While we believe in network effects and the defensibility and leverage that comes from them, we have never subscribed to the popular theory that one single company can leverage network effects to “run the table” on a large market on the Internet and Mobile.

Certainly Google has largely done that in search and yet there are still several smaller players in the search market in the US, there are a number of regional search leaders around the world, and there are search engines, like our portfolio company DuckDuckGo, that compete on the basis of privacy or some other vector that Google chooses not to compete on.

In e-commerce, many think that Amazon is a force that cannot be reckoned with. And yet there are many successful e-commerce companies that have been built over the years. And there are new e-commerce companies being started every day.

In social networking, many believed that Facebook would be the only social network that mattered. As far back as 2007, I argued on this blog that we would see many social networks emerge offering different social graphs, user experiences, and use cases. We successfully invested in some of them, including Twitter and Tumblr.

In the mobile transportation market, which we believe will be a very large global market opportunity, many believe that Uber will run the table. And it certainly looks like they are doing that right now. It reminds me of the juggernaut that Facebook looked like five years ago when everyone thought they had won the social networking market.

But we believe that there will be a number of meaningful companies built in the mobile transportation market, just like there have been a number meaningful companies built in all of the really large markets that have developed on the Internet and mobile.

We have had an investment in one of these meaningful mobile transportation companies, Hailo, for a couple years and they have leveraged the existing taxi cab market to build a very large mobile transportation company operating in some of the largest cities in Europe and the eastern US, where taxi services are well established and work well.

And last summer, we made a second investment in this sector, in Sidecar. At the time of that investment, Sidecar was planning a significant change to their strategy and product to deliver a true marketplace experience to the mobile transportation market. We agreed with the company that we would keep our investment private until they were ready to launch the new product and strategy.

Well today, Sidecar has launched its new product and strategy and with that, we are announcing that USV is an investor in Sidecar. We are very excited about the marketplace model and what it can bring to drivers and riders in the mobile transportation market.

Om Malik wrote a post on GigaOm a few weeks ago that foretold this new strategy, although I don’t believe he knew about it or had been briefed on it. He wrote:

But this efficiency over the human touch is also an opportunity for Uber’s rivals

The human touch means not turning car owners who want to make a bit more money into limousine drivers. The human touch means allowing a driver to choose when and where they drive. The human touch means allowing drivers to market themselves in the app with a picture and a little bit about them and their car. The human touch means allowing the drivers to change their pricing whenever they feel like it.

The human touch means allowing riders to see the drivers in app and choose the one they most want to ride with. The human touch means giving the rider a real fixed price instead of some multiplier that goes up whenever you most need a ride.

When Sunil Paul, Sidecar’s founder and CEO, laid this out for me and my partners last summer, I immediately thought of Etsy vs Amazon. I use Amazon all the time. It’s a great service. I get the lowest price, quick delivery, and confidence. That’s the Uber model. But I also use Etsy all the time. At Etsy, I get something unique and personal. I get to buy directly from the seller. I get to have a conversation with them. I can favorite/follow them and get notified whenever they post new stuff.

Amazon is efficient and Etsy is personal. There is room for both of them to build big businesses in e-commerce. Uber is efficient and Sidecar is personal. And we believe that there is room for both of them to build big businesses in mobile transportation.

If you live in the the Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, or Charlotte, you can try out the new Sidecar marketplace experience.Download the app and give it a try. It won’t be for everyone, but I bet there are a lot of people out there who will really enjoy the human touch of Sidecar and use it frequently.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Alan Warms

    Awesome Fred. Bringing the band back together is always good…

  2. LIAD

    Sidecar is to Uber as Airbnb is to Expedia?What are everyones top ‘hired car-ride’ priorities?Which need is Sidecar going to champion?I think my priorities are:#1: Safety#2: Comfort#3: Efficiency#4: Reliability……#396: Badass Tunes(?)

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Political views? Good chance I’d have more enjoyable conversation with someone with similar beliefs, though then we’re allowing people to filter themselves into bubbles.

      1. LIAD

        Enjoyable conversations come nowhere on my list of hired car ride priorities.

      2. andyswan

        note to self don’t ask myers for a ride

    2. fredwilson

      you are an Uber customer then

      1. LIAD

        No chance. Would be betraying a lot I hold dear by jumping into an Uber.

        1. fredwilson

          well i am with you but i do that more frequently than i would like because Sidecar is not allowed to operate in NYC and Hailo is still working to develop the liquidity in the NYC market.

          1. Jay Bregman

            watch this space 😉

          2. leapy

            My family love Hailo here in London. I regularly take my wheel-chair bound mother to hospital appointments and have had terrible trouble with the big-name car companies. Hailo has worked every time.Same for other family trips.

        2. Richard

          What’s the beef with Uber?

