Self Driving Car

10 VC Firms Funding Self Driving Research You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

As self-driving cars have become more of a reality and less of a science fiction prop, global VC firms are stepping up to invest funds in the next big wave of the future. Investors are pouring cash into companies developing mapping software and firms creating cutting-edge navigation programs for brand-new fleets of autonomous cars. While you’ve probably heard of Waymo, Tesla, and the BMW – Mercedes partnership, there are actually hundreds of companies working and investing in self driving technologies worldwide.  Here are 10 VC firms getting a jump on the future by investing in self-driving cars.

1. IDG Capital

When the prestigious VC firm announced in October 2017 that they were beginning a significant $1.5 billion push to fund autonomous vehicle startups, the tech community stood up and took notice. Within a two-month period, they raised over $330 million for Xiaopeng Motors in its run-up to the release of the G3 SUV crossover. More recently, IDG raised $112 million for’s self-driving platform and funded Kuandeng’s high definition mapping technology.

2. Maniv Mobility

Since 2015, Michael Granoff’s Israeli VC firm has been targeting and funding promising autonomous vehicle startups worldwide. The company has poured millions of dollars into a wide variety of self-driving startups, including raising $25 million for Otonomo’s platform for designing autonomous vehicle apps. Maniv has dabbled in the automated fleet sector, funding a Series A round for Ridecell and raising $9 million for Upstream Security. The VC firm also raised $12 million for to further develop its autonomous driving software.

3. Samsung Catalyst Fund

Launched by Samsung in 2013, the Catalyst Fund finances early-stage startups in the US and abroad. The company’s portfolio is full of nascent companies developing self-driving technologies. In 2017, the VC firm raised $30 million for Autotalks and $10 million for Renovo Auto. More recently, the company has moved into funding startups working on 3D sensing and accurate mapping for self-driving vehicles.

4. Toyota AI Ventures

Explicitly created by the Toyota Research Institute to invest in AI startups, Toyota AI Ventures has spent the last year raising money for a host of autonomous vehicle startups. The company has raised over $160 million for Nauto, a Palo Alto-based startup whose self-driving system uses computer vision, GPS, and motion sensors to navigate. The VC firm has also invested heavily in May Mobility, an autonomous vehicle manufacturing startup from Michigan.

5. Matrix Partners China

Although Matrix has historically focused on the fin-tech sector, the Chinese branch of American VC firm Matrix Partners has been increasingly eying the self-driving market. Since the beginning of 2018, the company has been sinking millions of dollars into burgeoning automotive vehicle companies. In January, Matrix raised over $320 million for self-driving vehicle manufacturer Xiaopeng Motors. They also participated in a $448 million Series B funding round for CHJ Automotive, a Beijing-based startup working on an autonomous electric vehicle.

6. 360 Capital Partners

Since it took charge of the $93 million Robolution fund in 2016, the Paris-based VC firm has shown increased interest in the self-driving sector. While other investors have bankrolled American and Chinese companies, 360 Capital Partners has spent its funds on French and Israeli startups. The firm raised $34.7 million for Navya’s fleet of autonomous cabs and shuttles in 2016 and recently contributed to a $10 million Series A round for Arbe Robotics’ high-performance vehicle radar systems.


7. Synapse Partners

Synapse Partners has its focus firmly on the future of AI in transportation. Managing director Evangelos Simoudis is a longtime champion of autonomous vehicles, and the company’s portfolio reflects this interest. Synapse is a staunch backer of Renovo Auto, a startup that makes a self-driving platform for automotive vehicles. The company has also provided seed funds for and Metamoto, newer startups dedicated to developing autonomous software.

8. GGV Capital

With some of the deepest pockets in the venture capital world, it’s no surprise that GGV Capital has also made forays into the emerging self-driving vehicle market. The company gave a boost to Momenta’s HD mapping technology and raised Series B funding for Xiaopeng Motors. The firm was also an early investor in Ehang, a Shanghai-based company that is attempting to develop the first autonomous air vehicle.

9. Greycroft

While best known for successful exits from startups like Venmo and Blue Apron, Greycroft has also flirted with autonomous vehicle startups. The firm has been a significant funder of Optimus Ride, a Massachusetts-based company that makes self-driving software and whose cars can be seen traversing the streets of Boston. Greycroft has raised more than $20 million for the company’s low-speed electric vehicles.

10. O.G. Tech Ventures

Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer launched his own tech VC firm in 2017, and since its inception, the company has concentrated on security and self-driving startups. Using its sizeable dedicated fund, O.G. has raised more than $18 million for Arbe Robotics. The Tel Aviv-based startup is working on an improved version of 4D radar to help self-driving cars navigate around obstacles in the road.


