Editor’s Note: Christine Magee is an editor for CrunchBase. As Uber continues on its quest to corner the global ride-hailing marketplace, venture investors in search of the next billion dollar mobility unicorn have found a new place to park capital -- literally. Just this week, both on-demand valet service Valet Anywhere and parking ticket combatant Fixed announced new seed funding. And Russian Internet giant Yandex launched its own Yandex.Parking service in Moscow yesterday. Parking is more than an inconvenience -- it's a $25 billion dollar market in the U.S. alone, and with supply dwindling new solutions are necessary. "In all major cities in the U.S., specifically New York and LA, most development that’s happening is getting rid of the lots and building high rises," says Robert Kao, founder of Valet Anywhere. "There are more and more cars being driven and less and less parking spaces -- it's going to be a big, big problem." Problems associated with parking are about more than just wasted time, according to Urban.us, a Miami-based seed stage investment firm focused on tackling urban challenges. "Our broad interest is things that make cities better, and parking is relevant to us because it directly intersects with congestion and ultimately emissions," says founder Shaun Abrahamson. "Depending on the estimates, 30% of traffic is people just driving around to look for parking spaces." Abrahamson is not alone. According to CrunchBase data, parking tech has quite a few VCs excited -- even rapper Nas got in on this week's round for Fixed. In 2014, CrunchBase captured $76 million in capital committed for parking tech companies and saw a 40% jump in number of venture rounds recorded the year before. “I think the interest is all over the map because people are looking at Uber and going, 'OK, we have some massive disruption of a traditional business, so what else is interesting in the mobility space?'" says Abrahamson. New York's Valet Anywhere and San Francisco's Luxe Valet and Zirx have tailored the rather trendy 'Uber for parking' model to fit regional markets, but we've yet to see a nation-wide winner. For drivers who'd rather park themselves, there are a handful of parking search and comparison engines such as SpotHero out of Chicago, Spot Park in Boston, and QuickPay in the Bay Area. Ultimately, there will need to be some consolidation. "When we look at the space we assume there will be more and more integration, to the point where eventually all lead gen is going to happen at the mapping layer, whether it's bike share or Car2Go or ZipCar or whatever," Abrahamson says. We probably won't be seeing a second $40 billion dollar mobility giant anytime soon, but there's an open spot in the parking market for a new tech titan. Image via Flickr user Ken Hawkins.
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