Connected Car Platform Zubie Raised Additional $6M

Zubie, a connected-car platform and telematics provider, today announced it has secured $6 million in additional funding.

Melody Capital Partners, along with existing Zubie investors OpenAir Equity Partners, Castrol innoVentures, Comporium, Nokia Growth Partners and Magna, participated in the financing.

Zubie had previously raised $20 million in funding. The company was formed in 2012, and is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina

Zubie, that was initially launched as a pure consumer solution, is now pursuing a more diverse set of customers beyond B2C: automotive, insurance, and mobile/telecom operators, as well as small businesses.

TomTom Revenue up 6% in 1Q 2016

GPS maker TomTom announced today €217.2 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2016, up 6 percent.

The net result for the quarter was €4.8 million, which translates to adjusted earnings per shareof €0.03.

TomTom maintained their full year financial outlook with revenue expected of around €1,050 million and adjusted EPS of around €0.23.

In his statement TomTom’s CEO Harold Goddijn expressed the interest of the company in the aftermarket connected car segment:

“We are also developing new products for the Connected Car services industry, which take advantage of the capabilities of our Telematics technology. This allows us to target new business and consumer markets, including OEMs, dealerships, importers, servicing and leasing companies and the usage-based insurance (UBI) sector."

Consumer business

Total Consumer revenue for the quarter was €117 million, compared with €122 million in the same quarter last year (down 4 percent). The Automotive hardware revenue (part of the consumer division) decreased by 6% year on year to €20 million in the quarter (Q1 2015: €21 million).

Total Consumer products revenue amounted to €97 million in the quarter, compared with €101 million in the same quarter last year.

“The year on year decrease was driven by lower PND and related content & services revenue partly offset by a considerable growth in Sport revenue,“ the company stated.

“Consumer Sport saw the sell-out nearly doubling year on year“ added TomTom’s CEO Harold Goddijn in its conference call with financial analysts.

The PND market was estimated by TomTom at 1.1 million pieces in Europe (where TomTom owned 52% market share, up 1% against last year) and 500,000 units in North America (TomTom had 17% market share, growing 1% against Q1 2015).

Automotive business up 26%

Automotive business generated revenue of €30 million in the quarter, an increase of 26% year on year. This growth is “ reflecting growth in maps and traffic revenue underpinned by recently announced contracts,“ TomTom stated

Licensing revenue increased 16%

TomTom’s Licensing revenue was €34 million in the quarter, 16% higher compared with the same quarter last year (Q1 2015: €29 million).

“The year on year increase reflects growth in our Consumer Licensing and Geospatial segments driven by new customer wins as well as by renewing/extending existing customer contracts starting from Q2 2015,“ TomTom indicated.


Koolicar Raised €18M for P2P Car Sharing

French peer-to-peer car sharing startup Koolicar announced today a financial round of €18 million.

PSA Peugeot Citroën took part in the capital increase alongside MAIF, Koolicar’s historic partner since 2010.

The previous round of funding was made in September 2014 when MAIF invested €2.4 million followed by business angels with €200,000.

"This new investment will allow us to install the Box in nearly 30,000 vehicles, which will represent the world’s largest network of private vehicles in car sharing,“ explained Stéphane Savouré, Founding President of Koolicar.

“We will also continue our Research and Development program to provide car owners with features that make car sharing even simpler, more fun and more enjoyable.“

Now present in around 40 French cities, with over 60,000 registered users, Koolicar started up its peer-to-peer car sharing operations back in 2012.

The system is based on a connected box that can be fitted on any type of vehicle, enabling keyless transactions:the door is unlocked by a RFID card or a mobile phone and the car keys are found in the glove box. The connected box calculate the mileage and lease duration, and geolocate the car 24/7.

"Our acquisition of a stake in Koolicar is another step forward in our strategy as a mobility services operator,“ said Brigitte Courtehoux, PSA Senior Vice-President, Connected Services and Mobility.

Garmin Q4 2015 Revenue Drops 3%, Full year down 2%

In the last quarter of 2015 Garmin revenue dropped three percent ($781 million) the company disclosed yesterday in their call with financial analysts. For the full year the revenue was down two percent ($2,820 million).

Gross and operating margins were 52.9% (down from 53.6%) and 18.7% (down from 21.9%), respectively.

