In Alex Israel’s utopia, you may never have to take out your credit card again.
Israel is the co-founder and CEO of Metropolis Technologies, a Los Angeles-based fintech and “mobility commerce” platform that has just raised $167 million in Series B funding, it announced on Wednesday. The round was co-led by L.A.-based growth equity firm 3L Capital and mobility-focused Assembly Ventures, with participation from Dragoneer Investment Group, Eldridge Industries, Silver Lake Waterman and UP Partners.
Metropolis, which has now raised $226 million in total funding, aims to take the grab-and-go model of Amazon’s physical retail locations and apply it to every parking garage, gas station, car wash and highway toll booth possible. Instead of paying for parking spaces at kiosks or having to deal with parking validation, the startup uses computer vision technology that connects users’ license plate numbers to their credit cards and automatically charges them.
“When you or I make a transaction on the phone or we buy something online, it's a modern experience—it's something we're very used to,” Israel told dot.LA. “When you get into the built environment, it gets convoluted and complex. We're simplifying and bringing all that seamless experience you expect in an online environment into real life.”
Though it was founded at the tail-end of 2017, Metropolis really began to take off during the pandemic as business owners embraced contactless payments. The startup says it has grown its user base 28 times over, to 1.8 million users, since February 2021 and now operates in more than 600 parking lots in over 60 cities across the U.S.
Israel noted that partnerships with real estate landlords have helped fuel that growth. Metropolis has also teamed with ride-sharing giant Uber on a new venture called Uber Park, which provides users with a checkout-free parking experience at specific garages via their Uber app. The company charges a monthly software-as-a-service fee to asset owners who deploy its technology, as well as a service fee to customers who sign up.
Israel added that the data Metropolis collects on parking activity can be leveraged to help users find parking spaces faster—a potentially valuable service in a car-centric city like L.A., where the amount of real estate dedicated to parking is larger than Manhattan. The rest of the U.S., where there are four parking spaces for every car on the road, is no exception, and Metropolis plans to use its new funding to scale up in markets like Seattle, Dallas-Fort Worth and New York.
“We're creating a single sign-on for the built environment,” Israel said.