Austin Tech Entrepreneurs Develop Non-Profit Ride-Hailing Service

Austin—A group of Austin, TX, tech leaders have announced a new ride-hailing service for the city.

RideAustin is pulling up to the curb about two weeks after voters rejected a referendum item that would have nullified the city’s fingerprinting rules for ride-hailing companies’ drivers. Two days after losing that vote, Uber and Lyft—which spent $8 million fighting the rules it called onerous—stopped services in Austin.

“It’s like Uber and Lyft walked away from a factory full of workers and a long list of repeat customers,” writes Capital Factory founder Josh Baer in his blog. “If RideAustin can act quickly to provide a high-quality solution then we can walk into the empty factory and start it up again, capturing a large portion of the market in a short period of time for a fraction of the cost.”

RideAustin says it hopes to start its service in early June. For now, rides will be offered with starting points in downtown and to and from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The service’s geographic reach will expand as the company adds drivers, Liemandt told the Austin American-Statesman Monday. Community leaders and tech companies have donated $4 million in cash and in-kind services (software engineering) to RideAustin, he said.

RideAustin will be run as a non-profit company. The idea behind the non-profit status is to encourage tax-deductible contributions and to reduce the risks around the effort in comparison to those pressures for a for-profit company. “As a non-profit and community-focused solution it has extra press and goodwill needed to achieve critical mass quickly,” Baer writes. “With a single-metro focus it doesn’t have to always worry about ‘how will this scale to hundreds of cities?’ ”

The RideAustin effort is led by Joe Liemandt, CEO of business software firm Trilogy; and Andy Tryba, founder and CEO at Crossover Markets, a recruiting software firm. The men have been marshaling resources to get the app developed and drivers hired over the past few weeks, according to … Next Page »

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