Archive | November 2012

Join Our First Annual #SideCarSanta Drive for Toys!

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The holiday spirit is in full effect at SideCar, and we’d like you to help us give back to the community through our first annual Drive for Toys. How many toys are we giving away?  Well, that’s entirely up to you!

How it works: Don a Santa’s cap*, snap a photo with your SideCar driver/rider, post it to Instagram tagging #SideCarSanta, and we’ll donate a toy for every tagged photo to a child in need. Share your photos to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too because the driver/rider combo in the photo with the most Instagram likes will each get a shiny new iPad Mini!

*Holiday flair is optional but definitely encouraged.

The SideCar Drive for Toys kicks off today and ends at 11:59pm December 20. The iPad Mini winners will be announced December 24 here on our blog. Come take a ride with us, have fun and make this holiday season extra special for kids!

For more information on  how we’re donating, or to donate directly, visit:

San Francisco Firefighters Toy Program
Seattle Treehouse For Kids

Happy Holidays,
The SideCar Team

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*(update 12.12):  The tree is getting awfully crowded at SideCar HQ!

Presents

SideCar Gets a Fresh Paint Job

We’re proud to announce that our latest update (released last night) includes a brand new look and feel.  Take it for a spin today and let us know what you think!

In addition to the fresh paint, the new update also includes:

  • Performance, stability and battery improvements
  • Auto-donate that kicks in 24 hours after a ride
  • Streamlined promo code flow
  • Apply to be a driver right from the app

Huge props to our design and dev teams for continuing to make the SideCar experience as beautiful as possible.  And even bigger props to all the drivers and riders that make up the SideCar community.  The real beauty happens out there, with you.

New Feature: Auto-Donate is Here!

We’re very excited to announce a new feature that both drivers and riders alike have been requesting for quite a while:  auto-donate.

It works like this:

  • Grab a ride, just like normal
  • Once your ride has started, you’ll have the option to make a donation to your driver.  You can still donate any amount.
  • If you don’t make a specific donation (including $0) within 24 hours of your ride, SideCar will automatically process a donation in the amount of the community average for your ride.
  • Your ride just got even more hassle-free, and your driver just got happier.  Win-win.

Thanks for your continuing feedback on this and other features!  It’s the community’s input that keeps making SideCar better and better.

Your Support Has Been Amazing! We’re Just Getting Started.

Since the story broke on Wednesday about the $20K fines that SideCar, Uber and Lyft received from the CPUC, we have been amazed by the outpouring of support we’ve seen from concerned citizens from California and beyond.  Over 5,000 people have signed the petition to encourage the CPUC to support ridesharing services like SideCar. The  #defendsharing hashtag has blown up on Twitter.  We’ve been humbled by the supportive comments we’ve seen on Facebook, the encouraging tweets and the letters we have seen from those who have contacted the CPUC to express their support for transportation innovation.

But we are just getting started, and we can’t stop now.  Please, if you haven’t already:

We’ll be working overtime to keep SideCar moving while we work with regulators so that you can move better.

This is about innovation’s place in creating a more efficient, more convenient and more connected future.  It couldn’t be more important.

SideCar Gets $20K Ticket For Innovating Over Speed Limit

Yesterday SideCar received a citation from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) imposing fines of $20,000 and asserting that we are operating a transportation carrier, which is like saying Airbnb is a hotel chain, that Travelocity is an airline, or that eBay is a store. We established SideCar to allow drivers and passengers to connect with one another under the safe harbor of the ridesharing provisions of the law.  We neither own nor operate cars.  We neither employ nor use contract drivers.  We connect a community of like-minded people who volunteer to give rides to one another in a safer, faster, and more convenient way than casual carpool or a bulletin board like Craigslist.

We need your help. Sign the petition and tweet your support to #defendsharing.

Inspired by the casual carpool system that moves over 5,000 people daily in the Bay Area, we have abided by the basic principles of a true community marketplace:

  • Drivers have choice and can decide if a trip makes sense for them to accept.  The SideCar driver app interface shows both pickup and drop off locations for each ride request so it’s easy to determine whether rideshare will work for the particular driver and trip.
  • Riders have a choice of which driver to ask for a ride.  We default the choice to “closest driver” but you can change it to other drivers.  I regularly request rides from drivers who have become friends.
  • We do not set or assess a fare or rate.  Payment is entirely voluntary and the starting point for payment is merely the average of what other passengers have paid.  The community is creating the guidance, and neither the driver nor SideCar can require compensation of any amount.

