Israel’s Autotalks raises $30 million in funding

Startup aims to expand its global reach and increase sales of its vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems

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

Derailed cars following a train crash in Dimona, March 15, 2016 (Israel Police spokesperson)
Derailed cars following a train crash in Dimona, March 15, 2016 (Israel Police spokesperson)

Autotalks, an Israeli semiconductor company that makes vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication systems for use in autonomous driving cars, said it completed a Series D round of funding, raising $30 million, to expand its worldwide operations and accelerate sales of its products that it says will enable safer and smarter autonomous vehicles.

The new funding round includes the company’s existing investors: Magma Venture Capital, Gemini Israel Fund, Amiti Fund, Mitsui & Co. Global Investment, Liberty Ventures and Delek Motors, as well as new financial investors including Israeli institutional investors, Fraser McCombs Ventures, Vintage Investment Partners and Samsung Catalyst Fund.

The closing of the funding comes as the US Department of Transportation issued in December a proposed rule that would promote the deployment of connected vehicle technologies in all new light vehicles sold in the US by 2023, Autotalks said.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would allow V2V communication technology, which would enable cars to communicate with each other, to be fitted on all new light vehicles, in an effort to increase road safety and prevent crashes.

Autotalks’ products are the most advanced chipsets addressing this new upcoming regulation, the company said in a statement. Its products allow strong communication, have cyberdefense capabilities, and can be integrated with most vehicles, the company said.

Autotalks, which was founded in 2008 and is based in Kfar Netter, a small community in central Israel, is already selling its V2V products to original car equipment manufacturers and Tier-1 and Tier-2 customers.

Hagai Zyss, CEO of Israel's Autotalks, Sept. 2016 (Courtesy)
Hagai Zyss, CEO of Israel’s Autotalks, Sept. 2016 (Courtesy)

Earlier this year the company said it would join forces with Taiwan’s RoyalTek, a maker of global positioning systems (GPS) and satellite navigation technology, to improve road safety.

The strong team of investors “demonstrates a clear vote of confidence in Autotalks’ ability to execute and gain a leading market share,” said Hagai Zyss, Autotalks’ CEO in the statement. “Our mission to equip vehicles with such lifesaving technology is now being adopted by the regulators and leading car manufacturers. I believe our chipsets will soon be part of most new vehicles worldwide.”

Intel Corp.’s proposed acquisition of Jerusalem-based Mobileye, a maker of chips for car cameras and driver-assistance features, last week for $15 billion, has put a spotlight on Israeli startups in the auto tech sector. The Mobileye deal represents the biggest ever for a tech company in Israel; it is also the largest deal to date involving semi-autonomous and autonomous driving technology.

Auto tech startups working in computer sensing and vision are already red-hot, with companies, developing lower-cost and/or higher-fidelity tech, seeing deals every month,” said Kerry Wu, a senior mobility analyst at CB Insights, a New York-based data firm, in a March 17 note. “Tech companies across the spectrum are looking to muscle their way into supplying vehicles of the future, from connected car to autonomous driving hardware and software.”

Auto tech startup financing topped $1 billion in 2016 with sector financing reaching a “frenzied pace,” according to CB Insights.

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