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Friday 5 special edition: Steve Greenfield’s top 10 auto tech deals of 2021

Welcome to this episode of The Friday 5 with Steve Greenfield, Founder and CEO of Automotive Ventures, an auto technology advisory firm that helps entrepreneurs raise money and maximize the value of their companies.

Well, it’s been an interesting year. We experienced record highs in the stock market, record levels of investment and M&A, a record number of IPOs fueled by the special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC phenomenon, and the highest company valuations on record, including both software companies as well as the valuations of physical dealer locations, which also experienced the largest numbers of deals done in any calendar year.

With that, I want to take the opportunity to highlight the top 10 largest and/or most important AutoTech deals of the year. At least the top 10 from my perspective.

1. Rivian

Let’s start off at number one with a segment that generated the largest IPO of the year, with EV automaker Rivan delivering an eye-popping IPO value of $78 billion dollars at launch, which quickly ran up to more than $100 billion dollars in value its first day, outstripping any other OEM’s value, other than Toyota and Tesla.

Also this year, we saw a number of other EV automakers take the opportunity to go public, including Lucid and REE.

2. B2B Auctions

Second up this year was a lot of action in the B2B auction category.

We had ACV Auctions’ successful IPO, as it climbed 25% in its trading debut after its investors raised $414 million in an IPO priced above a marketed range, providing a total market value to the company of $4.8 billion dollars.

ACV then got bonus points this year for their acquisition of MAX Digital, a pioneer in automotive data and merchandising products and best known for its flagship inventory management system platform FirstLook.

That transaction was valued at $60M.

In August, KAR Global announced they were acquiring CARWAVE for $450 million dollars.

With the back-to-back acquisitions of first BackLotCars for $425 million dollars and then CARWAVE, KAR Global signaled to the market that they’re “all-in” on online sales, and willing to take on ACV in the digital realm.

Finally, in the physical auction space we saw two significant transactions involving XLerate Group.

First up, we saw Xlerate sell to Private Equity group Brightstar Capital Partners for an undisclosed amount.

Then, in December, Xlerate announced the acquisition of America’s Auto Auction group.

Terms of that transaction were not disclosed.

After the combination, XLerate and America’s will have a total of 39 auction sites across 19 states, as well as growing digital and mobile auction businesses and related financing.

3. Online Used Car Retailers

In our third slot this year, globally, we saw an incredible interest in online used car retailers.

This year saw a multi-billion dollar IPO of Europe’s Auto1 Group and the UK’s Cazoo. Closer to home, we saw Canada’s Clutch raise multiple rounds of funding, including multiple rounds, including a $100m CAD Series B from D1 Capital Partners

And we saw Latin America’s Kavak raise $485 million dollars at a $4 billion dollar valuation.

4. Tekion

In our fourth slot this year, we saw a monster funding round in the dealership software space as Tekion, a cloud-based automotive software provider, more than tripled its valuation to $3.5 billion dollars after raising $250 million dollars from investors including Durable Capital Partners and Alkeon Capital Management.

Hyundai Motor Company and existing investors Advent International and Index Ventures also participated in the round.

Tekion plans to add larger automotive vehicles such as RVs and boats to its platform. It is set to expand both domestically and internationally, beginning with France by the second quarter of 2022, followed by the U.K. and Germany.

Tekion is taking on big industry players Reynolds & Reynolds and CDK Global in the Dealer Management System category, which generates about $2.0 billion dollars per year.

Tekion’s approach is to modernize the approach to enterprise software for both OEMs and dealerships, which has caught the attention of big-name investors and propelled them to a very high valuation.

5. Damage Detection

Coming in at number five on our list, the damage detection space was red-hot this year.

At the very beginning of the year, Cox Automotive announced they were acquiring Fyusion for an undisclosed price

Just a couple of months later, KAR Global led a $15 million dollar investment into damage detention company

Later in the year we saw UVEYE raise a $60 million dollar Series C round led by CarMax.

And then finally, Tractable raised a $60 million dollar Series D from Insight Partners and Georgian Partners at an over $1 billion dollar valuation.

Accurately representing a vehicle’s cosmetic and mechanical condition is key to enabling online B2B vehicle transactions. In addition, companies like Tracatable have made a tremendous amount of progress integrating their solution into the insurance industry to diagnose the severity of damage after the vehicle is in an accident.

6. Insurance

In our 6sixth slot this year, and continuing in the insurance space, we have CCC Intelligent Solutions’ IPO at about $7 billion dollars.

CCC has announced plans for important new solutions that will support the property and casualty insurance economy’s ongoing digital transformation and vision to achieve straight through processing.

CCC plans to fully digitize the estimating process for a portion of repairable claims. Their new solution is designed to employ advanced AI, insurer-driven rules and CCC’s vast network connections and is expected to help customers realize automated estimating in mere minutes and elevate the customer experience.

They additionally have plans to incorporate advanced AI into its collision repair platform to apply machine learning to pre-populate estimates based on photos of vehicle damage and configurations by repair facilities to accelerate the repair process.

7. AEye

At number seven, we have AEye, a lidar startup that developed its technology for use in autonomous vehicles as well as to support advanced driver assistance systems in passenger cars,which IPO’d earlier this year through a merger with CF Finance Acquisition Corp. III valuing the company at about $2 billion dollars

AEye is one of several lidar companies that have expanded its focus beyond autonomous vehicles. AEye’s pitch is that the company’s lidar technology along with its partnerships with Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers like Continental makes it well-positioned to scale and to be adopted by major automakers. AEye’s lidar sensor scans the surroundings and then, with help from its perception software, identifies and focuses on relevant objects.

