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The surprisingly interesting business of shock absorbers

To be honest, I did not expect shock absorbers to be a hotbed of innovation. When I searched for shock absorbers in Mergeflow, I expected to see known companies, mostly in the automotive space, and perhaps some incremental improvements here and there.

I was wrong. At least sort of.

The expected…

I did see what I expected when I looked at market analyses in Mergeflow. The screenshot below shows a tag cloud with company names that Mergeflow extracted from market reports. As you can see, they are mostly those companies that one would expect for the topic. Bigger font size means that a company is mentioned in more market reports related to shock absorbers (click on the image to see a larger version).

Companies identified by Mergeflow in shock absorber market analyses.
Companies identified by Mergeflow in shock absorber market analyses.

…and the surprise about shock absorbers

I did not expect to find venture-capital-funded companies in this area. But I found two; ClearMotion and SoftWheel. Let’s zoom in on ClearMotion.

ClearMotion: Shock aborbers plus data platform

ClearMotion received a Series C round of $100 Mio in February 2017. Investors include JP Morgan Asset Management, New Enterprise Associates, Qualcomm Ventures, World Innovation Lab, and Eileses Capital. No, not Continental, ThyssenKrupp, Royal Enfield.

ClearMotion’s core device is called Activalve, which in their technology page they describe as a “software-centric, electro-hydraulic device”. It is a lot more than “just” shock absorbers. Activalve uses a combination of software and electric motors to counterbalance disturbances caused by road conditions. According to ClearMotion, their device fits into standard car platforms.

The impact of an emerging technology is even greater if this technology also enables new business models.

ClearMotion’s devices continually collect road condition data (screenshot below from ClearMotion’s website):

ClearMotion provides a completely new approach to shock absorber technology. ClearMotion's data collection enables new business models, based on road condition data available in real time.
ClearMotion’s data collection platform enables new data-driven business models.

From these data, ClearMotion can then create an extremely detailed road condition map. Including, if I understand it correctly, seasonal changes (dry, snow, rain, …). Just think of what one can do with such data, and the business models these data may enable.

In fact, now ClearMotion is also building a new software platform. The platform is called RoadMotion, and ClearMotion is currently expanding their data science and machine learning teams.

This shows that ClearMotion does not only develop a new technology. This new technology also enables them to address entirely new markets and run new business models, in this case data-driven ones.

Software eats all kinds of things

Other examples of software eating things include circuit breakers and AI chips. In order to spot such technologies, we use a divide-and-conquer approach to game-changing innovation discovery.

Mergeflow data on ClearMotion

By clicking here, or by clicking on the image below, you can see some data on ClearMotion in Mergeflow.

Mergeflow 360° Report on ClearMotion.
Mergeflow 360° Report on ClearMotion.

This article was written by:

Florian Wolf

Florian Wolf

Florian is founder and CEO at Mergeflow, where he is responsible for company strategy and analytics development at Mergeflow. Previously, Florian developed analytics software for risk management at institutional investors. He also worked as a Research Associate in Computer Science and Genetics at the University of Cambridge. Florian has a PhD in Cognitive Sciences from MIT.

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