Lee has been in the garbage business since he snagged a gig hauling trash for the local unemployment office as a young Army vet in 1971, and his company, Eco Tech Waste Logistics, based in Louisville, Kentucky, is the kind of mom-and-pop operation that has powered Rubicon’s ascent.
Eight years after Morris launched the company with childhood friend Marc Spiegel in Louisville, where they grew up, Rubicon works with 5,000 small hauling businesses and with big customers like 7-11 and Wegmans.
Rubicon has lured top-tier investors such as Goldman Sachs and Wellington Management and is now poaching talent from Silicon Valley.
Already the owner of Waste Management’s former assets overseas, Suez plans to reenter the U.S. market by working with Rubicon, which will share its best tech practices and what Morris considers its most valuable asset: its data.
“The U.S. model is old-fashioned,” says Jean-Marc Boursier, CEO of Suez’s Recycling & Waste Recovery, Europe, who has kept his company’s plans with Rubicon secret until now.
Eventually QuarterMoore Capital’s Lane Moore, who had cofounded Bagster, a company he sold to Waste Management, agreed to invest and join the board-but only if Rubicon moved to Atlanta, where he worked.
“Maybe it takes them 20 years, but if the other guys can get to $50 billion, I don’t see why Rubicon can’t either,” says Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, who invested in Rubicon after meeting Morris in 2014.