On the face of it, waste management doesn’t seem to have changed much over the decades. It mainly involves picking up waste and delivering it to the appropriate facility. But navigating waste from its source to its final destination involves numerous variables that can significantly affect efficiency, cost, and sustainability.
That process increasingly relies on innovative technology, whether it is used to turn waste into energy, optimize collection routes, or improve recycling rates. Among the leaders in this market are Rubicon Technologies, a Lexington, Kentucky-based cloud-based waste and recycling solutions for businesses, government entities, and other organizations.
Rubicon bills itself as a “digital challenger to status quo waste companies,” with a mission to “end waste.” It encourages customers to make data-driven decisions that lead to more efficient operations and sustainable outcomes. It offers proprietary technology in Machine Learning, Autonomous Vehicle Technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and holds more than 50 U.S. and international patents.
The company cuts a wide swath through the waste management business. It has over 8 million service locations in all 50 U.S. states and 20 different countries and manages waste and recycling services through a network of over 7,000 vendor and hauler partners.
Rubicon’s customers run the gamut from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies like Apple, Walmart, Starbucks, Chipotle, and FedEx. It also serves major U.S. city governments, including Baltimore; Kansas City, Missouri; and Columbus, Ohio.
All of this growth has gotten the attention of some pretty big names. Rubicon’s financial backers include actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, Henry Kravis, co-founder of private-equity firm KKR, and Paul Tudor Jones, the billionaire hedge-fund investor.
Now Rubicon plans to sell its shares to the public after entering into a merger agreement with Founder SPAC, a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company. The deal, announced in December, was expected to provide gross proceeds of about $432 million – $321 million from the SPAC’s trust account and $111 million from investors like Palantir Technologies and Rodina Capital.
Rubicon will use the money to expand internationally, acquire new customers and scale its platform. The New York Stock Exchange will be listed under the ticker symbol “RBT.”
The deal values the combined company at roughly $2 billion – a pretty tidy sum, considering Rubicon’s roots. It launched in 2008 when founder and CEO Nate Morris maxed out his credit cards and utilized a $10,000 line of credit. Fourteen years later, Rubicon is moving close to $600 million in annual revenue and has twice been named “One of the World’s Most Innovative Companies” by Fast Company.
Rubicon got to this exalted place by bringing a different approach to waste management.
“While the waste and recycling category is highly resilient, it is ripe for improvements in efficiency and sustainability,” Morris said in a press release. “The successful execution of our growth strategy will help propel the industry into the current age of digitization while facilitating the broader sustainability goals of customers and communities around the world.”
Rubicon’s sustainability solutions cover a wide range of services. The obvious one is recycling, where the company helps clients maximize the recycling of cardboard, concrete, drywall, glass, wood, metal, paper-plastic, and electronics. It also offers solutions that help clients turn food waste into renewable energy, properly dispose of hazardous waste, and repurpose organic waste.
Morris points to Rubicon’s humble beginnings as proof that everyone can take part when it comes to environmental innovation.
“As a Lexington, Kentucky-based company, our proven track record of environmental innovation shows that transformational ideas can come from anywhere and demonstrates the power of forward-thinking businesses to drive positive change in our world,” he said.