Car Insurance Disruptor Root Raised USD$350m; DoorDash Purchases Self-Driving Business Scotty Labs

Root raised $350m

DTC’s Daily Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands. In today’s edition: Car insurance disruptor Root raised USD$350m; DoorDash purchases self-driving business Scotty Labs; and Coty adds AI to DTC business. 

Car insurance disruptor Root raised USD$350m

Ohio-based car insurance startup Root Insurance is set to raise USD$350m (£288m) in a funding round that would bring the company’s valuation to $3.65 billion. 

The Series E round will be led by new investors Coatue Management and DST Global. Root currently has USD$177.5m (£146.1m) in funding, with its most recent round of USD$100m (£82m) raised last August.

Root uses a driver’s smartphone to gauge how well they drive, unlike traditional insurance companies, which take age, location, and how far you drive into account. Root’s smartphone app measures behaviors like braking, route regularity, and speed of turns to determine if someone is a “safe driver” and how much they should pay for insurance. Drivers can save up to 52% on their car insurance policy through Root, according to the company.

Root’s new round would be the single-largest funding round for a VC-backed insurance startup in 2019. 

DoorDash purchases self-driving business Scotty Labs

DoorDash is on an acquisition spree at present, with Scotty Labs its latest grab. Scotty Labs, a tele-operations company that is working on technology to enable people to remotely control self-driving cars. The business raised a USD$6m (£5m) seed round from Gradient Ventures, with participation from Horizon Ventures and Hemi Ventures, last March. The startup had previously worked with Voyage for its self-driving cars in retirement communities.

This deal comes on the heels of DoorDash’s acquisition of on-demand food delivery and catering business Caviar for USD$410m (£337m). “Our core belief at Scotty has always been that Autonomy + Remote Assistance is the future,” Scotty CEO Tobenna Arodiogbu wrote on Medium. “We have intentionally always considered ourselves to be the anti-hype company and focused intensely on developing core infrastructure and algorithms to ensure the safe deployment of autonomous vehicles.”

Details of how Scotty Labs will fit into DoorDash’s business are nonexistent, but you could imagine DoorDash using Scotty’s technologies to remotely control delivery robots or other types of autonomous vehicles.

Coty adds AI to DTC business

Coty has added AI to its direct-to-consumer brand Younique. The AI is a facial analysis tool that facilitates virtual product try-on for shoppers as well as more informed product recommendations from presenters. 

Melanie Huscroft, co-founder, Younique, says “we are so excited to revolutionise the industry with the Younique Beauty Guide – our new AR tool – that is globally seamless and leverages innovation to further our mission.” 

Besides facilitating consumer try-on, the beauty give can also “serve as a diagnostic tool for each Younique Presenter in recommending the right products and shades for their loyal customer base, thereby increasing overall consumer satisfaction.”

Users will be able to try on several products, including foundation, blush, mascara and eyeliners. 

Coty has recently been under pressure to turn around Younique’s fortunes, with the brand struggling to make sales just two years after the beauty giant invested $600m (£494m) for a 60% stake in the business.

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