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Zendrive Lands $13.5 Million From Sherpa, BMW iVentures to Make Roads Safer

Rather than using hardware that plugs into a car's diagnostic port, Zendrive gets its data on driver performance via the smartphone.

Asa Mathat

Zendrive, a San Francisco startup that aims to improve car safety by offering analytics on how drivers are doing, has landed $13.5 million in fresh funding in a round led by Sherpa Capital’s Shervin Pishevar.

The company’s technology uses a range of sensors to measure actions like acceleration, braking, swerving and phone use. The data can be tapped by insurers, those who run commercial fleets or cities looking to find problem roads. Its early partners include Shuddle and HopSkipDrive, both of which provide on-demand rides for kids, as well as roadside assistance company and driver education company eDriving.

“Zendrive represents the natural evolution of safety for the next wave of transportation innovation,” Pishevar said in a statement. “Stacked with mobile and data experts from Google and Facebook, this team has introduced the first significant driver and passenger safety innovation since airbags.”

Other investors include Nyca Partners and Thomvest Ventures as well as existing investors First Round Capital, BMW iVentures and Bill Ford’s Fontinalis Partners, among others.

Zendrive CEO Jonathan Matus told Re/code that the new money will help the company roughly double from its current staff of 35 as it continues to build out the product.

While other companies, such as Automatic, focus on devices that plug into a car’s diagnostic port, ZenDrive runs its app on smartphones. In addition to the fact that nearly every driver has a phone with them, Matus says that a lot of crashes are caused by phone use, something Zendrive’s app can detect.

“It just makes no sense to go the hardware route,” he said.

Here’s Matus speaking at last October’s Code/Mobile about the changes coming to the auto industry:

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