Robin Chase, Co-founder and Former CEO of Zipcar, Founder and Current CEO of GoLoco and Matter Networks
Influence: Many companies and innovators have pursued the idea of a networked vehicle — Dash Navigation, acquired by RIM earlier this year, and even computing giant Microsoft — but few companies have done as much to put the notion into practice at the scale and speed of Zipcar, the world’s largest car-sharing network. Robin Chase, who co-founded the company a decade ago (she’s since stepped down), is one of the brains behind that deployment, which enables the company to track and rent cars using GPS, wireless networks and sophisticated software. Now she’s pushing for further reinvention of the transportation system, calling for the creation of a “coast-to-coast free wireless communication system” by having a mesh network device in every car in the U.S. Using open standards and wireless mesh, a company like Zipcar could bring down the cost of its wireless applications over the long run, and give it more control over its network compared to renting space on, say, a cellular network. A wireless mesh network, if used WiMAX or a high-bandwidth equivalent, could enable companies to offer new data-heavy applications like streaming music service Pandora on the go.