Intel buys Israeli smart-transit startup Moovit for $900 million in bid for data

Moovit’s app provides real-time information about public transportation schedules; acquisition will help Intel’s Mobileye become a complete mobility provider

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative: The Moovit app running on a phone. (Itamar Sharon)
Illustrative: The Moovit app running on a phone. (Itamar Sharon)

US tech giant Intel Corp. on Monday said it has acquired Israel’s smart-transit startup Moovit for some $900 million.

The acquisition will help another Israeli firm acquired by Intel, Mobileye, to achieve its aim of becoming a complete mobility provider, including offering robotaxi services, Intel said in a statement. Intel bought Mobileye in 2017 for a massive $15.3 billion, the largest ever acquisition in Israel.

Moovit, a free, crowdsourced application that provides real-time information about public transportation schedules, is used by 800 million riders across in 3,100 cities across 102 countries, the statement said. Moovit combines information from public transit operators and authorities with live information from the user community to offer travelers a real-time picture of the best route for their journey.

Mobileye’s Advanced Driver Assisted Systems (ADAS) technology “is already improving the safety of millions of cars on the road,” said Bob Swan, Intel CEO in the statement. “Moovit accelerates their ability to truly revolutionize transportation — reducing congestion and saving lives — as a full-stack mobility provider.”

New Intel CEO Robert Swan, who was named the technology firm’s chief executive on January 31, 2019. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

Moovit will now join the Mobileye business, but will retain its brand and its existing partnerships, the statement said. The acquisition of Moovit, together with that of Mobileye, will enable Intel to tap into a huge amount of data regarding transportation and transit in cities around the world. Indeed, Mobileye and Moovit generate complementary data: the data that Mobileye generates relates to vehicles, while Moovit generates data about people on the move.

In the past 24 months, Moovit has achieved a seven-fold increase in users, the statement said. Moovit has also signed strategic partnerships with ride-sharing operators and mobility companies for analytics, routing, optimization and operations to offer mobility as a service, the statement added.

The acquisition will enable Mobileye to use Moovit’s large transportation database to optimize predictive technologies based on customer demand and traffic patterns, as well as tap into Moovit’s transit data repository of more than 7,500 key transit agencies and operators, the statement said.

“Moovit’s massive global user base, proprietary transportation data, global editors community, strong partnerships with key transit and mobility ecosystem partners, and highly skilled team is what makes them a great investment,” said Amnon Shashua, CEO of Mobileye. “Moovit is a strong brand trusted by hundreds of millions of people globally. Together, with Mobileye’s extensive capabilities in mapping and self-driving technology, we will be able to accelerate our timeline to transform the future of mobility.”

Professor Amnon Shashua (Yonatan Hepner)

“With the acquisition of Moovit today, we have added another critical piece to our mobility stack, and accelerated our way towards becoming a complete mobility provider,” Shashua added in a blog post about the acquisition.

Intel had already made a $30 million strategic investment in Moovit, via its venture capital arm in 2018.

“Combining the daily mobility habits and needs of millions of Moovit users with the state-of-the-art, safe, affordable and eco-friendly transportation enabled by self-driving vehicles, we will be able to make cities better places to live in.” said Nir Erez, Moovit co-founder and CEO.

Moovit was founded in 2012 by Erez together with Roy Bick and Yaron Evron and is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, with approximately 200 employees. The startup has raised $131.5 million to date from investors including Israeli VC Gemini, Sequoia Capital, BRM Group, Vintage Investment Partners, and BMW iVentures, according to the database of Start-Up Nation Central.

Erez, Moovit’s CEO, said in a 2018 interview with The Times of Israel that he sees himself as the first person to map the world of public transportation, or as he put it, the “Marco Polo of transit,” referring to the 13th century Italian explorer who recorded his epic journey through China and other Asian countries.

Moovit co-founder and CEO Nir Erez, May 10, 2018 (Shoshanna Solomon/Times of Israel)

Intel’s investment in Moovit was “strategic,” Erez said at the time, not just financial.

“Being a part of Intel has empowered Mobileye to dream beyond computer vision and into the driverless future, and now we intend to empower Moovit to dream bigger, reach higher, and together to make an impact on the future of transportation,” Mobileye’s Shashua wrote in the blog post.

In December, Intel signed a deal to acquire Israeli startup Habana Labs, a Caesarea-based chip maker, for $2 billion, after it originally invested in the firm as part of a Series B funding round.

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