3 min read
The Uber of Web3?
It’s not a new concept—Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin theorized it years ago, and other startups have attempted to create a decentralized ridesharing service.
But now the Decentralized Engineering Corporation (DEC) thinks it has the right model, and it has raised funding to bring it to life on Solana.
DEC announced today that it has raised $9 million in seed funding to build out The Rideshare Protocol, or TRIP, which is designed to power ridesharing apps from a variety of future companies. They’ll all share the same core technology to connect drivers with riders, and DEC is building Teleport as the first application to prove out the framework.
The seed round was co-led by Foundation Capital and Road Capital, with participation from Thursday Ventures, 6th Man Ventures, 305 Ventures, and Common Metal. Individual strategic investors include Uber’s third-ever employee, engineer Ryan McKillen, as well as social media influencer Jake Paul, Flexport founder Ryan Petersen, and Farcaster co-founder Dan Romero.
Paul Bohm, CEO of DEC and founder of Teleport, told Decrypt that ridesharing giant Uber “essentially runs a monopoly—it’s very centralized.” Uber provides the platform that connects drivers to riders and takes a significant cut of the fee, commanding an estimated 72% of the U.S. ride-sharing market as of June, per data from Bloomberg.
TRIP is designed as a decentralized protocol that various app makers can plug into as a marketplace that connects drivers and passengers, all without a centralized force at the heart.
Bohm believes this will spur both cooperation and competition, encouraging participants to buck the model of giants like Uber and Lyft while also pushing companies to innovate to create the best app around a shared marketplace. A token will be used for decentralized governance of the protocol too, Bohm said.
The Teleport mobile app. Image: Teleport
Teleport is designed to look and act much like an Uber or Lyft app for seamless onboarding of riders and drivers alike with no crypto required. Riders can pay with either a credit card or the USDC stablecoin, while drivers are paid via USDC or a direct payment to a standard bank account.
“We keep it very, very close,” Bohm said of the app experience. “We don't want any extra steps on either the driver or rider side. But the difference is, you're no longer part of a monopoly.”
DEC will use the seed funding to fuel its rollout in the months ahead, with Teleport and TRIP holding demonstrations during Solana’s Breakpoint conference in Lisbon in November and Art Basel Miami in December.
Bohm said that Uber is “atrocious” in providing service around large-scale events, so the plan is to provide “table stakes or better quality” in Teleport’s first test.
From there, he estimates that a full rollout of the service will take six to nine months, with gradual decentralization planned as DEC aims to prove out the model. Bohm said that some companies and car fleet operators have expressed interest in using TRIP to develop their own respective apps, much as DEC has done with Teleport.
As mentioned, TRIP isn’t the first attempt to create a decentralized ridesharing service, but Bohm believes that the innovations around decentralized finance (DeFiDeFi) in recent years have yielded token models that can make this go-round work for all participants.
“That's really what opened my eyes," he explained, "that you can actually solve these incentive problems now."
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