Metropolis is a new Los Angeles-based startup that’s looking to compete with BMW-owned ParkMobile for a slice of the automated parking lot management market.
Upgrading ParkMobile’s license plate-based service with a computer vision based system that recognizes cars as they enter and leave garages has been Metropolis’ mission since founder and chief executive Alex Israel first formed the business back in 2017.
Israel, a serial entrepreneur, has spent decades thinking about parking. His last company, ParkMe, was sold to Inrix back in 2015. And it was with those earnings and experience that Israel went back to the drawing board to develop a new kind of parking payment and management service.
Now, the company is ready for its closeup, announcing not only its launch, but $41 million in financing the company raised from investors including the real estate managers Starwood and RXR Realty; Dick Costolo’s 01 Advisors; Dragoneer; former Facebook employees Sam Lessin and Kevin Colleran’s Slow Ventures; Dan Doctoroff, the head of Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs initiative; and NBA All star and early stage investor, Baron Davis.
According to Alex Israel, the parking payment application is the foundation for a bigger business empire that hopes to reimagine parking spaces as hubs for a broad array of urban mobility services.
In this, the company’s goals aren’t dissimilar from the Florida-based startup, REEF, which has its own spin on what to do with the existing infrastructure and footprint created by urban parking spaces. And REEF’s $700 million round of funding from last year shows there’s a lot of money to be made — or at least spent — in a parking lot.
Unlike REEF, Metropolis will remain focused on mobility, according to Israel. “How does parking change over the next 20 years as mobility shifts?” he asked. And he’s hoping that Metropolis will provide an answer.
The company is hoping to use its latest funding to expand its footprint to over 600 locations over the course of the next year. In all, Metropolis has raised $60 million since it was formed back in 2017.
While the computer vision and machine learning technology will serve as the company’s beachhead into parking lots, services like cleaning, charging, storage and logistics could all be part and parcel of the Metropolis offering going forward, Israel said. “We become the integrator [and] we also in some cases become the direct service provider,” Israel said.
The company already has 10,000 parking spots that it’s managing for big real estate owners, and Israel expects more property managers to flood to its service.
“[Big property owners] are not thinking about the infrastructure requirements that allow for the seamless access to these facilities,” Israel said. His technology can allow buildings to capture more value through other services like dynamic pricing and yield optimization as well.
“Metropolis is finding the highest and best use whether that be scooter charging, scooter storage, fleet storage, fleet logistics, or sorting,” Israel said.