          1. LIAD

            Too showy and expansive. (Just going from what I’ve seen online. Never had direct experience with them)

          2. Richard

            I don’t get this? I had an injury last year. But for the SUV option I would have had real problems getting around. Moreover, what about other premium services / seats. Box seats to the Yankee Game, Court side to the Knicks game etc. It’s just a car.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        I would be careful about stating differentiation that way. You need Safety, Comfort, Efficiency, and Reliability as a foundation for any most any service. What all of those mean to each person is relative of course, though …Safety – Is the vehicle not safe? Is the driver not safe?Comfort – Smoking allowed or not in the vehicle? Vehicle’s not in great working condition, so makes for a bumpy ride?Efficiency – Are you going to have an app that’s inefficient?Reliability – Are you going to allow drivers, or passengers, who are always late for the meetup point? Are you going to list that in their profile?Uber just highlights those as the main features – as a psychological marketing factor. Sidecar will still need those as a base – even if their psychological differentiation is the human touch.

        1. Richard

          Relationship could be a different type of trust, reliability etc.

    3. Richard

      Where is price?

      1. LIAD

        My priorities only exist once safely nested inside a reasonable price point.

    4. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      #1: Location (where I am)#2. Direction (where I am going)#3. Speed (where I am going to be late)Everything else is negotiable depending on circumstances

  3. Jan Schultink

    Congratulations!Now someone must be working on the “trusted hitch hiker” model: sharing (free) rides with people you decide to trust (friends, friend of friends, parent of your kids friend in school, colleague in a different department). Revenue model is less clear though.

      1. Jan Schultink


    1. fredwilson

      you can do that on the sidecar platform but that use case has not really emerged

  4. Jorge M. Torres

    Riding in a taxi or black car is not unlike stepping up to a bar to have a drink. The human touch isn’t necessary to get from point A to point B, but when the human touch is present, the user experience **so** much better.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Yeah. That’s why I see Sidecar as a huge experiment.I hope they can get it right. I hope more companies can start getting it right. We really need to start connecting more with each other.

    2. fredwilson

      i just featured this comment Jorge. mostly to test out this new functionality. but i also like the way you compared it to a bar. you know i like that analogy 🙂

      1. Jorge M. Torres

        Cool beans, thx. Looks nice!

  5. JimHirshfield

    Who’s ride you pimpin’, hoss?

    1. Matt A. Myers

      I’d like to catch a ride with Fred on his scooter.

      1. JimHirshfield


  6. JimHirshfield

    So, it’s Priceline for rides?Doh, I just did “this for that”

    1. JimHirshfield

      Or is it Tinder for rides?

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Sexy times. But then who’s driving?

        1. JimHirshfield

          Whomever you want, that’s the point. Swipe until you find “the one”.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            What about carpooling? This could become a really fun ride..

          2. JimHirshfield

            Wait, are we still talking about Tinder?

          3. Matt A. Myers


    2. pointsnfigures

      Uber for rides.

  7. Matt A. Myers

    How does this service interface with laws? I don’t think there should be laws that would interrupt this, though I can see how they could exist.

    1. JimHirshfield

      The law comes knockin’ on everyone’s door soon enough. But I suppose other car sharing services have paved the way (pun intended).

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      Do driver have to meet any special insurance requirements?

  8. JLM

    .Some fleeting observations:1. Allowing consumers to “see” the drivers is a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen. You can set your watches now…….five, four, three, two, one…………………..lawsuit!In a business in which many cab drivers are minorities, this will bring the ACLU like chum.I am not in any way being critical. I do not think it is fair. I just think it’s real. That is the society in which we live right now.2. The distinction between Amazon and Etsy may be as Fred indicates but also may simply be mass produced goods v hand crafted merchandise. Corporate coffee v local coffee shop. I am very keen on Etsy. I adore Amazon.What lurks in the back of my mind is that Amazon is not turning a profit. I know all the reasons why it is not important right now but then I have become addicted to air, water, fire and profit. It is a personal failing.3. In places like NYC where the number of cabs has been artificially manipulated — same number of medallions for almost half a century — the value of a cab medallion is almost equal to a seat on the NY Stock Exchange. Well not really but the analogy is still sound. Did you know that a cab medallion costs more than $1,000,000?…This implies that the cab is no longer a service that is priced based upon its cost to deliver or cost of goods sold but the artificial barrier created by the scarcity of licenses (medallions).In some ways, this makes everything pertinent to “cab” transportation a high stakes gamble on the amortization of the acquisition cost. If any service can get around this necessity to buy such an expensive license then that cost advantage will be huge.4. This is one of those businesses that being late to the party can be fatal.5. Victory is likely to be garnered by whomever can work the regulatory maze the best. Gentlemen, start your lobbyists.JLM.

