Tuesday 22 August 2017

Cubic Telecom raises $40m as investors back driverless cars

Funding will allow mobile tech company to expand as its value hits $200m

'Privately-held Cubic has previously raised $37.1m in funding from car manufacturer Audi, the chip manufacturer Qualcomm and Sierra Wireless, among others.' (stock image)
'Privately-held Cubic has previously raised $37.1m in funding from car manufacturer Audi, the chip manufacturer Qualcomm and Sierra Wireless, among others.' (stock image)

Fearghal O'Connor

Mobile-technology firm Cubic Telecom is set to announce that it has raised as much as $40m (€35m) in a new funding round.

The five-year-old Dublin-based company, which its chief executive, Barry Napier, has said is now valued at $200m, is developing network and software systems that allow cars to communicate reliably with networks.

The innovative technology is seen as crucial to the safe operation of autonomous vehicles - or driverless cars - because it ensures that their connection to the network is constant. Privately-held Cubic has previously raised $37.1m in funding from car manufacturer Audi, the chip manufacturer Qualcomm and Sierra Wireless, among others.

But the new funding round, which is set to be completed within weeks, will double that and allow the Irish company to expand.

"I've raised just shy of $40m so far and I'll announce another $40m in the next three weeks," said Napier at a recent event.

When contacted, the company confirmed that it was "currently in the process of completing another funding round for the entire Cubic business" but added that it could not comment on the details of this investment.

Napier said that less than five years after the business was founded it was now valued at $200m.

Cubic announced plans last year to almost double its workforce in Sandyford, Dublin to 140. Its client base includes some of the biggest names in the technology, auto and telecommunications sectors, including Microsoft, Qualcomm, Vodafone, AT&T, Volkswagen and Audi.

Cubic's system means car manufacturers do not have to rely on many different mobile networks for connectivity.

"The big challenge for us was to get into the auto-manufacturing market," said Napier. "They are metal press companies that are 100 or 120 years old.

"You've a kid from Dublin, walking in with a load of techies, saying, 'We can solve all of your issues'. So we've had a massive challenge."

A major breakthrough came in 2014 when Cubic completed a deal with Elon Musk that saw its system being used in all 7,500 Tesla vehicles sold in China. It has also carried out as much as 150,000km of cross-border testing with Volkswagen and Audi vehicles.

Napier predicted that it would be a decade before autonomous vehicles were widely available but said the likes of Uber, GoCar or MyTaxi could be using them within five to seven years, depending on government regulation.

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