Drive-Thru Voice AI Startup Presto Announces $100M Raise Ahead of SPAC Merger
Hospitality tech developer Presto has announced a $100 million raise in partnership with the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) it plans to merge with as part of a plan to go public. Ventoux CCM Acquisition Corp. and Presto’s raise combines $13 million from Ventoux’s trust, $27 million in investment from outside sources, and a $60 million equity investment led by Cleveland Avenue, the venture capital group led by former McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson.
Presto is a voice AI developer for restaurant chains, particularly in drive-thrus. The startup recently began rolling out its tech at 267 corporate-owned Checkers and Rally’s drive-thru restaurants. Presto is also behind the voice element of conversational AI startup Hi Auto’s voice assistant at Ohio chicken restaurant chain Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken Restaurant. The company’s technology is used inside restaurants at kiosks and tables, but it is best known for the drive-thru element. The Silicon Valley-based company claims to have shipped more than a quarter of a million systems since it was founded in 2008 at M.I.T. and counts several restaurant chains as clients. The merger with Ventoux will bring Presto to Nasdaq this year, where it will trade as Presto Technologies. This is the same method SoundHound used to go public earlier this year. Presto was valued at $525 million ahead of the new equity funding, but that could go up before the IPO as Presto plans to leverage the cash to speed up its rollout to new restaurants, including pilot tests and experiments with McDonald’s, KFC and Chili’s.
“Presto welcomes Cleveland Avenue to our investor syndicate – we could not have found more aligned and strategic investors,” Presto CEORajat Suri said. “Not only do they know the industry inside out, they share our vision for transforming physical industries with advanced digital automation.”