Ridejoy launches iPhone app to help crowdsource the open road


The sharing economy is getting its legs thanks to a host of problems and potential. There are far too many in the problems column: We have too many people and not enough resources; wealth is unequally distributed; the jobs market is discouraging. And the potential can’t be ignored: People are more connected, more easily, more often.

ridejoy dashThis intersection is to thank for the tide of tech startups leveraging collaborative consumption as their selling point – including Y Combinator alum Ridejoy. The company launched in the fall of 2011 as a peer-to-peer network for sharing road trips, and is now hitting the iPhone (it’s available for free today in the App Store).  

Co-founder Jason Shen likens it to “couch-surfing for road trips,” and tells me the whole project began as a way to share rides to Burning Man. “When we launched our first site for Burning Man, it was because [Shen’s co-founder] Kalvin [Wang] knew that transportation there was going to be an issue,” he says. “There’s no airport there and you have to drive, so sharing the ride is an important part of the experience. So we launched BurningManRide in August and 1,600 people signed up. We took rides using the service ourselves.”

The niche application soon turned into something more universally applicable, which pivoted into Ridejoy later that October. Shen tells me growth has been good since then: There are 3,000 active rides at any time, and longer distance trips have become increasingly popular. While it’s primarily targeting the west coast right now, Shen says rides are happening everywhere. And there’s even a feature that can tell you if someone looking for a lift is trying to get somewhere along your route, driving the amount of rides shared higher.

ridejoy chat

Ridejoy’s iPhone app launch seems a little long in the making, given that driving is about as mobile as it gets. Shen says that the app helps speed up the whole Ridejoy process and streamlines it for quick ride requests and acceptances. There’s also a new feature called Autopilot for the absolute quickest way to carpool. “There’s a lot of back and forth waiting and coordination for rideshares to work,” Shen says. “I did one once that ended up in like 34 screens worth of texts between us to get all the details.”

If you send out a ride request with Autopilot, it will message all your potential matches going to that destination from your location, immediately telling them when you’re ready to go. It’s definitely not a feature for everyone, Shen admits, but power users and those who quickly need to connect and go should prefer the simplicity.

ridejoy rideAs with any P2P system, safety questions must be asked. “The number one thing that we want is for this to be safe and make sure users feel comfortable and that this is a good experience for them,” Shen tells me.To that end, Ridejoy has a handful of ways it tries to ward against stranger danger. Using Facebook to connect is one of them, so you can see if you have friends in common with someone, or just feel better having that background. There’s also a reputation review system where people can endorse other users. Lastly, Ridejoy has a driver’s license verification where you can validate yourself by using a webcam to scan your license in.

All technicalities of Ridejoy aside, Shen hopes the service and its new iPhone app add to the more emotional part of the sharing economy – sure, you’ll save money, but it’s also about connecting people. “There are so many reasons why the sharing economy is coming up right now,” he says. “Part of it is people’s frustrations with big companies and wanting to have a sense of community and trust again. It’s about putting human connection back into transactions.” 


Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.

Chinese court upholds Qualcomm's complaint that Apple infringed on two patents

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…

Puma revives its classic 1986 smart shoe, complete with high-tech heel hump

More marketing stunt than serious effort to dominate the smart shoe space, Puma is about to re-release its classic RS-Computer Shoe. The high-tech footwear from 1986 was a breakthrough at the time, despite its unsightly heel hump.
Smart Home

Uber Eats is testing a system for cheaper meal delivery

You know how Uber Pool offers cheaper trips if riders share a car? Well, Uber Eats is currently testing the same idea for meal delivery, and it could mean cheaper orders for customers.

New Apple Watch begins saving lives one week after getting EKG feature

The Apple Watch Series 4 was updated almost a week ago with a new feature that allows users to take electrocardiogram tests -- and already it seems like the new feature is saving lives.

The best smartphone stocking stuffers for a very techy Christmas

If you've got a tech-loving smartphone enthusiast to buy for, we can help you out. Here's a selection of top phone accessories that would make amazing stocking stuffers so you can have a very Merry Christmas.

OnePlus's 5G phone should arrive in May 2019, may cost up to $850

OnePlus will be among the first companies to put the new Snapdragon 855 processor into a phone, and will also release a separate and more expensive 5G phone in 2019 with the help of U.K. network EE.

Santa Claus is coming to town. Get ready with these Christmas apps

Like it or not, Christmas comes but once a year. Thankfully, we've got a list of the best Christmas apps to help get you into the holiday spirit, just in case you want to call Santa or become a Christmas elf.

Xiaomi’s Gamepad 2.0 turns the Black Shark into a mini Switch

Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi has introduced the Gamepad 2.0 for its Black Shark gaming phone that launched earlier this year. The new gamepad is similar to the Switch Joy-Con, with one piece attaching to each side of the phone.

Google makes it easy to donate to charity straight through the Play Store

As we head into the holiday season, Google announced a new feature on Google Play that makes it a little easier to donate to charity. Through the new page, you'll be able to choose from a range of charities to donate to.

REI clearance sale extends discounts on Garmin, Fitbit, and GoPro devices

Beyond the things you typically expect to find at REI — like tents, skis, and jackets — there are tons of great deals on quality tech foryour outdoor adventures. From smartwatches to action cameras, here are the best tech deals.