Rubicon Global

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Rubicon Global
IndustryWaste Management
Smart Cities
Founded2008; 12 years ago (2008)
FoundersNate Morris, Marc Spiegel, Hank Dudgeon, Lane Moore
United States
Area served
Key people
  • Nate Morris (Founder, Chairman and CEO)
  • Phil Rodoni (CTO)
  • Michael Allegretti (SVP, Policy and Strategic Initiatives)
  • William Meyer (General Counsel and Corporate Secretary)

Rubicon Global is a cloud-based, full-service waste and recycling company focused on sustainability. It works with customers to find inefficiencies and cost-savings in their waste stream and to develop new and innovative ways to reduce, re-use and recycle waste.

Rubicon has developed a mobile application to provide on-demand trash pickup.[1] The company has been compared to tech companies such as Uber, Airbnb[2] and Netflix.[3]


Rubicon was founded in Kentucky in 2008 by Nate Morris and Marc Spiegel who were friends from Eastern High School in Louisville.[4] Spiegel's family had been in the waste and recycling hauling trade for more than a century; his knowledge piqued Morris's interest in starting a company that could disrupt the waste industry. Morris maxed out personal credit cards and sold items on eBay to fund initial expenses, like a website and basic legal work.[5][6] Shortly thereafter, Hank Dudgeon joined as a co-founder.

Rubicon's name comes from the idiom “Crossing the Rubicon”, which means to pass a point of no return and refers to Julius Caesar’s army’s crossing of the Rubicon River in 49 BC.[7] Morris has called Caesar's river crossing “a fantastic story of disruption.”[4]


In 2010, Rubicon received early seed money from QuarterMoore, an Atlanta-based private investment firm. QuarterMoore principal Lane Moore joined Rubicon as a co-founder.[8]

In the summer of 2012, Rubicon received $5 million in its first financing round. Investors included Rotunda Capital Partners, Richmond Global, C.M. "Bill" Gatton, and Joel Moxley.[9]

In January 2015, Rubicon announced that it had raised $30 million in a second round of financing. Investors included Barry Sternlicht, Brad M. Kelley, Marc Benioff, and Fifth Third Bank.[10]

Rubicon investor Leonardo DiCaprio in April 2016

In September 2015, Rubicon raised $57 million in a third round of financing. The round was led by Nima Capital. Investors included Leonardo DiCaprio, Henry Kravis, Paul Tudor Jones, Goldman Sachs, and Wellington Management.[11]

In October 2016, Rubicon was named a Next Billion-Dollar Startup by Forbes.[12]

Forbes reported in January 2017 that Rubicon had raised an additional $50 million in funding, bringing its valuation to $800 million.[13] French-based multi-national company Suez led the financing round which raised a total of $75 million.

In September 2017, Forbes reported that Rubicon had raised an additional $50 million from Promecap, the Mexico-based investment firm led by Fernando Chico Pardo, a long-time associate of Carlos Slim. The funding put the company's valuation at more than $1 billion.[14]

Recode reported in May 2018 that Rubicon had received $65 million in funding from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.[15]

Corporate information[edit]

Rubicon has offices in Atlanta, Lexington, Ky., New York and San Francisco.[16]

In June 2018, Rubicon announced that Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin had joined its board of directors.[17]

In October 2018, Rubicon announced that former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith had joined its board of directors and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter had joined its advisory board.[18]

Advisory board members include Marie-Josée Kravis, David Plouffe and Kevin Warsh.[7]

In 2018, Rubicon acquired three waste companies: RiverRoad Waste Solutions, Computerized Waste Systems and WestRock’s waste services division.[3]

Rubicon has partnered with startup Helpr to provide childcare services for its workforce.[19]

Business model[edit]

Rubicon aims to cut costs for customers by working with suppliers to reduce inefficiencies and maximize the amount of waste being diverted from landfills.[20] Customers include 7-Eleven and Wegmans.[2] Rubicon serves the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and launched in 18 additional countries in early 2016.[21] In February 2019, Rubicon said it was formally setting its sights on international business development, with efforts expected to focus on Europe and the Asia-Pacific region to start.[22]

Rubicon is a cloud-based company. It created and maintains its own software platform that analyzes its customers’ waste stream and makes sense of all the data on haulers, clients, and recycling possibilities.[2] Rubicon provides a suite of SaaS products for waste, recycling, and smart city solutions. This subscription business is targeted to comprise more than 50% of Rubicon's revenue.[23]

Industry reaction[edit]

Rubicon's business model, focused on moving the industry away from landfills and investing in technology, has elicited strong reactions from the large incumbent waste companies.[24]

At WasteExpo 2017, Waste Management CEO James Fish commented on Rubicon's landfill diversion goals by saying, "To the extent that all of us own disposal facilities of some type, maybe we are married to it, and I'm OK with that at 30 percent margins. I’m agnostic here with respect to landfills versus recycling."[25]

Acquisition speculation[edit]

Forbes contributor Marilyn Cohen has written that if "Rubicon is really the Uber of the garbage business, it could be a perfect future acquisition for one of the industry giants."[26]

Small business empowerment[edit]

