on demand apps sharing economy

Uber Scooters Make The Jump, Softbank Moves With Toyota – This Week In On Demand

This Week In On Demand – October 5, 2018

Welcome to the first edition of This Week In On Demand, Rideshare Central’s roundup of the biggest news stories from the sharing economy. Every Friday, we’ll be recapping key new investments, company partnerships, new hires, and major app updates.

This week, we’ve got IPO news, some partnerships, and a whole lot of scooters.

Lyft IPO news and diversity report

It looks like J.P. Morgan will be Lyft’s lead underwriter for it’s IPO. Lyft has also retained IPO advisory firm Class V Group LLC, and is targeting an IPO date of late Q1 2019. The company seems to be in a good position for their IPO, more than doubling their revenue in the first half of 2018, to $909 million.

Lyft also released it’s second annual diversity report. Overall, the report is a mixed bag. African Americans, Asians, and Latinx or Hispanics, all make up a larger percentage of Lyft’s workforce now than in 2017. However, women now actually make up a smaller percentage (40% vs. 42%) of Lyft’s workforce than last year. However, they’re still ahead of Google (31%) and Apple (32%) in this area.


Lyft Diversity Chart Ethnicity 2018


Lyft Diversity Chart Ethnicity 2017

Taxify gets Google Maps integration

You can now order a ride from Taxify, the rideshare startup competing with Uber in Europe, Africa, and Australia, through Google Maps (outside the U.S.). The Estonian rideshare startup rolled out the service in 16 countries. This should level the playing field with Uber, which has had Google Maps integration since 2016.

While Taxify has no plans to enter the U.S. market, the company currently operates in about 30 countries. Last year, they took investment from, and entered into a strategic partnership with Didi, the Chinese rideshare giant. The company also recently closed a $175 million funding round led by Daimler and Korelya Capital, that valued the company at $1 Billion. Didi was a returning investor for this most recent funding round. With that sort of backing, Taxify looks set to take the battle to Uber across Africa, Australia, and Europe.

Upwork has it’s IPO.

Upwork, the on demand freelancer company, went public on Wednesday at $15 per share. The price shot up about 50% at the open, to $23 per share, but gave back some of those gains before closing at $21.18 per share.

The company connects buyers and sellers of services that run the gamut from social media management, to translation services, to business plan writing. Upwork was formed from the merger of Elance and Odesk back in 2014. While that merger process has been turbulent, Upwork has seen strong revenue growth over the past year. However, the company is currently unprofitable, and should remain so, since it’s expenses are currently growing faster than revenue.

Uber’s Jump escooters join the fray

Uber’s first Jump escooters hit the sidewalks this week, launching on Wednesday in Santa Monica. Uber acquired the bikesharing start up Jump earlier this year for a rumored price of around $200 million. The Santa Monica pilot will involve 250 Jump escooters, to go along with the 500 Jump ebikes they already operate in the city. Uber was one of four companies awarded permits for the Santa Monica pilot.

When it comes to escooters though, it looks like Uber may be playing a bit of catch up. Main rival Lyft launched their scooter pilot last month in Denver. Lyft was also granted one of the coveted Santa Monica permits, and have already been operating there for a couple of weeks. Bird and Lime are also a part of the Santa Monica pilot. The escooter wars have officially begun!

GM and Honda team up to build an autonomous vehicle

Honda is investing and partnering with General Motor’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Cruise Holdings. Under the deal, Honda will take a 5.7% stake in the subsidiary, investing $750 million immediately, and an additonal $2.05 billion over the next 12 years.

Honda’s investment values Cruise Holdings at just shy of $15 billion, roughly a third of the total market cap of GM. GM previously invested $500 million in Lyft, but that partnership seems to have cooled as the Lyft – Waymo partnership has strengthened. Currently, GM and Lyft have no active projects together.

Softbank and Toyota are forming a mobility services joint venture.

Toyota and Softbank are forming a new company, Monet Technologies, with an initial investment of $18 million. The company will develop a software platform for autonomous vehicles that can be used by businesses and consumers alike.

