Metropolis Raises $41 Million to Automate Parking Garages


 Alex Israel, co-founder and chief executive of Venice-based startup Metropolis Technologies Inc., said it’s time for a shakeup in Los Angeles’ parking industry.

“The industry as a whole hasn’t evolved for the last 70 years,” Israel said. “It’s been devoid of innovation.”

Israel built his previous company, ParkMe, on a similar premise. ParkMe, which was acquired by INRIX Inc. in 2015, provides real-time parking information to drivers and licenses data about fees and spot availability to mapping companies.

Metropolis, on the other hand, is more focused on the direct operation of parking facilities. The startup has developed an artificial intelligence-based platform that tracks the number of available spaces and automatically charges drivers whose vehicles are registered in the company’s system.

Instead of carrying around a time-stamped ticket or waiting at a payment kiosk, drivers simply enter and exit a lot, with payments processed behind the scenes.

Metropolis was founded in 2017, but the company has, until now, been operating under the radar.

On Feb. 16, the company announced that it had raised $41 million in a Series A funding round and was ready to “pull the curtain back” on its parking automation platform.

Prior to the company’s big reveal, Israel said Metropolis had worked to build a “critical mass” of parking facilities in Los Angeles where its platform would be used. The company plans to expand to “dozens” of U.S. cities over the next year, he said.

The recently completed Series A round, led by 3L Capital, brings the total amount raised by the company to more than $60 million. Investors include Zigg Capital, Slow Ventures and Santa Monica-based Halogen Venture Partners.

Israel said Metropolis will use the funds to refine its platform and grow its team of employees.

Eventually, Israel said, the company could purchase and operate parking facilities directly, but for now it will simply provide a platform for parking lot owners looking to maximize the efficiency of their businesses.

Israel said automating parking facilities and incorporating artificial intelligence tools opens up a range of possibilities.

“These empty concrete locations that effectively are just there to store vehicles provide limited, if any, utility to the whole,” he said. “The way I think about this is, ‘how can you convert that land for better use?’”

Eventually, he said, Metropolis customers will be able to use the platform’s spot tracking function to dedicate garage space to other uses, from bike or scooter parking to temporary storage of automated vehicles.

“There’s no yield management system in the parking industry,” Israel said. “Our system allows us to have a real-time inventory, so we know what spaces are being utilized — and for what purpose — at any given time.”

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