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Exclusive: It's not Apple or Tesla, but Inrix has data from 500 million vehicles taking transportation into the future

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It's not Apple or Tesla, but Inrix has data from 500 million vehicles taking transportation into the future

#It039s #Apple #Tesla #Inrix #data #million #vehicles #transportation #future

Cars and trucks move along the Cross Bronx Expressway, a notorious stretch of highway in New York City that is often choked with traffic and contributes to pollution and poor air quality on November 16, 2021 in New York City.

Spencer Platt | Getty Images

In this weekly series, CNBC takes a look at companies that made the inaugural Disruptor 50 list, 10 years later.

Transportation has been a big part of the CNBC Disruptor 50 list since its inception in 2013, and some of the original transport disruptors have become household names.

This includes Waze, at that time an Israeli GPS start-up with little brand recognition in the U.S. compared to Garmin or TomTom, which was acquired by Google for over $1 billion and has long since become critical to the driving public’s avoidance of speeding tickets and knowledge of the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts. Uber, despite its stock struggles, has undeniably changed basic ideas about urban mobility. And SpaceX, which is taking transportation disruption to its most ambitious ends.

But another name on that original D50 list remains less well-known to the public, but it is a key link in planning the future of transportation: Inrix.

The company, now almost two decades old (it was founded in 2004), remains under the radar, but its reach in understanding the complexities and challenges in transportation is growing. TomTom is still a competitor, too. When Inrix, based outside Seattle in Kirkland, Washington, launched, a pressing issue was the fact that the world was still relying on helicopters to monitor traffic. “That was state of the art to figure out what was going on,” says Bryan Mistele, CEO and co-founder, and a former Microsoft and Ford executive.

Now Inrix, which operates in over 60 countries and several hundred cities, collects aggregated, anonymous data from 500 million vehicles, mobile devices, mobile apps, parking lot operators, mobile carriers and smart meters, all in real-time, covering both consumer and fleet vehicles, and feeding into a system which is finding favor among public agencies and transportation planners rethinking urban mobility. 

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This week, Apple played up its CarPlay technology at WWDC, and it might be neat to have Siri adjust the temperature in your car one day, but Inrix has on its to-do list a range of tasks from reducing the climate footprint of city traffic through means including optimization of traffic signal timing, to plotting out how autonomous robotaxis will operate within cities, picking up and dropping off passengers, and finding their own parking when needed.

The core of the company’s mission hasn’t changed: its intelligent mobility, based on GPS data. Mining GPS data from cars and phones got the company off the ground and to clients like IBM, Amazon, and automakers. The biggest changes since its early years are moving beyond the core data to a software-as-a-service model, and that model is being adopted by its biggest-growing customer segment: cities like New York and London and additional geographies around the world including Dubai.

Zero crashes, zero carbon, zero traffic

Inrix still works closely with many private sector clients, including auto giants such as BMW and GM. In fact, one of its most recent deals is a cloud-based software venture with GM that overlaps with one of the biggest goals of public sector agencies: reducing crashes and fatalities. Inrix and GM are using data from GM vehicles on air bag deployments, hard braking and seatbelt usage, as well as from the U.S. Census, as part of a data dashboard for city planners with a “Vision Zero” goal of no road fatalities.

“There are 1.3 million people killed annually in crashes,” Mistele said.

Those numbers have been rising in recent years, too, specifically in the U.S., with a record set in 2021.

The recent passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) includes roughly $5 billion in discretionary funds as part of the Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program, which will help the public sector tackle the issue. 

“Roadway analytics are a big area of revenue growth,” Mistele said. “There is an enormous amount of money flowing into the public sector from the infrastructure bill,” he said.

Traffic data software-as-a-service is now as much as 30% of the company’s overall business and growing at a compound annual growth rate of 40%.

The “zero” vision also overlaps with the goal of making transportation carbon neutral and reducing the number of accidents, ultimately through autonomous vehicle use.

About a year ago, Inrix launched a traffic signal timing product, which in pilot cities such as Austin, Texas, has demonstrated a 7% decrease in congestion “from doing nothing other than optimizing traffic signals,” Mistele said. The Florida Department of Transportation has also adopted the technology. “Every second of delay is 800,000 tons of carbon, or 175,000 vehicles,” he said. 

