a16z, General Catalyst pour $100M into Samsara at $3.6B valuation

A screenshot of Samsara’s fleet management tool. ( Image: Samsara )

The money keeps rolling in for end-of-year deals in the mergers and acquisitions and venture capital spaces.

Friday morning, sensor data platform startup Samsara confirmed reports that previous investors Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and General Catalyst had closed its late-stage round to the tune of $100M. The intention to raise capital was only disclosed on December 21 in a Delaware filing. This round values Samsara at $3.6B, more than twice the pre-money $1.4B valuation the tech company achieved in its March $50M Series D.

a16z is one of the most respected tech-focused venture capital firms, founded in 2009 by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz. The firm’s slogan is “Software is Eating the World.” a16z’s massive portfolio includes companies like Airbnb, Cadre, Coinbase, Dollar Shave Club, Facebook, GitHub, Groupon, Instagram, Lyft, Oculus VR, Pinterest, Slack, and Zipline. 

“While the company already had a healthy balance sheet—we hadn’t dipped into our previous round of funding—the new capital enables us to accelerate long-term product investments and expand into new markets while continuing to maintain a strong balance sheet over the long term,” wrote Kiren Sekar, Samsara’s VP of marketing and products, in a statement.

At this point in the economic cycle, when parts of the yield curve are inverting and downward volatility has returned to the public equities market, growth-stage tech companies dependent on venture capital funding are raising money before they need it in case more restrictive credit conditions in 2019 hamper investment. 

“Yes, for all obvious reasons we do believe startups should be thinking hard about their capital needs going into 2019 and beyond, and how to not get caught in a firestorm,” wrote Bilal Zuberi, partner at Lux Capital.

Samsara appears to be doing well: Sekar wrote that the company grew its revenues by 250% in 2018. Samsara offers a wide range of data, information, and telematics solutions for industrial applications: in transportation, this largely means sensors ranging from ELDs to cameras and diagnostics, software for mobile devices, broadband connectivity, and cloud computing resources. 

On its page for fleet customers, Samsara lists the following software features: real-time GPS, trailer tracking, safety & dash cams, routing & messaging, documents, maintenance, WiFi hotspot, ELD compliance, reefer monitoring, reporting & alerts, and developer APIs. Samsara describes its package as “a unified system for fleet management, driver safety, and compliance.”

TechCrunch reported that Samsara plans to add 1,000 employees, invest more money in AI and computer vision, and open an office in Atlanta. 

This year was a banner year for investment in transportation technology companies, and capital seemed to like transportation management system (TMS) software companies. In August, FreightWaves reported on Summit Partners’ acquisition of cloud-based TMS MercuryGate

John Paul Hampstead

John Paul conducts research on multimodal freight markets and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. Prior to building a research team at FreightWaves, JP spent two years on the editorial side covering trucking markets, freight brokerage, and M&A.