Cambridge Mobile Telematics, whose technology is used globally by insurers and others, attracted a $500 million investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund designed to fuel global growth.
“This partnership with the Vision Fund is the start of the next stage of our journey to bring safe mobility solutions for people and goods at [a] massive scale,” Hari Balakrishnan, CMT’s co-founder, chairman and CTO, said in prepared remarks.
SoftBank’s investment is subject to regulatory approval, Cambridge Mobile Telematics said.
SoftBank Vision Fund’s largest backer is the Saudi government, which has prompted some to question the firm’s accepting monies from the Saudis since the U.S. government has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October.
In an interview with WBUR Radio in Boston, CMT’s Balakrishnan said it is fair for some to question partnering with the Saudi-backed venture fund, but stressed that his company is not partnering directly with the Saudi government. He said Softbank has publicly condemned the killing and Balakrishnan did as well.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based company expects to use the money to accelerate adoption of its DriveWell platform used by insurers, fleets, wireless carriers and other entities to measure driving risk and improve driver safety. Plans also call for using the cash infusion to fuel CMT’s growth in automated crash and claims management, video analytics and safety for emerging vehicle and mobility systems.
CMT’s partners include insurers such as State Farm, Liberty Mutual, Desjardins, Discovery, Admiral, MS&AD Group, QBE, AIG and Insurance Australia Group, with a global customer base of several million users.
The company’s technology draws on mobile sensing, artificial intelligence (AI) and behavioral science. Today, Cambridge Mobile Telematics works with customers in more than 20 countries, using its technology to measure driving performance for insurance pricing, provide incentives to improve driving quality, and lower operating costs by reducing crash rates and automating some claims processing functions.
CMT launched in 2010 as an outgrowth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence lab. The company said it has developed a number of innovations since then, claiming to have launched the first service to efficiently gather and process sensory data from phones for auto insurance in 2012, use phone sensors to measure phone distraction in 2013 and induce better driving with gamification in 2014. Together, these innovations created the category of “behavior-based insurance,” also known as “mobile usage-based insurance,” the company noted.
CMT claims its DriveWell platform reduces phone distraction by 35 percent on average within 30 days, and at-risk speeding and hard braking by 20 percent. These improvements lead to significant measurable reductions in crashes and insurance claims.
Source: Cambridge Mobile Telematics
*Material from the Insurance Journal’s coverage has been added to this story.