An Israeli transport tech firm is poised for a growth push in London after unveiling a $100m funding injection today, taking its valuation to $1.3bn.
The fresh funding round for Optibus, which provides AI technology to automate and optimise route planning for transport firms, makes it the first public transport start up to hit so-called unicorn status – a valuation of more than $1bn.
Boss Amos Haggiag told City A.M. today that London was now ripe for growth for the firm as the city prepares to transition to electric buses in the next decade.
“London currently has very few electric buses at less than 10 per cent, but it is growing fast to hundred per cent in the next 10 year or so,” Haggiag told City A.M.
“Electrification will become a huge issue in the next 10 years or so, and there is already an issue with charging capacity, so firms have to do it smartly and ensure drivers are charging at the right time and right place.”
Optibus’s technology prompts drivers to charge at certain locations and points, which Haggiag said will be crucial as charging capacity becomes increasingly strained.
The cash injection comes after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced last year that all new TfL buses in London will now be zero-emission, as well as committing to delivering a 100 per cent zero-emission bus fleet by 2034, three years faster than original plans.
Optibus, which counts Stagecoach and First Group among its customer base, already has a 100-strong team in the capital and said it plans to now boost its product offering in cities across the UK.
Since its founding in 2014, Optibus has rolled out to firms in over 1000 cities globally, and the firm is now eyeing up expansion in markets including France, Germany and across the Nordics in the next 12 months.
The Series D funding round today takes the firm’s total capital raised to $260m, with backing from investors including Chinese tech giant Tencent, as well as Insight Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners and Verizon Ventures.