When we launched SideCar we imagined a world with transportation options that are more sustainable, more social, safer, and more affordable than today’s solutions.  SideCar is not just a company, but part of a large movement to use smartphones to enable owners of assets to share and collaborate with others for greater efficiency.  These technologies and ideas are new to government, so it’s no surprise that early reactions are to force us in a box that is convenient for regulators to understand.

We are determined to continue our conversations with the CPUC and other authorities in order to educate them on the value of SideCar and the sharing economy as a whole.  This ticket certainly has our attention, but it will not sidetrack us from our broad and important mission to reform a transportation model and legacy regulatory system that hasn’t evolved or innovated in almost half a century.

WE NEED YOUR VOICE

Ridesharing may be the sharing industry’s canary in the coalmine and it’s up to us to guard against this regulatory overreach to prevent a broader assault on individual property, communications and association rights. As a community we must stand together.  We need to let California officials know that we support and embrace transportation innovation.  Here’s what you can do:

In our continued effort to provide transparency throughout this process, you’ll find a scan of our citation below.

Thank you for your support.

Ride on!

Sunil Paul

CEO

SideCar

SideCar Community Driver of the Week – Camille

If you are a foodie, Camille is your new best friend. She knows all of the hot spots around town, whether you’re chasing Seattle’s best cupcake, exploring Seattle’s Vietnamese scene, or craving Indian food and a proper cocktail.

She is married with a son, and on those overcast Seattle days, she enjoys hanging out with the boys at home. When she leaves the house, you can find her owning the dance floor in Capitol Hill’s Century Ballroom or enjoying the crisp Seattle air while doing some sort of outdoorsy activity.

Here are a few of Camille’s spots that we’ve THOROUGHLY researched first hand:

Greenleaf, International District/Belltown (Vietnamese)
Walrus and Carpenter, Ballard (seafood, oysters, cocktails)
Tamarind Tree, International District (Vietnamese)
Tilth, Wallingford (organic NW fresh)
Altura, Capital Hill (amazing Italian)
Revel, Fremont (Korean fusion)
Sitka and Spruce, Capital Hill (NW fresh that day)
Matt’s in the Market, Pike Market (NW fresh)
Monsoon, Capital Hill (vietnamese)
Restaurant Zoe, Capital Hill (new italian)
Lecosho, downtown (meat focused)
Delancey/Essex Bar, Ballard, (wood-fired pizza)
Portage, Queen Anne (NW french-lite)
Shiro’s Sushi, Belltown
Trophy cupcakes (don’t bother with any other cupcake place, this is the one, moist and flavorful)
El Gaucho, Belltown (Swanky steak + seafood)
Salumi, Pioneer Square (Mario Batali’s dad’s deli-get a sammie here, try to come b4 lunch rush)
Pink Door, Pike Market (italian-American)
Wild Ginger/Triple Door is the lounge below-same food, downtown (pan-Asian)
The Harvest Vine, Madison Valley, (Tapas)
Crush, Central Dist near Capital Hill (inventive seasonal NW)
Poppy, Capital Hill (South Asian flavors done in an innovative way)

I should note that Camille is Seattle’s very first community driver of the week, ever… Congrats Camille, and thank you for being a part of the SideCar community!

SideCar’s Proceeds This Weekend Will Go To Help Those Affected By Sandy

Hurricane Sandy threatened and then devastated parts of the East Coast. Transportation in New York City was brought to a halt. People are displaced and in need of resources and supplies. Some of them are dear friends and family of ours.  And now Mother Nature is dealing another blow. Our immediate instinct is to reach out and help the East Coast by launching and deploying SideCar there as fast as possible. We want to ease the transportation problems and lend a hand in bringing the community together.  Unfortunately, we won’t be able to quickly and safely deploy SideCar to the East Coast in time to help when it is most needed.

While we continue to work on bringing SideCar to NY, we want to help with the recovery in any way we can.  SideCar will donate all proceeds, in both San Francisco and Seattle, from this weekend (November 9-11) to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy via the American Red Cross.  The standard 80% of your donations this weekend will still go to drivers, but the entire 20% we normally receive from each ride will go toward helping our friends and loved ones on the East Coast get through this difficult time.

You don’t have to ride to help.  Donate here:  www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy

David Phillips Joins SideCar as Head of Policy to Help Protect Ridesharing

We founded SideCar to revolutionize the way we get around. Using smartphone technology, we instantly connect everyday drivers with people nearby looking for a ride. This idea, while simple, is actually a movement with global implications. We believe information technology is our most significant lever against climate change and urban congestion and can serve as a catalyst for a more connected community. We have an ambitious plan to make transportation safer, more efficient and better for our communities. In San Francisco and now Seattle, we’ve made great strides in that direction.

