Wow. We’ve come a long way in the past two and a half years since I first came up with the idea for RelayRides. We spent the first year and a half working behind the scenes building out the infrastructure for RelayRides: the technology, insurance, and team. We officially became the world’s first neighbor-to-neighbor carsharing service when we went live in Boston almost a year ago. Leveraging our success in Boston, we expanded to our second city, San Francisco, and raised venture capital funding that has allowed us to graduate from being a conservatively budgeted bootstrap operation into a great business capitalized to grow further.
When I look around at the awesome progress we’ve made, I sometimes can’t even believe it myself! Perhaps most notably, we’ve witnessed the emergence of a new consumer behavior: with the right trust mechanisms and incentives in place, car owners are willing to let their neighbors, who were once strangers, drive their cars. We’re shattering the notion that traditional car ownership is the way we should be thinking about personal mobility. We’ve helped car owners earn thousands of dollars, we’ve helped borrowers live a car-free lifestyle, and (most exciting to me) we’ve helped foster a strong and growing community.
RelayRides is built on this community of neighbors helping neighbors: car owners are lending a hand to borrowers by providing an affordable and convenient way to get around, and borrowers support car owners by keeping their dollars within the community, just as people buy local to support a favored business. At the same time, carsharing as an industry has been booming. Just a few weeks ago Zipcar completed an IPO that values it in the neighborhood of the rental car giants. Carsharing has also piqued the interest of auto manufacturers, such as Ford, Daimler, and BMW, who have all either already launched carsharing services or are looking towards carsharing as a new form of personal mobility.
In all, it’s clear that the paradigm of car ownership is changing, and that RelayRides can play a major part in this evolution. This confluence of factors has brought RelayRides to an inflection point. We have the opportunity to generate immense social and economic value, but to do so we must do two things: build the operational capacity to grow a great business, and fortify the strength of our community. As a company we’ve been reflecting on these competing needs, and we’ve decided to divide and conquer. In order to maintain a strong focus on building and fortifying the RelayRides community, I have stepped down from the role of CEO and into that of Chief Community Officer. I will be focusing on building and strengthening the internal member community of RelayRides, as well as developing the external ecosystem of partners that will help to fortify that member community.
In the coming months, you should expect to see new features that make the site more social, and that give the community more influence in setting and enforcing the norms and expectations that will allow the community to flourish. On the external front, we’ve already cemented a few exciting partnerships, and more are in the works – stay tuned for some exciting news.
Lastly, I’ll be working hard to help create momentum behind carsharing and the broader sharing economy. The RelayRides community has already figured out that “access trumps ownership,” and now we’ve got to spread the word. The other side of the coin is building RelayRides into a great company that can seamlessly deliver a great experience for our community. We’re in the process of recruiting a seasoned CEO with experience building great companies. During the search, our now-former COO, Kerry Champion, an experienced business operator himself, will serve as the interim CEO. Overall, we’re very excited about this change. Building a stronger team internally will help us to better serve our community, and will help us make a more profound impact on the future of personal mobility.
Best regards, Shelby Clark Founder and Chief Community Officer