    1. JimHirshfield

      All interesting points, thanks.Now, can I find the Big Red Car on sidecar? Let’s cruise.

      1. Anne Libby

        Top down.

        1. JimHirshfield


        2. JLM

          .The BRC does not roll without top down, Anne. Ever.JLM.

          1. Anne Libby

            Good call.

        3. pointsnfigures

          bluebird day

      2. JLM

        .Big Red Car has engaged powerful lobbyists to negotiate a new paint job.It started as a paint job ($8,000) and is now trending toward a total restoration ($65-80,000).The BRC did not cost very much new and didn’t cost very much when I bought it a million years ago.It once had the best after market paint job in the history of such cars but that paint job is now three decades old.The Big Red Car is in trouble and the lobbyists are not helping.JLM.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Bummer. It’s been a hard road traveled. Maybe we can just sit in it, kick back, and have a beer.

          1. JLM

            .Yes, alcohol and the Big Red Car seem to have crossed paths many times. There were young persons who would borrow the BRC.There is a bit of a debate as to how many babies have been created in that big back seat.Warm breezes, stars, moonlight, alcohol — babies.Who really knows?JLM.

          2. John Revay


        2. PhilipSugar

          Of course you know economically its always better to buy a fully restored car where somebody else has taken the loss, but love is not an economic endeavor.There is something to just being able to drive an old friend where you realize both of you have certainly had good looks erased by time, but have grown to have a great relationship.

          1. JLM

            .Phil, if I didn’t know better I would think you were implying that MY good looks have been erased with time? Surely not. [Unfortunately time is a very mean bitch.]One cannot even begin to imagine the pleasure of driving that car around downtown or the Hill Country on a crisp spring or fall evening.I used to drive it routinely in the winter with the heater blasting and bundled up. Great fun.JLM.

          2. LE

            you know economically its always better to buy a fully restored carHah. Says the man who fully restored his house instead of buying Toll Brothers offerings.I think it’s the same by the way with building a business vs. having it handed to you. What joy do you get for the two options? The sense of pride in what you have accomplished certainly comes close to wiping out the things you can buy with the money that you didn’t earn. But everybody is different in what gives them pleasure.

    2. Richard

      What I like about uber is that these guys are professionals. From what I see in the road, there are a lot a lame drivers out there. Question number 1: What’s is your night vision?

      1. JLM

        .I sort of love the Russian Roulette of not knowing who your cab driver is going to be in NYC — well, what country he is from.I always engage them in political discourse and have had some of the most amazing discussions.I have never had a female cab driver in NYC in my life.I wonder if there are any?JLM.

        1. awaldstein

          Had one yesterday actually, but honestly, with a plexi screen, it’s an impersonal experience, much more so than a black car.

          1. JLM

            .Perhaps my personal aura repels women?JLM.

          2. awaldstein

            no comment…

        2. fredwilson

          i get a woman cab driver about 10% of the time

          1. JLM

            .Of course, you are in the business in which the “taxi cab pitch” was invented.How many taxi cab pitches have you endured with drivers?JLM.

          2. fredwilson

            not many. as Arnold mentioned, the plexiglass makes a cab ride deeply inpersonal

        3. Richard

          Yep, this is one of the best parts of New York. Love getting into the technical / repair / reliability issues about the car? How often do you get your brakes serviced? Usually, the answer is once a month!!

    3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      So on the counterpoint – are bars with serving staff that do not have paper bags over their heads not equally sensitive to this issue of Lawsuits?As long as we can assess others and have access to characteristics scope for discrimination exists (note discrimination is not in itself a “bad word”) – that scope empowers good as well as evil, and inhibiting it inhibits good as much as evil – Just my 2 cents

      1. JLM

        .Not sure I understand your comment, James.JLM.

      2. JLM

        .James, I don’t understand what you are saying.Help me, please.JLM.

        1. LE

          I think he is saying that Hooters hires people based on looks and you get to see those looks and make a decision to patronize or not. I think there was an actual court case. [1][1] “Looks like a dog vs. Hooters”. And hooters won. (Sorry couldn’t resist that one. Apologies.)

      3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        @JLM Hi againMy explanation…You state >> Allowing consumers to “see” the drivers is a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen.Presumably because you allow a client to choose the race or sex or appearance of a driver.I am saying that walking into a pub where a barman or girl offers service is no different. So …The problem is in those who hate, not in those who make hating possible. If Ella Fitzgerald were white would her voice be more beautiful – only to a fool. So was televising her instead of playing her on the radio racist – of course not.I hope and expect you agree with the sentiment – if so the lawsuit waiting to happen is equally absurd (though probable).

