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You like to Moovit? Intel snaps up Israeli mobility startup for rumoured $1bn as part of expensive mobility push

Autonomous cars: hardware helps but you can't beat data

Intel is being linked with the takeover of Israeli public transit startup Moovit for a cool $1bn, in order to beef up its portfolio in the mobility and transportation markets.

Talk of the Chipzilla deal began circulating on Sunday - the start of the Israeli working week. According to local Hebrew-language business paper The Marker, both firms have been in negotiations for six months.

"Being part of Intel, Mobileye, and the broader Intel family will allow us to offer new and innovative solutions for the benefit of citizens and cities, accelerate our joint plans to bring Mobility-as-a-Service to every city and citizen around the world," said Moovit's CEO Nir Erez on Monday.

"To emphasize how strategic this transaction is to Intel and Mobileye, I will be appointed as an Executive Vice President at Mobileye and a VP at Intel Corp, while keeping my role as Moovit CEO."

The deal has many of the elements of an acqui-hire, with 10 per cent of the purchase price to be shared amongst its employees as a retention package. Moovit's website claims it has over 210 employees, with the bulk located in its headquarters, based in the small city of Ness Ziona, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

Moovit also has smaller satellite offices, including ones in San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, London, Sydney, and Istanbul.

Founded in 2012, Moovit has created an app that provides public transportation data to users, based on information obtained from providers themselves, as well as crowdsourced intelligence. It also licenses its data to third parties, including Uber and Lyft, Waze, and Microsoft.

So far, Moovit has received over $131.5m in funding. Its last round — a series D led by Intel Capital — was in 2018, and saw the company raise $50m for a valuation north of $500m.

This wouldn't be Intel's first foray into the transportation sector. In 2017, it acquired Mobileye, a startup that builds tech for self-driving cars, for $15.3bn. This was, and remains, the largest purchase in Israeli startup history.

Moovit's product gives a broader picture of a city's transportation, providing real-time information on buses and trams to the user. Mobileye is focused on the here-and-now, with chips and algorithms that are intended to avoid collisions and direct vehicles through dense traffic.

All car sales, including those of an autonomous flavour, are suffering in the current climate, but Intel is looking toward calmer years when the crisis may be but a distant memory. ®

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