While full self-driving and autonomous urban mobility have progressed slower than the most ambitious forecasts, it is moving ahead and just last week GM’s Cruise self-driving robotaxi business received approval in San Francisco.

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“We are big believers in ‘ACES,’” Mistele said, referring to “autonomous, connected, electric, shared” vehicles. Moving to a mobility-as-a-service model will become increasingly linked to the rise of autonomous transportation. “Instead of driving into a city and parking for eight hours, in most urban areas you will see mobility delivered as a service and shared,” he said. “How do you make it happen? By giving vehicles better information,” he added.

He is a believer that ‘ACES’ and robotaxis will make transportation safer, but that will require them receiving data on everything from road closures to parking dropoff areas. “We do meter by meter mapping of these urban areas … curbside management will get more complex,” he said.

According to Mistele, even though there is always lots of hype with new technology and a “coming back to reality” period, the progress made by companies including Cruise and Waymo in the robotaxi space and Nuro in robo-delivery of consumer goods like pizza, the deployments taking place now in cities, and the growing production of autonomous vehicles, leads him to believe that over the next decade this will be a transportation model in use in most of the top urban areas.

“I don’t think we will see it pervasive across the entire U.S., in rural areas where there is no need or use cases. But EVs and autonomous, and moving more to mobility-as-a-service will be pervasive,” he said.

More coverage of the 2022 CNBC Disruptor 50

There was a moment early on in the pandemic when the world literally stopped moving that Inrix had a worry about its business, but that didn’t last very long. In fact, Mistele says the radical changes in mobility patterns never seen before March 2020 have increased the need for planners, whether in mass transit or business, to better understand vehicle data, and it was the pandemic moment that became critical to its pivot to a software-as-a-service model.

As one example, he said companies in the tire sector needed more than ever before to analyze data on miles driven — the No. 1 variable in that niche — to determine consumer demand and appropriate manufacturing levels. And in the retail sector, companies were trying to understand traffic patterns and whether to close stores, or move stores to new locations.

Inrix’s data has less obvious uses as well, such as in financial services, where hedge funds want to know how many people visit a car dealership, what’s going on at a retail distribution center, and the traffic into and out of ports, especially with the supply chain under intense pressure during the pandemic.

The company has 1,300 customers today across its growing public sector business, its private enterprise business, which includes companies as diverse as IBM’s The Weather Channel and Chick-fil-A, and the auto sector.

Inrix has been profitable for most of its history, operating off of its own cash flow since the 2005-2007 period. “Some years growth is better than others,” Mistele said, and the customer ratio can change — with new use cases emerging during the pandemic and auto sales dipping for a few years before a big rebound — but the company does double-digit growth on an annual basis.

And after almost twenty years as a private company — with it largest investors including venture capital firm Venrock, August Capital, and Porsche — it almost pulled the trigger on an initial public offer before the market for IPOs closed. Over a recent period of six months, it had worked “very heavily” on an IPO transaction and was very close to filing the securities documents. “We even had the ticker reserved,” Mistele said. “We were ready to go, but the market tanked on us after Russia invaded Ukraine,” he said.

One of the oldest Disruptors is in a holding pattern for now with its exit strategy, but Mistele said it will be evaluating the market every few months.

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Exclusive: Spirit delays shareholder vote on merger hours before meeting to continue deal talks with Frontier, JetBlue – TalkOfNews.com

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Spirit Airlines says it will decide on competing JetBlue, Frontier bids before the end of June

#Spirit #delays #shareholder #vote #merger #hours #meeting #continue #deal #talks #Frontier #JetBlue

A Spirit Airlines plane on the tarmac at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on February 07, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Spirit Airlines on Wednesday delayed shareholder vote on its proposed merger with Frontier Airlines until July 8, hours before a meeting scheduled for Thursday so it can further discuss options with Frontier and rival suitor JetBlue Airways.

It is the second time Spirit has delayed a vote on its planned combination with Frontier and extends the most contentious battle for a U.S. airline in years.