8. Consumer Vehicle Insurance

At number eight, we have the consumer vehicle insurance space, which was on fire this year with a number of significant deals.

First up, DealerPolicy, the automotive insurance marketplace, announced its $110 million dollar Series C investment led by Goldman Sachs after raising $30 million in February of this year. The company’s pre-money valuation was $450 million dollars.

On average, DealerPolicy saves consumers $64 per month on automotive insurance. Automotive dealerships report on average 44% higher gross margins in their F&I departments because of increased customer budgets from their insurance savings.

The news comes on the back of sales-channel strategic alliances with JM&A Group and Darwin Automotive, which should greatly accelerate growth.

Second in the insurance space, CDK Global announced that they would acquire Salty. Deal terms were not disclosed.

Salty provides a convenient, mobile-first solution that helps consumers secure the insurance they need for their vehicle seamlessly without leaving the car-buying experience.

Historically, many dealerships set up their own in-house insurance agency, with mixed results.

Salty, and competitor DealerPolicy have figured out a different way to enable dealers to introduce vehicle insurance into the car buying process.

Consumers can cross-shop insurance providers, save on their monthly premiums, which can then be rolled into either a more expensive vehicle or allow the dealer to attach more F&I products to the deal.

The consumer wins and the dealer wins.

And finally in the insurance space, Lemonade is bolstering its nascent auto-insurance business by acquiring pay-per-mile insurer Metromile in its first acquisition.

The deal values Metromile, which went public via a merger with a blank-check company earlier this year, at roughly $500 million.

SoftBank Group-backed Lemonade, which went public last year, recently debuted an auto-insurance product called Lemonade Car, currently being sold in Illinois with plans to roll out the offering in other states. Buying Metromile helps Lemonade build up that business while giving it auto-claims data and a team that’s worked in the business for a decade.

Investors did not fare well with Metromile. Metromile is being sold for a fraction of its $1.3 billion equity value in an earlier merger with a SPAC.

9. Otonomo

Coming in at number nine, Otonomo, the cloud-based software startup that helps companies capture and monetize connected car data, headed to the public market with a SPAC IPO. The Israeli-based startup agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition company Software Acquisition Group II with a valuation of $1.4 billion dollars.

Otonomo launched in 2015 with a cloud-based software platform that can capture and anonymize vehicle data, which can then be used to create apps to provide services such as electric vehicle management, mapping, subscription-based services, parking, usage-based insurance, traffic management, media and emergency services. The company’s platform is used by 16 vehicle manufacturers, fleets and more than 100 service providers.

Today, the company said the platform ingests more than 4 billion data points per day from over 40 million global connected vehicles.

10. CarMax

Coming in at number ten, CarMax acquired the remainder of Edmunds, up from their previous $50 million minority stake.

The total enterprise value of the transaction was reported to be $404 million dollars; Edmunds had revenue of $140 million dollars in 2020.

CarMax, the largest used-vehicle retailer in the U.S., worked with Edmunds to develop an online instant-offer tool for sellers of used autos.

CarMax will leverage Edmunds’ strong traffic (with 16m visits per month) to reduce cost of acquisition; CarMax spends $191m per year on marketing vs. Carvana at $286m  – referring to 2020 numbers.

Bonus: Digital Retailing

And finally, I’m going to cheat and insert a bonus category, because this is my show, and it was the year of big exits in the Digital Retailing space, as the big strategic players made their bets.

Examples included Prodigy selling to Upstart for $100 milion dollars, Gubagoo selling to Reynolds & Reynolds for an undisclosed amount, Roadster selling to CDK for $360 million dollars, and Darwin selling to JD Power for an undisclosed amount.

The Digital Retailing landscape has become competitive, with many stand-alone solutions; large players like Cox and made their bets long ago.

The whole segment was buoyed through COVID: every dealer needed a solution to sell vehicles online; and the “Carvana Effect” has also provided dealers a sense of urgency to get in the game.


So, there you have it. That’s your annual wrap-up version of the Friday Five. I hope you appreciated the recap of the year’s biggest and most important AutoTech deals, at least from my perspective.

Thank You For Tuning into CBT News for the year recap Friday Five, and we’ll see you in the New Year!


So that’s your weekly Friday 5, a quick wrap-up of the big deals in automotive technology over the past week.

It’s an exciting time to be in the automotive space, with a ton of deals going on. Make sure you stay tuned in each week to stay up to date on the auto industry’s technology M&A activity. I’ll keep my fingers on the pulse of deals being done, so I can share updates with you.

If you’re an early-stage automotive technology entrepreneur looking to raise money, or an entrepreneur who wants to chat about the best timing and process to sell your company to achieve the best outcome, I’d love to discuss it with you at


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Steve Greenfield
Steve Greenfield
Steve is the Founder and CEO of Automotive Ventures, an automotive technology advisory firm that helps entrepreneurs raise money and maximize the value of their companies. They also assist PE firms to conduct due diligence on automotive technology acquisitions, advise technology CEOs on strategy, and help represent sellers at the time of sale.

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