DriveNow, the car-sharing company owned by BMW, is one service that could end up using RideCell's mobility platform.
Courtesy of DriveNow

The automaker is increasingly experimenting beyond its roots.

By Kirsten Korosec
April 7, 2016

RideCell, a transportation software startup, has raised $11.7 million in new funding led by automaker BMW’s venture capital arm.

The deal, announced Wednesday followed by the financial details today, is another example of how BMW is interested in technology beyond its auto-making roots. It also reflects a broader industry-wide push to experiment with new technologies to counter the potential for Uber and self-driving cars to depress car sales.

RideCell’s software helps companies, mass transit agencies, and car sharing services manage their vehicles. Customers include transit agency Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority in Silicon Valley, University of California at Berkeley, and University of Southern California as well as corporate clients like 3M.

BMW i Ventures’ investment in RideCell comes as its parent, BMW, continues to scale up its DriveNow car-sharing service. DriveNow, which has nearly 580,000 registered users most of which are in five German cities, is a joint venture between BMW Group and Sixt SE. The service was briefly available in San Francisco, but it eventually suspended service there in November.

BMW i Ventures’ investment in RideCell is a Series A round. Also participating in the round were Khosla Ventures along with angel investors including Michael Granoff of Maniv Investments; Gokul Rajaram who is product engineering lead at Square, Mehul Nariyawala of Nest, Navneet Dalal of Google, and Mark Platshon, a senior advisor to BMW i Ventures and head of his own venture firm, Icebreaker Venture.

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The funds will be used to grow the startup’s engineering, data science, product, marketing, and sales teams, RideCell CEO Aarjav Trivedi told Fortune.

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