Pro forma earning per share was $0.74 (down 4%) for the fourth quarter 2015 and $2.49 for the full year (down 20 percent from $3.10).

Garmin ended the quarter with cash and marketable securities of about $2.4 billion.

“Despite the challenging global economic environment and the intensified competitive landscape of 2015, we finished strong with revenue and margins exceeding our expectations? said Cliff Pemble, CEO of Garmin.

“We are utilizing our robust balance sheet to further diversify our revenue base in adjacent categories with our recently announced acquisitions. We believe we have strong products across all of our business segments and are well positioned as we enter 2016.?

Auto Revenue Down 21% in the Quarter

The small annual revenue drop is entirely due to the sharp decline of the Garmin fishfinder market. Garmin automotive segment (personal Navigation Devices and B2B Automotive) posted a revenue decline of 21% in the fourth quarter. Gross and operating margins were 42% and 13%, respectively.

Revenues were down 15% for the full year and Gross margins and operating margins were 44% and 13% respectively.

Fitness Grows 14%

In comparison the fitness segment posted revenue growth of 14% ($228,7 million) in the quarter. This reflected “the strength of our wellness, running, and cycling product offerings,“ Garmin said.

Gross margin fell to 51% in the quarter, while operating margin declined to 18%. The gross margin decline was driven by holiday promotions and competitive dynamics in certain product categories, as well as product mix within the quarter.

Answering to an analyst question Cliff Pemble said: “we believe we are the market share leader in the GPS-enabled wearable device part of the market. We believe that our share is currently in the low-to-mid 40% range.“

“In 2016, we are targeting revenue growth of approximately 10% in the fitness segment,“ said the Chief Executive.


Fitbit Sold 4.8M Fitness Devices in Q3 2015; Average Selling Price up 33%

Last week fitness devices vendor Fitbit announced their financial results with $409 million (up 168%) in revenue during the third quarter of 2015. The GAAP net income per share was $0.19 and the adjusted EBITDA $85.0 million.

The cash from operations increased 37x to $121.3 million compared to Q3 2014. Cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities totaled $575.5 million at September 30, 2015, compared to $64.0 million at September 30, 2014 .

“Revenue of $409 million increased 168% year-over-year, exceeding the high end of our guidance, and adjusted EBITDA nearly doubled,â€? commented James Park, Fitbit co-founder and CEO.

Geographically, revenue from the United States accounted for 66% followed by 16% from Asia-Pacific, 12% from EMEA, and 6% from the America’s excluding the U.S. Third quarter revenue from the United States, grew 130% year-over-year, while revenue from Asia Pac grew 314% followed by EMEA growth of 282%. Americas, excluding the United States, grew 286% year-over-year.

During the quarter the company sold 4.8 million connected health and fitness devices. Their Charge, Charge HR and Surge products comprised 79% of revenue.

According to NPD data Surge continues to be the number one GPS watch sold in the United States and Charge HR is the number one selling fitness tracker wearable in the U.S.

Surprisingly the average selling price for Fitbit devices increased 33% year-over-year – $84 from $63 – in the corresponding period of the prior year.

PhantomALERT Sues Waze & Google For Illegal Database Copying

Speedcam and Red Light camera database vendor PhantomALERT has filed a lawsuit against Waze and Google, their law firm Kronenberger Rosenfeld announced yesterday.

The lawsuit alleges that, before it was acquired by Google, Waze copied PhantomALERT’s proprietary database without permission and incorporated that misappropriated data into Waze’s popular iPhone and Android navigation apps.

The lawsuit states that in 2010, Waze’s CEO approached PhantomALERT about sharing database information between the firms. PhantomALERT declined to proceed, however the lawsuit asserts that Waze repeatedly copied its Points of Interest database, and that to this day Google continues to use this misappropriated and copyrighted database content.

“PhantomALERT determined that Waze duplicated its Points of Interest database, in part, by observing the presence of fictitious seeded points of interest from its database in the Waze application – which is a common method of detecting copying in large datasets,“ the law firm said.

Telematics Vendors BSM Technologies and Webtech Wireless Have Merged

Two fleet telematics vendors BSM Technologies and Webtech Wireless have announce last week their merger. Both companies are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The transaction is structured as a merger of equals with a combined transaction equity value of approximately $85 million.

The combined company has a total revenue of $58 million, of which $37 million is recurring service revenue, and Adjusted EBITDA of $4.75 million.

