This former Tesla CIO just raised $150 million more to pull car dealers into the 21st century – ClearTips

This former Tesla CIO just raised $150 million more to pull car dealers into the 21st century – TechCrunch

Joe Castello of Stevens Creek Volkswagen in San Jose, CA says, “I have to choose my words carefully when asked about software that most car dealerships rely on for inventory information, managing marketing. To do, handle customer relationships and otherwise help sell cars.

Kelino, the dealership’s service director, laughed saying that. But the joke has apparently been on car dealers, most of whom have relied on a handful of frustrated vendors for their dealer management systems – along with many more sophisticated point solutions.

This is the exact chance that the former Tesla CIO, Jai Vijayan, concluded that he was well positioned to address the electric vehicle veteran while in employment. As Vijayan explains, he knew nothing about cars until joining Tesla in 2011, then after a dozen years of working in product development on VMware at Oracle. Yet he learned a lot in the subsequent four years. In particular, he says he helped create a central analysis system inside Tesla with Elon Musk, a kind of brain that could see all of the company’s internal systems, ranging from its factory systems in the supply chain What was happening until the retail retail platform.

Vijayan says that Tesla needs to make it himself; After evaluating existing software from third company providers, the team realized that none of them had anything that was necessary to provide us with a frictionless modern consumer experience. “

It was around that a lightbulb turned on. If Tesla can change the experience for its own customers and potential customers, perhaps Vijayan can recreate the platform in a way that can change the buying and selling experience for a much larger, broader automotive industry. Enter Tekion, Now four years old, San Carlos, CA. The company, which now employs 470 people and led by private equity investor Advent International, attracted just $ 150 million in new funding.

With the Series C round – including checks from Index Ventures, Airbus Ventures, The holding company of FM Capital and Exor, Fiat-Chrysler and Ferrari – the company has now raised $ 185 million in total. It is also priced north of 1 billion dollars. (Automakers General Motors, BMW and Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance are also investors.)

Eric Wei, a managing director at Advent and (a new member on Techian’s board), says that over the past decade, his team was eager to reach the $ 10 billion market annually, but found himself tracking Reynolds . & Reynolds, CDKGlobal and Dealertrack, owned by Cox Automotive, are waiting for a better player to emerge.

Wei was then joined by Technion, a former Tesla president John McNeill and adviser adviser to Advent. In looking at his technology compared to its established rivals, Wei says: “It was like comparing a flip phone to an iPhone.”

Perhaps surprising is that McNeill, who works at Tesla with Vijayan, also sings the company’s praise, noting that Tekian had also bought a dealership in Gilroy – California’s “garlic capital” – as a kind of lab To use in when she was building her technique. scratch.

More importantly, dealers are back in the market. Although citing competitive reasons, Vijayan refused to share how many people have purchased their cloud software – which connects both dealers and car buyers through a retail platform that is powered by machine learning algorithms – He says it is already being used in 28 states.

One of these is the national chain Serra Automotive, whose founder Joseph Serra is also an investor in Techian.

Another, again, is Stevens Creek Volkswagen, where Castello – who has no financial interest in Techian, nor Steven Creek – talks enthusiastically about the time and dealership savings the Technion platform has caused .

For example, he says that customers only need log-ins to mark a particular issue. After that, with the help of the RFID tag, Stevens Creek knows exactly when the customer pulls into the dealership and what kind of help they need, and if all goes according to plan, people will be there to greet them Are ready for.

Techian may recommend a brake fluid flush “look through a customer’s history without an advisor,” based on a car’s history.

Not last, he says, dealerships have been able to cut ties with many other software vendors, while also making more productive use of their time.

Castelino says, “As soon as A. [repair order] Gina, it is in the hands of a dispatcher and a technician can hold the car. It is like this with every step. You are saving 15 minutes again and again and you suddenly have three hours where your intake can be high. “

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