google-in-sharing-economy

Ride-sharing and carpooling have been popular under the sharing economy slice. Uber popularized it, spawning to various ridesharing apps to monetization strategies worldwide to big brands such as Audi, Ford and BMW jumping on the bandwagon with a custom sharing business model. But wait, there’s more. There’s a new kid on the sharing economy block. Google has finally ventured into ridesharing business with Waze on its side, giving birth to RideWith.

This isn’t surprising for those who have been following Google’s previous projects. Last February, there was a speculation that the company was reportedly working on a ridesharing app and Uber’s board was reported to have accessed the screenshots. Perhaps, the Uber and Google weren’t a perfect match? And so here comes Waze on to the scene. With RideWith which is set to roll out as a beta program in Tel Aviv for now, there’s crowdsourcing infused with ride-sharing, plus a collaboration with Israeli startups as they work on this beta program.

“Google will be joining a growing number of start-ups – several of them Israeli – that are developing ride-sharing apps and platforms,” The Times of Israel writes. “And while Google and Waze “obviously have the user base to become a major force in the ride-sharing market, their presence will help all the ride-sharing apps by raising consciousness and popularizing the concept,” said Shay Zluf, of Israeli ride-sharing startup La’zooz.” RideWith will be available to Israeli drivers, which they can download from Google Play Store since it will roll out in Android version initially.

How does it work? Users will register the common places and routes like from home to work according to the report. And then, “Once they’ve done so, the new app will interface with Waze, which as usual will recommend the fastest route between the two destinations and check if there are RideShare users along the way who are looking for a ride.” While the concept isn’t new for us who’d tried Uber and carpooling platforms, unlike the ridesharing behemoth, Uber, Google will only allow two routes per day for drivers, “in order to prevent drivers from earning a profit as they could,” The Times of Israel writes.

Some very interesting moves by Google come to light with this news:

1) Google is trying to lean towards the sharing economy and while maintaining a distance from controversies surrounding the on-demand platforms like Uber.

2) Further, Google Ventures is an investor in Uber since 2013 and Google Executive is on the Uber’s board. This could explain the beta launch in Tel Aviv.

3) Israel– this app has launched in beta, first in Tel Aviv with Israeli born Waze is bound to ignite the crowd economy movement in Israel and beyond and we can imagine startups around the world getting excited on this development.

On RideWith, alerts are sent between the driver and potential passenger and if both negotiate and agreed on the terms—the time it would take the passenger to arrive at his destination, how many passengers to pick up and the place in-between—they will communicate via text message and payments are made within the RideWith app. The Times of Israel said, “Although drivers can, if they wish, transport passengers for free, it’s assumed they will want to get paid – and the app will recommend mileage payments based on a formula generally used by Israeli corporations to gauge how much they are spending on company car usage by employees.” And Google takes a little percentage of profit in these transactions.

This project isn’t just a ride-sharing stint – with Waze powered by crowdsourced traffic data, the concept of carpooling or sharing is embedded in the project itself.

What do you think about Google’s foray into the sharing economy?

[Photo credit via Creative Commons license/Flickr/Sal]