Our journey from small startup to publicly traded on the NYSE
This week, we’re completing our journey to going public by officially listing on the New York Stock Exchange (under the ticker: GETR). Our listing day on Wall Street represents the culmination of years of hustle and dedication from our Getaround team, strengthened by our community of hosts, guests, and investors around the world who believed in our vision for a future in which all cars are shared.
We are immensely grateful for our investors who committed to our mission and partnered with us in scaling this ambitious venture: Acequia Capital, A-Grade Investments, Alpha Partners, Asset Plus, Braemar Energy Ventures, Broadscale, BPI, Collaborative Fund, Correlation Ventures, Cox Automotive, Elpis Capital, General Catalyst, Hinge Capital, Index Ventures, Innovation Endeavors, Intercap, Madrona Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Morado Ventures, Obsidian Investment Partners, Pennant Investors, PeopleFund, Redpoint Ventures, Reinvent Capital, SoftBank, SOS Ventures, SPARX Group, Triangle Peak Partners, Toyota Motor Corporation, SAIC Capital, SOSventures, Start Fund, RPM Ventures and many more that I don’t have room to thank here.
By becoming a public company, we’re reaffirming our dedication to democratizing car access while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and eliminating wasted car hours. And as ever, we are proud to be the world’s first connected carsharing marketplace.
This moment on our journey — expanding our business footprint so we can shrink our global environmental one — is cause not only for celebration, but for reflection and gratitude. We’ve come a long way, but together we can accomplish so much more on the road ahead.
As a kid growing up surrounded by emerging new technology, I fell in love with the idea that computers empower us to create new rules, to explore new ways of doing things. Years of playing and coding on family computers deepened my belief that day-to-day problems could be solved using the power of digital connectivity.
This focus led me to a new Silicon Valley program called Singularity University in 2009. Far from a traditional university, Singularity fostered an environment dedicated to creating innovative solutions to humanity’s greatest challenges. I was fortunate to be part of the inaugural Graduate Studies Program, where Google cofounder Larry Page challenged my classmates and I to come up with ideas that would positively impact one billion people in ten years.
To that point, investors and advisors encouraged “incremental” businesses with clear paths to immediate earnings — to innovate only if it could pay off right away. Here was Larry Page, one of the most influential Internet entrepreneurs in the world, asking us to ignore conventional wisdom and make a transformative impact on society.
Jessica Scorpio, a fellow entrepreneur and previous collaborator from back home in Ottawa, was also one of my classmates at Singularity. Inspired by Larry’s challenge and eager to create a new solution to an overlooked problem, Jessica and I put our heads together and realized the world faced a major challenge in transportation: People who own cars rarely use them, and many others who need cars can’t afford them.
With Larry’s challenge in mind, we set out to solve the issue of “car overpopulation” through sharing. By sharing our personal vehicles, we have an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by curtailing production demand for cars while also improving communities by increasing access to them. With the conviction that the smartphone was the backbone of this carsharing future, Getaround was formed.
It makes sense that we met our third cofounder, Elliot Kroo, at an iPhone hackathon event. A technologist, Elliot was the perfect complement to my business and engineering experience and Jessica’s marketing savvy. We convinced him to join the team full-time as our Chief Technology Officer — a role he excels in to this day. With Elliot on board, we finally had the pieces in place to build our ambitious digitally connected carsharing platform.
From the beginning, we knew the carsharing experience needed to be seamless for both guest and host. The Getaround app should be enough to access any car on our platform. Certain that the smartphone would become so embedded in our lives, we chose to forgo all other forms of keyless entry technology and focus instead on developing our own connected hardware and software infrastructure. In the video below, Sylvano Carrasco — now our Vice President, Connected Car — shows off the first prototype of what would become the Getaround Connect® hardware.
While we were still a few years from realizing the dream of a fully seamless Connect® experience, we realized we needed to build consumer awareness and gather feedback by putting Getaround into the marketplace. So we opted for a low-profile launch…
…at the world’s premier startup competition.
Those were the circumstances surrounding our public launch at TechCrunch Disrupt, New York City, in May 2011. A panel of tech celebrity judges — including Marissa Mayer, Chris Sacca, Bijan Sabbat, Fred Wilson, Tony Conrad, and others — listened to 31 pitches from startups around the world and voted unanimously to name Getaround the winner of the Startup Battlefield competition. We were also honored to receive the Audience Choice Award, a reminder that people are willing to learn new ways of doing things once they see it in action.
To win such a prestigious competition validated our confidence that the world was ready for a future of shared cars. But with the accolades came attention — and pressure. One day we were an unknown startup, the next we were being covered by Bloomberg, CNN, Forbes, and more, with thousands of interested potential users overloading our website and filling our email inboxes.
As regulators took notice of our new peer-to-peer carsharing company, Jessica started working proactively with state lawmakers to pass legislation to ensure there was regulatory clarity around this new business model.
