- Startup Metropolis Technologies, which uses artificial intelligence and computer vision to facilitate payments for parking and other purchases, has raised $167 million in funding, the Los Angeles-based company announced today. The company wouldn’t share its valuation.
- Investors 3L Capital and Assembly Ventures co-led the funding round, per a news release. Dragoneer Investment Group, Eldridge Industries, Silver Lake Waterman and UP Partners also participated. Metropolis has now raised $226 million since its 2017 founding.
- With the capital, Metropolis is focused on amassing more users and operating at more locations across the U.S., said CEO and Co-founder Alex Israel. “Our goal is to fan that flame right now,” he said. Currently, the company has two million users in 60 markets.
Metropolis aims to bring the evolution that e-commerce payments have seen to in-person transactions, like parking, that remain “hopelessly analog,” Israel said. The U.S. parking payments market is about a $131 billion opportunity, Israel said. And that's the company’s primary business at the moment, he said, noting the idea is “drive-in, drive-out commerce."
“At our base, we’re a mobility commerce company,” said Israel, a serial entrepreneur who founded Metropolis with Travis Kell, Courtney Fukuda and Peter Fisher. Prior to Metropolis, Israel co-founded another parking startup, ParkMe, which was sold to Inrix in 2015.
At a parking garage, Metropolis’s mounted computer vision technology recognizes a user’s license plate, prompting text messages. “You pull into a parking facility, you get a text message welcoming you back, and when you go to leave, you’re automatically charged with a text message with your receipt in your phone,” Israel said.
Metropolis operates about 600 parking garages and lots. Users sign up online for the Metropolis web app. The current number of users is up from about 70,000 just over a year ago, Israel said.
In addition to allowing the users to pay for parking, the app connects them to promotions and discounts in the surrounding community.
The company wouldn’t share revenue figures but said the parking segment of its business is profitable, which has allowed it to re-invest in expansion and research and development. Metropolis charges the real estate asset owners it works with software subscription fees, Israel said.
Acknowledging the chill that’s set in on the startup funding market, Israel said Metropolis was not immune.
“We definitely felt it,” Israel said. The slowdown that’s resulted from those economic headwinds made fundraising harder for the company, Israel added, but “I think that it worked to our advantage” because investors are looking for “businesses that are growing very significantly that have cash flow-positive metrics,” he said.
“This capital puts us in a very healthy position to scale,” Israel said. As some companies cut employees or their growth stalls, he believes that could give Metropolis a competitive advantage when hiring.
Metropolis, which has 2,000 employees across the country, is hiring to scale its business. The company has 200 open positions currently, Israel said, and is targeting an employee count of 2,500 by the end of the year.
“Right now, everything about this capital is about growth, and everything’s about hiring for us,” said Israel.
In March, Metropolis bought Nashville-based Premier Parking. The company wouldn’t share the terms of that deal. Israel said the company will continue to be acquisitive, but he declined to elaborate.
Beyond parking, Israel said Metropolis has brought this concept to thousands of local merchants through the same computer vision technology or QR code scanning, at places like gas and electric vehicle charging stations and car wash locations. The company, which also charges those merchants a software subscription fee, wants to expand its merchant base across the country.
The goal, Israel said, is for Metropolis to seamlessly connect daily purchase experiences and cut back the frequency with which consumers have to pull out their phone or credit card to pay. Israel likened his startup’s efforts to those of digital payments company Block, given its push to evolve “real-life commerce,” he said.