Large mergers and acquisitions are underway in Israel in the world of intelligent transport. According to various reports and sources who contacted TechCrunch, chip giant Intelligence is in the final stages of an agreement to acquire Moovit, a startup that applies AI and big data analytics to track traffic and provide transit recommendations to some 800 million people around the world. The deal is expected to close in the coming days at an estimated price of around $ 1 billion.
We’ve reached out to Nir Erez, the Founder and CEO of Moovit, as well as Intel spokespersons for comment on the reports and will update this story as we learn more. For now, the spokesperson for Moovit has not denied the information and what was told to us directly.
“At the moment we have no comment, but if anything changes I will definitely let you know,” the Moovit spokesperson said.
Sources told TechCrunch that the startup – which had previously been backed by Intel Capital as part of a strategic investment – will be part of Intel’s Israeli automotive hub, which is anchored by Mobileye, the autonomous driving company it Intel acquired for $ 15.3 billion in 2017.
It’s not yet clear what Moovit would do in this hub, but as a general rule, the ingestion and action of reliable real-time traffic data and smart directions – the heart of what Moovit does – are few- one of the most difficult aspects of obtaining an autonomous vehicle. operational services.
And in fact, Moovit had worked with Mobileye and Intel before: the latter led Moovit’s latest round of funding, a $ 50 million Series D in 2018, and as part of that, Professor Amnon Shashua, vice- senior chairman of Intel and CEO / CTO of Mobileye, joins MoovitBoard of Directors as an observer.
Bringing in talent and integrating it into Intel’s larger strategy seems to be a big part of the deal. Of the $ 1 billion, employees will receive around 10% of the final amount as part of a loyalty program, a detail reported by the Israeli Hebrew-language newspaper. The felt and was brought to us by David Bedussa, analyst at Wadi Ventures.
At the time of Moovit’s last fundraiser, the startup was valued at over $ 500 million, but it has grown a lot over the past two years.
It produces a popular standalone app that people use to find the best way to get around cities, and it also integrates with companies like Uber in its efforts to provide multimodal routes using different modes of transportation, cars and Uber bikes to use public transportation and walk.
In 2018, Moovit declared its ios, Android and the Web The apps have been used by 120 million people worldwide in 2,000 cities in 80 countries. Now in 2020 that figure is exceeded 800 million cyclists in 3,100 cities in 102 countries and 45 languages.
Besides Intel, other investors in Moovit are NGP Capital, BMW, Sound Ventures, Gemini Israel, Sequoia Israel and LVMH.
The acquisition (if successful, but also the interest of M&A) comes at a critical time in the world of transport. Currently, many people around the world are urged to restrict their movements to slow the spread of COVID-19 cases in what has become a global pandemic; and in part because of this same public health crisis, the global economy has experienced a major recession. Both have had a direct impact on the automotive world, which is experiencing a production slowdown and course changes in ambitious next-generation strategies.
At the same time, those in the tech world are striving to leverage their assets in the most optimized way possible to help get things done (so to speak).
So while consumer use of the Moovit app will have drastically decreased and people will travel less, the company has launched a series of COVID-19 services to help those who still need to keep things operational and who still have to go from A to B.
These have included a special service for transit data handlers (which it offers free of charge, unlike its normal B2B products) to both receive updated transit and traffic data and then set up ”thousands of short-term changes quickly, allowing riders to plan their trips with only updated and valid routes.
It has also launched a real-time service for users of the Moovit app to ensure they receive these alerts. Third, he launched an ’emergency mobilization “On demand” which allows transport managers to redeploy buses on routes more quickly to better serve essential workers who still use public transport.
It is not clear if Moovit worked to raise more money, or if it felt the same pinch that so many other startups have felt when it comes to closing deals, or if it s was simply too good an offer to decline, or even if it was on the table before COVID-19. Given the existing size and reach of Moovit, this is a business that seems worth running for a while.