MORAI plans Series B in 4Q21 to scale up autonomous vehicle simulation platform – CEO
MORAI, a South Korean autonomous driving simulation tech and service provider, is planning a Series B round of more than KRW 10bn (USD 8.8m) in 4Q21 to expand its market presence, cofounder and CEO Jung Ji-won told this news service.
The Seongnam-based company would welcome approaches from global strategics like automotive manufacturers, makers of autonomous vehicles, and self-driving car technologies - such as HD mapping - for the upcoming round, said Jung. It expects to close the deal by 1Q22, he added.
MORAI plans to use the proceeds to scale up the business by hiring talent, growing its client pool, and expanding its business entity in San Francisco, he said.
MORAI develops virtual testing solutions for autonomous driving systems to undergo both verification and validation and make self-driving cars reliable on the road, Jung said. Its autonomous vehicle (AV) simulation provides virtual 3D environments such as recreating roads and drastic weather conditions and various variables self-driving cars could encounter in real-life situations.
In September 2020, the company announced that it has raised KRW 2bn in its Series A from an existing investor D2SF, a startup accelerating unit of internet portal company Naver [KRX:035420], followed by new participants KaKao Ventures and Korea Credit Guarantee Fund. Previously, the firm received an undisclosed sum of seed investment from domestic automaker Hyundai Motor [KRX:005380], the CEO said.
MORAI also plans to receive additional funding via bridge financing round from an undisclosed domestic financial investor, Jung said, without elaborating more.
Separately, MORAI is receptive to buyout offers from global firms interested in autonomous vehicle testing tools and has been in talks with overseas players, he said.
MORAI works with over 60 corporate and government organizations such as IT services provider Samsung SDS [KRX:018260], AI tech developer Naver Labs, Korea Automobile Testing and Research Institute, Jung said. Notably, it signed a partnership with California-based Velodyne Lidar [NASDAQ: VLDR] last May, as reported.
MORAI’s peers include Germany-based VIRES and Israel-based Cognata, according to its IR document. VIRES was acquired by Swedish autonomous solution company Hexagon [STO:HEXA-B] in March 2017. Cognata announced it has raised USD18.5m in its Series B led by California-based venture firm Scale Venture Partners in October 2018.
MORAI, established in 2018, has since clocked an average of 400%-500% growth in annual sales revenue, Jung said, declining to reveal more details.
Jung and co-founder Hong Jun are the largest shareholders, jointly owning around 60% of the company. It currently has 40 employees and has an R&D center in Seoul.
by Jenny Lee in Seoul