The joint venture makes a lot of sense. Softbank collects a lot of data from phones and other Internet of Things devices. By coordinating this data with Toyota’s data from it’s connected vehicles program, the new company hopes to create an ecosystem with services and products suited for a world where most people don’t own their own cars anymore.


Got some news from the on demand app world? Send us the scoop here.

on demand economy - man ringing bell held by robot hand

The State Of The On Demand Economy

On Demand In 2018: The Arena Is Crowded, But Growing

It’s hard to believe Uber was founded almost a decade (2009) ago. Lyft is a bit younger, but still a six year old company. It’s incredible to think how much these two apps, along with Postmates, Google Express, Instacart, Grubhub, Doordash, and a whole bunch of others, have changed how we get around, and how we shop for food and household items.

The other day, I tried to remember the last time I was in a taxi cab. I couldn’t. Then, I tried to remember the last time I actually called a restaurant to order delivery or take out. Couldn’t remember that either. However, although I used Instacart once, I still generally go to the supermarket myself. Call me old fashioned.

Bikes and Scooters: A New Wrinkle

Besides all the available rideshare and delivery apps, a new type of app has appeared in the last year that looks to further change how we get around – ebike and escooter dockless rental apps. The concept is pretty simple. A user searches for an available ebike or escooter on the app. The app locates a nearby escooter or ebike. The user walks over, unlocks the ebike or escooter using the app, and rides to their desitnation. When they get there, they can just leave the ebike or escooter parked off to the side. Although the field is pretty new, there are already a few major players. It’s likely not all of these companies are going to make it (remember Sidecar).

  • Bird – $115 million in funding, raising an additional $200 million
  • Jump – Already bought by Uber
  • Limebike – $132 million in funding, raising up to an additional $500 million
  • Spin – Originally bikes, recently added an ebike to their offerings – $8 million in funding
  • Skip – $6 million in funding

If that weren’t enough, Lyft is also developing it’s own e-bike/e-scooter service.

So much change in just a few years, and yet, it’s likely only the beginning.

The Next Five Years

Both Lyft and Uber aim to integrate more with municipal transportation systems in the coming years. Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is aiming to make Uber the “Amazon of transportation“. This is why both companies are moving into the ebike and escooter area. Both eventually aim to become an end to end transportation company. Currently, you can use the Lyft or Uber app to book a Lyft or Uber ride only. Look for e-bike options to be added with a year. Over the next five years, expect Lyft or Uber to try and integrate subway, light rail schedules and external booking into their apps.

On Demand Economy - hands holding phone

2018 is likely to be a year of massive change for the on demand arena, and especially for Uber and Lyft. Although Uber is aiming to go public in late 2019, Lyft may try an IPO in late 2018. Whatever happens, 2018 is likely to be the last year in which all the on demand companies are privately held. Besides the coming IPO’s, there’s also the question of how fast both companies will be able to integrate autonomous vehicles into their fleets.

International Rideshare Players

In the U.S., it’s basically Lyft and Uber. Outside the U.S., it’s a whole different ballgame. Didi cleaned Uber’s clock in China (Uber surrendered, left and took a small stake in Didi.) Grab is dominant in S.E. Asia (Uber sold their s.e. asia business to them recently). In India, Ola is number one, with Uber a distant second. In Europe and Africa, Uber is dominant, but stiff competition is coming.

  • Didi – Dominant in China, operates in Brazil; Planning expansion to Europe, Africa, and the U.S.
  • Ola – Dominant in India
  • Grab – Dominant in S.E. Asia
  • Taxify – European startup, also expanding in Africa – just closed a $175 million funding round led by Daimler Chrysler.
  • Softbank – Japanese conglomerate that has stakes in Uber, Didi, Ola, and Grab. Nobody realizes it, but Softbank is actually the quiet king of rideshare on the planet earth. They also just invested in GM’s self driving car division.