Developing self-driving platforms comes with a high cost; however, these VC firms have chosen to bankroll the next big trend by adding the most promising autonomous vehicle startups to their portfolios. As tech companies perfect dynamic radar cruise control and prepare urban centers for automated fleets, these firms are making the future possible.


Glovo courier

Lyft & Uber NYC Hiring Freeze & Toyota Launches Venture Fund

This Week In Mobility― May 2, 2019

This week, Uber & Lyft freeze hiring in NYC, Barcelona-based delivery service Glovo raises more money in Series D round, and data collection becoming more difficult for mobility companies in public-private US partnerships.

Uber & Lyft Freeze Hiring for New York City Drivers

New regulations passed in New York City in February spurred a hiring freeze for Lyft and Uber drivers in New York City. The new Taxi and Limousine Commission regulations require the companies to pay drivers $17.22 per hour after expenses.

Uber was the first to freeze hiring on April 1, with Lyft following suit on April 15.

The new law helps drivers earn competitive wages and decreases congestion in a city with some of the worst traffic in the world. Current drivers will likely make more money because of the decrease in competition.

However, less ridesharing vehicles on the road make it harder for customers to catch a ride when they need one. This regulation could keep new customers away and stifle ridesharing growth overall. With both Uber and Lyft still in the red since their inception, the future growth of the industry may hinge on the ability to attract new customers in spite of regulations that limit the number of drivers on the road.

On Demand Delivery Company Glovo Raises $168M

Barcelona-based Glovo doubled their amount of capital in their latest Series D round, which included $168M in investments from Lakestar, Drake, Korelya, and Idinvest.

The company was founded in 2015 and delivers various consumer goods in as little as 20 minutes to several urban areas in Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

Glovo is similar to Postmates because customers can request to buy items from stores not included on the app, but doesn’t focus as heavily on food delivery. The company also doesn’t deliver in the same markets as Postmates and doesn’t have any plans on expanding into the US anytime soon.

Companies like Glovo are doing a great service to provide delivery services to busy city dwellers and those that are home-bound, as well as reduce traffic congestion in areas like Barcelona.

Postmates Expands to 1,000 New Cities

On demand food delivery company Postmates increased the number of cities it services from 2,500 to 3,500 across all 50 US states.

Postmates is the fourth-largest food delivery service behind DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub. The company was recently valuated at $1.85B and is one of many set to go public this year.

While Postmates doesn’t have the market share of Uber Eats or DoorDash, new initiatives such as Postmates Unlimited and Postmates Party have allowed the company to significantly increase its earnings provide consistent revenue for the company.

Postmates Unlimited provides free unlimited deliveries on orders over $15 for $9.99 per month. Postmates Party, which represents 12% of all Postmates orders, lets customers get free delivery from restaurants that nearby customers are also ordering from.

Despite only capturing 10% of the food delivery market, Postmates new private valuation and service offerings make it a better option for investors looking to get in on the ground floor of a new offering.

Toyota Launches New VC Fund Aimed at Autonomous Vehicles, Robotics

After heavy hitters in the AI and machine learning space announced new venture funds, Toyota announced its newest venture capital fund, Fund II, for autonomous vehicle and robotic startups.

Toyota’s Fund II comes after Qualcomm and Baidu announced similar investments earlier this year. Toyota will add another $100M to the pot through its investment arm Toyota AI Ventures, pushing the total amount of available dollars for startups in this space to $700M. Qualcomm’s startup fund is also $100M, while Baidu’s growth-stage fund totals $500M.

Toyota AI Ventures states companies participating in Fund II will gain access to guidance and resources from Toyota’s 350,000 partners, affiliates and employees in addition to working capital.

Toyota AI Ventures began investing in the industry back in July 2017, with a $100M cash injection into the industry that helped several companies like Joby Aviation and Nauto raise additional investments from big investors like the Softbank Vision Fund and Greylock Partners.


Mobility Trip Data Collection Becoming a Top Priority for Government

As public-private partnerships become more prevalent, collecting data on these trips become increasingly important for government officials to measure the effectiveness of these programs.

The latest e-scooter pilot program in Portland, OR is requiring companies to collect an unprecedented amount of data.

Last week, three companies (Bolt, Lime and Spin) received permits to participate in the year-long program. The new program required companies to provide an in-person technology demonstration that proved they could provide the recently-developed Mobility Data Specification standard (MDS) data to city officials.