        1. JLM

          .Subtle difference is that you must walk into the pub without really knowing the race or ethnicity of the owner let alone the server. You are already halfway to the buying decision.Reality is that you are likely in a neighborhood that has already made a great portion of the decision for you.You will be confronted by a picture, race, ethnicity and name of the driver — far more info than in the pub example — before you begin the first step in the buying process.I put this at the doorstep of the ACLU which has prosecuted such cases. In many ways Facebook, in its earliest vintage, was created exactly to mine this opportunity for discrimination.I am not advocating for any particular interest, just observing the likelihood of this problem.JLM.

          1. Jay Bregman

            See point on geography – new services like SC and Hailo actually help underserved areas where vehicles did not normally frequent.http://3rxg9qea18zhtl6s2u8j

        2. LE

          I hope and expect you agree with the sentiment – if so the lawsuit waiting to happen is equally absurd (though probable).Could be grounds for a lawsuit or could not be grounds.All you need to file a lawsuit is a leg to stand on. Sometimes that leg can just be used to extract a pound of flesh even if you have no chance of winning. Lawyers can definitely make something out of nothing but then the other lawyers are there to prevent that from happening. Obviously any case that gets to the Supreme Court is an example of how things aren’t really clear cut. If they were we wouldn’t need the Supreme Court and a final decision.

    4. Jay Bregman

      Great comments as usual!1. This is true but only in regulated markets (e.g. yellow taxis). All black car companies normally ask your destination before accepting an order to advise you of price and availability. That’s a cornerstone of pre-arrangement. Refusal is not usually an issue in the private hire space as there is a competitive market and regulators understand you always have the taxi market to fall back to – the issue is refusals for street hails or e-hails.2. People love local coffee shops because of the people as well as the coffee – even if the coffee is (as often) produced by someone else even a larger company like Lavazza.I remember as a student in 2000-1 when Amazon was bedeviled by the public markets for building warehouses rather than drop-shipping. They spend hundreds of millions. Now it is part of their competitive advantage. Profitability is all about time horizon.3. The price of the medallion is not really the issue. Medallions could be fairly priced as supply controls used to enforce quality even at seven-figure sums. Every transportation service has a form of supply control to encourage quality and provide basic earnings for drivers. London has no medallions but the “knowledge” – a barrier to entry based on skills rather than money. Lyft has (or had) a waitlist. Ratings are also used by some companies to control supply. Infinite supply has a huge quality cost for consumers and quality of life impact on drivers. There is no perfect answer here but the medallion pricing is not the core issue. Regulated markets move more slowly so it is difficult to adapt price-based controls to fast-growing markets…Take a look at examples of deregulation and the impact of quality e.g. Indianapolis for the darker side of “getting around the necessity”.4. Ask ten people on the street in NYC about e-hailing services and expect less than half to understand the concept at all. We are in the early adopter phase of a mass consumer shift…5. Industries like personal transportation are regulated to protect consumers and drivers. This is legitimate. You would not want restaurants to do assessments on health inspections. But among the “A” class restaurants in NYC there is still intense competition – regulation merely sets the bar. I believe that anyone operating in a regulated industry should engage with regulators and evolve regulations if needed. It is a smart long-term play (and lobbyists play a part but are not a cure-all).JB

    5. BillMcNeely

      based on what I saw in Dallas I put my money on Lyft (no Hailo or Sidecar here) willing to have a dialogue not a monologue. Important when dealing with the government .

  9. Jim Peterson

    If a sufficient number of people don’t like the idea….it’s got a great chance of being a winner.Works wonders in picking stocks too.Really timely after watching the Chris Dixon video you posted a few days ago. Great video.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Well, you need enough people who will like each other being on both sides of the market to make it gain traction and stability.

  10. awaldstein

    Yes….and yes, the idea that there are networks of niches that exist alongside the big gorillas is indeed true.I would for example, pay more each and every time I hailed a car, if it was a hybrid or pure electric, as I want to vote with my dollars and usage for things I believe in.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Does that same idea fit for a fellow AVC’er re: Wander&Trade?Great idea re: voting with your dollars too; That’ll certainly help accelerate the transition as well.

      1. awaldstein

        I always try to put my money where my heart is.

    2. Ryan Laubscher

      I think this is a pretty defined niche here – time will tell whether it was a strategy at all.IMHO, there are certain facets of ‘online’ where users would want a personalised experience – Etsy is definitely right up there and doing very well with what I’d consider to be a credible strategy. A personalised touch when it comes to transportation from A-B? I’d have to agree with @awaldstein:disqus -this is likely a strategy aiming in the direction of people who have a real desire to go green by making sure that their ride fits this criteria. I’m not entirely convinced that too many other people will care to much beyond the basics that @liad:disqus eludes to below. And Uber ticks these boxes better and better with every day that they grow.

