After disrupting the commercial office space marketplace through massive investments in co-working giant WeWork, Masayoshi Son-led Japanese SoftBank Group is now capitalizing on another under-utilized asset in the commercial real estate sector- parking spaces. And get ready–the way we park is about to get a whole lot smarter.
SoftBank Group recently invested in U.S.-based ParkJockey, a fully integrated parking technology solutions provider, bringing its valuation to more than $1 billion.
“The parking industry is a significant market but remains fragmented with many opportunities for technological innovation,” stated Michael Ronen, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a press release.
The move seems to be the next evolution of SoftBank’s tried and tested investments in mobility, real estate and sharing economy unicorns after the success of WeWork, Uber and others.
“Human mobility, however, is undergoing huge secular change, and there is demand for new driver services, refueling, parking and vehicle staging near key high-traffic locations.,” stated Ronen who added that ParkJockey is ideally placed to transform the industry by creating significant value for consumers and real estate owners alike.
The Miami-based startup, which raised between $800 million and $1 billion from SoftBank, according to Axios, enables drivers to find spots and book them through its app while partnering with property owners to help them improve the performance of their real estate garages and lots.
“ParkJockey’s technology enables property owners to better serve their consumers and improve the performance of their real estate assets,” said Ari Ojalvo, CEO of ParkJockey.
According to a recent report by Frost & Sullivan, the parking industry, worth more than $100 billion worldwide, continues to be highly inefficient and underutilized with two-thirds of revenue coming from garages and lots owned by private enterprises, commercial real estate developers and REITs.
ParkJockey, a relatively new player in the parking app marketplace with less than 3,000 downloads monthly and 50 employees, must have been doing something right on the tech-side because SoftBank gave it cash to buy out two of its biggest rivals, Impark, which operates 3600 parking facilities in 330 cities, and Lanier, which runs more than 1,000 garages in 20 US cities.
“This acquisition will create growth opportunities for our real estate partners, our clients and our employees as urban mobility and infrastructure develop in the coming years,” said Ajalvo
SoftBank’s reported investment comes less than six months after the launch of their new app, BLUU Smart Parking, which has been helping drivers to find and reserve spots across Japan since July.