KAR Auction Services announced Wednesday it has purchased STRATIM, a mobility and fleet management software company.
It’s a move that gives KAR a strong foothold in the world of on-demand car- and ride-sharing services, urban commute providers and autonomous vehicles — a world in which many of KAR’s customers already take part.
Through real-time data and predictive analytics, STRATIM’s software digitizes fleet management and helps streamline operations for mobility service providers, KAR said in a news release.
So, for instance, a fleet owner can use the company’s automated vendor management platform to onboard, manage, service, dispatch and pay vendors.
STRATIM, which has a presence in 25 cities throughout North America, has processed service transactions for several leading mobility service providers and automakers.
“As the automotive industry continues to transform, we’re making meaningful investments in technology, data and analytics to meet the evolving needs of our customers and expand market opportunities,” KAR chairman and chief executive officer Jim Hallett said in a news release.
“STRATIM’s first-of-its kind mobility management solution is already supporting the fleets of some of our commercial customers, and this is a natural extension of those relationships,” Hallett said. “We look forward to delivering integrated products and services through STRATIM and fortifying our presence in the mobility space.”
Where STRATIM works in KAR portfolio
As far as how STRATIM fits in to KAR’s enterprise, the company will be a part of KAR’s digital services group. That group, which is led by KAR’s Peter Kelly, includes various software-as-a-service platforms that KAR has implemented into their end-to-end remarketing offering.
For instance, an asset like the CarsArrive Network.
“These are platforms that connect our customer base with a very fragmented supplier base,” KAR chief operating officer and chief strategy officer Don Gottwald said in a phone interview.
“In the case of STRATIM, that’s what they do — they have these fleet owners that are in ride-sharing and car-sharing and other parts of the shared mobility segment, and supplier bases that are bringing services necessary to optimize the uptime and the use of those fleets.
“We do that type of thing with CarsArrive between those that have cars to ship and those who have the ability to ship them — trucks,” Gottwald said. “We do that with our Recovery Database Network, or RDN, platform. So, STRATIM fits nicely in the type of assets that we’re used to running and growing and scaling.”
STRATIM offers “a marketplace of suppliers” to help mobility fleet operators manage their fleets more effectively, Gottwald explained
Its customer base includes a variety of entities that have ride- or car-sharing fleets: OEMs, rental car companies and new players in space that own/operate ride-sharing and/or car-sharing fleets “and then have a strong desire to keep their fleets accessible, operating efficiently, (and) available to their end-customer bases,” Gottwald said.
STRATIM has a software platform that connects fleet management personnel with suppliers needed to operate fleets, as well as a marketplace of suppliers.
That marketplace is “another point of synergy” as KAR already has “a host of services within our family” that are already of use for remarketing clients. For instance, High Tech Locksmiths, Dent Demon, inspection companies and so forth
“(Within) those companies, their capabilities will match nicely with the STRATIM marketplace,” Gottwald said. “And now we might have an OEM that’s running a car-sharing or ride-sharing platform that needs those services and we’ll be able to bring those services to that very, very efficiently through the STRATIM platform.”
Background on STRATIM
A team of Google, eBay and Trulia veterans started the San Francisco-based company in 2016. That includes Sean Behr, who will remain STRATIM’s president as it moves into KAR’s digital services group. The company will remain in San Francisco.
“STRATIM enables automotive companies to succeed in the new age of use-based transportation,” Behr said in a news release. “KAR shares our entrepreneurial spirit and has the resources to fuel our continued growth and expansion. We’re thrilled to join the KAR family and deliver technology and innovation that power our customers’ fleets.”
Asked what attracted KAR to STRATIM and to the mobility fleet space, Gottwald said: “You’re seeing a lot of activity in (this space), so obviously to us, it’s extremely important. It’s been strategically important. It’s consistent with the investments we’ve been making …” he said, mentioning the fact that KAR has acquired data and technology companies previously.
“Many of those assets will help us in this emerging shared mobility space. We already have our eye on the space; we’re already doing a lot in it,” Gottwald said.
“As we kind of evaluated the landscape, we came across STRATIM — great team, very deep experience in and around technology. They had quickly pivoted their business, based on learnings in the marketplace,” he said. “Their offerings were being very well received by customers that in many cases are shared … So, this whole shared mobility emerging trend is of strategic importance to a lot of institutional or commercial customers that are already customers of KAR, maybe just a different part of the organization.”
Not just a tool for future
The purchase of STRATIM isn’t simply a futuristic move. In addition to giving the company some footing for where the auto industry is likely headed, it also helps KAR in the current operational environment.
“One of the things that’s attractive about what STRATIM brings to the KAR family and the services it provides to their customers is, it is addressing an emerging and evolving trend,” Gottwald said. “This is of strategic importance to many, many players in the automotive ecosystem, but it isn’t reliant on something that might be years away from transpiring.
“This is here and now. These are services that these customers are bringing to their marketplaces. It’s an evolving need of theirs and KAR needs to evolve, too, to help address those,” he said. “So, we do like that it’s addressing real marketplace challenges, bringing real solutions, but also positions us to serve our customers as this evolves over time.”