Online used car startup Shift raises $140 million

Shift Technologies, an online marketplace for used cars, has closed a Series D financing round of more than $140 million in equity and debt.

The round, which consists of about $70 million in debt and $71 million in equity, was led by automotive retailer Lithia Motors. Bryan DeBoer, CEO and president of Lithia, will join Shift’s board of directors.

Previous investors Alliance Ventures, BMW iVentures, DCM, DFJ, G2VP, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Highland Capital also participated. This new capital brings Shift’s total financing of equity and debt to $265 million.

Shift, which is based in San Francisco, serves car buyers and sellers. The company, founded in 2013, has built a software platform that lets customers shop for cars, get financing and schedule test drives. Car owners can use the platform to sell their vehicle, as well. Shift says any car it buys must pass a “rigorous” 150+ point inspection.

The company plans to invest in its technology platform and scale its engineering staff from 35 to more than 80 people by the end of 2019, CEO George Arison noted to TechCrunch in an email.  Shift employs 380 people. The company’s platform has focused on scaling in California; it covers about 80 percent of that market. But the company has long had its sights set on expanding beyond the Golden State.

Shift is focused on, and is heavily investing in, its peer-to-peer business, in which the company acquires cars from individuals and then sells them. Buying, refurbishing and then selling cars online is a logistics-heavy business pursuit, and one that has seen a number of competitors come and go in the past several years. But Arison says the company has not just survived; it has grown.

Shift didn’t provide revenue numbers. But Arison cited the company’s more than 70 percent revenue growth in the past six months as an example of the company’s success.

The company did have a partnership with rental giant Hertz, but that has since ended. At the time, Shift was going to feature vehicles from Hertz’s fleet inventory. It was meant to be a win-win: Hertz gets access to a new retail sales channel and Shift benefits from the rental car company’s ready supply of lightly used cars.

The partnership ended after Hertz opened its own retail stores that competed against Shift.