It’s not Apple or Tesla, but Inrix has data from 500 million vehicles – Reuters

Cars and trucks move along the Cross Bronx Freeway, a notorious stretch of New York freeway that is often choked by traffic and contributes to pollution and poor air quality on November 16, 2021 In New York.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

In this weekly series, CNBC looks at the companies that made the inaugural Disruptor 50 list 10 years later.

Transportation has been prominently featured on the CNBC Disruptor 50 list since it began in 2013, and some of the original transportation disruptors have become household names.

These include Waze-at the time an Israeli GPS start-up with little brand recognition in the US compared to Garmin or TomTom-which Google acquired more than $ 1 billion and has long been crucial for drivers to avoid fast tickets and find out the nearest Dunkin ‘Donuts. Uber, which despite its difficulties in the stock market, has undeniably changed basic ideas about urban mobility. And SpaceX, which is driving transportation disruption to its most ambitious goals.

But another name on this original D50 list remains little known to the public, but it’s an important link in planning the future of transportation: Inrix.

The company, which is now nearly two decades old (it was founded in 2004), remains under the radar, but its reach in understanding the complexities and challenges of transportation is growing. TomTom is also a competitor. When Inrix launched based in Kirkland, Washington, an important issue was the fact that the world still relied on helicopters to track traffic. “It was state-of-the-art to find out what was going on,” said Bryan Mistele, CEO and co-founder, and former executive of Microsoft and Ford.

Today, Inrix, which operates in more than 60 countries and several hundred cities, collects aggregated and anonymous data from 500 million vehicles, mobile devices, mobile applications, parking operators, mobile operators phones and smart meters, all in real time, covering both consumers and vehicle fleets, and enabling a system that finds favor with public agencies and transportation planners rethinking urban mobility.

This week Apple showcased its CarPlay tech at WWDC, and it might be nice if Siri could adjust your car’s temperature someday, but Inrix has a set of tasks on the to -do list from reducing the climate footprint of urban traffic by means such as optimizing the timing of traffic lights, to monitor the operation of autonomous robotaxis in cities, to pick up and drop off passengers and to find their own parking if necessary.

The heart of the company’s mission hasn’t changed: its intelligent mobility, based on GPS data. The use of GPS data from cars and phones has allowed the company to go out and reach customers like IBM, Amazon and automakers. The biggest change since its early years has gone beyond basic data to a software-as-a-service model, and that model is embraced by its fastest-growing customer segments: cities like New York and London and other geographies around the world. including Dubai.

Zero crash, zero carbon, zero traffic

Inrix continues to work with many private sector clients, including automotive giants such as BMW and GM. In fact, one of his most recent deals is a cloud-based software venture with GM that overlaps with one of public sector agencies ’biggest goals: reducing accidents and deaths. Inrix and GM use GM vehicle data on airbag deployment, hard braking and seat belt usage, as well as data from the U.S. Census, as part of the data dashboard for city planners with goal “Vision Zero” with no death on the road.

“There are 1.3 million people dying each year in accidents,” Mistele said.

These numbers have also risen in recent years, specifically in the United States, with a record set in 2021.

The recent passage of the $ 1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Act (BIL) includes approximately $ 5 billion in discretionary funds under the Safe Streets and Roads for All program, which will help the public sector solve the problem.

“Road analytics is a huge area of ​​revenue growth,” Mistele said. “There’s a huge amount of money flowing into the public sector from the infrastructure proposal,” he said.

Software as a data traffic service now accounts for up to 30% of the company’s total business and is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 40%.

The “zero” vision also meets the goal of neutralizing transport carbon and reducing the number of accidents, ultimately through the use of autonomous vehicles.

About a year ago, Inrix launched a traffic signal synchronization product that, in pilot cities like Austin, TX, showed a 7% reduction in congestion ”by no doing nothing but optimizing traffic lights, ”Mistele said. The Florida Department of Transportation has also adopted the technology. “Every second of delay is 800,000 tons of carbon, or 175,000 vehicles,” he said.

Although fully self-driving, self-driving urban mobility has grown more slowly than most ambitious predictions, it is thriving and last week Cruise’s self-driving robotaxi business received approval in San Francisco. of GM.

“We big believe in‘ ACES ’,” said Mistele, referring to “autonomous, connected, electric and shared” vehicles. The transition to a mobility-as-a-service model will be increasingly linked to the rise of autonomous transportation. “Instead of driving into a city and parking for eight hours, in most urban areas you’ll see mobility as a service and shared,” he said. “How do you do it? By providing better information on vehicles, ”he added.

He believes “ACES” and robotaxis will make transportation safer, but they will need to receive data on everything from road closures to parking areas. “We’re doing meter-by-meter mapping of these urban areas … sidewalk management will be more complicated,” he said.

According to Mistele, while there has always been a lot of hype on new technologies and the “back to reality” era, the progress made by companies like Cruise and Waymo in robotaxi space and Nuro in delivering robotization of consumer goods such as pizza, continued deployment in cities, and the growing production of self-driving vehicles led him to believe that in the next decade it would be a model of transportation used in most major areas. urban.

“I don’t think we can see it everywhere in the United States, in rural areas where there is no need or case of use. But electric and autonomous vehicles, and moving beyond mobility as a service will be ubiquitous, ”he said.

There was a moment in the early part of the pandemic when the world literally stopped moving that Inrix was concerned with its business, but that didn’t last long. In fact, Mistele said that sweeping changes in mobility patterns not seen before March 2020 are increasing the need for planners, whether in transit or business, to better understand vehicle data, and that’s the moment of pandemic that became critical for its pivot to a software-as-a-service model.

As an example, he said that companies in the tire industry need more than ever to analyze mileage data – the No. 1 variable in this niche – to determine consumer demand and service levels. appropriate manufacturing. And in the retail industry, companies are trying to figure out traffic patterns and whether to close stores or move stores to new locations.

Inrix data also has less noticeable uses, such as in financial services, where hedge funds want to know how many people visit a car dealership, what’s going on in a retail distribution. center, and traffic entering and exiting ports, especially supply. chain under extreme pressure during a pandemic.

The company now has 1,300 customers in its growing public sector, private business ventures, which include companies as diverse as The Weather Channel and IBM’s Chick-fil-A, and the automotive sector.

Inrix has been profitable for almost all of its history, operating on its own money from 2005-2007. “Some years growth is better than others,” Mistele said, and the customer ratio may change – with new use cases emerging during a pandemic and vehicle sales declining over several years. before a big rebound. – but the company recorded double-digit growth on an annual basis.

And after nearly two decades as a private company – with its major investors including venture capital firms Venrock, August Capital and Porsche – it almost pulled the trigger on an initial public offering before the IPO market closes. on the stock exchange. In a recent six-month period, he has worked “very hard” on an IPO deal and will soon file securities documents. “We even booked the ticker,” Mistele said. “We were ready to leave, but the market collapsed after Russia invaded Ukraine,” he said.

One of the oldest disruptor in his exit strategy is currently on hold, but Mistele said he will review the market every few months.

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