An ad-tech startup Firefly, that allows rideshare drivers to make money through digital advertising, is officially launching today. It’s also announced that it has raised $21.5 million in seed funding.
The round was co-led by NFX, Pelion Venture Partners, Decent Capital (which is backed by the founders of Tencent), and Jeffrey Housenbold of the SoftBank Vision Fund, among others. According to the company, Housenbold invested in an individual capacity, separate and apart from his role at the Vision Fund.
It is the first round of outside funding the company has raised. “We’d been bootstrapped” until this round, said Firefly’s CEO Kaan Gunay in a phone interview. Although the company didn’t disclose its financial performance or valuation, Gunay said investors were “very pleased with the progress we’ve made to date.”
One of the main goals is to allow drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services to make more money. In fact, Firefly says the average driver in its network makes an additional $300 per month.
Firefly’s ride-hailing market ambition is just the start. The company is also collecting a lot of data, ranging from air pollution statistics to temperature to using an accelerometer to tell if a driver hit a pothole, and is partnering with cities and organizations to help them understand the environments better.
It’s a treasure trove of data that, for now, the company says it has no plans to make money off of, opting to partner with local governments to share the information instead.