Ford bought shuttle-van startup Chariot in an all-cash deal.
But the price wasn’t disclosed, so it wasn’t clear whether this
was a case of a distressed startup selling for a bargain-basement
price, or Ford paying a solid price for a strategic fit into
its long-term plans.
Turns out it was the latter.
Business Insider has since learned that the automaker paid $65
million, plus earnouts to make employees with stock options
whole. The startup had raised only one round of $3 million
after emerging from startup factory Y Combinator in 2015.
As one person familiar with the deal said, it definitely wasn’t
an acqui-hire, and investors are happy with how it came out.
Chariot offers beleaguered Bay Area commuters an alternative to
the overloaded mass-transit system. The startup uses 100 Ford
Transit 15-seat vans to serve 28 crowdsourced routes, according
to Ford. Currently, the routes are based on demand from riders,
but after the Ford acquisition, data algorithms will take over
and, Ford says, allow trips to be scheduled in real time.
Chariot CEO Ali Vahabzadeh previously told Business Insider that
the deal took shape over more than a year and half, then
accelerated in recent months.
In addition to the Chariot acquisition — the first by Ford
Smart Mobility, the company’s future-of-transportation unit — the
carmaker announced that it would collaborate with the
bike-sharing service Motivate in the Bay Area to integrate its
services into Ford’s FordPass app. Users will be able to access
pedal-powered transportation through Ford’s GoBike feature in
2018, when the service launches.
GM has also been making aggressive moves in the
transportation-tech space, investing $500 million in Lyft and
buying autonomous-car startup Cruise this year.
Chariot investors included SoftTech VC, Semil
Shah, Maven Ventures, Major League Baseball Ventures, and
Winklevoss Capital, among others.