Spirit originally scheduled Thursday’s vote for June 10 but had delayed that for the same reasons.

Both Frontier and JetBlue have upped their offers in the week before the scheduled vote approached.

“Spirit would not have postponed tomorrow’s meeting if they felt they had the votes,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry consultant and president of Atmosphere Research Group. Spirit didn’t comment on whether that is the case.

“We compliment the Spirit Board for listening to their shareholders, who clearly were not supportive of the Frontier transaction, and adjourning the Special Meeting,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a statement later Wednesday.

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“It’s clear that Spirit shareholders have now handed the Spirit Board an undeniable mandate to reach an agreement with JetBlue.”

“This is like the end of a soap opera episode,” Harteveldt added.

Frontier and Spirit first announced their intent to merge in February. In April, JetBlue made an all-cash, surprise bid for Spirit, but Spirit’s board has repeatedly rejected JetBlue’s offers, arguing a JetBlue takeover wouldn’t pass muster with regulators.

Either combination would create the United States’ fifth-largest carrier.

JetBlue has fired back at Spirit, saying it did not negotiate in good faith, setting off a war of words between the airlines as they competed for shareholder support ahead of the vote.

Frontier didn’t immediately comment about the postponed vote.

Spirit shares were up about 2% in afterhours trading, while Frontier was up more than 1% and JetBlue was down 1%.

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Exclusive: Get hype for the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope – TalkOfNews.com

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Get hype for the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

#hype #images #NASAs #James #Webb #Space #Telescope

Very soon, humanity will get to view the deepest images of the universe that have ever been captured. In two weeks, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) — NASA’s super expensive, super powerful deep space optical imager — will release its first full-color images, and agency officials today suggested that they could just be the beginning.

“This is farther than humanity has ever looked before,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during a media briefing Wednesday (he was calling in, as he had tested positive for COVID-19 the night before). “We’re only beginning to understand what Webb can and will do.”

NASA launched James Webb last December; ever since, it’s been conducting a specialized startup process that involves delicately tuning all 18 of its huge mirror segments. A few months ago, NASA shared a “selfie” marking the successful operations of the IR camera and primary mirrors. Earlier this month, the agency said the telescope’s first images will be ready for public debut at 10:30 AM ET on July 12.

One aspect of the universe that JWST will unveil is exoplanets, or planets outside our Solar System — specifically, their atmospheres. This is key to understanding whether there are other planets similar to ours in the universe, or if life can be found on planets under atmospheric conditions that differ from those found on Earth. And Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, confirmed that images of an exoplanet’s atmospheric spectrum will be shared with the public on July 12.

Essentially, James Webb’s extraordinary capacity to capture the infrared spectrum means that it will be able to detect small molecules like carbon dioxide. This will enable scientists to actually examine whether and how atmospheric compositions shape the capacity for life to emerge and develop on a planet.

NASA officials also shared more good news: The agency’s estimates of the excess fuel capability of the telescope were spot on, and JWST will be able to capture images of space for around 20 years.

“Not only will those 20 years allow us to go deeper into history and time, but we will go deeper into science because we will have the opportunity to learn and grow and make new observations,” NASA deputy administrator Pam Melroy said.

JWST has not had an easy ride to deep space. The entire project came very close to not happening at all, Nelson said, after it started running out of money and Congress considered canceling it entirely. It also faced numerous delays due to technical issues. Then, when it reached space, it was promptly pinged by a micrometeoroid, an event that surely made every NASA official shudder.

But overall, “it’s been an amazing six months,” Webb project manager Bill Ochs confirmed.

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Exclusive: Fight for Spirit Airlines goes down to the wire with competing bids from Frontier and JetBlue – TalkOfNews.com

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Fight for Spirit Airlines goes down to the wire with competing bids from Frontier and JetBlue

#Fight #Spirit #Airlines #wire #competing #bids #Frontier #JetBlue

The most heated airline battle in recent years comes to a head on Thursday when Spirit Airlines’ shareholders vote on a proposed tie-up with fellow discount carrier Frontier Airlines while rival suitor JetBlue Airways circles with increasingly sweetened takeover bids.

