Inrix Buys ParkMe To Add Smart Parking Services To Its Real Time Traffic Data

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Inrix, a startup out of Washington that provides real-time traffic and other data to car companies like BMW and Tesla, tech companies like Samsung and Google, and 400 other enterprises, has made an acquisition to expand the features that it offers to its users. It has bought ParkMe, a startup out of Santa Monica that offers “smart parking” services to users, including finding and reserving parking spaces and paying for them by mobile.

The terms of the deal are not being disclosed, but Steve Banfield, Inrix’s chief product and marketing officer, tells me that it is a cash and share deal, where both co-founders Sam Friedman and Alex Israel are joining Inrix to continue developing the product.

The move comes at a key time in digital mapping, with Nokia recently selling off its Here mapping business to a car consortium for $3.07 billion, amid interest from a number of tech companies looking to raise their game in location services to build out their presence on smartphones, in cars and over other connected devices.

Some have even floated the idea that Inrix, which has raised over $100 million from investors like Kleiner Perkins and Intel Capital, might be the next big takeover target in the mapping world.

This acquisition is not the first dance for Inrix and ParkMe. The two have been partnering on services for about three years already, Israel tells me. That’s part of the reason why an acquisition made sense for the company. Another seems to have been scale: ParkMe had raised around $8.3 million from investors like IDG Ventures, but the last round was back in 2012. In a market crowded with parking apps, “there’s been a lot of consolidation in the [smart parking] space,” Israel said.

Inrix, for its part, has been growing at a decent pace and now has customers in 42 countries. Other customers in addition to Tesla and BMW include Audi, Toyota, over 60 departments of transportation in the U.S. and the Highways Agency in the UK.

And while Banfield confirms that Inrix does work with Google, he wouldn’t specify on what, except to confirm that a fairly lucrative deal it signed in 2011, providing real-time traffic info for its mapping and navigation apps, was no longer in place as Google now provides that information itself through its acquisition of Waze and other sources.

Indeed, while traffic information remains its main product, Inrix has also diversified into other kinds of data, like providing traffic safety information to drivers, specifically around road conditions; more detailed information to drivers around nearby gas stations; and data to business that can, for example, help them better plan where to open their newest retail locations.

This new wave of business is where ParkMe will fit in. The smaller startup’s database already covers 20 million spaces worldwide across over 3,000 cities in 64 countries, with the product used by hundreds of thousands of drives, Israel says. The idea now will be to use Inrix’s muscle to expand that even more.

This is Inrix’s second acquisition.