      1. awaldstein

        Agree…Had this discussion with someone about the natural wine market recently.Too small the pundits yell. 10% of $42B in NA I say is a niche with big legs and growing as both the awareness grows (I’m helping) and because the supply grows as more and more people start more and more small vineyards.This is directly analogous to the growth of artisanal and niche markets across a lot of segments.

  11. gzino

    Love the Etsy-Amazon analogy.Believe personal will be the next wave in a few verticals. We know personal is hard to replicate, commoditize or automate.Whereas efficiency can be race to a wide bottom – one Pacific Ocean “winner” per widely defined industry, believe personal can be a climb to the top of many peaks – customized/individualized/narrower scope sub-verticals.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      The problem with connecting strangers is from my experiences platforms are incentivized to make everyone look like a good option, so you’re more likely to pick one of the the many great options – and not have any chances of being turned off; Thinking of Review systems, where Star-rating systems of the experience aren’t all that honestly structured.

      1. gzino

        Agree, personal is certainly difficult to build and even harder to scale, but we will see a wave of attempts.On the demand side, most verticals are in races to the bottom, meaning most people/users/consumers are eating commoditized products/services and developing an appetite for more personal ones.Meanwhile, on the “supply side” (in a sense), we know mobile/compute/Internet is making it feasible and viable for some companies to feed these appetites in profitable and sustainable manner.

  12. Michael Frank

    Interesting. What I haven’t figured out in my head is:Is this approach actually a very meaningful change vs. competitors or is liquidity the most important aspect by far and is this new approach just a different way of filtering that liquidity that any of the competitors can adopt if they choose?Also, how does it work with an existing investment when you make another investment in a related space? Did you discuss this with the Hailo team beforehand, etc.?

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Curious about the last questions myself. From what I have seen it looks like perhaps the differentiation, if in same space, is perhaps if overall market size and if the differentiation is great enough.

    2. fredwilson

      the early data on this model (which launched in LA and Chicago three weeks ago) is that drivers love it. which brings more liquidity.

      1. Michael Frank

        Gotcha – that makes sense. Winning through a supply side strategy. Pretty good plan!Very interested to see how this applies to launching new locals? Best practice right now seems to “launch” a city as a way to create buzz and create some demand for the early supply. I wonder how necessary that still is or if sidecar can just let free market forces take hold. E.g. if there is demand in Lexington, Kentucky, can entrepreneurial drivers just start driving or does there need to be more of a rollout.Related, it feels like as with most of these commodity type businesses that this sort of thing is just going to continue to reduce wages for drivers and company margins as these markets get filled with more appropriate amounts of supply.

      2. Richard

        If I can choose a car type and know the price ahead of time, I’ll give it a shot.

  13. Richard

    I’m less interested in the looks of the driver as I am their driving / arrest record (come up with a score). Is the driver a prescription drug / alcohol user. Do they use recreational drugs. Do they have pending law suits etc.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Lots of privacy issues there, no?

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Privacy can easily come into direct competition with safety. What should happen is there be a layer of governance to make sure everyone offering services, or using them, is safe. Though when we’re not taking care of everyone, and a job is the only way to literally survive – else people will have to resort to crime and violence – then that’s where it becomes an issue.

      2. Richard

        I had to order a phone for my mom yesterday while she is in a skilled nursing facility. The first question I was asked what is your social security number . For a phone??? WTF.There is no greater chance of fucking up your health than being in a automobile accident. I just don’t think the average driver is going to be as responsible as FW et al.I like the idea of knowing your driver. I asked uber to add this feature in the past.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Agreed. Motor vehicle accidents are scary.

        2. LE

          “The first question I was asked what is your social security number”You should answer the way an employee a long time ago when I was first in business answered that question “Hmm ok use this one”.

          1. Richard

            They had a database that checked ! Sad.

        3. leapy

          In the UK, mobile phone stores are notorious for identity theft…..

      3. LE

        How is it privacy if the person who wants to drive agrees to divulge the info? Although I can definitely see people crying about it.

        1. JimHirshfield

          yeah, that’s it. crying about it. Or being forced to disclose what you may not want to disclose.

          1. LE

            You don’t have to disclose it. You can get a job elsewhere or pick a different type career.There are many places that have to vet workers for the safety of the public. I don’t think the issue is making the actual discrete info public just a certification of fitness (similar to in medicine) since by design for somebody to get the job they would have to answer and document the above facts wanted by the grandparent comment. (sex drugs and rock and roll essentially).Seems pretty clear cut to me. Only reason company wouldn’t go down that road is that then they have a problem if they certify someone (and they do a bad job ala Snoden) and something happens. But in that case there are always lawyers and insurance to clean up the mess.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      Don’t many of those same issues exist with professional taxi divers ?

