Chipmaker Intel Buys Public Transit App Moovit for $900 Million in Push to Develop Robotaxis
【Summary】Chipmaker Intel Corp has bought Israeli public transit app maker Moovit for about $900 million to help it develop self-driving robotaxis that could be deployed in early 2022, the company said on Monday.
Chipmaker Intel Corp has bought Israeli public transit app maker Moovit for about $900 million to help it develop self-driving robotaxis that could be deployed in early 2022, the company said on Monday.
The purchase of Moovit is the third big investment for Intel in the mobility space in the past three years. In March 2017, Intel purchased computer vision company Mobileye for a whopping $15.3 billion in its push to develop hardware that will power the next generation of autonomous vehicles. In December 2019, Intel bought Israeli artificial intelligence firm Habana Labs for $2 billion.
As part of the deal, Moovit's core business will continue to operate independently. However, its technology and the data it collects from more than 800 million users in 102 countries will be integrated into Mobileye to develop autonomous driving technology for commercial robotaxis.
The nearly $1 billion Intel paid to acquire Moovit is nearly twice its $500 million valuation when Moovit last raised money in 2018. Intel owned about 7% of Moovit through a previous equity investment and paid about $840 million in cash to assume full ownership, Reuters reported.
The deal to acquire Moovit began when the company sought to do a capital raise before the coronavirus outbreak, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
Moonvit had enough cash on hand to sustain itself for about a year, and when the economic impact of the pandemic became evident, it decided to explore an outright sale to Intel, the source told Reuters. The deal was negotiated over the past 40 days through virtual meetings, according to the source, as the coronavirus has led to social distancing.
"Moovit is an acquisition that fills some very critical gaps that we have going forward," Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua told Reuters.
The initial goal, he said, was to have a small fleet of driverless taxis in countries like Israel, France and South Korea.
Moovit is popular for helping commuters or tourists find the best way to a destination by showing them bus and train routes, bike paths and car-pooling options. The company uses both crowdsourced and city public transit data to provide route planning to users. Moovit also supplies data to transit companies, cities, and transit agencies.
Mobileye is one of the major hardware suppliers for autonomous vehicles. The company supplies computer chips and computer vision software that is used for Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS). Many of the world's top automakers including BMW, have partnered with Mobileye to supply hardware and related software for autonomous driving.
Once integrated with Mobileye, the app will be a platform to order the driverless robotaxis and the real-time data will ensure the vehicles are deployed in areas where demand is high, Shashua said.
Intel forecasts robotaxis will be a $160 billion market by 2030 and chipmakers are lining up to supply the transportation industry with the computer hardware to power autonomous vehicles. Intel rivals Nvidia and Qualcomm are also supplying hardware for many of the world's automakers.
The decision to buy now, when much of the world economy is at a standstill due to the coronavirus outbreak, stems from Mobileye's ability to more accurately predict when its technology will be ready, Shashua said. And the target is 2022.
"For a company like Intel, which has a very orderly plan of how the future should unfold, the coronavirus should not be a setback. On the contrary, you should look at the crisis then find opportunities," Shashua said.
Moovit has raised $133 million from investors including Intel, BMW iVentures and Sequoia Capital. In 2018, the company raised $50 million in an investment round led by Intel Capital.
resource from: Reuters
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