The new entity has 155,000 subscribers across Canada and the United States with a focus in rail, government, construction, trucking, and service verticals.

The combined company will be headquartered in Toronto, Canada, and will operate under the name BSM Technologies Inc. Andrew Gutman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Webtech will become Chairman of BSM.

HERE Acquisition: What Does it Mean?

Audi, BMW and Daimler have announced today the acquisition of digital map platform HERE from Nokia. This deal does not come as a surprise because the discussions were already not only rumored but also acknowledged publicly by Audi executives.

Now that we have a a confirmed group of buyers and a price it is time to look at the specifics of the deal and the impact of the acquisition.

A Moderate Valuation Far away from Silicon Valley’s Hype

The first thing to be considered is the valuation of HERE in the deal. The total consideration for the deal is €2.8 Billion, however the real value paid by the premium German car makers is €2.5 Billion.

Nokia indeed stated the following: “Upon closing, Nokia estimates that it will receive net proceeds of slightly above EUR 2.5 billion, as the purchaser would be compensated for certain defined liabilities of HERE currently expected to be slightly below EUR 300 million as part of the transaction.“

The previous valuation of the business was made by Nokia in October 2014 for a financial purpose (read here) and was €2 billion. a 20 percent premium over that price but nothing more.

No Bidding War

So, where are the rumored bids from Baidu, Uber, etc… today? Nowhere…

This confirmed our assumption (read here) that the supposed bidding war for HERE was just made of smoke and mirrors with leaks carefully spread by talented Nokia people to the business media eager to write stories without much information (and sometimes real nonsense).

It does not mean that mobile and web companies are not interested in maps but they likely prefer to license it from the current vendors, use free data from Openstreetmap or build their own databases on purpose as Apple and Uber (with smaller acquisitions) are doing today.

Unlike in 2007 where map companies’ valuations reached their peak (€5.3 billion for NAVTEQ), this time we have a normal deal.

This obviously does not undermine the true value of HERE that posted last year a revenue of more than €960 million. In 2015 this revenue will be in excess of one billion and the operating margin between 9 percent and 12 percent (up from 7 percent last year). More than 60 percent of this revenue is made of automotive licenses that are growing fast (read here).


Uber Acquires Geo Imagery Team & Assets from Microsoft

Uber and Microsoft have confirmed a deal where the transportation company is acquiring a Microsoft team known as BIT (Bing Imagery Technologies) based in Boulder, Colorado.

The team that seemed to have around 100 employees was focussing on aerial, oblique and street side images as well as indoor maps and Digital Elevation Model for Bing maps.

This Microsoft group also leveraged a large scale private data center with “over 80,000 cores and 350+ petabytes of redundant storage,“ according to our investigations.

Slowly but surely Microsoft has outsourced its Bing Maps technology to Nokia Here in the most recent years so there was no point in keeping the imagery production internally while the map layer was already outsourced.

With the acquisition of deCarta in February 2015 (read here) and the hiring of Brian McClendon from Google this month (read here), Uber is ramping up its activities in map making.

However, with this acquisition it is unlikely that a bid for Here will happen, Uber seems to be more focussed on acquiring selective map technologies rather than a full scale map provider.

Intel Acquired Smart Eyewear Maker Recon Instruments

Last week Intel announced the acquisition of Recon Instruments, a Canadian company that sell smart glasses dedicated to sport people, and already raised funds from Intel Capital in September 2013.

In total the company raised $17 million over three rounds and the acquisition is said to be upwards of $175 million.

“This acquisition gives Intel a talented, experienced wearable computing team that will help us expand the market for head mounted display products and technologies,“ wrote Josh Walden, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s New Technology Group.

“Customers and retailers of Recon products can rest assured they’ll continue selling, enhancing and marketing their products under the Recon brand without disruption,“ he added.

Recon was founded early 2008. It glasses offers athletes the opportunity to see important information (speed, distance, heart rate, etc.) with just a glance to a small screen located under the line of sight.

In the past Recon offered its technology in partnership with ski Goggles companies, then in April 2015 The company started to sell their Jet eyewear ($699) that targets runners and cyclists (read here).

It will be interesting to see how a consumer-facing company such as Recon will survive in the arms of a big B2B company such as Intel. One could only remember Telmap which was acquired by Intel in 2011 to be shut down less than 2 years later (read here).