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      Maybe in the US it is different but most of us don’t get and real access to the accident track-record of our surgeons?

      1. Jay Bregman

        Medical Boards heavily regulate doctors as the bar does lawyers…

  14. JimHirshfield

    This is similar to Lyft, no?

    1. fredwilson

      Lyft is more like Uberx. There is no choice in the service for the driver or rider in either service. they are efficient but less personal

  15. Rohan

    Are these cab drivers or normal people who list themselves on side car?Sorry if this is obvious!

    1. Matt A. Myers

      The imagery on the website makes it look like normal people, who just happen to be driving somewhere anyway.

    2. fredwilson


      1. Matt A. Myers

        Are cab drivers then not allowed to use the service? E.g. If they have a taxi sign on their car?

      2. Rohan

        So, sort of an Airbnbeque model except you make money off your car?And on a related note, congrats on the investment, Fred. Can see you are very excited!

      3. Richard

        Not sure I know what “normal” means in this situation?

        1. JimHirshfield

          I think he means regular citizens

    3. JimHirshfield

      Jedi Knights, Bounty Hunters, and various intergalactic travelers.

      1. Rohan

        Will there also be a threat of Klingon infiltration from time to time?

        1. JimHirshfield

          It could happen. Cabbie-et emptor.

  16. William Mougayar

    ah, now i see why you and albert used them when in SF a few months ago 🙂

  17. aweissman

    Real names be proof

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Proof of?

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Nomenclature ! 🙂

        1. Matt A. Myers


    2. andyswan

      right on. I wish I could have this level of selection in every customer-service interaction I have.

    3. Jay Bregman

      Or “usernames” which may or may not be real names (in the case of passengers). As long as they are consistent you can be whoever you want on Hailo as a passenger. You need some way for drivers to effectively pair with passengers.

  18. sbmiller5

    With this new strategy, Colorado should be high on their priority list – see:…Having AWD, new snow tires, etc is a huge opportunity for personal differentiation.

    1. fredwilson

      great suggestion

    2. fredwilson

      great suggestion. will send it to the sidecar team

  19. AlexHammer

    Personalization is also eating the world.

  20. JamesHRH

    Solid bet.

  21. CalebSimpson

    Any chance this will be coming to Austin soon?

    1. fredwilson

      great question. i can’t answer that publicly, but stay tuned.

    2. joahspearman

      Yes, I’d love for them all to come to Austin. Uber, Sidecar, all of them…

    3. JLM

      .’Why not everyone else is. Austin gets net immigration of 100 persons every day of the year.All of them try to drive either north or south on MoPac at exactly 4:00 PM.Somebody has also apparently told all of them about the Counter Cafe and Bufalina.JLM (ATX).

      1. LE

        Austin is one of those places that people really like and talk about.Really hard to understand from someone who grew up in Philly which actually is pretty nice (now) but for some reason it’s not one of those places that the residents puff up as is done in other cities. [1] I remember the first time out of college when I traveled on business trips and the cab driver in each city was friendly and told me how much they loved their city. “We love it here” etc.[1] It’s a Quaker thing about not boasting. Same reason no buildings bigger than Billy Penn. The builder of a building in the 70’s across from city hall erected a giant clothespin as a way of saying “fuck you” to the city because he couldn’t build any higher (and had to spend a % on art). My high school was Quaker and when I went back and told them I got into the best business school they said “you deserve it” but they weren’t being complementary they meant it like “capitalists are losers”.

        1. JLM

          .ATX is the real deal. I moved here in the late 1970s when ATX was 200,000 +/- and now it’s pushing 2MM in the SMSA.Big changes.Huge government, huge education, huge services, huge tech industry segments.And, still surrounded in all directions with nothing but vacant land. The issue will be infrastructure.JLM.

  22. andyswan

    Fantastic. Anything to help get the losers out of the pay-for-driver cest pool.

  23. J Nicholas Gross

    You had me until this:”The human touch means giving the rider a real fixed price instead of some multiplier that goes up whenever you most need a ride.”Isn’t the driver part of the “human touch” who is permitted to participate in the contract? Or are you just objecting to automated price increases based on some supply/demand measurement by Uber?

    1. fredwilson

      uber doesn’t give you a fixed price. i am booking a ride to LAX from Venice right nowSidecar tells me its $19Uber tells me nothing until i get out of the car

      1. pointsnfigures


      2. JLM

        .Just hope it doesn’t start snowing?JLM.

      3. Jay Bregman

        And the “automated” price increases are not transparent – no one understands what a n(x) multiple is and the spread the provider is keeping between what it pays the driver and charges the customer…

  24. Rick Fisher

    This is a great idea – what can NYC’ers do to lobby the TLC to let this happen here?

