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November 4, 2021

While services like Uber built businesses that compete with cities’ transportation networks, Via sees a lucrative niche catering to—and working with—municipalities.

Daniel Ramot has the kind of marquee education—degrees in math, physics and electrical engineering, capped by a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford—that readies people for careers in science, medicine, tech or AI.

“mother says, ‘With all this education, you ended up a taxi dispatcher?’ And We always say, ‘No, I’m not. I’m actually a bus dispatcher,’” he jokes. A decade ago, Ramot and longtime friend Oren Shoval, who has a Ph.D. in systems biology, opted to shelve their academic specialties in favor of creating a company aimed at reinventing a deeply unsexy industry: public transportation.

So while Uber burst onto the scene just a few years earlier with the aim of disrupting city transportation, New York-based Via set out to work alongside municipalities and within existing infrastructure. The result: Via now works with cities including Miami, Jersey City, Los Angeles, Winnipeg and Arlington, Texas, providing a software platform for on-demand “microtransit” van rides, paratransit services, route-planning, driver scheduling, smartphone apps and other tools that can help beleaguered urban transit systems lure commuters back. The company’s client list includes more than 500 transportation agencies in 35 countries, and its software powers ride services for the elderly, people with limited mobility, schools and colleges and vanpools for corporate customers.

The closely held company has raised $650 million, including $60 million in March, from industrial giants like Shell and Ferrari parent Exor, along with numerous venture funds. (Porsche is also an indirect investor through Via’s acquisition of Fleetonomy.) It is now worth $2.9 billion, according to Pitchbook. Annual revenue was $225 million in 2019, the only year for which data is available, Pitchbook says. The vast majority of that is from transit agencies and municipal governments, according to Ramot.

Read the full story on Forbes: forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2021/09/30/how-this-shell-backed-unicorn-is-rewiring-transit-in-key-cities-like-miami-and-los-angeles/?sh=28244ad053c2

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