Motional Faces Investor Departure, Micromobility Company Bankruptcy, and Emergence of a New Mobility Startup Unicorn

Emergence of a New Mobility Startup Unicorn | Mr. Business Magazine


A notable hire at The Boring Company has caught attention as Vignesh Swaminathan, renowned as Mr. Barricade on TikTok, joins as a senior civil engineer. With a background as an urban planner, Swaminathan previously led Crossroad Labs, a Cupertino-based civil engineering design firm. The move to The Boring Company follows Crossroad Labs shutting down in January, sparking curiosity about how Swaminathan’s urban planning and bike-focused experience will contribute to the tunnel construction venture.

In the mobility sector, a new unicorn, Zūm, has emerged as a student transportation startup, securing $140 million in a Series E funding round led by GIC. Founded and led by Ritu Narayan, Zūm utilizes a blend of buses, vans, and software to offer efficient and secure routes for schoolchildren. The funding round, featuring investors like Climate Investment, Sequoia, and SoftBank Vision Fund 2, propels Zūm’s valuation to $1.3 billion. The startup, already operational in major U.S. cities, aims to transition its entire fleet to electric vehicles by 2027 while expanding its presence.

BluSmart is Smart:

In other developments, BluSmart, an Indian ride-hailing startup, secured $25 million from ResponsAbility, and Swedish electric motorcycle startup Cake filed for bankruptcy on February 1. Additionally, UK startup Kura, combining a school bus service with a safety-focused software platform, was acquired by “smart buses” startup Zeelo.

On the autonomous driving front, XPeng, a Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer, plans to introduce its advanced driving assistance tech to international markets. Meanwhile, Motional, a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv, faces changes in its relationship as Aptiv announces a halt in allocating capital to the venture.

In the electric vehicle sector, Arrival, the commercial EV startup, faces removal from the Nasdaq stock exchange. Tesla, on the other hand, settled with 25 California counties over allegations of mishandling hazardous waste, agreeing to $1.5 million in fines and a five-year injunction.

Added into the List:

The in-car tech sector witnessed Hesai, a Chinese lidar sensor maker, being added to the U.S. Department of Defense’s list of “Chinese Military Companies.” Hesai vehemently denied military ties, emphasizing civilian use only.

Elon Musk’s $56 billion pay package faced criticism as a Delaware judge ruled it unfair, potentially voiding the largest compensation deal in corporate history if the decision withstands anticipated appeals. 

Swaminathan’s transition to The Boring Company adds intrigue to Elon Musk’s tunneling venture, considering his expertise in urban planning and bikeway design. Zūm’s unicorn status, marked by a $140 million Series E funding round, reflects its success in transforming student transportation with a blend of vehicles and software. These developments, alongside other mobility sector updates, illustrate the dynamic shifts within the transportation and technology landscape.

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