” Pamela Fletcher, GM’s vice president of global innovation, said in an emailed statement. “Our learnings and developments from Maven will go on to benefit and accelerate the growth of other areas of GM business.”

Below is a screenshot of the email sent Tuesday morning to Maven customers.

maven shut down

Image Credits: Screenshot/Maven email

The company doesn’t have plans to re-enter the car-sharing business. The company told TechCrunch that it “will take the great insights we’ve gained from Maven and leverage its car-sharing technology to provide new GM fleet services, and explore other new service offerings.”

Maven was designed to bring and expand several of GM’s existing test programs under one brand. At the time of its launch, Maven was essentially three car-sharing services in one that included a city-based service that rented GM vehicles by the hour through an app and another for urban apartment dwellers in Chicago and New York.

Maven developed and launched a smartphone app, which was used by customers to search for and reserve a vehicle, unlock the door and remotely start, cool or heat the car. 

It was an important launch for GM and its Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, who used a study commissioned in the wake of the ignition switch engineering scandal to accelerate her plans to transform the culture and operations at the automaker. Dozens of executives participated in transformational leaders programs; Maven was one of the fruits that spun out of that.

A wave of other initiative and investments were announced in 2016 that showed GM’s shift in interest toward unconventional transportation businesses that were adjacent to its core business of producing, selling and financing cars, trucks and SUVs to consumers.

But Maven never quite settled on one business model. The car-sharing service continued to evolve, leaving and entering cities or tweaking where it offered certain programs. For instance, the company launched in 2017 Maven Reserve in Los Angeles and San Francisco to allow customers to rent its GM-branded vehicles for a month at a time. It also started Maven Gig in hopes of tapping into a growing demand from rideshare and delivery app drivers.

Maven then launched a service in summer 2018 in Chicago, Detroit and Ann Arbor that let owners rent out their personal GM-branded vehicles through its Maven car-sharing platform. The peer-to-peer car rental service was designed to operate in a similar fashion to how Turo and Getaround work.

The service’s demise seemed to begin after the company lost its CEO Julia Steyn in January 2019. It scaled back a few months later and was only operating in a handful of cities up until the COVID-19 pandemic put further pressure on the business.

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Autofleet raises $7.5M to help fleets put idle vehicles into drive

On-demand mobility, when done successfully, strikes a balance between demand and supply while providing reliable service and making a profit. It’s a sweet spot that can be difficult, if not impossible, to find.

Autofleet, a startup that develops fleet optimization software to redirect underused vehicles into ride-hailing and delivery services, wants to solve that mission impossible. Now, the company founded by former Avis and Gett employees, has raised $7.5 million in seed and Series A funding to expand into international markets and grow its research and development team.

The Series A was led by MizMaa Ventures with participation from Maniv Mobility, Next Gear Ventures and Liil Ventures. Its seed financing was led by Maniv Mobility.

Autofleet developed a fleet management platform that can be used by rental car companies, car sharing operators and automakers to launch or better manage mobility services. The platform includes a booking app and integrations to delivery services, demand prediction, pooling and optimization algorithms as well as a driver app, and control center. The company also has developed a simulator tool that lets operators plan how a fleet will be deployed before a single vehicle hits the road.

For example, a rental company with abundant inventory and little demand for traditional multi-day contracts could use the platform to launch and then manage a car-sharing service. Autofleet already has partnerships with Avis Budget Group, Zipcar, Keolis and Suzuki .

That focus on managing supply side constraints is what attracted Maniv Mobility to invest in the seeding and Series A rounds, according the firm’s general partner Olaf Sakkers.

Autofleet’s biggest markets today are in Europe and the U.S., CEO Kobi Eisenberg told TechCrunch . The company is seeing early traction and fast growth in Latin America and Asia-Pacific. Eisenberg said they plan to double down on these markets. The company also expects to announce a partnership in Asia to accelerate growth in that region.

Autofleet is also looking for new opportunities for how vehicle fleets can be used, including ways to help micromobility companies improve their unit economics, according to Eisenberg.

In this age of COVID-19 — when asset-heavy businesses like rental car companies have seen their businesses upended — Autofleet has already discovered new uses for its platform. The platform is being used to help companies shift fleets to meet today’s demand for logistics and medical transportation. Autofleet is also selling its platform to companies looking to leverage their vehicle assets for their delivery services.

“We’re hearing from fleet partners around the globe who are experiencing dramatic drops in demand, and therefore significant portions of their fleet and drivers are un-utilized,” Eisenberg said. “At the same time, we have seen a sharp increase in demand for delivery services from businesses across all verticals: retail and supermarkets, restaurants.”

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