Firefly raises an additional $30M, expands to NYC, and acquires Strong Outdoor
The gig driving economy might be growing, but excepting cities with minimum wage laws for ride-hailing drivers, the pay certainly isn’t getting any better. Lyft says its drivers’ median earnings work out to $18.83 an hour nationally. A Buzzfeed survey found that Uber drivers in Denver, Detroit, and Houston earned just $13.25 an hour on average. And in a recent survey disputed by Uber, MIT researchers reported that Uber and Lyft drivers’ median pretax profit was $3.37 per hour.
That’s why Kaan Gunay and Onur Kardesler cofounded Firefly, a San Francisco and New York startup that works directly with ride-hailing drivers to mount ad displays on top of their cars. It launched out of beta in December 2018, and in the intervening months, it’s garnered support from brands like Brex, Segment, Caviar, Zumper, and others.
Firefly today revealed that it’s secured $30 million in series A financing led by GV (formerly Google Ventures), with participation from existing backer NFX. The newfound funds, which come on the heels of a $21.5 million seed funding round to bring Firefly’s total raised to $51.5 million, will be used to support “continued innovation” and scale the company’s model to new formats and markets, said Gunay. Additionally, they’ll support its acquisition of taxi advertising provider Strong Outdoor’s digital operations (a wholly owned subsidiary of Ballantyne Strong), which marks Firefly’s expansion to New York City.
That last bit is noteworthy. Strong Outdoor claims that advertisements on its 300 full-motion displays and 3,339 two-sided displays get a collective 43.2 million impressions per day across 3,639 MTBOT Yellow Cabs.