Self-Driving Cars

Autonomous vehicles are coming, but they’re not likely to fully take over the roads in the next five years. Even when they do, they’ll still be a need for drivers (although not as many) However, they will start to become a more common site in the next few years. Virtually every major automaker is a player in this area, and they’re all doing some testing in California. Here’s a quick rundown of who’s doing what and who’s ahead.

  • Waymo (Google subsidiary) – The leader in the field. They have more self driving cars on the road, that have driven more miles, than everyone else on this list combined. One of the ways success is measured in self-driving cars is how long the vehicle can go without a human driver having to intervene. By this metric, Waymo is first by a large margin.
  • Ford – A strong second, but they need more testing.
  • GM – Third, but just got a massive investment from Softbank.
  • Tesla – Tesla gets a lot of hype, but their actual self-driving technology lags behind the three front runners
  • Uber – Overall, their program has been a disaster. They don’t have the funds, or the engineering talent to compete with Google in this area.
  • Lyft – partnering with various companies – no real internal program
  • Daimler-Mercedes, Fiat, Honda, Toyota, BMW and many others – all have testing permits for autonomous vehicles in California.

In all likelihood, both Uber and Lyft will wind up incorporating self-driving cars from Waymo, Ford or GM into their platforms. As it turns out, developing true self-driving vehicles is incredibly difficult, and frankly, beyond the scope of Uber and Lyft’s capabilities. Put another way, Google has unlimited funds, the best self-driving engineering talent in the world, and has been working in the field for six years, and they’re just getting to the point where they can safely put a lot of their self-driving cars on the road. As you can see, the on demand economy is a complicated and crowded arena with a lot of moving parts.

It’ll be interesting to see what everything looks like in 2023.

didi chuxing app

Beyond Lyft And Uber: The Top 10 Ridesharing Startups of 2018

The 10 Most Exciting Rideshare Startups of 2018

Despite their ups and downs, Uber and Lyft have captured the lion’s share of the ridesharing market in the United States. However, dozens of other rideshare (and bikeshare) firms have launched in the last year, devising new strategies to appeal to niche riders. From bicycles to automobiles to scooters, these 10 companies are challenging consumers to get mobile in a completely new and modern way.

While Lyft is still only available in the U.S. and a couple of cities in Canada, Uber has already tussled with a few of these companies overseas. The results, so far, have not been great for Uber.

1. Taxify

Estonia seems like an unlikely place for one of the world’s most successful rideshare companies, but founder Martin Villig had plenty of experience in the world of startups. An early employee of Skype, Villig had already founded three startups and startup associations before he devised Taxify. His younger brother Markus and Oliver Leisalu, a web developer, joined him in launching Taxify in 2013. Unlike Uber, Taxify originally focused on connecting commuters to licensed cab drivers. The company eventually moved into hiring individual private drivers as well. Taxify quickly spread throughout Europe and Africa, having little trouble finding investors. By 2018, they had collected over $170 million in funding and had reached unicorn status. They are now challenging Uber in Europe and Africa

2. Didi Chuxing

Before they starterd Didi in 2012, founders Bo Zhang and Cheng Wei worked at Baidu and Alibaba. Using their experience in the tech industry, they debuted the cab-hailing service in Beijing. The pair’s business model enticed China’s Tencent conglomerate to invest in the nascent company to the tune of $13 million. Despite an attempt by Uber to horn in on the Chinese ridesharing market, Didi continued to attract massive investment. The company gobbled up competitor Huaidi Dache in 2015 and acquired Uber’s China assets in 2016. Today, Didi regularly makes investments in other companies and has become China’s most valuable startup, with an estimated value of $56 billion. Now, they’re challenging Uber in Mexico. Also, they have great commercials.


3. Getaround

Some consumers prefer to take the wheel themselves, and Getaround was designed to appeal to these customers. The startup was born at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University business incubator in 2009. The company’s three co-founders wanted to help users easily find rental cars. The Getaround app connects car owners with people who need to rent a vehicle. The startup has raised more than $100 million from firms like Menlo Ventures and Toyota. In addition to Californian cities, Getaround is now available in more than 10 cities, including Boston, Washington D.C. and Chicago.

