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Cars and trucks drive along the Cross Bronx Expressway, a notorious section of highway in New York City that is often clogged with traffic and contributing to pollution and poor air quality in New York City, November 16, 2021.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

In this weekly series, CNBC takes a look at the companies that made the inaugural Disruptor 50 list 10 years later.

Transportation has been a big part of the CNBC Disruptor 50 list since its inception in 2013, and some of the original transportation disruptors have become household names.

This includes Waze – an Israeli GPS start-up with less brand recognition in the US than Garmin or TomTom at the time – which was acquired by Google for more than $1 billion and has long been driven by the speeding ticket of the driving public. The key to escape has to be and knowledge of the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts. Uber, which has undeniably changed basic ideas about urban mobility, despite its stock struggles. and SpaceX, which is taking transportation disruption to its most ambitious end.

But while another name on that original D50 list is less well-known to the public, it’s an important link in planning for the future of transportation: Inrix.

The company, which is now nearly two decades old (it was founded in 2004), remains under the radar, but its reach is growing in understanding the complexities and challenges in transportation. TomTom is still a competitor. When Inrix, based outside Seattle in Kirkland, Washington, launched, a key issue was that the world still relied on helicopters to monitor traffic. “It was the state of the art to figure out what was going on,” says Brian Mistel, CEO and co-founder, and a former Microsoft and Ford executive.

Now Inrix, which operates in more than 60 countries and several hundred cities, collects aggregated, anonymized data from 500 million vehicles, mobile devices, mobile apps, parking lot operators, mobile carriers and smart meters, all in real time, Covers both the consumer and the Fleet vehicles, and feeding into a system that is rethinking urban mobility among public agencies and transportation planners.

This week, Apple demonstrated its CarPlay technology at WWDC, and it might be neat to have Siri adjust the temperature in your car one day, but Inrix has put city traffic climates on its to-do list. There have been many actions ranging from reducing the footprint. Through means including optimizing traffic signal timing, figuring out how autonomous robotaxis would work within cities, picking up and dropping passengers, and finding their own parking when needed.

The core of the company’s mission hasn’t changed: its intelligent mobility based on GPS data. Mining GPS data from cars and phones got the company off the ground and customers like IBM, Amazon and automakers. The biggest change since its early years is moving beyond core data to a software-as-a-service model, and that model is increasingly being adopted by its largest-growing customer segment: cities like New York and London. and additional geographic regions around the world, including Dubai.

Zero Crash, Zero Carbon, Zero Traffic

Inrix still works closely with a number of private sector customers, including auto giants such as BMW and GM. In fact, one of its most recent deals with GM is a cloud-based software venture that overlaps with one of the biggest goals of public sector agencies: reducing accidents and fatalities. Inrix and GM are using data from GM vehicles on air bag deployment, hard braking and seatbelt use, as well as data from the U.S. Census, as part of a data dashboard for city planners with a “Vision Zero” goal. There is no road accident as well.

“Accidents kill 1.3 million people annually,” Mistel said.

These numbers have been increasing in recent years, especially in the US. set a record in 2021,

The recent passage of a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law (BIL) includes nearly $5 billion in discretionary funding as part of the Safer Roads and Roads for All grant program, which will help the public sector tackle the issue. .

“Roadway Analytics is a big area of ​​revenue growth,” Mistel said. “The infrastructure bill is draining a huge amount of money into the public sector,” he said.

Traffic data software-as-a-service now accounts for 30% of the company’s total business and is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 40%.

The “zero” vision also overlaps with the goal of making transportation carbon neutral and reducing the number of accidents, eventually through autonomous vehicle use.

About a year ago, Inrix launched a traffic signal timing product that has demonstrated a 7% reduction in congestion in pilot cities like Austin, Texas by “doing nothing but optimizing the traffic signal,” Mistel said. . The Florida Department of Transportation has also embraced the technology. “Every second of delay is 800,000 tons of carbon, or 175,000 vehicles,” he said.

While full self-driving and autonomous urban mobility has made slow progress compared to most ambitious forecasts, it is moving forward and just last week GM’s Cruise self-driving robotics business got approval in San Francisco.

“We are big believers in ‘ACES,'” Mistel said, referring to the “autonomous, connected, electric, shared” vehicles. The move to a mobility-as-a-service model will be increasingly linked to the rise of autonomous transport. “In most urban areas, instead of driving in a city and parking for eight hours, you will see mobility delivered as a service and shared,” he said. “How do you do it? By making the vehicles better informed,” he said.

They believe ‘ACES’ and robotaxis will make transportation safer, but that they will need to acquire data on everything from road closures to parking dropoff areas. “We do meter by meter mapping of these urban areas… Curbside management will become more complex,” he said.

According to Mistel, even though there is always a lot of hype with new technology and a period of “getting back to reality”, progress made by companies that includes Cruise and Waymo in the robotics space and Nuro in robo-delivery Consumer goods such as pizza, deployments in cities now, and increased production of autonomous vehicles led them to believe that this would be the transportation model in use in most of the top urban areas in the next decade.

“I don’t think we’ll see it widespread across the US, in rural areas, where there are no needs or use cases. But moving to EVs and autonomous, and more mobility as a service will be widespread,” he said.

More Coverage of 2022 CNBC Disruptor 50

There was a moment at the start of the pandemic when the world literally stopped moving that Inrix worried about his business, but that didn’t last very long. In fact, Mistel says that radical changes in mobility patterns never seen before March 2020 have increased the need for planners, whether it’s mass transit or businesses, to better understand vehicle data. for, and it was the moment of the pandemic that became crucial to its pivot. Software-as-a-service model.

As an example, he said companies in the tire sector need more than ever to analyze data on miles driven — the No. 1 variable in that space — to determine consumer demand and appropriate manufacturing levels. And in retail, companies were trying to understand traffic patterns and whether to close stores, or move stores to new locations.

There are less obvious uses of Enrix’s data, such as in financial services, where hedge funds want to know how many people visit car dealerships, what’s going on in a retail distribution center, and traffic in and out of ports, particularly. Supply chains under intense pressure during the pandemic.

The company’s growing public sector business, its private enterprise business, today has 1,300 customers, including IBM’s The Weather Channel and companies as diverse as Chick-fil-A and the auto sector.

Operating its own cash flow since the period 2005-2007, Inrix has been profitable for most of its history. “Some years of growth are better than others,” Mistel said, and customer ratios can change — new use cases are emerging during the pandemic and auto sales have declined for a few years before a major rebound. — but the company makes double-digit growth on an annual basis.

And after nearly twenty years as a private company — with its largest investors including venture capital firms Venrock, August Capital and Porsche — it nearly pulled the trigger on an initial public offering before the IPO market closed. In a recent six-month period, it had worked “very heavily” on IPO transactions and was very close to filing securities documents. “We had the ticker reserved too,” Mistel said. “We were ready to go, but after Russia invaded Ukraine, the market took a toll on us,” he said.

One of the oldest disruptors is in a holding pattern with its exit strategy for now, but Mistel said it will evaluate the market every few months.

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