Nexar, a startup that makes an AI-based dashcam app to monitor road safety, announced today that it has raised a $30 million Series B led by Ibex Ventures. Participants included Alibaba Innovation Ventures (the venture capital investment arm of Alibaba Group), Nationwide Insurance and returning investors Aleph, Mosaic Ventures, Slow Ventures, True Ventures and Tusk Ventures.
Nexar’s dashcam app relies on computer vision and sensor fusion to detect accidents and analyze road conditions, then sends real-time alerts to other vehicles on its network. Its tech is also used by insurance companies for collision reconstructions to help with claim investigations.
The Tel Aviv-based company also made two big leadership announcements. Yoad Shraybom, the former chief financial officer of the Walt Disney Company in Turkey, Israel and Greece, is now its CFO, and Incapsula founder and former general manager Marc Gaffan will serve as its chief business officer. Though Nexar’s newly-minted CFO and CBO positions might prompt speculation that it is eyeing a stock offering (Mobileye, another road safety tech company, went public in 2014), co-founder and CEO Eran Shir said there are no current plans for an IPO. Instead, the addition of Shraybom and Gaffan is meant to help the company’s global expansion. Ibex partner Elan Zivotofsky also joined its board.
Nexar has now raised $45 million in total funding and is using its new capital to build its vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) network by signing partnerships with insurance companies, drivers on ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft, automakers and municipalities that use its tech to monitor traffic and street infrastructure. For cities, Nexar’s tools helps them find ways to fix traffic bottlenecks or spot potholes, cracks and other potentially dangerous road damage by creating a “digital MRI of the city,” said Shir in an email.
Nexar’s app launched in 2016 and is now used by drivers in 740 cities across 160 countries, the company claims. Its biggest markets are currently New York City (Nexar says its used by more than 10% of ride-sharing drivers there), San Francisco, Tel Aviv and Las Vegas. The addition of Alibaba as an investor may help Nexar add some Chinese cities to that list, too.
“China is an incredibly exciting market for us which we always have our eye on. We do already have a large number of drivers in China who drive with Nexar, and partnering with local players in the region could assist in accelerating our drivers’ footprint in the region,” said Shir.
Nexar’s competitors include Mobileye, which was acquired by Intel for $15.3 billion last year, and Nauto, which also use AI-based dashcams to send information through V2V networks. Shir says Nexar differentiates by allowing its drivers to download a mobile app that turns their smartphones into a dashcam so they don’t need to buy separate hardware. The company also claims to have the largest V2V road-safety network and the world’s biggest dataset of road conditions and driving safety, drawn from over 100 million driven miles.