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Ford Motor Co. buys Durham startup with Duke, UNC, NC State ties

TransLoc CEO Doug Kaufman said the company will remain in Durham after the acquisition.
TransLoc CEO Doug Kaufman said the company will remain in Durham after the acquisition. Courtesy of TransLoc

Ford Motor Co., one of the largest automobile makers in the world, has bought a Durham-based transportation technology company.

The Detroit automaker announced on Thursday that it was acquiring TransLoc, which makes software platforms for transit agencies, cities and universities.

Financial terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

TransLoc will now operate under a Ford subsidiary, Ford Smart Mobility, which Ford established in 2016 to help diversify the company’s offerings. Under Ford Smart Mobility, the 115-year old motor company is expanding its services to include transportation services rather than just car sales.

TransLoc, which was started at N.C. State University in 2004, offers software that helps public-owned transit systems more efficiently respond to demand. The company works with cities across the country, but it has partnered closely with several local institutions, including GoTriangle, Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State.

Outside of public-transit agencies, TransLoc has also struck partnerships with other technology platforms in recent years. Last year, the company began working with Google to integrate more accurate real-time transportation information onto Google Maps. It also partnered with Uber to allow public transit users the ability to plan their route and book an Uber to cover the trip to or from the bus stop.

Doug Kaufman - TransLoc_preview
TransLoc CEO Doug Kaufman said the company will remain in Durham after the acquisition. Courtesy of TransLoc

“TransLoc is excited and proud to now be a part of Ford Smart Mobility. As a result of this integration, TransLoc will continue to realize its mission: to make public transit the first choice for all,” TransLoc CEO Doug Kaufman said. “Now, we have an ally in Ford Smart Mobility to take that mission even further.”

He said the company will remain in Durham after the acquisition.

The company has grown quickly in recent years after raising more than $8 million in funding from investors. The company operates out of Durham’s Research Triangle Park and has more than 50 employees.

TransLoc was part of a pair of tech acquisitions that Ford announced this week. The company also bought Autonomic, a Silicon Valley startup that helps created cloud-based platforms for transportation companies.

“As we deliver on our commitment to provide solutions for cities’ transportation challenges, an important part of our process is to determine whether to build, buy or partner the capabilities required,” Ford Mobility President Marcy Klevorn said in a statement. “We believe the integration of the technology and talent from Autonomic and TransLoc into our Mobility team will further bolster our ability to deliver robust solutions for personal owners, fleet operators and cities, with speed and at scale.”

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes

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