Morning Markets: A new pile of money for carpooling as tech reminds us that life is a flat circle.
Do you remember Zimride? It’s what Lyft was before Zimride deprioritized its initial vision to build a ride-hailing giant. Before it tried to chase Uber, Zimride wanted to connect individuals so that they could share rides.
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After all, if we could advance the average number of passengers per car on the road, especially during peak periods, congestion would be reduced. Drive in the morning, however, and you’ll see one-passenger cars as far as you can count.
Zimride wound up adding to congestion through its Lyft business instead of alleviating the problem. But the firm was not the last to work on the carpooling model. Scoop, which announced a $60 million round this morning, is also hoping to make carpooling work.
San Francisco-based Scoop’s service helps people form carpools with coworkers and other nearby people. The company counts more than 55 companies as customers (or partners as it calls them) including LinkedIn and T-Mobile, among others. With this financing, Scoop says it has raised over $106 million in funding. Activate Capital led the latest round, which also included participation from NGP Capital, France’s BNP Paribas, Total Ventures (the corporate venture arm of French energy giant Total) , Index Ventures, Signia Venture Partners, Workday Ventures and G2VP.
Users download the Scoop app, and use it to find other carpoolers who are headed in the same direction. They can schedule carpools for the morning and evening if needed, while Scoop claims its algorithms identify “the most efficient trip” based on factors such as “the fastest route, nearby carpoolers and carpool lanes.” Since it was founded in early 2015 by brothers Jonathan Sadow and Robert Sadow, Scoop says it “has put more than 7 million carpool trips on the road.”
The company declined to provide exact user or revenue figures, saying via email this morning that it is “growing quickly and currently works with 10% of Fortune 100 companies.” Scoop also currently has over 150 employees, up from roughly 80 this time last year. It plans to “hire aggressively to over 200 employees by the end of the year.”
How did Scoop raise such a large round, one larger than all its previous capital events combined? Perhaps its business results. In a release this morning, Scoop said that it is the “largest enterprise carpooling solution in the country” and that its new capital “comes at a time of accelerating growth for the company.”
A material revenue base (implied by in-market scale) and rising growth rates are investor catnip. The firm also has scale on its side, operating in over “2,000 cities” in the United States. Scoop is targeting congested “major metros” for further expansion, it said.
If you commute by car, you know the misery of the exercise. If you commute by car a long distance, you are especially aware of how much better life would be with fewer vehicles on the road. If Scoop can make money while pursuing that end, it’s hard to root against it.
And the problem that Scoop is working on is getting worse. As the Washington Post reported in 2018:
U.S. commuters spent an extra 2½ hours in transit last year, even though the average daily commute increased only about 18 seconds per trip, according to data from the Census Bureau’s newly released 2017 American Community Survey.
The survey data shows that the average commute crept up to 26.9 minutes from 26.6 minutes the year before.
That trend is stealing our lives while not lowering our workloads. Let’s see if Scoop and its inevitable competition can’t get the the commute length trend curve to bend down.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias