The man behind navigation app Moovit told Business Insider this week that he accepted investment from Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher and music manager Guy Oseary even though he didn’t necessarily need their money.
Moovit received an undisclosed amount from the pair’s fund, Sound Ventures, two weeks ago, according to Moovit cofounder and CEO Ner Erez.
The Israeli startup had received $US82 million (£54 million) in venture capital funding for its Citymapper-like app, with $US50 million (£33 million) of that coming at the start of the year from the likes of Sequoia, BMW Ventures and Nokia Growth Partners.
Despite Moovit not being strapped for cash, conversations with Kutcher and Oseary began approximately six months ago, according to Erez.
“We’d just closed such a big round and I said: ‘Guys I don’t need the money,'” said Erez, adding that he met the pair multiple times in New York and San Francisco.
“Money is quite available today so that wasn’t why I took the investment,” he continued.
Kutcher and Oseary have also backed companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify through another fund known as A-Grade Investments.
Erez said that the pair are “really very strong in understanding media and supporting their companies.”
Erez is also well aware that the pair have vast social media followings that Moovit could draw on to build out its own user base, which currently stands at more than 30 million people. Kutcher, for example, has 17.2 2 million followers on Twitter.
Kutcher told Business Insider via email: “At Sound Ventures we’re on the hunt for hyper growth companies that are not only heading for greatness in size but that are also tackling real world issues. Moovit’s mission to make public transport a first choice for people across the globe, cutting back on individual car usage and making cities smarter, sits well with our vision to invest in game changers.
“We’re very excited to help Moovit on its journey to build a more eco friendly way to navigate our cities worldwide.”
Taking money without making money
Moovit employs approximately 80 people in an office 10 miles outside Tel Aviv, but it currently has no revenues, and it doesn’t look like Erez has any plans to sell the product any time soon.
“I don’t care eventually if we’re not going to make any money at all but if I can touch a billion people around the world I’ll be satisfied,” he said. “I don’t care about how much money we even make. My dream is to influence the lives of a billion people. I think Ashton Kutcher and Guy resonate with such a vision of doing good.”
“Public transport users deserve to have a free product everywhere, it’s a democratisation,” Erez continued. “As long as I’m CEO or a shareholder at Moovit I will not allow them to sell the product to users.
“We were blessed enough to raise so much money we don’t really need to care about that [making money]. Monetisation for us is a secondary focus. Our main focus is to try and cover the world of public transportation and it will take us at least two more years to have 100% coverage of the world of public transportation. Today we have more than 800 cities. We’re talking about covering 2,500 more.”
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