Just how much does it cost employers to when employees use their mobile devices while driving? According to ‘distracted driving solutions’ provider Aegis Mobility, it could be upwards of $50 billion. Which may be just one of the reasons the company announced today that it has acquired competitor ZoomSafer for an undisclosed amount, bringing the two providers together to offer solutions for commercial fleet operators. In addition to the acquisition, Aegis mobility also announced it has closed $5 million in equity financing led by the West Michigan and Chicago Angel Groups, which it will be using to scale and invest in marketing, sales, and product development.
ZoomSafer founder Matthew Howard will be joining Aegis Mobility as their CMO, and said the two companies have an aligned vision of helping employers implement policy controls to better monitor their employees’ mobile usage. “Both companies were founded with a similar vision towards creating policy controls for purposes of promoting safe and legal mobile devices while people are driving vehicles, whether that’s a smartphone or tablet computer,” said Howard in an interview with BetaKit. “The market has evolved slowly but very steadily over the past four years. Both companies realized that the initial adoption is primarily going to be enterprise commercial fleet applications because of the employer liability issues that’s increasingly becoming clear.”
The company offers a SaaS platform which costs companies approximately $5-8 a month. Targeted at commercial fleet operators, it gives employers the ability to choose which features should be enabled on a phone while an employee is driving, for example creating rules that disable email, texting, and internet browsing, while still keeping the ability to receive inbound calls from dispatch for example.
While both companies approached the task of how to determine when exactly an employee is driving, the acquisition now gives Aegis three options to put on the table for potential customers. The first Aegis developed specifically so it doesn’t drain mobile battery, and is a GPS-based solution called Drive Assist which runs in the background and can detect speed, so that if the driver goes above five miles per hour, it’ll enable the policy. Through its ZoomSafer acquisition, the company can now offer solutions which integrate directly with the driver’s vehicle via existing telematics systems used to track the vehicle and driver behavior and in-vehicle on-board diagnostics technology, while also providing analytics to help customers determine just how much safer the technology is making their operations.
Earlier this year, Coca-Cola had to pay $21 million in damages when one of their drivers hit a woman while using her cellphone, which is just one example, according to Howard, of how not having a policy in place can impact businesses. Others include workers compensation costs, vehicle repairs, and as the above case demonstrates expensive litigation. Another company that looks to tackle the issue both for the enterprise and consumer market is Cellcontrol, and as the dangers of distracted driving continue to be explored, it will likely become an even more competitive space.
With the acquisition and funding under its belt, Aegis will be focused of scaling and growth in order to capitalize on the growing awareness about how distracted driving can negatively impact companies (not to mention anyone who comes into contact with a distracted driver). It will also be looking to roll out the analytics portion of the service, which will then allow companies to use the potential data to lower their insurance premiums for implementing the technology. It also sees the potential of eventually targeting the average consumer once it has enough momentum to prove its effectiveness in the enterprise space.