As leaders in this transportation movement, by building the first and most successful real-time volunteer rideshare community, we’ve come under the scrutiny of local regulators who operate under antiquated laws that predate the smartphone and even the computer. In August, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) informed SideCar that it must cease and desist operations as a “charter party carrier.” A couple of weeks ago, the CPUC issued SideCar a request for business records that further underscored their lack of understanding of what we do. While we welcome an ongoing dialogue with local regulators, we stand firm that reflexive and rigid enforcement of local regulations in a manner that does not allow for the introduction of innovative smart technologies and transportation business models will stifle innovation, restrict economic growth and is ultimately not good for our communities.

In the spirit of transparency, we’ve shared the letter with you below to shine a spotlight on the type of scrutiny we’ve come under by enabling a transportation alternative. We also want to assure you that while we’ll continue to work with local regulators, the safety of our drivers, passengers and the general public is paramount. We take very seriously the trust our community has placed in us to keep their personal information private and will do everything in our power to ensure the highest level of personal privacy protection.

We see a huge opportunity to work together with regulators to encourage innovation in a sector that hasn’t seen fundamental regulatory or technological change in the last fifty years. To make the most of this opportunity, we’ve brought on David Phillips as our EVP of Policy & General Counsel. Dave couldn’t be better suited for this role, with 20 years experience navigating the application of legal, regulatory and policy issues to the Internet and digital media with breakthrough companies like AOL, AOL-Bertelsmann Europe, Napster, and IGN/Fox Interactive Media. Dave has always been at the forefront of innovation, working at the intersection of regulation and new technologies to craft new rules that bring about critical change.

In the early days, services like AOL and CompuServe ran up against similar roadblocks with regulators labeling and attempting to regulate them as newspapers, broadcasters or common carriers. Dave played a critical industry role in changing federal and state laws and regulations as they applied to online services. At SideCar, Dave will help educate government on the environmental, economic and social benefits of empowering people to use smartphone technologies to rideshare safely and efficiently. We believe there is an important role for regulation in this new world but that regulations must be applied and evolve to serve the public good. We’re traveling unchartered territory and the road to success will be bumpy at times. We’re prepared to help navigate this evolving territory effectively and to everyone’s benefit. We believe that when it comes to transportation, innovation will win.

Meet KP, Seattle’s Very First (and Unexpected) SideCar Rider

It was a rainy Wednesday night in Seattle.  We – Jeff, Jay and I (Blake) – were in the kitchen of an awesome Airbnb rental in the Wallingford area, hanging out with some of Seattle’s first drivers.  We were showing them how the app works, answering their questions, drinking flavored fizzy water and having a good time.  We were also talking about the plan for the weekend.  In order to encourage drivers and riders to find each other online at the same time, we start in a new market with limited hours.  So in Seattle we’re launching Fridays and Saturdays only, 6pm-2am, just to start.

This was a Wednesday night.  And no one knew we were launching in two days.

A few minutes into our driver app demo, my phone started beeping and vibrating.  A ride request was coming.  From Seattle, 11 minutes from our house.  From someone I’d never heard of.  I immediately hit accept.  I needed to find out who this person was.

After a quick phone call, I grabbed my keys and headed over to pick up Kanwar Singh, otherwise known as KP.

KP, who recently graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in Biology, Chemistry and Global studies, was visiting his sister, Madhu in the Greenwood area, and needed a ride downtown to visit a friend.  His sister, a local attorney who works primarily with startups and entrepreneurs (@MKSINGHLAW), had heard about us and mentioned us to KP.  So he did a quick search, downloaded the app, signed up and went online.  “One car nearby,” appeared on his screen.  Perfect timing.  We had only been online for 10 minutes, and would have logged off in another 5.  He input is pickup and destination, hit request, and next thing he knew he was in my car.

Once he found out how lucky the timing was he was blown away.  As we headed downtown, he told me about the DJ company that he and a friend started, DK Productions (@DKPRODSKC), and his desire to move to Seattle soon.  He was also stoked about getting a ride from a real SideCar employee when it wasn’t even available to the public.

He swung by the next day to get one of the very first SideCar Seattle t-shirts.

Thanks, KP for being our first SideCar Seattle rider!  It was a privilege to give you a ride and I hope you move out here soon!

-Blake

Hey Seattle, Say Hello to Your New Ride

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So, What the Heck is SideCar?

SideCar is a ridesharing app that instantly connects drivers and passengers. Whether you’re ready to fill your car’s empty seats with new friends or need to get across town in a hurry, SideCar connects you with just the person to help you out. Or, if you prefer the video explanation:

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Happy riding,
SideCar

*Hours of operation will expand as the community grows.  Follow us if you like updates.

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