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When we last covered Zimride back in August 2010, the ride-sharing company had just raised $1.2 million in seed funding from Floodgate, K9 Ventures, and various angels. Since then, Zimride has grown its user base to over 120 university and business networks and has helped coordinate over 26,000 carpools to date. Its Facebook-enabled ride-sharing service has taken off in a big way and is attracting big new investors. The company announced Wednesday that it has raised $6 million in a Series A round of funding led by The Mayfield Fund, with participation from Floodgate and K9 Ventures, bringing its total raised to $7.5 million.
A few things have changed about Zimride, but its service remains fundamentally the same: passengers and drivers connect on Zimride via their Facebook profiles to share the cost of a road trip. The average ride is 175 miles, but when I browsed around on the website, I saw more than one multi-day cross-country journey, including one that was going for $125 a seat (drivers can set the prices for their seats).
The idea of sharing a car with a stranger for a trip ranging from several hours to several days sounds…miserable. I once drove to San Jose from Sacramento with my mother and I swore I’d never do it again. She likes to sing along with the radio, which comes with her own unique brand of steering-wheel drumming.
Co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer told me that Zimride takes care of that by helping people find their ideal carpool buddies. When looking for someone to share a ride with, you can specify your music tastes and whether or not you smoke. And being able to see potential ride-sharing buddies’ Facebook profiles means being able to select passengers/drivers that you’d be more likely to get along with (i.e. you can avoid people who like to post pseudo-intellectual political rhetoric as status updates).
But Green and Zimmer pointed out that ultimately, people are drawn to the cost savings. You can book a cross-country ride for less than $150 when you might pay double or triple that for a flight. In a survey of users, Zimride found that cost was the number one reason why people used the service the first time, but users indicated that they booked subsequent trips through Zimride based on their first experience.
Some 99% of the site’s feedback is positive. Negative feedback is usually due to someone being late, and the company has had a few cases of no-show drivers, which it handles by quickly booking another Zimride, since there are usually other rides along your route on any given day.
Last month, the company launched its first public route from San Francisco to Los Angeles and says it is seeing steady growth with thousands of rides shared in just one month.
Additionally, Zimride has also partnered with artists such as Jack Johnson, the Dave Matthews Band, and Sheryl Crow to provide ride-sharing to their events—a move that Green and Zimmer said was a natural outgrowth of the rising trend of people booking rides to and from concerts and other live events. Jack Johnson has used the service to help fans book rides for the last two years. Blink 182 recent released a video urging fans to book rides to their shows through Zimride for the Honda Civic Tour. Check out the video below.
“The Zimride team is addressing a multi-billion dollar market opportunity by building new transportation infrastructure in a country where 75% of the seats on our highways remain empty. Their early success on college campuses lays the groundwork for their network effect business in what will be a winner-take-all market,” says Raj Kapoor, Managing Director Mayfield Fund, in a statement.
[Note: Raj Kapoor will be at the upcoming Vator Splash San Francisco on September 29.]
Zimride has grown its user base substantially and projects that it will have some 300 networks in its system by the end of 2012.
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