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Summary:

Peer to peer car sharing is hot for investors, recently drawing interest from the funds of Eric Schmidt, Ashton Kutcher and Marissa Mayer, as well as Google, GM and Zipcar. But the sector is still emerging and has a lot of growing pains to go through.

Getaround

What do Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, celebrity Ashton Kutcher and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt all have in common? Their funds have all put money into a round for a startup called Getaround, which enables users to share their personal cars with other users.

The emerging sector is called a variety of things like peer to peer car sharing, car sharing 2.o, or neighborhood car sharing, and there’s a half dozen companies who have emerged to try to develop businesses based on this idea. Despite that the market is so new, and the hurdles are somewhat high, many of the companies in this sector have very high profile investors.

Relay Rides, another of these companies, raised money from the venture arms of Google and auto giant GM, as well as August Capital. Wheelz, another competitor, has raised money from traditional car sharing company Zipcar. Clearly forward-focused investors are intrigued with the idea, but is there a solid business model here? If so, it still needs to be worked out.

The business model needs to provide a cut for the car owner, for the insurance, for the initial tech installation or device, and for the cost to acquire users. I go more into the economics of peer to peer car sharing in this GigaOM Pro report (subscription required). Zipcar’s CEO Scott Griffith told me recently he thought peer to peer car sharing is a particularly hard business because of the revenue sharing with the car owner.

The industry hasn’t been without its growing pains. Relay Rides has pivoted a bit, and no longer installs its own in-car connected systems in the vehicles in its network. The company’s original model was to have its staff install the connected devices in the vehicles, which took money and time. Now Relay Rides is relying on its partnership with GM, and Onstar, to supply the vehicle connectivity and control system. And yes, the GM deal was a big win for the firm.

RelayRides also experimented with whether or not it should offer gas cards, and how to cover the cost of gas for very short trips. It’s not necessarily obvious how to set up a system like this, as the only precursor is traditional car sharing like Zipcar, where the company owns the cars and is responsible for their upkeep and gas bills. Both Relay Rides and Getaround have invested in substantial marketing, at least in San Francisco, one of their test markets.

Getaround sells connected kits for cars, which is a less capital intensive way of having the connected device system installed in the cars. But when I’ve talked to some potential investors, and yes competitors, they wonder how secure these systems are.

Safety and security are huge issues for this emerging industry. A company called HiGear, which created a business like this based on luxury cars, was the target of thieves and had to shut down. A startup called Spride Share, developed by investor Sunil Paul, never launched because of the concerns over insurance and the business model. Questions also remain about liability and insurance, which Relay Rides faced in a recent tragic event.

Peer to peer car sharing is an inspiring idea, and one that uses cars more efficiently, which is why some of these top notch investors have supported these startups. But the business models for these companies still needs to be worked out.

  1. Geoff Mathieux Thursday, August 2, 2012

    There are fake peer-to-peer ridesharing companies out there who actually hire drivers and are nothing more than fancy cab services. Tickengo, based in Silicon Valley, is truly peer-to-peer. It has never AND will never hire professional drivers. It’s the real peer-to-peer deal.

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  2. Eric Schmidt mentioned here had lost his credibility when he got invovled into fascism crimes which had endangered human lives
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    There is actually a war between fascism and anti-fascism, at this stage, fascism still prevails in our lives, Eric Schmidt, Sebastian Thrun and Gabriele Scheler are just front figures we could see in this fascism circle, there is a whole pack of fascists behind them

    Eric, as we can see, starting from Gabriele Scheler’s atrocity case on Stanford campus back in 2004, many people, including Gabriele Scheler, Sebastian Thrun, you Eric Schmidt, and also your collegue in China Kaifu Lee, had made contributions to such fascism crimes which had cost human life of Stanford student May Zhou and crimes which had retaliated on victims and almost cost life of the victim as I am

    … … and someone who had provided legal coverage for your fascism crimes, including a powerful officer from Santa Clara DA Office, namely ZZZ (and after ZZZ, another officer YYY), and the officer VVV who’s in charge of Gabriele Scheler’s case and who had further collateralled with your side(suspect Eric Schmidt, Sebastian Thrun and Gabriele Scheler’s side) to conspire and curse victims( Stanford, May Zhou, me) in every possible way since 2006 till today; and maybe include the officer RRR who insist on May Zhou’s death as a suicide or accident, even though I had clearly pointed out who’s involved in May Zhou’s murder case …

    … … and someone who could provide political support for your fascism crimes, including top politician from the country of Germany whom we all know, and maybe include a retired top politician from UK as well, etc. and more and more to find out later …
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    I believe, though some names missed out, all names mentioned in the above comment are part of this fascism circle

