Zimride: The Perfect Marriage Of Cars And Social Media?

June 8, 2010


People become obsessed with cars for very different reasons. Some are interested in speed and performance. Others focus on green tech and fuel efficiency. Zimride is a carpooling service that speaks to both groups, and its intuitive, social media interface sets it apart from the pack.

In a nutshell: Zimride is a B2B service that's sold to a range of organizations -- typically large corporations, universities, and giant-sized events, like music festivals. Once it's set up, Zimride allows students, employees, or event attendees to create a profile or log in using Facebook Connect; users then share a little info about themselves -- like whether they're a driver or a passenger, where they live, and if they have certain requests, like a non-smoking car. (Built-in privacy controls allow folks to keep some things secret, like their exact address.) Then, they specify where they need to go and when, and -- voila -- Zimride matches them with other folks going their way.

Obviously, this is a great solution for green-minded commuters in situations where public transport isn't available or practical. And although Zimride may not be the speediest way to get from A to B, it does give performance junkies the chance to show off their rides. (Even when those rides are spoiler-enhanced  Toyota Camrys.) As for millennials...well, they may not be interested in cars as consumer objects, but the social function will probably get their attention.

Since much of the HGM staff telecommutes, we haven't had the chance to use Zimride in person, but it seems like a great idea. The biggest hurdle the company needs to overcome is adoption. Studies have shown that Americans are less likely to carpool (and take public transportation) than their counterparts in other corners of the globe, even though we excel at talking the eco-friendly talk. Gas may need to double in price before co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green (and their angels) see a sizable return on their investments.

That said, Zimride does continue to grow and raise capital, and its user interface couldn't be simpler. To explain the service in more detail, here's a fuzzy, embeddable demo we found online. (There's a much cleaner one on the Zimride website, which the company probably should've uploaded to YouTube a while ago.)


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