4. Ola

In 2010, it became apparent to a pair of Mumbai engineering students that the city’s notoriously congested streets were the perfect market for an online ridesharing service. However, Ola didn’t really take off until 2013 when the founders added a mobile app and expanded into Delhi and Bangalore. In 2014, Softbank and Sequoia invested a combined $250 million into the company. By 2016, Ola had expanded to over 100 cities in India. Today, Ola operates in both India and Australia and is valued at close to $4 billion.

5. Lime Bike

While other startups were busy wrapping up the ridesharing market, the founders of Lime Bike saw the potential in bicycles. After a Series A funding round of $12 million, Lime Bike introduced their distinctive dockless green bikes in North Carolina in June 2017. The company has grown like wildfire, spreading through California, Arizona, Florida, Texas and even Hawaii. With the help of Rainbow Technologies and venture capital firm Fifth Wall, Lime completed a $70 million Series B round in February 2018. In May, they added electric scooters to their fleet.

6. Grab

Tan Hooi Ling and Anthony Tan were students at Harvard Business School when Uber began its meteoric rise. They realized they could apply a similar business model in Southeast Asia. The startup began in Singapore as a taxi-hailing service, but quickly expanded into individual and group rides in private cars and shuttles. Investors like SoftBank and Tiger Global Management pumped millions of dollars into the company, helping it reach a $1 billion valuation in only two years. In 2018, Grab received a large influx of cash from Hyundai, allowing it add bicycle rentals and food delivery to its services.


7. Bird

A relatively new arrival to the ridesharing scene, Bird is the brainchild of Travis VanderZanden, the former COO of Lyft. VanderZanden left another job as a Vice President of Uber to launch his electric scooter startup in 2017. The company’s dockless electric scooters first popped up in Santa Monica in fall 2017. In just a few months, the startup had expanded into San Francisco, San Diego, Austin and Dallas. Bird has picked up plenty of investors in less than a year. The company has raised over $260 million from firms like Sequoia and Index Ventures. In May, the company’s rapid rise paid off when it was valued at $1 billion. Just a month later, they’re now valued at $2 billion.

8. Blablacar

After a team of entrepreneurs spotted a gap in the French market, they launched Blablacar to help commuters carpool around the country. Unlike other ridesharing apps, Blablacar was intended to match riders based on their level of chattiness. Blablacar received its first substantial investment from Accel in 2012. Since then, the company has spread throughout Europe, India, Turkey, Mexico and Brazil. The company has garnered around $330 million since its launch and recently rolled out its own car insurance plan, Blablasure.

9. Turo

The carsharing startup was originally intended to be a sort of Airbnb for cars, connecting car owners with prospective renters. Shelby Thomas Clark first started Turo in 2009 when he was a student at Harvard. Over the years, the company expanded into other American and Canadian cities. Turo grew further in 2017 when they acquired Daimler’s Croove car-sharing service. In 2018, Turo added luxury cars like Porsches and Bentleys to their stable of rentals. Just this week, they launched Turo Go, which allows instant rentals through it’s app.

10. Ofo

While working on a finance degree at Peking University, Wei Dei decided to use technology to connect bicycle owners with people needing a ride. Working with a group of like-minded classmates, Wei built the campus bike-sharing service into a country-wide startup, providing bikes to millions of Chinese cyclists. Ofo soon caught the attention of some of China’s biggest venture capital firms like ZhenFund and DST Global. The company achieved a $1 billion valuation in 2017 and now operates in over 15 countries, including the U.S., Australia and Russia.


From car rental services to individual bicycle rides, these ridesharing companies are changing the face of urban transport forever. By launching in unconventional markets and eschewing outdated business practices, these startups have been able to flourish in the face of stiff competition. As the ridesharing sector continues to grow worldwide, these companies are expanding across borders and finding new patrons. Look for many of them to start showing up in the Western hemisphere in 2018 and 2019.