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Hitting half a billion users, Moovit’s mobility empire wraps up record year

Once used only to find the best bus route to a destination, the Moovit app today offers options for getting around by bike, scooter, train, taxi and even foot

Ricky Ben-David is a senior news editor at The Times of Israel.

The Moovit app in use in Washington (Courtesy)
The Moovit app in use in Washington (Courtesy)

Moovit, an Israeli-founded urban mobility company that operates internationally, has had a big year. This summer, it hit a significant milestone with over half a billion users of its popular public transportation application, and strove to make transits and commutes even smoother by building on existing partnerships or sparking new ones with major multinationals including Uber, Microsoft, and most recently, Waze, an Israeli-founded navigation app sold to Google in 2013 for $1 billion.

Moovit has, in fact, been commonly referred to as the “Waze for public transportation” since it was founded in 2012 by entrepreneurs Nir Erez, Roy Bick, and Yaron Evron. Headquartered in Ness Ziona, the company developed the first free crowdsourced app that provides real-time bus, train, subway, and light rail schedules, offers route options to help users find the quickest, most efficient way to their destinations, and issues exact instructions on how to get there.

The company grew quickly, raising over $3 million in venture financing the year it was founded, $28 million a year later and another $50 million in 2015, according to business intelligence platform Crunchbase. Investors have included Sequoia Capital Israel, BMW i Ventures, and NGP Capital, a VC firm based in Palo Alto, California.

Moovit’s most recent funding round, of an additional $50 million in February 2018, was led by Intel Capital, the investment arm of Intel Corp., and came with a partnership with Mobileye, a Jerusalem-based advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) developer that Intel acquired in 2017 for $15.3 billion.

The Moovit app in use (Courtesy)

Today, Moovit’s app serves more than 500 million users in 3,000 cities across 94 countries in over 45 languages, according to the company’s internal figures. It expects to have over a billion users by 2021, just under a decade from its founding. The firm has some 200 employees in a dozen offices across the US, Europe, Asia, and South America.

These are pretty good accomplishments for what started as an idea for gleaning accurate information on public bus schedules in Tel Aviv.

In addition to its free app, Moovit also sells transit data analytics to transportation agencies internationally through its Smart Transit Suite, launched in 2017. The Suite provides valuable information to municipalities, cities, transportation organizations, and governments, and is generated with more than a billion movement data points a day, according to the startup.

The information is drawn from publicly available transportation data from some 7,000 transit companies and agencies and is combined with anonymized data from Moovit’s users and crowd-sourced data from its community of over 625,000 local editors who help map and maintain transit information in cities.

With access to this data, Moovit has said, agencies can better serve their cities, from planning construction projects to overseeing transportation challenges.

Building a multi-modal transit experience

“Our vision is to simplify urban mobility across the world, for everyone,” Yovav Meydad, Moovit’s VP of Growth and Marketing, told The Times of Israel in a phone interview earlier this year.

“We’re looking to build and provide real transport solutions and enhance mobility,” Meydad explained. “And we’re doing it by reaching consumers with our free app — that’s our B2C [business-to-consumer] angle — and by providing cities and transit companies with access to our services, data, and tech through paid products — that’s our B2G [business-to-government] angle.”

A big focus for the company this year has been to integrate micro-transit services such as shared electric scooters, dockless bikes, and ride-share vehicles into the Moovit app, Meydad said.

Starting in January, Moovit announced a number of partnerships that integrate its public transit information into third-party applications or that feature additional transportation options on Moovit’s own platform.

Moovit co-founder and CEO Nir Erez (Courtesy)

These include separate collaborations with GoTo Mobility, for example — an Israel-based vehicle sharing technology platform that powers mobility operators in 13 cities globally. As part of the agreement, the GoTo customers’ Auto-Tel free-floating shared car service and CAR2GO, both in Tel Aviv, would appear in the Moovit app as transit options and could be ordered through the system.

In March, the company announced that it was expanding its partnership with DriveNow car-sharing service in London to Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Düsseldorf, and Stockholm, making the ride-share option available through its app.

A month earlier, Moovit announced the expansion of an existing partnership with Microsoft’s Azure Maps, which already integrates its transportation platform and which brings in TomTom, a Dutch multinational developer of location technology for a solution that identifies all driving, parking, and public transit options in a single package for map users.

And in October, Moovit announced a partnership with European dockless scooter company Circ that would allow users in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates to access multiple public and private transit services including locating the nearest Circ scooter right in the Moovit app.

Moovit also expanded its existing partnership with Uber, first launched in 2016, to allow Uber users to access Moovit’s public transit data and plan the rest of their trip.

This is how Moovit has evolved from a transit data provider to a mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) provider, Meydad said. Moovit users, whether consumers or agencies, get a “full, multi-modal mobility experience, whether it’s with bikes, scooters, trains, taxis, even walking.”

“Users won’t even need to own a car at some point. This is where cities are headed; there will be fewer cars and less of a need for them,” he said.

Waze navigation screen (photo credit: Courtesy)
Waze navigation screen (photo credit: Courtesy)

In this spirit, Moovit teamed up with Waze last month to provide a pilot carpooling service in the US, Brazil, Mexico, and Israel. The service will allow Moovit users to tap into Waze’s carpool driver community and get added transit solutions beyond that of public transportation.

A boost from Intel

Moovit’s milestones this year came on the heels of Intel’s $50 million investment, which co-founder Nir Erez said helped build the company’s sales and collaboration strategy.

Speaking on the sidelines of Intel’s Global Summit conference in Phoenix, Arizona, earlier this year, Erez told The Times of Israel Moovit’s collaborations with cities and transit companies are important for future opportunities where mobility options — and payments — will be more integrated.

“The idea is that we’ll be using all kinds of transportation options and in different combinations. And perhaps cities will create one unified way to pay for these transit methods to make things easier. Moovit is currently working on building different features into our products,” he said.

The partnership with Mobileye is also a great opportunity for Moovit, said Erez.

Moovit has all this “accumulated data about traffic, transit, and transportation and how people are moving and where to,” he explained, adding that companies such as Mobileye, which are building systems that will allow for autonomous driving, “are going to want this data because they need it.”

Though further details on the partnership were sparse, Erez did say that Moovit would provide Mobileye with the full suite of its services as well as its user base.

As for Moovit itself, Erez said the company plans to continue growing its user base and generating more revenue with the vision for an IPO ahead and achieving financial independence.

Moovit was last valued at some $450 million in 2015, according to Techcrunch. The founders club TechAviv, which tracks Israeli-founded unicorn companies, estimates that Moovit is valued at over $800 million.

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