One of the most significant social and economic trends that has emerged from technology entrepreneurs in 2011 is collaborative consumption.
When Jessica Scorpio uses the word “overpopulation," chances are she's talking about cars, not people.
“There are a billion cars on the planet today, and if we don’t do something, in 20 years there will be two billion,” says the Getaround co-founder. “And at any minute, 92 percent of those cars are sitting empty – only 8 percent are being used.”
Getaround is a company on a mission to change all that. Like Airbnb, Zaarly, and other peer-to-peer (p2p) marketplaces, Getaround is an example of how collaborative consumption can have a transformative effect on the way we live our lives and share our resources with one another.
Once upon a New Year's Eve, after StumbleUpon founder and CEO Garrett Camp dropped $800 on three cab rides, he decided there had to be a better way to get a ride when you really needed one.
He started Uber, a marketplace that connects you via an iPhone or android app with your own private driver. That may sound simple enough but take a peek under the hood, and it turns out be one gigantic math problem, says Ryan Graves, Uber's VP of Operations.
"A lot goes into matching drivers with riders," he told me, "and we measure everything. After someone opens the app, how often do they refresh the screen? How fast does the driver respond? How accurate is his ETA?"
Using GPS, Uber's system identifies the closest on-duty driver to where the rider's location. The driver has 15 seconds to respond. "Drivers love it," says Graves, "because it means less time with an empty backseat. When they're empty they are treating the Uber app like it's hot."
Welcome to "Transported", our weekly series about getting places in San Francisco, whether you take the bus or the BART, bike or drive. Come here to find the skinny on secret parking spots, the new bike lanes and how to get across town on Muni without losing your mind.
Move over, ZipCar. There's a new car-sharing service in town, and it goes by the name of RelayRides. Remember when it wasn't weird for neighbors to share things with eachother, like a cup of sugar or a stick of butter? That's exactly how it works; starting today, RelayRides gives car owners who don't use their vehicles every day the chance to lend their idle autos to neighbors who need them for quick trips around the Bay Area.