On-demand shuttle service and transit tech company Via has raised another $110 million, bringing the company’s total funding to around $1 billion. The fresh capital pushes Via’s valuation up to $3.5 billion at the same price per share as the company’s previous financing in November of 2021.
Via intends to use the funds to further its vision of being “able to provide every city in the world access to this end-to-end digital infrastructure, where they can plan, operate, analyze and continue to optimize their transit networks across every vertical in that transit network,” Daniel Ramot, Via’s CEO and co-founder, told TechCrunch.
Via’s transit tech software helps public transportation agencies, municipalities and school districts optimize fixed bus routes, strategize placements of new bike lanes, plan paratransit and school bus services, and holistically incorporate private on-demand ride-sharing services into a city’s entire transportation ecosystem. The company has already scaled to 600 communities and more than 35 countries.
As new mobility segments continue to emerge, threatening to cramp already congested streets and decimate already tight budgets, Ramot thinks the startup can do more.
Either through in-house development or mergers and acquisitions, Via wants to use the funds to add more products to its suite of tools. The company is still considering its options, but a few ideas Ramot and I tossed around include expanding Via’s street map making software to include planning for traffic lights and speed bumps; adding parking and curb management software; managing fleets of electric vehicles and their many chargers; integrating micromobility planning; and incorporating autonomous vehicles into the mix.
Via is currently working with AV companies Motional and May Mobility to deploy autonomous ride-sharing shuttles in Las Vegas, Nevada and Grand Rapids, Minnesota respectively.
“The idea would be that you’d use our tools to plan the infrastructure in the most effective, safest, most efficient way, and then design the transit network that sits on top of that infrastructure,” Ramot told TechCrunch. “Potentially we’d be interested in control access, also. Right of way through traffic lights, for example — if you have a bus show up at a traffic light with 50 people on it, and then a car with one person, the traffic light’s not smart enough to give the bus right of way, but you would probably want it to do that. And those are just supply demand matching algorithms, which our system is very good at doing.”
Via’s fundraise comes at a time when startups are thirsty for fresh cash and investors are being picky. Ramot says Via is, in some ways, at the right place at the right time — transit agencies are still reeling from the effects of COVID-19 on ridership patterns, and they’re more amenable to being ushered into the 21st century with digital tools and datasets.
“In the past, it’s been very difficult to convince cities and transit agencies to adopt new technology, to transition to more dynamically routed or data-driven services,” said Ramot. “I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s become easier.”
Via has also been able to show investors that it’s got a sustainable business. The company said it ended 2022 with an annualized revenue run-rate surpassing $200 million, which is more than double since its previous $130 million financing round in November 2021.
That’s around the time Via confidentially filed to go public. The company has yet to move forward on that given the market volatility of the past year, but Ramot said Via is very much prepared to make its debut once the market opens up and if it makes sense to do so. While Via didn’t need to raise more funds to continue operating at its current clip, the funds also give the startup the “optionality” to go public when the timing is right, says Ramot.
The $110 million came from a combination of new and existing investors. 83North led the round, with participation from Exor N.V., Pitango, Janus Henderson, CF Private Equity, Planven Entrepreneur Ventures, Riverpark Ventures, and ION Crossover Partners.