- SoftBank Group Corp.'s Vision Fund, according to a report from Forbes, is in negotiations to lead a new $150 million investment round into Missouri-based startup EquipmentShare. Forbes said it is basing its report on a review of prospectus documents.
- EquipmentShare, which is an equipment rental marketplace that also provides telematics and equipment utilization services, has had sales this year five times higher than the last and is expected to double that next year. A $150 million round would give the company a valuation of at least $1.5 billion and bring EquipmentShare's total fundraising to $220 million. One offer used a $1.7 billion valuation, but there is no indication whether that was from SoftBank or another investor, according to Forbes.
- EquipmentShare's projected operating profits for this year — $150 million EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) — could take some of the sting out of SoftBank's recent and well-publicized losses on WeWork and Uber. SoftBank declined a Forbes request for comment, and William Schlacks, CEO of EquipmentShare, sent a statement to Forbes that called the information “fairly inaccurate” but declined to elaborate. SoftBank was also behind an $865 million funding round for industry player Katerra last year.
EquipmentShare users can rent out their unused construction equipment, allowing them to make some money rather than just let it sit idle. The offerings run the gamut from power tools to excavating equipment, and the company has 35 locations across 17 U.S. states and New Zealand.
In January 2018, the SoftBank-led funding round for Katerra pushed the technology-based builder's total investment past $1 billion and left it with a $3 billion-plus valuation. Katerra has also achieved growth through acquisition, purchasing 18 North American companies since its founding in 2015.
Other construction-related companies have become attractive to investors in the last few years, specifically those that focus on field productivity like Fieldwire and PlanGrid. Fieldwire has raised more than $40 million, and construction software giant Autodesk announced its $875 million purchase of PlanGrid late last year.
Darren Bechtel with Brick & Mortar Ventures told Construction Dive earlier this year that one of the reasons for this interest in the field-based technology is the realization on the part of investors that the proliferation of smartphones and mobile devices has gone a long way in preparing foremen and superintendents to use apps and software solutions as part of their jobs.
"I think that there was perhaps a false assumption that tech needed to be developed for the office and the trailer," Bechtel said.