School transportation operator Zūm Services Inc. has reached unicorn status following a major funding round.
The Redwood City-based school bus operator announced Wednesday it raised $140 million in a Series E round, giving it a $1.3 billion valuation. The new funds will go toward expanding the company’s artificial intelligence platform and build an energy grid capable of putting to work “school buses that would otherwise be sitting idle in bus depots.”
“This is an industry that has not changed in 80 years. It is outdated, inefficient, low technology and polluting,” Zūm CEO Ritu Narayan told the Business Journal. “This is important work that will not only improve the lives of parents, students, administrators but will also yield profound positive impacts on society.
“Zūm uses software it developed to help schools share infrastructure with other nearby districts, deploy appropriately sized vehicles (busses, cars, vans), create efficient routes and adapt to families’ changing transportation needs. The company is moving toward having all its vehicles be fully electric.During the Covid pandemic the company, founded in 2014, had made a slight transition delivering meals and computers to students’ homes. Once returning to its original mission, Narayan said, the company has been driven by the voice of parents and students.
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