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Uber co-founder gets into carpooling with new ‘Ride’ app

Uber co-founder Oscar Salazar is using his experience at the ride-hailing company to launch a new iOS app aimed at making it easy for commuters to carpool.

Salazar, who worked as Uber’s chief technology officer from 2009 till he left around four years ago, opened Ride to companies in the U.S. on Tuesday, offering a quick and efficient way for employees at the same work location to connect and organize a carpooling scheme.

Interestingly, its biggest financial backer is TPG Capital, a private equity firm that’s already pumped a fair bit of cash into ride-hailing company Uber.

The services offered by the two companies differ in several ways. For example, Uber and similar services like Lyft are geared toward on-demand rides and have a far broader reach in terms of potential customers, while Ride focuses specifically on car-sharing among company employees.

On the subject of finances, the Ride app takes from each passenger a small fee (much less than what they’d pay for gas if they were traveling alone) that’s passed on to the driver to help them cover their costs. Ride itself takes a 10 percent cut of each transaction.

After signing up to use Ride, businesses need to then put the word out to their employees. Once enough interest has been generated, everyone inputs their home address, what kind of car they drive, and whether they prefer to be a driver or a rider. After that, the app does its magic, automatically organizing workers into different groups while also generating efficient routes for the designated drivers.

A very helpful feature of the service is that if there’s a particularly large number of workers living along a single route, Ride can sort you out with a larger vehicle.

Of course, the great thing about Ride, and other services like it, is that not only will it save commuters money on fuel costs, it’ll also reduce the number of cars on the road. It should also reduce stress among employees, as sitting behind the wheel in heavy traffic can sometimes be the most stressful part of a worker’s day. Ride enables that burden to be shared.

While the concept of carpooling is certainly nothing new, the folks at Ride hope its app, and the algorithms that power it, will make it easier to sort out ride-sharing schedules among a company’s workforce.

Most of Ride’s 260-strong team is currently based in Philadelphia, while Salazar leads a team of 12 technicians in New York. Following tests with students at Stanford University in California, the startup is now pushing the service to businesses around the U.S.

[Ride app in iTunes store]