Sidecar has admitted defeat after unsuccessfully trying to come out on top in the ride-hailing race against Uber and Lyft.
The company, headquartered in San Francisco, had been created back in September 2011, launching its operations in mid-2012, under the leadership of Sunil Paul (chief executive officer), Jahan Khanna (chief technology officer) and Adrian Fortino.
The startup had initially been the first one to offer ride-hailing services, its staff being the ones who masterminded the idea of everyday drivers using their own cars to transport customers, without being under the constant supervision of a taxi company.
Sidecar also pioneered other features, such as rideshare (to allow passengers to travel with others headed in the same direction, thus saving money) and the inclusion of rider destination in requests (so that drivers would be able to choose whether to offer that trip or not).
Another innovation included the ability to pick rides after being informed in advance regarding fares, estimated time of arrival, services included, and ratings obtained by the driver. There were also back-to-back rides, allowing clients to request cars located in the area even before the prior ride had ended.
All these advantages, making private transport much more convenient than before, while keeping it just as safe, were eventually adopted by Lyft and Uber as well.
However, their marketing efforts were much more effective, and Sidecar was soon overshadowed by its rivals, which made it switch its business scope to delivery services, in the hope that this new venture would prove more successful.
Starting from February 2015, Sidecar began offering same-day delivery of parcels, food items (in partnership with Eat24), medicinal marijuana and flowers, through drivers which had previously been transporting people.
Eventually, by August, the vast majority of operations conducted by Sidecar centered on package delivery, and initially market analysts and investors were of the opinion that this strategy, putting it in direct competition with Postmates, would actually pay off.
However, on Tuesday, December 29, in an announcement published on Medium.com, CEO Sunil Paul revealed that starting from December 31, at 2 p.m. PST, the transportation network company would no longer provide any ride-hailing, nor shipping services, being defeated in this race just like Hailo Network was, back in 2014.
As explained in the online letter posted by Paul, from the very beginning the startup didn’t benefit from sufficient business capital, its funds amounting to just around $39 million, obtained from investors such as Union Square Ventures, Richard Branson, Avalon Ventures, Google Ventures, Mark Pincus and SV Angel.
In contrast, Uber had been able to rely on over $12 billion, while Lyft had managed to draw sponsorship of approximately $1.26 billion.
This may explain why Sidecar had difficulty promoting its services and obtaining a greater market share, the number of its customers dwindling until it was no longer considered feasible to remain operational.
However, the company’s co-founders are now planning to come up with an even more ambitious and innovative idea, fully aware that while they lacked the necessary funding, their brainchild proved to be a real money-maker, at least when it came to their competitors.
Only time will tell what Paul and his partners will think of next, and if this time their originality will also be supported by more successful marketing strategies.
Image Source: Angel.co