Follow the Money: Toyota Invests $394M in Air Taxi Maker, TestFit Nets $2M Seed Round, Transplace Makes Acquisition

In this weekly roundup of funding, merger, and acquisition activity, you’ll also find news from TestFit, Valify, Pharos Capital, EDSCO Fasteners, and Dottid.

What companies are finding funding or having a big exit? From startup investments to grants and acquisitions, Dallas Innovates tracks what’s happening in North Texas money every Thursday. Sign up for our e-newsletter to stay in the loop.

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Toyota invests $394M in electric air taxi developer

Toyota Motor Co., whose North American headquarters is in Plano, announced it is making a $394 million investment in Joby Aviation, which is developing electric air taxis and has a working prototype.

According to Bloomberg, Toyota is the lead investor in Joby’s $590 million Series C funding round along with Baillie Gifford and Global Oryx, as well as prior backers Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, JetBlue Technology Ventures, SPARX Group, and its own investment arm, Toyota AI Ventures.

The funding makes California-based Joby the best-funded “eVTOL” (electric vertical take-off and landing) startup in the sector, bringing its total funding raised to $720 million, according to Bloomberg.

Dallas-Fort Worth is one of the major testing grounds for flying taxis, with Uber Technologies pinpointing DFW as one of the first three markets for Uber Elevate, an initiative to launch an aerial ride-sharing service. Frisco will be the home of the first Uber heliport.

Spotio raises $4.5M in Series A funding 

Dallas-based software provider Spotio has received a $4.5 million Series A investment from Florida venture capital firm Ballast Point Ventures.

The new funding brings the company’s total to $5.1 million, according to Crunchbase. Spotio provides cloud-based sales acceleration and performance management solutions for field sales personnel. Its mobile-first platform works to help outside sales teams manage their sales territories, perform face-to-face meetings, and improve their sales pipelines and performance, according to a statement.

“Built with the field sales representative and manager in mind, Spotio’s platform delivers a comprehensive mobile solution tailored towards providing actionable leads for outside sales reps in the field and unparalleled insight for managers back at the office. We provide both business-to-business outside sales personnel and residential sales teams the tools they need to execute and manage their outside sales activities,” Spotio founder and CEO Trey Gibson said in a statement.

Spotio’s platform also provides managers with real-time visibility into their team’s activities for improved sales development, according to a statement. The startup expects to use the funding to quicken the development of its technology pipeline, add to its sales team, and strengthen its marketing efforts.  

TestFit gets $2M seed funding for AI-driven building configuration software

TestFit Inc., the Dallas-based AI-powered building configuration software provider, has raised $2 million seed funding from Parkway Venture Capital.

The startup has expertise in rapid real estate prototyping, architectural site analysis, and feasibility studies simulation and automation. The funding will allow TestFit to further invest in its technology and to make TestFit the industry standard in generative design SaaS for architecture.

TestFit said in a release that is plans to expand its multifamily housing customer base into architectural, real estate developer, and general contractor markets with what it called an ultra-efficient solution that eliminates the need for generative design programming knowledge.

“What is remarkable about TestFit is that architects who need to visualize ideas or real estate developers looking to come up with effortless building configurations can simply download the app and aided by AI technology, create stunning, yet realistic, multifamily prototypes instantaneously,” said AI evangelist Jess Coors-Blankenship, who spearheaded the round. “This level of customization, speed, responsiveness and automation makes generative design easily accessible to better facilitate the construction of more affordable, sustainable residential real estate that meets modern needs.”

Proptech startup Dottid announces $3.85M in seed funding

Dottid, a Dallas-based commercial real estate software-as-a-service technology platform, announced it has raised $3.85 million in seed funding.

The startup says it’s the first-of-its-kind to provide a singular location for owners, brokers, and tenants to seamlessly transact throughout the leasing process. The funding is expected to be used for product development and expansion, with a focus on gathering as much feedback as possible to further improve its platform. 

The startup’s investors include David Ridley, the founder and former CEO of Invesco Real Estate; Laurie Dotter, a current investment board member for two public Texas pension funds; and David Farmer, a former COO of Invesco Real Estate. 

Founded in 2016 by CEO Kyle Waldrep, Dottid seeks to transform commercial real estate by streamlining the leasing transaction process, while allowing owners, brokers, and tenants to close deals faster with lower costs, according to a statement.

Pharos Capital raises $75M for its fourth fund

Pharos Capital Group, the Dallas and Nashville-based healthcare-focused private equity firm, has raised at least $75 million in capital commitments for a fourth fund.

No target date was listed in the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but Pharos previously closed its Fund III in 2013 at $500 million, according to reports. Pharos Capital Partners IV has secured capital commitments from at least five limited partners, according to a filing.

Pharos focuses on healthcare sectors such as managed care services, behavioral health, wellness, and diagnostic technology.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

HCA Healthcare acquires Frisco-based Valify

Frisco-based Valify, a medtech company focusing on helping clients reduce the overall cost of healthcare services, has been bought by HCA Healthcare.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Valify’s web-based tech platform provides healthcare systems with in-depth analysis and greater insights across a variety of service categories, according to a statement. Hospitals are better able to manage resources in ancillary areas via Valify’s proprietary technology, analytics, benchmarking, and professional advisory services.

Transplace acquires Green Bay-based Lanehub

Frisco-based Transplace, a provider of transportation management services and logistics technology solutions, has bought Lanehub in what is being called a strategic acquisition.

Green Bay, Wisconsin-based Lanehub is a cloud-based platform and community encouraging shipper-carrier collaboration by automatically identifying and connecting companies with dedicated lanes where their networks converge—partnering on improving asset utilization, improving revenue, and reducing waste.

“The strategic acquisition of Lanehub reinforces our mission to offer our customers the most advanced technologies, giving them a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” Transplace CEO Frank McGuigan said in a statement. “Lanehub’s customer base and experience in the consumer-packaged goods, food, retail, manufacturing, and automotive industries are highly complementary to our business.”

Currently, Lanehub’s collaborative network includes more than 150 shipper members, 250 carrier members, 180,000 lanes, and more than $23 billion in truckload costs, according to a statement. Lanehub’s customers have 26 million matches within its network, to date.

The acquisition benefits both companies’ customers by giving them access to transportation tech and strategic management via the combined companies’ resources.

Kentucky PE firm acquires Denton’s EDSCO Fasteners

Denton-based EDSCO Fasteners has been acquired by MiddleGround Capital, a private equity firm that makes control investments in middle market B2B industrial and specialty distribution companies in North America.

EDSCO is a manufacturer of mission-critical anchoring systems for power transmission poles and other large steel structure. According to a release, this was the fifth acquisition in Lexington, Kentucky-based MiddleGround’s inaugural fund and the fourth platform investment it has made in the past nine months. 

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