When one refers to a Unicorn today, its not a mythical horse, but a high tech startup that is now worth over a $billion. It seems we have one of these creatures in the parking industry.
Startup (well five year old) ParkJockey has wowed Japan’s Softbank and along with Mubadala Capital and has received funding of about $800 million. They have used the money to buy Impark and Citizens Parking thus bringing their value up to in excess of $1 billion. And a Unicorn is born.
I reached out to ParkJockey co founder Ari Ojalvo to talk about all this and he begged off, noting that he was uber busy right now and saying he would love to have an interview after the first of the year. I completely understand. If I got a Christmas present like that one, I would be a bit busy, too.
This is consolidation on a grand scale. Two major parking operators with a total of nearly 4500 locations being rolled together by a company that has technology that can, ostensibly, change the way garages are managed. ParkJockey not only has an app for parkers to use for reservations and to gain access to the garage, but also the software to enable garage management to reduce staff and provide data to bring a new look to garages nationwide. And they don’t have to convince an operator or owner to try their product, they can simply install it in their own locations and go from there.
I know I have greatly simplified this all in the last graph, and will learn more when I speak to Ari, but I think I’m close.
I have received a number of calls from operators across the fruited plain asking about ParkJockey. Who are they? What does their software do? Yikes, are we prey?
I hope to have some answers next month.
In the meantime, what does having a “unicorn” appear in our fantasy world mean? My best guess is that we will see more of this. We have already seen funds pour tens of millions into existing companies and those companies using that money to buy competitors and tangential businesses (can you say Passport, Parkwhiz, and T2). Plus we have PaybyPhone and ParkMobile owned by major multi nationals. This isn’t your grandfather’s parking industry any more.
This means there is big money around. And when there is big money, it tends to be spent on acquisitions. That’s the way to grow quickly, and venture money thrives on quick growth.
I don’t know what kind of sounds Unicorns make, but I doubt it it’s a quiet ‘whinny.”
2019 will tell.