Sidecar raises $15M to grow out Shared Rides feature

Steven Loeb · September 15, 2014 · Short URL:

The ride-sharing company will also use the money to continue expanding nationwide

As someone who has never learned to drive, I love all of the ride-sharing and e-hailing companies that have popped up in the last few years. Frankly, if I never have to take another taxi again then I will die happy. And most people who have tried out these services will tell you the exact same thing.

Not only do customers see the value of these companies, but venture capitalists do as well. There has been a massive outpouring of money into companies like Lyft and, especially, Uber, which recently raised a record-breaking $1.4 billion. The taxi industry may hate it, but there is big value in this space.

The latest to see some funding action is ridesharing company Sidecar, which has now raised $15 million in new funding, it was revealed in a blog post on Monday. The round was led by existing investors Avalon Ventures and Union Square Ventures, along with new investor Sir Richard Branson.

Sidecar had previously raised at least $20 million in two rounds of funding, with previously investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners and Google Ventures. The company has now raised roughly $35 million in venture capital funding. 

SideCar is a peer-to-peer system, where users sign up to be drivers, who will then give rides to other SideCar users. The app, which is currently available on iOS and Android, lets passengers find nearby drivers, and alters drivers to passengers in the nearby area. The idea is for it to be an alternative to a taxi, which can be expensive and hard to find, especially in big cities like San Francisco.

The company recently introduced a new feature called Shares Rides, which allows Sidecar users to split the cost of their fare by connecting with other passengers heading in the same direction. The company says that the new money will be used to expand the feature, as well as to continue expanding Sidecar's natiowide growth. 

"I like companies that are innovative, offer exciting customer experiences and make the world better. Transportation has been ripe for disruption for decades. An entrepreneurial company like Sidecar can take on the big guys with innovation and big ideas, not just big bank accounts. It has been reported this is a winner takes all market, but it’s not," Branson said in an interview with Sidecar.

"These are early days and, like a lot of other commodity businesses, there is room for innovators on great customer experiences. Sunil and Jahan and the team have the potential to make a real difference in the market."

Sidecar sees big growth potential for Shared Rides. The company revealed that in the first month alone over 13,000 people requested shared rides in San Francisco, and that it is is "currently matching thousands of these rides a week." With the acceleration of the feature, it now expects to see half a million Shared Rides in just the first year. 

"We’re making a big bet on Shared Rides, just as we did with instant rideshare. We believe they are the ticket to building Sidecar into the world’s largest transportation system," the company said. "A system that is so smart and so affordable it will be accessible to everyone, everywhere and everyday."

Founded in 2012, the San Francisco-based Sidecar is also available in Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, Charlotte, Boston and Washington, D.C.

In addition to the venture capital funding it has raised the company has previously received an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Spring Ventures, Huron River Ventures, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, First Step Fund, Jeff Clarke, Lisa Gansky, Robert Goldberg, Jared Kopf, Konstantin Othmer, Mark Pincus, Martin Roscheisen, Josh Silverman and Thomas Varghese.

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