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Travel & Mobility Tech Newsletter

Dear Readers

Over the past year, we have tried our best to share original data-driven insights with you. We would love to know how our newsletter could serve you even better.

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Thanks for your support. And now, off to today's content. Enjoy.

Lennart Dobravsky
Trend & Market Research Analyst

Trend Radar
The final numbers are in: Travel & Mobility Tech startups received more Venture Capital funding in 2018 than ever before.
As we have argued in the past, this funding record is a strong signal that the speed of digital innovation in the travel and mobility space remains exceptionally high and that technology is now central to almost every step of the travel journey.

But VC activity in Travel & Mobility Tech is not all roses. The number of VC deals in 2018 has taken another nosedive – a downward trend we have observed for the previous three years (and this can be seen across all VC sectors, not only in Travel & Mobility Tech).

As investors deploy larger and larger sums to mature companies with a clear product/market fit and high growth rates, those startups at the idea stage struggle to raise necessary funding to get their ideas off the ground.

But we remain optimistic for 2019: Travel & Mobility Tech's exit activity – meaning the number of VC-backed startups that either got acquired or listed on a stock exchange in 2018 – topped 2017's totals.

This indicates that Travel & Mobility Tech remains a lucrative sector for investors as they are increasingly able to liquidate their investments.

Here an overview of Travel & Mobility Tech's 10 largest exits in 2018:
Web Radar

Drones: Obstructive or Constructive?

Just like most technologies, drones can be used for the good and the bad.

Consumer drones have been around for a while. And with their growing popularity, there has been a sizeable increase in dangerous obstructions of commercial aircraft.

The recent Gatwick Airport drone shutdown has not been the only incident during the past years as data from the UK Airport Board illustrates:

Even before the Gatwick story over Christmas, the UK had already taken steps to regulate drone usage near airports with the hope of preventing any obstruction, such as: 
  • Drones banned above 120m or closer than 1km to airport
  • A soon-to-be compulsory online competency test for registered drone users
  • Implementation of anti-drone technology near airports
A focus on regulation for unmanned vehicles in the air is something we have advocated in the past, given the complexities of a more populated sky.

But regulatory constraints on drone activity are not the only way to ensure safety.

Several companies, especially in the startup space, are applying the latest technologies to better coordinate crowded airspace. One such example would be Belgian Unifly, which recently raised $17M in VC funding. The startup is developing software solutions for Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) with the vision of facilitating a coordinated, multi-vehicle sky.

These efforts should be welcomed, especially since drones can be as constructive as they can be obstructive. A simple illustrative fact from 2018: consider that 35% of Rwanda's blood supply outside its capital city was drone-delivered by VC-backed startup Zipline.

Watch the blood delivery in action below:
Press Radar

Supersonic Travel Without The Boom

A couple of months ago, we spoke to Blake School, founder and CEO of Boom Technologies. Boom is building the next generation of supersonic aircraft with the goal of flying passengers around the world at Mach 2.2 speeds for about the same price as a typical business-class flight.
 
We also covered Boom in our Startup Radar last year and it seems that private capital markets share our enthusiasm for the Colorado-based company, as investors recently allocated another $100 million in Venture Capital funding (on top of $40 million already invested in the past) to power further development of Boom’s commercial airliner called Overture.
 
With pockets filled, Boom hopes to start conducting test flights later this year and its 55-seat aircraft is expected to begin passenger service in the mid-2020s, with Virgin Group and Japan Airlines already pre-ordering combined 30 airliners.
 
But Boom is not alone on its endeavour to bring back supersonic air travel.

Two other startups made major headlines in recent months: Boston-based Spike Aerospace which aims to have commercial aircraft ready by 2023 and Aerion Supersonic, which has signed first provisional purchase contracts with (wealthy) private customers.
 
But startups are not the only ones driving forward innovation in supersonic travel.
 
We analyzed the global press coverage to identify the 10 companies (whether private or public) with the most media mentions around supersonic travel in mainstream online publications over the past five years. See the ranking below:
Interestingly, Boom, Aerion and Spike all come in ahead of aviation giants Boeing and Airbus.

The #1 spot goes to American aerospace and defense specialist Lockheed Martin, though.
 
What most likely promoted Lockheed Martin’s press visibility is the firm's unique approach to supersonic travel: together with NASA, the company started production of its experimental supersonic plane last November and aims to advance the technology through noise reduction (no boom) to overturn regulations.

