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Former founder of the search service that became Bing grabs the top spot in a parking app startup
If you've ever had to deal with a car in the city, you'll know that the mood of your entire day can flip on a dime based on whether you are able to find parking or not.
In San Francisco, I know that I get real religious when circling the block for parking and am even more thankful when I snatch a spot with a meter that takes credit cards.
One young company, QuickPay is looking to not only make it easier to pay for parking, but also increase the number of spots out there for drivers to snag.
The QuickPay mobile app allows parking garages to denote how many open spots they have open so that drivers that may not know where all the garages in the city are can look up all the spots open at that moment. The app also lets you pay digitally, so no more fishing around for cash and coins when we all know you just don't keep enough in your car.
As part of its growing payment service and technology, QuickPay just announced bringing on a new CEO -- Barney Pell, the founder of the semantic search system Powerset. Powerset was acquired back in 2008 by Microsoft for an estimated $100 million to build out the Bing service.
Pell has been working closely with the founder Carl Muirbook for more than a year and held the spot as executive chairman, but now he steps into Muirbook's spot while Muirbook hold onto the role of President.
Pell sees a major strength in QuickPay because other parking apps are only focused on meters, when there are so many garage spots and an opportunity for bigger payment transactions since garages charge more than meters.
This focus also helps smaller, local businesses gain more patrons as well as put their toes in the tech world of opportunities.
Parking payments are worth $26 billion per year in the U.S., and, until recently, has been a mostly cash business in a world where no one carries cash anymore.
"We've uncovered a unique and exciting opportunity to bring the benefits of local, social, mobile apps, payments, cloud technology and even big data to the world of parking," Pell, said in a statement. "Where others have addressed local transportation or hotel booking inefficiencies, QuickPay brings innovation to parking, a complex activity that most people struggle with daily."
As of this CEO changing announcement, the company is also reviling that it secured a $3.5 million seed round of funding.
The funding comes from Fontinalis Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Advanced Technology Ventures, and angels including Accelerator Venture Partners, David Jeske, Alfred Mandel, Louis Monier, Matt Ocko, Lior Ron, Ofer Ronen, and Ben Smith IV.
How the app works:
After a driver downloads the app, they can open up a map showing parking lots that accept QuickPay payments. The map includes pop-outs that show the current rates in those lots, allow users to reserve a space for a certain period of time, and pay fro the spot. When they arrive at the lot, instead of paying the attendant, they just show off their confirmation code.
On the merchant side, the app allows lot owners to change the parking rates to fill up an empty lot or get more competitive when there are big events in town. They can also offer exclusive spaces to QuickPay users.
QuickPay is live in more than 100 locations across 12 cities in California, Colorado, and Nevada -- making up to 12,500 parking spaces.
*As an aside, I did find it amusing that QuickPay maps are really Google Maps and not Microsoft Maps. I wonder if Pell will change that.
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