Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

SideCar Buys an Austin Competitor — Let the SXSW Ride-Sharing Wars Commence

Both of San Francisco’s leading on-demand ride-sharing startups, Lyft and SideCar, are setting off to conquer cities across the country this year by signing up swarms of local drivers to run a sort of alternative cab service that hooks up riders using their smartphone apps.

HeyrideToday, SideCar is making its next outpost clear, with the announcement that it is acquiring the assets of another, similar, company called Heyride, which is based in Austin, Texas, and had only launched there so far.

The deal is well timed for SXSW, the annual Austin-based conference/festival/boondoggle that has become an early-adopter petri dish and PR machine for mobile apps.

Ride-sharing in particular seems a perfect fit for overcrowded Austin in early March, where on-the-fly logistics are a constant issue.

Back home in California, Lyft settled its differences with local authorities late last month — as did Uber, which said it was thinking of adding ride-sharing to its existing licensed driver system.

SideCar, however, didn’t settle. SideCar CEO Sunil Paul declined to elaborate on what exactly happened, but said his company was unwilling to concede to the ride-share terms the California Public Utilities Commission set for the other two startups.

SideCar plans to launch in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Austin this week, and soon in Chicago, New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.

Lyft and SideCar (and Uber even more so) have significant venture backing, despite their ongoing regulatory troubles. SideCar recently raised $10 million from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Google Ventures, while Lyft/Zimride raised $15 million led by Founders Fund.

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