Trash Unicorn: Waste Startup Rubicon Global Hits $1B Valuation With $50M Raise

After a tumultuous year that saw it become a target for the waste industry’s big players, Rubicon Global has emerged as tech’s first unicorn in trash.

The Atlanta-based startup has received a $50 million in a strategic investment from Mexican private equity firm Promecap to continue to expand in the U.S. market and eventually open operations in Mexico. The deal values Rubicon Global at more than $1 billion, according Nate Morris, the company’s cofounder and CEO.

“It’s been a challenging year, but we’ve had incredible highs,” Morris said in an interview. “Having a foreign entrant investing is another very strong signal that will continue to put pressure on the market.”

A software challenger that connects haulers with companies and municipalities who need their waste picked up, Rubicon Global has grown fast in the face of what Morris calls an oligopoly of public companies led by Waste Management, Republic Services and Waste Connections, which carry a market capitalization of more than $70 billion between the three of them. Though considerably smaller then that group, Rubicon took in more than $300 million in revenue in 2016, triple the year before, and is on pace to exceed that amount again in 2017. Rubicon now works with 5,000 customers, its CEO says, up from 1,500 a year ago.

Much of that growth has come among small businesses using Rubicon as something of an Uber for trash to find cheaper hauling rates and schedule pickups on a frequency more on par with their waste accumulation. That segment of business is growing at a 300% clip, says Morris.

Founded nine years ago by Morris and a childhood friend in Louisville, Rubicon caught the eye of investors including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Uber founding CTO Oscar Salazar, as well as Goldman Sachs and Wellington Management. In January, the company announced a $50 million investment by French multinational Suez Environment that valued the company at $800 million.

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