On-demand transit company Via, said it is raising $100 million in Series C funding, having closed $70 million, with $30 million in strategic investment to close in the coming weeks. The funding was led by Pitango Growth, who were joined by leading venture capital firms, family offices, and strategic investors from North America, Europe, and Asia, including Poalim Capital Markets and C4 Ventures. Previous investors Ervington Investments (representing Roman Abramovich), Hearst Ventures, and 83North (formerly Greylock IL) also participated. The funds bring Via’s total investment to $137 million.
“Via is creating the public transit system of the future,” said Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, co-founders of Via. “With existing transportation infrastructure straining and in some cases failing to meet rising demand across the globe, Via’s dynamic bus system offers cities a smart solution to traffic congestion and emissions. We’re delighted to have secured significant backing for our vision: eliminating single-occupancy vehicle trips by creating a mass transit system powered by advanced algorithms and data.”
Operating in New York City and Chicago, Via enables tens of thousands of passengers each day to seamlessly share their ride with others headed the same way. Via’s algorithms dynamically match passengers with available seats instead of entire vehicles, creating a highly affordable, convenient, and premium bus service, while keeping trip durations similar to a private taxi. The algorithm’s smart routing allows passengers to be picked up and dropped off in an endless stream, without taking riders out of their way to accommodate other passengers. This enables the platform to move a high volume of riders while using a fraction of the number of vehicles utilized by other on-demand car services.
“Via’s impressive technology and top-notch team have proven their ability to solve the complex computational and operational challenges of constructing an intelligent transportation system for the 21st century,” said Isaac Hillel, managing general partner of Pitango Growth. “As the only platform built from the ground up to provide a true public transit solution, we see unique opportunities for Via to capture significant market share in the rapidly evolving transportation market. We’re thrilled to support the company’s exceptional growth trajectory.”
The financing will be used to drive growth in NYC and Chicago, to expand into new cities, and to aid municipalities and transit authorities seeking to improve their public transit services by using Via’s technology. In addition, the funds will support strategic partnerships to operate Via’s platform in novel environments, such as the collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America currently underway in suburban South Orange County, California.
Via is re-engineering public transit—from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. The Via algorithm matches, in real time, multiple passengers headed the same way with a single large SUV or van. Passengers request rides through a mobile app, and Via’s systems instantly select and, if necessary, re-route the vehicle that best matches the passenger’s route. Targeting the gap between outdated public transit and expensive luxury car services, the Via platform currently operates in New York City and Chicago, has provided more than four million rides, and is growing rapidly. Founded in 2012 by Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, who previously led engineering projects for the Israeli Air Force and have PhDs in neuroscience and systems biology from Stanford University and the Weizmann Institute of Science, respectively, the idea for Via came from Israel, where many people rely on shared vehicles called sheruts to travel quickly, cheaply and easily along major streets. Via is headquartered in New York, with offices in Tel Aviv and Chicago.
Pitango, the leading venture capital firm in Israel, has been investing in technology entrepreneurs since 1993. With offices in Israel and Silicon Valley, California, Pitango currently manages over $2 billion in committed capital across several funds. Pitango Growth is a fund dedicated to investing in growth companies in their expansion and scale-up phases. To date, Pitango has invested in more than 210 companies, among them companies that have gone public, such as Varonis (NASDAQ: VRNS), and Borderfree (NASDA Q: BRDR), and companies that were acquired, such as Check (acquired by Intuit), dbMotion (acquired by AllScripts), Anobit (Acquired by Apple), Optonol (acquired by Alcon), and Ventor (acquired by Medtronic). Pitango invests in seed, early stage, and growth companies in the IT, Life Sciences, and Cleantech industries.
83North, formerly Greylock IL, is a global venture capital firm with more than $550 million under management. The fund invests in exceptional European and Israeli entrepreneurs, across all stages of consumer and enterprise companies. With offices in London and Tel-Aviv, 83North is the sum of the latitudes of these two main hubs of operation. 83North started as Greylock IL, and remains deeply rooted in the main US tech hubs, with over half of its portfolio companies having operations in the US.
Hearst Ventures has grown since its initial investment in Netscape in 1995, to become one of the most active and successful corporate venture funds, with more than $1 billion in strategic investments in companies operating at the intersection of media and technology.