Long ago we conceived of the technology that gave rise to the rideshare movement. And nearly four years ago we invented what is now known as “ridesharing” with an app that connected riders with everyday drivers in their personal vehicle. People loved it. It was safe, convenient and affordable, and it quickly caught on.
In the years that followed we launched a series of firsts, continually reinventing the category and making ridesharing safer, more convenient and affordable.
If you guessed that the above gushing self-promotion came from the marketing-communications mavens at Uber, you’d be wrong. Lyft, you say? Wrong again.
The self-proclaimed inventor of the ride-share model, which has so profoundly changed the way we think about local transport and disrupted the rental-car and taxi industries, is neither Uber nor Lyft, the two dominant forces in the space. It’s Sidecar.
For all the pride Sidecar deservedly takes in its early innovation, the company wasn’t able to get much traction with consumers and was steamrollered by Uber and Lyft. And today, Sidecar becomes a footnote in the unfolding rideshare story.
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As posted on the company founder’s blog: “Today is a turning point for Sidecar as we prepare to end our ride and delivery service so we can work on strategic alternatives and lay the groundwork for the next big thing. We will cease ride and delivery operations at 2PM Pacific Time, December 31.”
The history of business is full of examples of innovators failing to capitalize on their inventions. Sidecar is just the latest chapter in that story, and it won’t be the last.
For consumers, the dominant storyline is consolidation. While Sidecar never reached the scale of other ride-share services, it had the potential to do so, and act as a competitive check on service and prices. That possibility has now been precluded.
Reader Reality Check
Will Sidecar be missed?
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.