Zendrive Represents the Next Wave of Safety Innovation

Zendrive Represents the Next Wave of Safety Innovation 

Ayanangsha Maitra

Google-Facebook alumni Jonathan Matus and Pankaj Risbood gave birth to their brainchild Zendrive in 2013, with a relentless passion for making roads safer through data and analytics. The two led the company through significant growth, further cementing Zendrive’s position as the largest and fastest growing mobile driver analytics platform.

The core competence of Zendrive lies in providing mobile driver analytics services to fleets, cities and insurers. Zendrive improves the safety of drivers, passengers, and roads using data, analytics and coaching. In addition to influencing driver behavior and a deeper understanding of modern transportation patterns, the amassed data also helps the insurance industry evolve with new risk assessment models. Not only do their services enable clients to cut driving-related costs (e.g. insurance), Zendrive also helps accelerate growth and empower drivers worldwide.

Zendrive does all this by leveraging mobile sensors found in smartphones to measure risky driving behavior and provide actionable insights that improve safety for both passengers and drivers. Its technology was built from the ground up for mobile developers, and is embedded quickly and easily inside any Android or iOS app. Customers include ridesharing fleets, mapping apps, driver education and safety apps and multiple insurers.

Zendrive’s most direct competitors are companies offering hardware devices for driver safety, like FleetMatics or MobileEye, acquired for $2.4B and $15B respectively. Yet with over three billion miles and hundreds of million trips analyzed each month, Zendrive’s scale–combined with its artificial intelligence algorithms—puts it in a leadership position to power data services for fleets and insurers globally.

On a Path to 1 Billion Devices

Leading up to the day of publishing this report, Zendrive has collected and analyzed fifteen billion miles of driving data. This scale makes it possible for Zendrive to provide powerful data services to cities, autonomous vehicle manufacturers and insurers globally, which is extremely transformative for the insurance industry.

While speaking about their unique services, Jonathan Matus, co-founder of Zendrive asserted,

“We believe software is the best way to deliver safety insights because hardware and on-board diagnostic ports can’t detect distracted phone use, are significantly more expensive, and have demonstrated security weaknesses that can allow hackers to remotely take control of cars. Since Zendrive measures data on mobile devices vs. the vehicle itself, it is free of security concerns and is especially relevant for on-demand services and other mobile-powered transportation services.”

Over the next several years, Zendrive aspires to be deployed on 1 billion devices through continued work with leading partners. As Zendrive’s technology advances in parallel with connected car capabilities, the company intends to proactively develop the ability to prevent accidents by analyzing road conditions in real- time, and warning drivers as they approach risky situations.

The Zendrive Team

Having grown up in Israel, Jonathan reflected on the reality that in this small country surrounded by enemies, and embroiled in numerous regional conflicts, traffic fatalities far outnumbered fatalities than those in wars. With traffic mortality rates accelerating, Jonathan was acutely aware that this issue wasn’t just unique to Israel; traffic accidents are among the top 10 killers of humans around the world- and people aged between 15 and 44 years account for 48% of global road traffic deaths.

That fact, coupled with the reality that a massive, mobile-powered revolution in transportation was occurring with the rise of the ridesharing, inspired Jonathan and Pankaj to create a mission-driven organization that would re-imagine transportation using mobile driver analytics to improve safety.

After gaining years of expertise in mobile and artificial intelligence projects (as an early member of the Android and the Speech Recognition teams at Google), Jonathan Matus left Google and joined Facebook to launch their mobile platform. At both companies, Jonathan built products that touched more than a billion people.

Reminiscing about the process of building Zendrive from zero to fifty team members, Matus highlights the ability to move at a velocity that is limited only by his own team’s bandwidth. This is very refreshing compared to working in large organizations—even cutting edge tech companies such as Google and Facebook—where dependencies and process slow things down.

Yet it was at Google where Jonathan and his co-founder Pankaj Risbood first met and developed a strong friendship. At Google, Pankaj scaled the machine learning and infrastructure for Google’s Speech Recognition Engine, which the two launched together in 2007. Pankaj led engineering for Google App Compute thereafter. Even though their paths diverged following their time on the Speech Team, Jonathan and Pankaj remained in touch. It was when Jonathan realized he wanted to create a company that would solve a big societal problem focused on road safety, that he posted on his Facebook wall,  “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Pankaj responded to this post and the two founded Zendrive.

Zendrive currently has two offices, with locations in San Francisco, CA and Bangalore, India. The offices house up to fifty employees, all of whom collaboratively work on innovative projects. The Zendrive team includes experienced engineers and data scientists whom are busy day and night on solving one of the world’s biggest problems – road safety.

The employees of Zendrive combine their passion for data with and for making the world a better and safer place.  The team has since flourished into a community of passionate people who love each other and love coming to work together.

Zendrive also has an An R&D center has been built in Bangalore. Pankaj Risbood is based there and is viewed as one of the most respected tech leaders in the area. This access to untapped technical talent allows Zendrive to efficiently scale a team of world-class engineers and data scientists more quickly than other teams in the US or Europe.


What the Clients Say:

We selected Zendrive due to their superior breadth, precision, and accuracy. Zendrive is also leveraging their portfolio of insurer partners to develop new mobile, behavior-based models, creating the ultimate win-win scenario.

Itamar Novick, Chief Business Officer, Life360


By partnering with Zendrive, we were able to make safety data really transparent not only to our drivers, but to the dealers and manufacturers we work with as well. Zendrive is easy to integrate, easy for our drivers to use and enables much greater efficiencies for us. With Zendrive, we’ve seen a direct correlation between the improvement of drivers’ overall scores and damage claims; specifically, we’ve seen over 50% reduction in damage claims and tickets as scores improve.

Spencer Richardson, Co-Founder and CEO of DropCar

Zendrive’s Future

Being asked to discuss Zendrive’s future, Co-Founder Pankaj Risbood said,

“Zendrive’s future road map includes helping get autonomous vehicles safely on the road. No matter how well autonomous technology is programmed to navigate maps, traffic controls, and street designs, it will need to know how humans drive and move. Human driving behavior differs over space and time, from city to city, state to state, and season to season. Regardless of how fast autonomous vehicles are developed, they’ll be sharing the roads with human drivers for decades to come. Zendrive is building the risk models so that consumers, insurers, and regulators can have the tools and peace of mind to quantify and improve road safety in this new paradigm of transportation. Autonomous cars are the new computing platform for the next generation and analytics related to this area will be incredibly important.”

To advance the research and development of connected, automated and autonomous vehicles, Zendrive has also partnered with the TechLab program at MCity, in an effort to help establish safety standards for autonomous vehicles.

Backed by some of the best investors in the world, Zendrive has raised a total of $15M through angel and Series A funding. Zendrive has attracted investors like First Round Capital, BMW iVentures, Fontinalis Partners, Thomvest Ventures, Nyca Partners and Sherpa Capital.

Owing to its growth in recent times, the firm has earned several prestigious awards. Gartner selected Zendrive as the “Best Smart Mobility Vendor” in their 2015 Cool Vendor report. In addition, in 2015, Zendrive was named “Best B2B Start-up” by the On Demand Conference, the leading U.S. summit covering the on-demand economy. In 2016, Frost & Sullivan presented Zendrive with a “2016 Companies in Action” Award.

Zendrive has worked hard to build a value driven organization with a laser focus on solving road safety challenges worldwide using data. The cutting-edge tools and solutions that Zendrive is building will not only address today’s challenges but also deliver value to fleets and cities in their digital transformation using superior technology. After all, Zendrive is leading the evolution of safety in this era of transportation innovation and mobile ubiquity.