A leading US chipmaker, Intel Corp. (Intel) declared on Monday, May 4, 2020, that it has acquired Moovit Inc. or Moovit, an Israel-based app maker for public transit, for about $900 million. The acquisition of the app maker would help Intel to boost its development of a self-driving “robotaxis” service, which is expected to start functioning in early 2022 under the unit, Mobileye.
Intel’s Acquisition of Moovit
Under the acquisition deal, the Israeli app maker will be functioning independently while sharing its technology and a pool of data collected from more than 800 million users in 102 countries to Intel. The information from Moovit would be integrated into Intel’s autonomous car unit, Mobileye, which is based in Israel and would help the US chipmaker to build up robotaxis service in next coming years.
Intel has been making huge investments in Israel over some recent years including its $15.3 billion acquisition of Mobileye in 2017 and led $50 million investment for Moovit’s new round of fundraising in 2018. In December 2017, the leading chipmaker had bought an Israeli artificial intelligence firm Habana Labs for $2 billion.
Within nearly 5 years of its launching, Moovit has raised $133 million from investors including Intel, BMW iVentures, and Sequoia Capital and the market valuation of the company reached around $ 500 million when it last raised funding in 2018. Under the latest acquisition deal, the price paid by Intel was near twice the amount of Moovit’s capitalization in 2018.
Driverless Taxis or Robotaxis Operations
The US semiconductor manufacturing company, with the latest Moovit’s acquisition, has disclosed plans to start launching its robotaxis services with a small team of driverless taxis in countries such as Israel, France, and South Korea. Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua told reporters, “Moovit is an acquisition that fills some very critical gaps that we have going forward.”
Shashua described that Moovit, a transit app that helps commuters or tourists to find the best way to a destination by showing them bus and train routes, bike paths, and car-pooling options, would be a platform to order the robotaxis and the real-time data once it got integrated with Mobileye. Anticipating a positive outcome of the plan, Intel forecasted robotaxis would be valued at around $160 billion markets by 2030.
Shashua said the decision of Intel to buy the app maker amid market uncertainties caused by the coronavirus pandemic was because of Mobileye’s ability to more accurately predict that the technology would be ready by 2022. He added, “For a company like Intel, which has a very orderly plan of how the future should unfold, the coronavirus should not be a setback. On the contrary, you should look at the crisis then find opportunities.”
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