Raising another $25 million for their Series B, Israeli startup otonomo is connecting your car with the world of services
Ready or not, your car is about to become the next big platform. Much like your smartphone which we only use some small percentage of the time as an actual phone, your car is about to find itself far more connected than ever before.
Automakers are loading sensors into your vehicle to assist in navigation, checking your safety features, air in your tires, infotainment, etc. Along the way, they are picking up a ton of data that can be used for valuable services.
Take for example that you want to get a discount on your insurance by showing that you are a good driver. Instead of simply not getting into accidents, insurance providers can look at how you drive, understanding from things like whether you start and stop abruptly, and other factors. Looking at data can also help the insurance companies cut down on various kinds of fraud.
There are also other third parties (other than the car maker and the driver) that could have use for vehicle data. Advertisers might want to know what kind of traffic comes near certain areas and send them messages to entice them to stop by.
So how do these companies get access to the data?
They essentially need middlemen who can responsibly transfer this data to the customers while safeguarding the driver’s’ privacy and security.
With their cloud-based platform, they have created a marketplace for this data that has a lot of service providers very excited. Co-founded in 2015 by CEO Ben Volkow and President Avner Cohen, this Israeli startup raised a $12 million Series A back in November of last year.
“Data is driving the future of the automotive industry. otonomo enables car manufacturers and ecosystem services alike to capitalize on this opportunity in order to drive new revenues and better driving experiences by enabling secure and managed access to vehicle data,” said Volkowin his statement to the press. “While we know very little about building cars, we do provide a great deal of knowledge and expertise when it comes to data and connectivity. With our connected car platform, we provide a trusted gateway between the services and third party applications drivers want, and the security the automotive industry requires.”
Now in an effort to expand their operations globally, they have picked up another $25 million for their Series B. Leading the round Delphi Automotive PLC, which was joined by existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, StageOne Ventures, and Maniv Mobility. Including their previous (Seed and Series A) rounds, this latest fuel injection of cash brings the company to a total of $40 million raised overall.
How do we feel about our cars broadcasting our data?
While notions that privacy is a dead concept may be overblown, the fact that we are increasingly putting out more data about ourselves to companies should be pretty clear to everyone at this point.
The three questions that we need to ask here are whether we are getting something of value in exchange for our data, is there transparency, and is our data being treated with respect.
In the case of our vehicle data, we need to the services that we use and the auto OEMs to give us the option to know what is being collected and where our data is going. The juice here has to be worth the squeeze.
However when it comes to the point of handling the data, I would prefer there be companies like otonomo that use best practices like proper obfuscation of customer data, keep the drivers anonymous where possible, and understand that keeping their databases secure from hackers is at the core of their business.
So far this company has shown that they have grasped these concepts firmly, and will hopefully continue to live up to them.