REEF Technology: Big vision, big backing, and now a unicorn

This spotlight was part of eMerge Insights published in early September and republished here with permission. Download the full 2019 MidYear Report here.
By Nancy Dahlberg 
REEF Technology is transforming urban parking real estate into hubs that serve the staging needs of businesses, on-demand transit and other services for people who live in close proximity,” said Alan Cohen, CMO of Miami-based REEF Technology, formerly known as ParkJockey, a parking app startup.
REEF announced its new name and expanded focus in late June, six months after news of a very large investment by SoftBank Vision Fund and Mubadala Capital.
REEF already has a network of about 4,500 parking locations with more than 1.3 million spaces. The move will help “future-proof” the garages as the growing on-demand economy and soon driverless cars will begin to make traditional garages obsolete. The hubs will house a curated grouping of businesses and services specific to the needs of neighborhoods and the on-demand economy, such as ride-sharing and food delivery as well as driver services.
“We are in the process of deploying REEF ecosystems across North America,” said Cohen, who joined REEF about six months ago from Los Angeles. “In South Florida we have REEF KITCHENS preparing food from a variety of restaurants that is then delivered to nearby consumers.” 
CEO Ari Ojalvo and Umut Tekin founded ParkJockey in 2013 as an app-enabled way to easily reserve and pay for parking spots in selected garages, and it scaled well beyond Miami and London, its two early markets. But even in the early days, Ojalvo had a bigger vision for the company.
In an interview in July, Cohen said the Brickell headquarters is “expanding rapidly” and REEF has “thousands of employees” across its North America locations. REEF isn’t saying exactly how many employees it has. Tekin is no longer with the company.
Pitchbook reports that the company raised  $900 million, in debt and equity, which is consistent with media reports that have estimated the raise as between $800 and $1 million.  When asked to confirm the Pitchbook report, CEO Ari Ojalvo said, “We don’t disclose the amount raised but the number is higher and the raise was done in 2 tranches, Q4 ‘18 and Q1 ‘19.” Whatever the exact number, it is by far the largest raise in the state this year. 
Announcements about the company will be coming soon, Ojalvo and Cohen said.
On Monday, REEF KITCHENS and Miami restaurant  della bowls announced the popular Miami restaurant’s plant-based bowls will be available for delivery via a newly-opened REEF KITCHENS hub in Fort Lauderdale, with an Aventura delivery hub set to open this fall,  said Cohen in a news release Monday. “This partnership demonstrates how REEF uses innovative technology to connect people to the businesses they love, without the many challenges that accompany traditional brick-and-mortar expansion,” he said.
Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter and email her at [email protected]. More spotlights coming soon.

Nancy Dahlberg