Current legislation mainly bans commercial supersonic aircraft from operating over land because of the window-rattling sonic boom.
Press Radar

Our Recommended Must Reads 

"HEY GOOGLE, CHECK IN TO MY FLIGHT" – Google Assistant has added the possibility to check in users into domestic flights by United Airlines. With a simple voice command, Google retrieves the confirmation details from Gmail and performs the check-in without the need for further input. Hotel bookings are also being piloted. 
 Read more on PhocusWire
THE FAILURES OF OFO – The bike-sharing provider Ofo and its business failure are about Ofo and not representative of the overall bike-sharing market, which has acceptable unit economics with multiple players doing just fine. Ofo is charged with spending and expanding too hastily to foreign markets, failing to work alongside other major Chinese bike-sharing players and not solving internal management issues rapidly. 
 Read more on Jeffrey Towson
AIR TAXIS OVER THE SWISS ALPS – Switzerland’s national rail service is exploring a futuristic plan to provide flying-taxi services to passengers. Talks with German startup Lilium seem to aim at the idea of using air taxis to transport customers from rail stations to destinations. 
 Read more on Bloomberg
Funding Radar

Most Recent Venture Capital Deals

 = Unicorn Alert (post-deal company valuation at >$1B)
 = Exit Alert (Startup listed at stock exchange or acquired)


Byton – the Chinese developer and manufacturer of electric vehicles is raising at least $500M in funding from undisclosed investors. 

Bird – the Santa Monica-based developer of a scooter ride-sharing platform raised $300M in funding as an extension of their Series C-1 deal led by Fidelity Investments. 

SpaceX – the American designer and manufacturer of aerospace and space transport services raised $273M in funding from Baillie Gifford and undisclosed existing investors in their planned $500M funding round. 

Boom Supersonic – an American manufacturer of a supersonic aircraft raised $100M in funding from Emerson Collective, Caffeinated Capital, SV Angel, Y Combinator, and further undisclosed investors. 

Ola – the Indian developer of a ride-hailing mobile application raised $95M in funding from Steadview Capital ($74M) and from Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal ($21M) as part of the ongoing series J round. 

Boosted – an American manufacturer of electric skateboards raised $60M in funding from Khosla Ventures, inovia Capital, StartX, and Bay Meadows. 

Outdoorsy – an Austin-based provider of an on-demand marketplace intended to provide road trips and recreational vehicle (RV) adventures raised $50M in funding from Greenspring Associates, Aviva Ventures, Altos Ventures, AutoTech Ventures, and Tandem Capital.

Badi – a Barcelona-based operator of an urban room rental startup raised $30M in funding from Goodwater Capital, Mangrove Capital Partners, Spark Capital, and Target Global. 

Unifly – an Antwerp-based developer of drone management software raised $16,8M by the Deutsche Flugsicherung (air traffic control services). 

Huilianyi – a Chinese travel expense management platform raised $14.50M in funding from undisclosed investors. 

Vimcar – a Berlin-based provider of fleet management software raised $13M in funding from Acton Capital Partners, Atlantic Labs, Unternehmertum Venture Capital Partners, and Coparion. 

GeoSpock – a Cambridge-based provider of a big data mobility and analytics platform raised $13.04M in funding from 31Ventures, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Global Brain, Parkwalk Advisors, and further investors. 

Horizn Studios – a Berlin-based developer and retailer of smart luggage and travel bags raised $11.65M in funding from Vorwerk Ventures, Perpetual Ventures, Milano Investment Partners, and Project A Ventures. 

AvantStay – a Los Angeles-based provider of an accommodation booking platform raised $5M in funding from Bullpen Capital, F-Prime Capital, Zeno Ventures, Convivialité Ventures, and further investors. 

Luxstay – a Vietnamese operator and developer of a short-term property rental platform raised $3M in funding from CyberAgent Ventures, Y1 Ventures, and further undisclosed investors. 

Guestbook Rewards – an American developer of an online hotel booking rewards management platform raised $3M in funding from undisclosed investors. 

Nezasa – a Zurich-based provider of travel experience software raised $2.50M in funding from SVC for Risk Capital, Howzat Partners, Alpana Ventures, Reinhart Capital, and Investiere. 

Tripla – a Tokyo-based corporate travel startup raised $2.20M in funding from undisclosed domestic major IT companies. 

WhereIsMyTransport – a South African provider of an integrated mobility data platform raised $1.85M in funding from Goodwill Investments and Liil Ventures.

Carmen Automotive – a Singapore-based automotive data analytics company raised $730K in funding from Silicon Solution Ventures and SEEDS Capital.

Hellobike – the Shanghai based operator of a bike sharing platform raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Primavera Capital, Ant Financial, and further undisclosed investors. 

Grab – the Singaporean ride-hailing platform raised an undisclosed amount in strategic funding from Japanese financial services company Tokyo Century. 

 Beach-Inspector – a Berlin-based provider of an evaluation platform for travel destinations was acquired by Swiss travel platform Holidaycheck for an undisclosed amount. 

 Eluminocity – a Munich-based electric mobility technology startup was acquired by Wirelane for an undisclosed amount.

Deep Blue Aerospace – a Chinese developer of a commercial carrier rocket raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Shunwei Capital. 

Immotor – a Shenzhen-based developer of an electric scooter raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Hyundai Motor. 

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