MDS gives governments the ability to access real-time data about rides taking place in their jurisdiction. In addition to providing information to the government, the technology allows two-way communication to help riders understand the rules of the road.

While this new standard is a great way for governments to understand the impact of mobility services on their cities, it also raises serious data privacy concerns and may make it difficult for smaller players to take advantage of these government programs that provide stable income.


on demand apps sharing economy

Uber Scooters Make The Jump, Softbank Moves With Toyota – This Week In On Demand

This Week In On Demand – October 5, 2018

Welcome to the first edition of This Week In On Demand, Rideshare Central’s roundup of the biggest news stories from the sharing economy. Every Friday, we’ll be recapping key new investments, company partnerships, new hires, and major app updates.

This week, we’ve got IPO news, some partnerships, and a whole lot of scooters.

Lyft IPO news and diversity report

It looks like J.P. Morgan will be Lyft’s lead underwriter for it’s IPO. Lyft has also retained IPO advisory firm Class V Group LLC, and is targeting an IPO date of late Q1 2019. The company seems to be in a good position for their IPO, more than doubling their revenue in the first half of 2018, to $909 million.

Lyft also released it’s second annual diversity report. Overall, the report is a mixed bag. African Americans, Asians, and Latinx or Hispanics, all make up a larger percentage of Lyft’s workforce now than in 2017. However, women now actually make up a smaller percentage (40% vs. 42%) of Lyft’s workforce than last year. However, they’re still ahead of Google (31%) and Apple (32%) in this area.


Lyft Diversity Chart Ethnicity 2018


Lyft Diversity Chart Ethnicity 2017

Taxify gets Google Maps integration

You can now order a ride from Taxify, the rideshare startup competing with Uber in Europe, Africa, and Australia, through Google Maps (outside the U.S.). The Estonian rideshare startup rolled out the service in 16 countries. This should level the playing field with Uber, which has had Google Maps integration since 2016.

While Taxify has no plans to enter the U.S. market, the company currently operates in about 30 countries. Last year, they took investment from, and entered into a strategic partnership with Didi, the Chinese rideshare giant. The company also recently closed a $175 million funding round led by Daimler and Korelya Capital, that valued the company at $1 Billion. Didi was a returning investor for this most recent funding round. With that sort of backing, Taxify looks set to take the battle to Uber across Africa, Australia, and Europe.

Upwork has it’s IPO.

Upwork, the on demand freelancer company, went public on Wednesday at $15 per share. The price shot up about 50% at the open, to $23 per share, but gave back some of those gains before closing at $21.18 per share.

The company connects buyers and sellers of services that run the gamut from social media management, to translation services, to business plan writing. Upwork was formed from the merger of Elance and Odesk back in 2014. While that merger process has been turbulent, Upwork has seen strong revenue growth over the past year. However, the company is currently unprofitable, and should remain so, since it’s expenses are currently growing faster than revenue.

Uber’s Jump escooters join the fray

Uber’s first Jump escooters hit the sidewalks this week, launching on Wednesday in Santa Monica. Uber acquired the bikesharing start up Jump earlier this year for a rumored price of around $200 million. The Santa Monica pilot will involve 250 Jump escooters, to go along with the 500 Jump ebikes they already operate in the city. Uber was one of four companies awarded permits for the Santa Monica pilot.

When it comes to escooters though, it looks like Uber may be playing a bit of catch up. Main rival Lyft launched their scooter pilot last month in Denver. Lyft was also granted one of the coveted Santa Monica permits, and have already been operating there for a couple of weeks. Bird and Lime are also a part of the Santa Monica pilot. The escooter wars have officially begun!

GM and Honda team up to build an autonomous vehicle

Honda is investing and partnering with General Motor’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Cruise Holdings. Under the deal, Honda will take a 5.7% stake in the subsidiary, investing $750 million immediately, and an additonal $2.05 billion over the next 12 years.

Honda’s investment values Cruise Holdings at just shy of $15 billion, roughly a third of the total market cap of GM. GM previously invested $500 million in Lyft, but that partnership seems to have cooled as the Lyft – Waymo partnership has strengthened. Currently, GM and Lyft have no active projects together.

Softbank and Toyota are forming a mobility services joint venture.

Toyota and Softbank are forming a new company, Monet Technologies, with an initial investment of $18 million. The company will develop a software platform for autonomous vehicles that can be used by businesses and consumers alike.

The joint venture makes a lot of sense. Softbank collects a lot of data from phones and other Internet of Things devices. By coordinating this data with Toyota’s data from it’s connected vehicles program, the new company hopes to create an ecosystem with services and products suited for a world where most people don’t own their own cars anymore.


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