April 17, 2018 — Online used vehicle retailer Carvana announced this morning it has acquired Car360, an Atlanta-based start up that developed a mobile app with one the first commercially available uses of 3D computer vision, machine learning and augmented reality technology for the automotive industry.
The acquisition adds 3D and augmented reality technology to the 360-degree digital automotive photo solution Carvana developed more than five years ago.
The Car360 platform enables interactive visualization of cars and related data. Applications include vehicle inspections, merchandising/marketing and possibly sales interaction. The app captures 240 frames per second and creates 360 degree 3D models of the vehicle and quickly uploads the images to numerous online market sites. The app uses a proprietary compression technology allowing for quick downloads.
Conversations between the companies began in October of last year during a tech conference in Atlanta. The talks quickly pivoted from Carvana licensing Car360’s technology to acquiring the platform. (We’re waiting to see the SEC filing to financial details).
Update: According to the SEC filing, Carvana paid $6.7 million in cash and another $15.2 million in stock for Car360.
“Carvana and Car360 both want to put technology in the hands of the customer so they can make one of the largest purchase decisions of their life with transparency and confidence,” Ernie Garcia, founder and CEO of Carvana, said in a press release statement. “Bringing the Car360 team into the fold, we add even more entrepreneurial strength in computer vision and AR, and further our mission to change the way people buy cars. We’re looking forward to continuing this journey together.”
Founded in 2012, Carvana (NYSE: CVNA) completed an IPO last year. The online platform lets buy customers buy a car online, including finding their preferred vehicle, qualifying for financing, getting a trade-in value, signing contracts, and receiving as-soon-as-next-day delivery or pickup of the vehicle from one of Carvana’s proprietary automated Car Vending Machines. Carvana announced its 61st market earlier this month and now has eight of its famous vending machine facilities operational. The company sold 44,252 last year with revenues of more than $858 million.
Car360 is one of the success stories coming out of Atlanta’s famous Tech Village.
Prior to the acquisition, Car360 was the automotive division of Ego Ventures. Bruno Francois launched the concept in 2011 as a 360-degree panoramic video app called Cycloramic. With more than 20 million downloads, Cycloramic was Apple’s number one downloaded app from its App store at one point. A shark Tank appearance in In 2013 led to an investment from Mark Cuban.
Car360 brought former Contact At Once executive John Hanger on board in spring 2017, who helped in June land a $3.55 million Series A financing round led by BIP Capital with other investors including (Cuban’s Radical Investment venture capital firm and Service Provider Capital.
Car360’s team will transition to Carvana, including Founder Bruno Francois, CEO John Hanger and Chief Computer Vision Scientist Grant Schindler, Ph.D.
The acquisition is the 19th deal in automotive retail (vendor deals) this year and the second of the quarter. (Last week, Sackett National Holdings, which also owns National Credit Center, acquired Promax. No announcement has been made yet, but Promax founder John Palmer has informed people of the sale).
For more analysis on vendor M&A activity from this year, read our first quarter report.