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Dropbox founder and chief executive Drew Houston offered some details this afternoon about how he grew the company to more than 4 million users . In its early days, the document synchronization startup did all the things that startups are “supposed” to do, like buying ads on Google’s search results through AdWords and hiring a public relations firm. Houston said the results were “horrific”.
With Zipcar busy gobbling up car sharing competitors , a new generation of startups offering a peer-to-peer or distributed model of car sharing is taking shape. WhipCar, over in the UK, and RelayRides and Spride Share ( the most recent entry , with some big name backers) here in the U.S., aim to put together a service letting users rent out their personal vehicles to members.
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<img src="http://s.radar.oreilly.com/2010/09/22/0910-themesh.png" height="250" alt="The Mesh" style="float: right;margin: 3px 0 12px 12px" /> Lisa Gansky joined me at GNN in 1994, which was the early days of the Web, long before an ecosystem of interconnected services emerged. After the sale of GNN to AOL, Lisa went to work at AOL for several years before going on to run Ofoto, a photo-sharing service that was bought by Kodak She’s had a broad variety of strategic roles in a number of startups as well as large companies.
There have certainly been a lot of travelers who have not appreciated the transportation issues caused by the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland.
<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-28257" title="paris-traffic" src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/autopia/2010/10/paris-traffic.jpg" alt="" width="660" height="457" /> PARIS — Carpooling websites are experiencing a boom in popularity in Europe as commuters, fed up with rail strikes and as concerned about their pocketbooks as their carbon footprints, seek alternative methods of getting from Point A to Point B. In France, the popular site Covoiturage.fr has emerged as the dominant market force, seeing its membership more than double in the last two years. The site was founded in 2004 by Frederic Mazzella, a Stanford University graduate who had been impressed by both the carpool lanes and the pioneering startup spirit of the San Francisco Bay Area. His site, initially popular primarily among students and old-school hitchhikers, has 750,000 registered members and receives 12 million page views a month, accounting for 85 percent of the French carpooling market.
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Le fonds d'investissement initié par Pierre Kosciusko-Morizet, PDG et fondateur de Priceminister.com, effectue son premier investissement.
Social ride-sharing start-up and FBfund recipient Zimride announces today a round of seed funding led by FLOODGATE , K9 Ventures and a group of angels including Keith Rabois and Teddy Downey. Co-founded by Logan Green and John Zimmer, Zimride is a carpool startup that actually makes money , using the Facebook platform to allow people in the same networks to coordinate carpooling. The service is also available at Zimride.com via Facebook Connect. Future plans for Zimride include further expansion; Zimride currently is the only carpool community that serves a swath of prominent universities and corporations including Stanford, USC, UCLA, UCSF, Cornell, Harvard, University of Michigan and CIGNA. Says Green “Nobody is doing what we’re doing, in taking a social ride share product to organizations.”
RelayRides , a startup backed by Google Inc.’s venture arm and August Capital , is opening up shop in San Francisco today, letting the city’s residents make money from their cars by sharing them with strangers. The company is building on a trial run in Massachusetts, where 50 participants are renting out vehicles to 1,000 borrowers. The concept works like Zipcar Inc. and other services that use the Web to rent cars by the hour, except RelayRides doesn’t have to buy its own fleet. Enlarge image RelayRides CEO Shelby Clark David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
Car sharing service company Zipcar today announced that it has acquired Streetcar , a similar venture that operates in the UK out of London. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, but the Wall Street Journal says the deal is valued at $50 million.
At AltWheels Boston 2007 , I had an interesting conversation with Robin Chase , co-founder of Zipcar and founder of GoLoco. In the video above, Robin talks about GoLoco , a Facebook web app that allows you to share rides and share the cost of travel with friends online. Robin says ride sharing reduces the cost of travel which, on average, makes up a fifth of a household budget. Below the fold are two more videos of Robin. In the first video, Robin talks about mandatory GPS in cars. Robin thinks mandatory GPS wireless in cars is just 5 years away but that this is a good thing and it can be made private .
Its CEO received an accolade last week . Yet, with 7,000 vehicles and more than 400,000 members, car sharing service Zipcar has struggled to reach profitability. A slump in average revenue per member over the last year and mounting fleet costs spelled a net loss for Zipcar of $4.67 million in 2009. And according to recent company filings, it's now losing $4M-$5M a quarter with no guarantee of achieving profitability in 2010 or even 2011 … a familiar story from another large recent clean transportation IPO: Tesla .