Kirkland-based Inrix, a traffic-mapping company, has secured close to $55 million in funding from one of the top names in the automotive industry: Porsche.
The money will allow Inrix to cash out some early investors and continue to develop traffic-information and driver-service technologies, the company announced Friday.
The deal is Germany-based Porsche Automobil Holding SE’s first step toward creating a portfolio of investments to complement its existing shareholdings in Volkswagen AG.
“Connectivity between cars and infrastructure is one of the important megatrends in the automotive industry,” Philipp von Hagen, the Porsche SE board member responsible for investment management, said in a statement. “The need for traffic-related information and data-driven solutions is therefore growing fast.”
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Bloomberg reported that Porsche SE said earlier this year it plans to spend the bulk of its cash pile, which stood at 2.54 billion euros ($3.3 billion) at the end of the June, on acquisitions.
Porsche SE’s investment gives it about a 10 percent ownership stake in Inrix, and Friday’s announcement marks the first time in Inrix’s nine-year history the company has announced its valuation: about $550 million.
“Porsche is publicly traded, and under German law certain things have to be disclosed,” said Bryan Mistele, president and chief executive of Inrix. “We knew this would become public, but more than half a billion valuation for our company is a good price, and we are looking forward to growing.”
Inrix, which spun out of Microsoft’s advanced research group in 2005, generates traffic information from monitoring more than 175 million vehicles and devices. The company provides real-time traffic data for more than 4 million miles of roads in 40 countries.
The company has continued to add new services to supplement its main real-time traffic-data business, including helping drivers navigate through traffic, find the closest, least expensive fuel and available parking, and locate charging stations for electric cars.
Some of the automakers using Inrix data are Audi, Toyota, Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen.
In connection with the Porsche’s investment, von Hagen will join the Inrix board of directors.
Previously, Inrix had raised $37 million in venture funding, but CEO Mistele said the company has been using its own growth the past few years to expand, including hiring 50 new employees last year.
The company now has 350 full-time employees, the majority of whom are in Kirkland.
Mistele said the company hopes to add 50 more over the next year.