Spirit has repeatedly rebuffed sweetened, all-cash bids from JetBlue, arguing that such a takeover wouldn’t pass muster with regulators, and has stuck with its plan to combine in an also-sweetened cash-and-stock deal to combine with Frontier, first announced in February.

JetBlue’s surprise all-cash bid in April set off a fight over Spirit that last month turned hostile.

If Spirit shareholders vote in favor of the tie-up with Frontier, it would put the carriers on the path to creating a budget airline behemoth. The two carriers share a similar business model based on low fares and fees for almost everything else from seat selection to carry-on bags.

A Frontier Airlines plane near a Spirit Airlines plane at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on May 16, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

If shareholders vote against the deal it opens the door for a takeover by JetBlue, which would retrofit Spirit’s yellow planes to look like JetBlue’s, including cabins with seatback screens and more legroom.

“JetBlue does not have many options to achieve a step-change in growth, and that explains why JetBlue has pursued this deal so doggedly,” said Samuel Engel, aviation consultant at ICF.

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JetBlue and Frontier have each argued their proposed transactions are key to their future growth, helping them better compete with large U.S. carriers and get fast access to Airbus narrow-body planes and pilots.

Either deal would create the fifth-largest U.S. airline.

Late Monday, JetBlue said it would raise the reverse breakup fee if regulators don’t approve a JetBlue takeover of Spirit to $400 million from $350 million. It also raised the amount it would pay up in advance to $2.50 a share, from $1.50 and added a 10 cent-a-share monthly payment to shareholders starting next year until the deal is consummated or terminated.

JetBlue previously offered to divest some assets in crowded markets to calm antitrust fears, but hasn’t said it would give up its alliance with American Airlines in the Northeast U.S., which Spirit has called out as a sticking point in that deal.

JetBlue’s latest offer came after Frontier late Friday raised the cash portion of its offer by $2 per share to $4.13 and increased the reverse breakup fee to $350 million to match JetBlue’s then-offer.

Spirit has stuck with the Frontier deal. CEO Ted Christie on Tuesday called the Frontier offer “very compelling” and told CNBC the airline wants to “focus our efforts on convincing the shareholders it’s the right thing to do.”

Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services on Tuesday said that “the enhancements by JetBlue may be enough to offset the potential upside of the proposed merger with Frontier” but said it didn’t want to change its recommendation in favor of the deal with so little time before the vote.

Spirit postponed the vote from June 10 to continue deal talks with Frontier and JetBlue.

War of words

For weeks, JetBlue has argued that Spirit’s board hasn’t negotiated in good faith or fully considered its offer. It has repeatedly urged the budget airline’s shareholders to vote against the Frontier deal.

“The Spirit Board consistently ignored or refused to engage with JetBlue until faced with certain defeat on the original shareholder meeting date and then, in an attempt to avoid the widespread perception of its poor corporate governance, pretended to engage with JetBlue,” JetBlue said in a letter Wednesday again urging Spirit shareholders to vote against the Frontier deal.

Spirit has repeatedly denied claims that it hasn’t engaged with JetBlue in good faith.

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“Our board believes [the Frontier merger] is the most financially and strategically compelling path forward for Spirit with a greater likelihood of closing,” Christie said in a video message addressing shareholders on Wednesday.

All three carriers have traded heated words as they try to win over Spirit shareholders before the shareholder vote.

JetBlue late Monday wrote a letter to Spirit shareholders detailing its latest sweetened bid and accusing Spirit of making “misleading statements” regarding its antitrust doubts.

Frontier fired back in a lengthy news release Tuesday saying that “a Spirit acquisition by JetBlue would lead to a dead end — a fact that no amount of money, bluster, or misdirection will change.”

The high drama is coming from an already-consolidated industry that hasn’t seen a major airline deal since 2016, when JetBlue lost out to Alaska Airlines for Virgin America.

“This is as much as a potboiler for the summer than any trashy novel,” said Henry Harteveldt, a former airline manager and president of of Atmosphere Research Group.

High regulatory bar

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