Intersection raises $150 million for the global expansion of its free Wi-Fi

As it looks to expand the global footprint of its internet-enabled digital advertising and informational kiosks, New York-based Intersection has raised $150 million in a new round of financing.

The company has installed hundreds of its obelisk-like Link devices in both London and New York, where it has supplanted the the telephone booths and payphone stands that have served alternatively as icons and urban eyesores for generations of metropolitan commuters.

Now, it’s looking to expand with a major hiring push and new installations across cities including Philadelphia, Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, San Francisco, Seattle, and London.

The new financing was led by Graham Holdings Company, the publicly traded conglomerate run by the former owners of the Washington Post, which now holds interests in education services companies(Kaplan), television stations, online news, and healthcare. Additional investors ArrowMark Partners and NewSpring Capital.

In a statement, the company said it would use the money to accelerate the digitization of its existing billboards and outdoor advertising spaces and accelerate the development of its technological capabilities.

Previous investor Sidewalk Labs, a division of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, did not participate in the latest round, according to a person familiar with the transaction.

Intersection is one component of Sidewalk Labs’ strategy to bring internet connectivity and data collection to cities around the globe. The company believes that the advertising-supported internet services, government communications and local news, and monitoring and tracking services its kiosks provide will be a boon to city living around the world.

It’s a play to be an integral part of the smart cities movements that aim to enhance quality of life in urban environments with tools to monitor and manage how those cities run.

“We believe in the transformative power of technology to elevate the urban experience – delivering benefits like free internet connectivity, real-time information, localized content, and civic services – as Link has done on the streets of New York City and London,” said Ari Buchalter, CEO of Intersection.

Founded in 2015 through the merger of Titan Outdoor and Control Group by a consortium of investors including Sidewalk Labs, Intersection has been the architect of providing free wireless internet to large swathes of New York through the LinkNYC initiative.

The rollout has not been without controversy, as BuzzFeed reported that the initial devices included beacons, which could potentially track users and push out local advertising to them. The beacons were removed from the kiosks that the company installed in New York.

So far, the Link network includes LinkNYC, InLinkUK, and LinkPHL in Philadelphia. There’re also kiosks in New York’s subways and on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority’s network of trains.

“Intersection is the clear leader in deploying real-world smart city solutions at scale,” said Tim O’Shaughnessy, chief executive of Graham Holdings in a statement. “We believe there is tremendous opportunity for the company to leverage their experience from massive deployments like LinkNYC, extensive municipal and advertising relationships, and unique capabilities in data, engineering, user experience, and design to create tremendous value for cities, consumers, and brands.”

As part of the investment O’Shaughnessy, Jake Mass, a senior vice president at Graham Holdings and the co-founder and general partner of NewSpring Capital, Marc Lederman, will take seats on the company’s board of directors. Allen & Co. advised Intersection on the investment.