Rubicon has focused on small business empowerment. The company is partnered with the National Federation of Independent Business to promote and expand their independent vendor network.[27]

Rubicon has more than 5,200 independent vendors in its network.[28] It helps small businesses achieve scale and compete through RubiconPro, a suite of app-based tools that it launched in 2016.[29]

Rubicon has partnered with The Credit Junction to provide its network of haulers with flexible financing, including access to term loans or lines of credit from $500,000 to $5 million.[30]

Smart Cities[edit]

RUBICONSmartCity is the company's product offering specifically designed for city governments.[31] Rubicon's Michael Allegretti told Governing Technology: "We're powering garbage trucks to be the eyes and ears of cities. Garbage trucks should be rolling data centers."[32] Government Fleet reported that Rubicon's platform had improved driver safety, vehicle health, customer service and the ability to track public works priorities like potholes, property maintenance issues and graffiti for Rubicon's municipal partners.[33]

Rubicon launched a partnership with the City of Atlanta in December 2016.[34] The city's waste trucks are deployed with Rubicon's mobile app and the Department of Public Works has access to the company's vendor platform.

In the spring of 2017, Rubicon announced municipal partnerships with the City of Santa Fe, New Mexico[35] and the City of Columbus, Georgia.[36]

Rubicon announced a pilot program with the City of Montgomery, Alabama in June 2018.[37] In July 2019, Rubicon and the City of Montgomery signed a three-year, nearly $750,000 deal.[38]

Rubicon launched partnerships with the City of West Memphis, Arkansas in July 2018[39] and the City of Spokane, Washington in December 2018.[40]

In February 2019, Rubicon announced a partnership with the City of Fort Collins, Colorado to test new smart street sweeper technology.[41] Rubicon announced partnerships with the City of Irving, Texas in April 2019[42] and the City of Norfolk, Virginia in June 2019.[43] In November 2019, Rubicon announced a partnership with the City of Fort Smith, Arkansas.[44]

The RUBICONSmartCity technology is available on the Amazon Web Services Marketplace.[45] In spring 2019, Rubicon said the smart cities platform had been rolled out in more than 30 cities across the U.S.[46]


Logo for French-based utility company Suez

In January 2017, Rubicon announced a strategic partnership with Suez.[47] The companies agreed to collaborate on technology and data.

In October 2017, Rubicon announced a partnership with TerraCycle to offer more non-landfill waste solutions.[48] The companies have access to each other's customer bases to offer new solutions, fill in service gaps and develop new strategies.

Rubicon announced in March 2019 that it had entered into a partnership agreement with the Odakyu Group to bring its technology solutions to Japan and help Odakyu develop a sustainable ecosystem for all of its operating businesses.[49]

In December 2019, Rubicon announced it had signed a subscription agreement with Swiss company Helvetia Environnement.[50] Helvetia has a network of roughly 500 public sector and 15,000 private sector clients.


Zero Waste and Environmental Data[edit]

Rubicon CEO Nate Morris has said that the company's goal is to move all of their "material into something more sustainable than a landfill."[51] Rubicon is a member of the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council.[52]

Rubicon has teamed with data company Trucost to give its customers accurate data on the greenhouse gas emissions from their waste.[53]

In early 2018, Rubicon debuted RUBICONMethod, a guide that encapsulates best practices for organizations striving to reduce their waste generation and keep valuable materials out of landfills.[54]

In May 2018, Rubicon partnered with the Atlanta Hawks to recycle 12,500 seats removed during the Philips Arena transformation project.[55]

Rubicon diverted nearly 12 tons of waste destined for landfills from events at State Farm Arena during the week of Super Bowl LIII.[56]

Public Policy[edit]

In 2017, Rubicon supported legislation in Nevada to increase collection opportunities for independent haulers. The company argued in an op-ed that Senate Bill 315[57] would "save taxpayer money, empower competition, and help eradicate landfills."[58] Republic Services responded with an op-ed arguing against the bill.[59]

Benefit Corporation[edit]

Rubicon is a certified B Corporation.[60]

In 2013, Rubicon worked with companies including Warby Parker and Prudential Financial to pass a law in Delaware recognizing public benefit corporations.[61]

Recognition and Memberships[edit]

Rubicon has been certified as a Great Place to Work® since 2018[62][63] and was included by Glassdoor among “11 Companies with Seriously Impressive Benefits.”[64]

In 2018, Rubicon CEO Nate Morris was named a Most Admired CEO honoree by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.[65]

Rubicon won the Ecolab Award for Circular Economy Digital Disruptor at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in 2017. The prestigious award was presented as part of The Circulars, an awards program by the WEF’s Young Global Leaders. Nate Morris was named a finalist for the Fortune Award for Circular Economy Leadership the same year.[66]

In 2017, Inc. named Rubicon to its list of the 25 Most Disruptive Companies of the Year.[67] Other companies included on the list included Hyperloop One and SoFi.

Fast Company included Rubicon on its list of The World's Most Innovative Companies 2016 - Social Good Sector.[68]

Rubicon is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations[69] and the Wharton School Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership's Corporate Advisory Board.[70]

Case study[edit]


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External links[edit]