This leadership in public policy legislation legitimized our business, gave our early adopters confidence to use Getaround, and showed insurance companies that we were serious about building for the long-term. It was a major breakthrough when our first insurance partner, Berkshire Hathaway, created a first-of-its kind product specifically designed for Getaround, covering hosts and guests during trips, without interfering with the host’s personal coverage. In the decade since, we’ve advocated successfully for the passage of dozens of laws setting insurance and other requirements in more than 20 states across the U.S.
Successfully raising $10 million in Series A funding in 2012 empowered us to grow our team, implement a paid referral program, and prove out our expansion model. With this structure in place, we spread beyond the Bay Area into Portland, Chicago, Austin, and San Diego. Yet more than a year after our TechDisrupt debut, our vision of a fully contactless carsharing experience had yet to be realized. Users in each of our new markets were exchanging keys face-to-face, limiting access for guests and causing some potential hosts to be hesitant about using our service.
In order to unlock the full potential of sharing cars, we needed to complete the Getaround Connect®.
The Connect® was (and still is) crucial to making the Getaround carsharing experience feel like magic. So we spent the next two years focused on perfecting the Connect® hardware and software technology, allowing guests to unlock cars using only their phones while empowering hosts with diagnostic data and robust anti-theft features.
It wasn’t long before we had an agile network of installer partners in each of our new markets. We also worked with private and public parking administrators to obtain parking spaces provided to our hosts for a fraction of what they normally cost, incentivizing more car owners to share with their neighbors.
As the Connect® streamlined the experience for users on the ground, automakers took notice. While integrating our smart technology with the software of major car manufacturers can be a gradual, steady process, that didn’t deter us. Our first partnership came in 2017, when we teamed with Toyota for a program that allowed San Francisco guests to book, unlock, and drive new Toyotas without physical keys. Other collaborations followed, including signed pilot agreements with a large European company and Toyota, with more progressing behind the scenes. Investment of ideas and capital from leading global auto manufacturers validated our belief that the future of mobility is shared, connected and sustainable.
Teaming up with leading rideshare company Uber opened even more doors for Getaround guests — and hosts. For the first time, those without the means (or desire) to own a car could earn cash by booking with Getaround and driving with Uber and Uber Eats. With these repeat guests driving consistent demand, entrepreneurial hosts became Powerhosts by listing more cars on the platform. Both groups have remained pillars of our business — and their own — since we launched the program in beta in 2018.
Throughout the journey, we’ve collaborated with municipalities to create programs that promote carsharing in their communities. From large cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston, to smaller towns like Salem, Massachusetts, where we recently launched a first-of-its-kind partnership with the city purchasing a fleet of hybrid vehicles to make available for local residents using the Getaround Connect®.
Car overpopulation doesn’t just affect communities here in the U.S., of course. To realize our goal of a world where all cars are shared, we needed to expand beyond our borders. So in 2019, we jumped at the opportunity to bring both Nabobil and Drivy — the largest carsharing platform in Europe at the time — into our family. Since then, we’ve also worked with the local governments of Lille, France; Oslo, Norway; Brussels, Belgium, and others to increase the number of parking spots dedicated to carsharing. In just three years, we’ve already demonstrated profitability in Europe while helping alleviate traffic in some of the world’s densest cities.
Our progress has not been a straight line. There have been painful challenges along the way. Like so many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to adapt to rapid changes in transportation habits. In the early months of 2020, demand for carsharing plummeted and Getaround faced an uncertain future. Through it all, we remained determined to achieve our original mission. The second half of that year, guests were eager to get back on the road while prospective hosts grew interested in earning supplemental income. Thanks to the resilience of our team, we were able to bring back all of our furloughed employees, hire new team members, and raise more funds to invest in the future of our business.
Perseverance also paid off in New York City. For nearly five years, we advocated with state and local legislators to modernize their insurance for carsharing. In 2019, we finally launched our peer-to-peer marketplace and expanded our service this summer thanks to the the Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing Program Act. Now, more than a decade after our Big Apple debut at TechCrunch Disrupt in 2011, we’ll be ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange!
During our journey, we’ve made astonishing progress toward our goal of eliminating wasted car hours. Thanks to our network of hosts and guests, we’ve grown from one car shared in-person with a few classmates, into six million trips from 1.7 million different guests in more than a thousand cities around the world.
Yet our work is only just beginning. There are still more than one billion cars in the world today, most of them sitting unused at this very moment. The more of those cars we share, the more we improve air quality in our neighborhoods, ease parking and traffic in our city streets, and provide underserved communities with access to the vehicles they need.
At Getaround, we believe carsharing creates a better way for people to move around their communities. For guests, it’s as convenient as owning a vehicle, while hosts reduce their cost burden of ownership by sharing cars with their neighbors.
Our carsharing community propelled us to where we are today, serving more than 1,000 cities around the world. As we mark another milestone on our journey by becoming a public company, we all take another step toward solving car overpopulation. And with more of you along for the ride, we can drive into a future in which all cars are shared.
Now…who’s ready to Getaround?