    1. fredwilson

      Tweet at the mayor?

  25. Chris Halligan

    Fred, I’ve used Uber in CLT several times per week since December and I like it. That said, I really like riding with one particular driver. She and I are becoming friends.Last week, she gave me a card with her specific contact info on it and it really confused me. Do I use the app? Do I text her directly? Hmmm…I’ll try Sidecar and let you know what I think. [Also, tell your guys to take the “N.C.” off the Charlotte image on their page. There’s only one Charlotte and we all know what it is. 🙂 ]

    1. fredwilson

      Good suggestion

  26. sethberman

    Couldn’t agree more, Fred. At Flywheel we are also leveraging the existing taxi cab market to build a large mobile transportation company, starting in the western US. We are finding that many consumers prefer the peace of mind that comes with fares that don’t change with high demand, very short wait times, and experienced cabbies who know their way around cities without GPS. As you said, there will be a number of meaningful companies in this space, and we think we’ll be one of them.

    1. LE

      We are finding that many consumers prefer the peace of mind that comes with fares that don’t change with high demandI think that transportation is important enough that people should get over the fact that someone wants to charge more for peak times and that that is an inducement for them to offer service at all.And really charging more is no different than offering a discount off a regular price during slow times. That happens at the local sushi place that gives 30% off on Monday and Tuesday when they are slow. [1][1] Stated another way then they are actually charging approx. +-30% more during the other days of the week. But if they did everyone would cry about it so they just change the point of reference.

      1. sethberman

        @domainregistry:disqus – Some people have no problem with pricing that changes with demand, and there’s nothing wrong with offering it. This isn’t a moral argument. However, many people value certainty above all else, and those people are already finding services like Flywheel that align with their preferences.

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          Still doesn’t high demand usually coincide with traffic congestion and longer transit times which inevitable lead to a higher cost outcome ?

          1. sethberman

            @SubstrateUndertow:disqus – It can, but not necessarily. High demand is not necessarily during times of high traffic. For example, surge pricing often happens on weekend evenings when there is high demand for Uber, but not heavy traffic since commuters are absent.

          2. LE

            For example, surge pricing often happens on weekend evenings when there is high demand for Uber, but not heavy traffic since commuters are absent.But at the same time the worker would be less likely to want to work Friday or Saturday night. That is a time that many people traditionally socialize or attend events and/or parties. Try telling Fred you want to pitch him Saturday night. Try scheduling a business meeting Saturday night. Try telling your accountant or attorney you want to meet Saturday night. It’s a non starter, right?(Of course much of what I’ve said can be countered with “it’s part of the job”..)

          3. sethberman

            @domainregistry:disqus – There’s no argument here about the validity of surge pricing or the need for it in the Uber/Lyft business models. Only that some people are willing to pay it, and others are not, and that high demand doesn’t necessarily correlate with more traffic. The implication in times of high demand/low traffic is that the taxi meter won’t run up similarly to surge pricing due to traffic.

      2. JLM

        .Pricing theory is one of those things that is poorly understood by most SMBs and startups.You raise an interesting question — which is the price “norm”, the Mon/Tues price or the Wed-Sun price?The answer is neither. Both are a learned reaction — hopefully — to the pricing matrix which takes into account a myriad of different variables.There may be no “norm” when one considers the purely “promotional” aspect of pricing. If a promotion, what is the marketing objective?JLM.

  27. wiwa

    I’m guessing the reason this isn’t available in NYC is the TLC. Fuck those guys. I would so love to pimp out my Jeep here.

  28. pointsnfigures

    there are many niches within a broader market. Success of Sidecar depends on how big the niche is, and if they can execute to exploit it. That simple. The basic premise of the business has been validated.

  29. jason wright

    how many of your ecommerce investments use AWS infrastructure?

  30. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    I found myself referring to DDG here yesterdayhttp://www.businessesgrow.c…They do not only compete on privacy, but a major side effect benefit can be when you wish to not have search bias based on the personal details whether for search or to enhance “serendipity”.So I am a fan and frequent user (nobody can prove otherwise 😉

  31. howardlindzon

    oooh san diego…will try

  32. Michael Rattner

    It would seem like there is a large opportunity for not just personalization/friendliness of the driver, but also for the car. Someone earlier was talking about their needs while injured. Parents with 3 kids want to make sure the car has enough seats. And for us allergy sufferers, pet free is insanely important. Information like the above would get me to use Sidecar over Lyft or Uber more than just the history and bio of the driver.

