Beyond Uber and Lyft: More Car Services Enter the Ridesharing Race

You’ve heard of Uber and Lyft. Well, there’s a new kid on the block: Juno. Here’s what you need to know about it and why it may just be the next big thing.

For ride sharing services, there’s a new upstart that could undo the entire business model — a model that was inherently disruptive when it began. On the surface, Juno looks like an Uber knockoff. The user interface isn’t finished yet, but it has all the makings of a classic ride-sharing app.

Beyond Uber and Lyft: More Car Services Enter the Ridesharing Race
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You can locate cars on a city map, estimate your wait time for a ride, get info about your driver, their vehicle, hack license, and more. The people behind Juno think they’ve got one up on the king of ride-sharing apps.

Instead of focusing on the customer, they’re focusing on the drivers.

And, they’re going directly after Uber’s drivers by recruiting them. It wants drivers with ratings above 4.75 before it launches operations in New York City. When it does, it wants thousands of drivers, if not tens of thousands of them.

Unlike other ride-sharing apps, Juno wants to edge into the marketplace and take over existing apps by offering drivers something they’re not getting: a good driver experience. Most passengers are blissfully unaware of what it’s like to drive for these services. For many drivers, Uber and Lyft are better than nothing, but they could use improvement to the platform. Juno is that improvement.

Uber drivers, for example, are starting to suffer under San Francisco’s dirt-cheap fares and the nagging sense that their account could be deactivated at any moment.

The founder, Talmon Marco, took $900 million of his own money from his VoIP app Viber, and put it into Juno. Marco wants to provide a better work environment for drivers

To start, Marco wants to offer drivers $50 per week just to keep the app turned on during normal working hours. That’s $200 a month for not even driving. By doing this, Juno can collect data about its drivers, saturation, and other stats.

To incentivize drivers, Juno will take a smaller slice of the total fare — just 10%. Compare this to Uber’s 20% to 25%, and there’s a huge incentive to switch. Instant pay raise.

And, then there’s the equity stake. There’s $1 billion of the company’s founding shares reserved for drivers.

This makes them real partners in the company, not employees.

Like Uber, Juno will offer basic services to passengers. Bliss is like uberX, Luxe is equivalent to uberBlack, and SUV is an SUV. Juno promises not to have surge pricing to start out, but will pay drivers a “surge fare” during peak demand. It also promises a more fair rating systems than other ride-sharing apps. Riders will be able to rate Juno drivers, but the company will roll off 5 percent of a driver’s lowest ratings every week.

Drivers won’t be able to rate riders, but they can block specific passengers from requesting them again.

And, Juno will allow its drivers to accept cash tips — a sticking point for Uber.

Probably the biggest advantage to drivers is the fact that they receive free shares in the company. Juno will release 50 million shares to drivers depending on how many rides they’ve done. The more rides completed, the more shares of stock the driver gets.

There are a few questions that need to be hammered out, however. One of them is legal. What happens if someone pukes in the car? Who pays for that? What happens if the driver is in an accident while driving for the company? Tate Law Offices, Dallas personal injury attorney, handles cases where drivers are hit by taxis, and the details make all the difference.

Of course, with a traditional taxi service, the driver works for the cab company. With a ride-sharing app, the driver is officially considered an independent contractor.

And, none of this matters if Juno doesn’t go public. Lyft is valued at $5.5. Billion, and Uber $62.5 billion. What’s the big deal about giving stock to employees? Well, many believe that the future of ride sharing and taxi services lies in driverless vehicles. With Uber and Lyft, drivers don’t own any share in the company.

And, both are developing their own driverless technology.

If and when the day comes, some drivers fear that their account will simply be deactivated and they’ll be told to go find something else to do. With Juno, drivers will retain part ownership in the company with their shares of stock.

Riley Donnelly has always worked in the auto industry in one way or another and enjoys writing about all aspects of cars and driving, from auto insurance to the latest super-car to hit the road.

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