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  3. The problem with Gabriele Scheler’s case is that Gabriele Scheler’s side had recanted their testimony after Stanford police investigation in 2004; there are certain malicious officers in the judicial system (e.g. ZZZ mentioned above) who chose to stand on this criminal suspect Gabriele Scheler’s side and collateralled with Scheler to conspire victims(e.g. Stanford, May Zhou, me) in order to cover up their crimes while applying retaliation on victims, but Scheler’s side dare never show me any of their evidence nor testimony (mine were post on the web) which they used to molest victims for years, and most of all, such malicious officers do not want to see this case from being clarified

    But without clarification of this case, more and more retaliatory crimes were committed from Eric Schmidt, Sebastian Thrun and Gabriele Scheler’s side, which is highlighted by the killing of this innocent Stanford student May Zhou and an unsuccessful plotted murder on me, and I bet more would come if this case remain unclarified as it is now

    So the point at this time is, who is this officer, namely VVV, in charge of Gabriele Scheler’s accusation of sexual assault? and who had underhandedly made up numerous accustaions against me at authorities trying to intimidate me from clarifying such fascism criminal cases, and to terrorize others from giving me protections

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  4. On 2012/02/21 StanfordDaily article “virtual-learning” in Comments part regarding to a murder case about a Stanford student May Zhou with which Eric Schmidt had threatened my life for sake of a stanford professor Sebastian Thrun and a criminal suspect named Gabriele Scheler during their fight with Stanford:

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    @concernedNetCitizen,

    About your ARROGANT question “If you think you have evidence (and i mean physical evidence) to the contrary why do you not take it to the police, or at least post what evidence you have (and I mean PHYSICAL evidence like fibres, DNA, fingerprints and the like).”
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    I am not physically in America, so I’d rather communicate with the police officer who’s respnosible for May Zhou’s case via email to tell serious stuff, my contact [peter_vista@yahoo.com] , or we could discuss it right here on this board. Before the officer who’s responsible would contact me for a serious discussion, how could you know there is no such PHYSICAL evidence to say May Zhou’s death is definitely a murder but not a suicide? As a matter of fact, such PHYSICAL evidence already exists and that’s what I am going to tell.

    The point at this time is, who is this officer who’s respnosible for May Zhou’s case, whom I should talk to? Could you have me connect with this officer? I have serious stuff to report

    Meanwhile, why don’t you help us to figure out what’s the motivation behind May Zhou’s death

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  5. This is the case which lead to Eric Schmidt’s invovlement into a series of fascism crimes:

    One photo would tell it all, there are seven photo evidence which documented how cruel this irrational lady was when she assaulted me on Stanford campus in 2004
    [ http://tysurl DOT com/mssgYn ]
    [Stanford Police Case Number: IR #04-111-0335;Victim: Peter Cao; Criminal Suspect: Gabriele Scheler]

    Such simple but serious campus atrocity crime was covered up by certain malicious officers. How could this happen? Who’s in charge of Gabriele Scheler’s case? On what basis would certain officers rule against me in favor of this criminal suspect Gabriele Scheler in light of such clear evidence of Gabriele Scheler’s atrocity on my body?

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  6. I always challenge Gabriele Scheler’s side, especially the officer VVV who’s in charge of Gabriele Scheler’s case, to clarify the case with confrontation. I have emphasized again and again that, by law I have the rights to request, CONFRONTATION and show me testimony and evidence from your side in this case, to clarify the case.

    But VVV had abused his/her judicial power to try his/her best to prevent the case from being clarified, let alone confrontation to clarify the case. That is the point. But without clarification of this case, there leaves space for Scheler’s side to commit more and more retaliatory crimes

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  7. Such fascism crimes are not only committed by those fascist criminals listed here, but also from certain malicious officers in the judicial system who not only egregiously miscarriage of justice to cover up those fascism crimes, but also collateral with those fascism criminals to conspire and threaten victims

    And most of all, such malicious officers had tried their best to prevent these fascism crimes from being clarified to the public and/or at authorities, as well as had abused their judicial power to support all retaliatory crimes from suspect side against victims

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  8. Reblogged this on Tech Bytes Xpress and commented:
    Honestly, is there really a market for this?

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  9. I want to point out that, any conclusion/decision in Gabriele Scheler’s case without my knowledge of who makes such conclusion/decision, and without showing me all of evidence and testimony they used, would remain invalid, until I have a thorogh knowledge of who made such makes such conclusion/decision and on what evidence/testimony;

    So far I haven’t seen any testimony/evidence, nor learned who’s officer VVV in charge of Gabriele Scheler’s case, but retaliatory crimes from Gabirele Scheler’s side happened to vicitims over and over, and VVV and Gabriele Scheler’s side had played this trick over and over; Who is the officer in charge of Gabriele Scheler’s case? that’s where the problem is at this time

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  10. I need to see testimony and evidence from Gabriele Scheler’s side and clarify the case with CONFRONTATION, that’s the point

    Who is the officer in charge of Gabriele Scheler’s case? that’s another point

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