  33. Brad Dickason

    Are there examples of the ‘personal’ model becoming the dominant player in the space before the ‘efficient’ model?It would seem that efficiency is the ideal path when demand trumps supply (i.e. there are only 3 cab drivers using any service within a city). Once it becomes a habit to easily grab a cab driver within 30 seconds of opening up the app and you come to expect that there WILL be an Uber/Hailo driver in your area… THEN the experience becomes more important.I’m not sure that the experience wins over efficiency before supply trumps demand. All of the examples Fred mentioned follow this pattern.Would love to see counter examples here!

  34. Salt Shaker

    The “human touch”:I’m a SWM, 5’9″, I speak Farsi, French and Hebrew. I like Bollywood movies and I enjoy playing Lotto (“the American Dream”). I come from a very large family (7 brothers, 2 sisters). What do I like to do when I’m not driving? I like to stretch out my back (occupational hazard). My 2012 Toyota Prius gets 51MPG in the city, (48 highway.) I’m quite adept at avoiding potholes, and I’m one helluva joke teller. So come take a spin with me, won’t you?Seriously, in the hierarchy of needs on transport, personalization isn’t very high on my list…mine pretty much ends w/ price, safety and comfort.

  35. neurosenthal

    Over in Europe, WunderCar is just about to launch – with a human touch as well:

  36. niteshmehta

    This should be sidecar’s anthem (north star)Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve gotTaking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lotWouldn’t you like to get away?All those night when you’ve got no lights, the check is in the mailAnd your little angel hung the cat up by it’s tailAnd your third fiancee didn’t showSometimes you want to go where everybody knows your nameAnd they’re always glad you cameYou wanna be where you can see our troubles are all the sameYou wanna be where everybody knows your nameRoll out of bed, Mr. Coffee’s dead, the morning’s looking brightAnd your shrink ran off to Europe and didn’t even writeAnd your husband wants to be a girlBe glad, there’s one place in the worldWhere everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you cameYou want to go where people know, people are all the sameYou want to go where everybody knows your nameWhere everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came

  37. Mantas Vidutis


  38. Dave Pinsen

    I wonder why Bloomberg didn’t think of this when he was mayor, but why not expand this sort of service to rickshaws, pulled by overweight poor people? Think of the public health, environmental, and economic benefits.

  39. lisaframe

    As a Sidecar driver and rider I love Marketplace!

    1. fredwilson

      that is great to hear. thanks for letting us know

  40. Andrew Kennedy

    I like the new look

  41. BillMcNeely

    English companies can compete with Math companies 🙂

  42. DanielHorowitz

    This is great. I wonder if all the best drivers will move to Sidecar. (Also makes me think of this,

    1. fredwilson

      i sure hope so

  43. Patrick Kane

    We have also been looking at mobile transportation companies that disrupt the traditionalindustries in a series of posts and reports. Some of this might be interestingfor followers of the topic. Our most recent publication (published today),actually directly speaks to Sidecar and Uber

  44. raorao

    The beauty of these successful ‘new’ business models, like Uber, is it would be applied and modified to different markets in the world super quickly. Rocket Internet is one good example. In Hong Kong, there are two companies that are referencing to Uber/Sidecar’s model, but instead of focusing on sedans, they focus on small trucks that handle light to medium weight goods. Gogovan and Easyvan started within a few months from each other (both in 2013). Such disruption is particularly good for cultures with governments which are too red tape-wrapped and too late to notice what’s changing out there.The essence is that the technology not only disrupts the market or just re-interface from the old way of calling up to app-level in smartphone, it brings all stakeholders (the van owners, the customers, the information organizer) benefits. Unfortunately even in a high-density market like Hong Kong, this segment would probably only allow at most 3 players, with the larger player getting the most share.The founders of both companies attended college on West Coast of U.S. Having exposure to different culture and markets helps define an entrepreneur, who seeks not to copy/reference a business model directly. Endeavor Network’s entrepreneurs comprise many of this type.

  45. Guest

    Insurance is elephant in the room – only mentioned twice so far in the comments. What percentage of Sidecar drivers are operating commercially on their personal policies? To be sure, as ‘rideshare’ grows in scale, insurance cos will want a piece of the action and policies will be written to protect such drivers – but the additional overhead will make this business start to look more like livery services of the present. Plus ça change…I wholeheartedly agree that networked ground transport is not a winner-take-all market, and I’m happy to see ongoing investment in this space, but ‘rideshare’ looks like a short game to me. Then again, VC is a short game.

  46. DirkM

    When popularity and hype trump planning and execution in the startup world, you end up with tens or hundreds of thousands of people driving around one vote away from being criminals, and one accident away from having no car- and they don’t even realize it. It shouldn’t be that hard to justify the need for flex capacity to governments, and it shouldn’t be that hard to lock down the insurance problem. But the leaders in these companies are too busy tweeting so they can add more followers and Facebook likes. VCs need to make sure there are adults in the room who make sure these loose ends are locked down. Today, they’re not.