Venture

Firefly raises $30M To Place Digital Ads On Cars, Expands Beyond SF To NYC

San Francisco’s Firefly, which puts digital advertisements on top of taxis, food delivery and ride-sharing cars, has raised $30 million in its Series A, led by GV. After launching out of stealth in December, the company has raised $51.5 million to-date.

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The new round will help the company’s launch and expansion into New York City. They’re also going to be using high definition screens in both NYC and SF.

Founder Kaan Gunay and CTO Onur Kardesler

Firefly advertises companies like Brex, Caviar, and Zumper. They sell by impressions. So if you’re a company and want to advertise during rush hour in San Francisco’s Financial District, Firefly can do that for you.  In return, full-time drivers who place a Firefly advertisement on top of their car make $300 a month. They only work with full-time drivers at this time, the company said. 

“That’s how we started, our goal is to increase that income,” Kaan Gunay, the CEO and co-founder of Firefly, told Crunchbase News. He explained that drivers’ main source of income will always be driving, but that extra cash through Firefly could be the difference between hours with family, or a trip.

Part of its competitive appeal, said Kaan, is that Firefly is company-agnostic when working with drivers. You can be a driver for Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and DoorDash, and FireFly will let you host their advertisement (it’s happened).

“You rarely meet drivers that just drive for one company,” Gunay said.

“It’s a value proposition and a strong pain point for drivers,” he said. The company has thousands of drivers across San Francisco right now that use its product.

As for why Uber and Lyft wouldn’t just do this business themselves? He guessed that it’s because those companies are so focused on their core business that an auxiliary component like this probably isn’t top of mind.

Firefly said it delivers 200 million impressions per month with a total of 650,000 hours of content. It has 40,000 square miles of coverage area.

Gunay said his is a difficult business because it combines hardware, software, ad network and operational complexity. With that, the company wants to scale – but scale wisely. At least one population is ready to jump on the opportunity: over 1,000 drivers, in San Francisco alone, are on the wait list for Firefly.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias