The Road to Autonomous Vehicles & Our Investment in Optimus Ride

The Road to Autonomous Vehicles & Our Investment in Optimus Ride

Today Optimus Ride announced a $5.25M seed round of funding to continue developing their unique approach to autonomous transportation.  NextView is pleased to co-lead this round along with our friends at FirstMark Capital as well as participation by other investors, and I’m excited to join Optimus’s board.

For those who follow my writings on my AgileVC blog or on Medium, you’ll know that I’ve been thinking about the autonomous vehicle space for some time.  I say “autonomous vehicles” rather than “driverless cars”… when my little daughter has a family of her own someday, the phrase “driverless car” will be an anachronism akin to “horseless carriage”.

Optimus isn’t yet describing their plans in detail publicly, so I won’t be letting their cat out of the bag.  But I’m thrilled to be able to partner with an extraordinarily experienced and talented group of co-founders.  The Optimus team has its roots at MIT and has been working on various parts of the autonomous vehicle stack for over a decade in both tech companies and university research settings.

The transportation market is among the largest spheres of commerce in the world, and network connected software and hardware will transform this industry in the coming decade and beyond.  The end goal is both tantalizing and simple – autonomous vehicles transporting people and goods with vastly greater safety and efficiency (energy costs & externalities, human time, urban infrastructure, etc).  The pathway to that end goal is both uncertain and extraordinarily complicated given the technological, economic, and societal developments that will be required.

We obviously believe that Optimus has the potential to play an important role along that path, and are excited to support the team as a hands-on investment partner.

Lee Hower

I’m an investor, entrepreneur, and helper of technology startups. I’m currently a General Partner of NextView Ventures, which focuses on seed stage internet-enabled businesses. I co-founded NextView in 2010 with my partners Rob Go and David Beisel. I started in the VC business as a Principal at Point Judith Capital, an early-stage firm. I joined PJC in 2005 and served as a Principal at the firm through early 2010. During this time I co-led investments in FanIQ, Sittercity, and Multiply and sourced investments in Music Nation and NABsys. Prior to becoming a VC, I was a startup guy myself. I was part of the founding team of LinkedIn, and served as Director of Corporate Development from the company’s inception through our early growth phases. Before that I was an early employee at PayPal, and worked in product management and corporate development roles through the company’s IPO in 2002 and subsequent sale to eBay later that year. I went to college at UPenn and received degrees from both the School of Engineering and Wharton School of Business.