Amidst excitement over the legalization of ridesharing, Sidecar co-founder quits

By Carmel DeAmicis , written on September 23, 2013

From The News Desk

Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission legalized ridesharing. The move was heralded as a boon for companies like SideCar, Lyft, and Uber, which allow regular people with personal cars to make money giving rides to others. Given that all three companies previously fought off cease and desist orders from the city of LA and were charged $20,000 from the CPUC for illegally operating, the passage of the legislation came as a huge relief. It opened the door for unfettered expansion across California and the legislation may inspire other states to follow suit.

But despite the changing tide for ridesharing, one of the three SideCar co-founders has recently quit.

The former Chief Financial Officer Nick Allen said in a brief email to Pando, “I left to work on a new project. Nothing more to share at this time really.” Notably, Allen's most recent activity on LinkedIn shows that he joined the group SAIL Capital Partners -- a VC firm focused on clean energy. But at the time of publication, Allen had not returned a request for comment about whether SAIL Capital had hired him. [UPDATE: In an email, Allen said he has not joined SAIL Capital.]

According to his LinkedIn profile, Allen has been with SideCar since January 2012, just before its public launch in February 2012. As the CFO, he oversaw SideCar’s financial and administrative strategy, and led the national expansion efforts from San Francisco to eight more cities. He got involved with SideCar through his relationship with SideCar co-founder Sunil Paul. Allen serves as a partner at the VC Firm Paul founded -- Spring Ventures.

SideCar’s comment on Allen’s department was similarly brief. Margaret Ryan, VP of Communications, said in an email, “We are sorry to see him go but we support his decision and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Both the company and Allen were tightlipped about Allen’s resignation and would not give any more information. But a co-founder quitting is usually not a sign that all is right in paradise.

It’s hard to know how SideCar is stacking up to its competitor Lyft these days since neither have publicly shared their revenue or profits. But in recent months, Lyft has exploded into the public’s consciousness while SideCar seems to have disappeared from view. Despite the fact that SideCar was the first on-demand ridesharing company on the scene -- founded before Lyft or Uber X -- it hasn’t been making headlines.

Lyft has $60 million in venture capital to scale ($82.5 million if you include the money its original parent company Zimride has raised), whereas SideCar is working with $10 million. It appears Lyft’s putting its extra money to good marketing use. The Lyft pink mustaches have become ubiquitous, as have the people passing out Lyft flyers on the streets and at events.

And despite the fact that SideCar had a several month lead, Lyft has now expanded into more cities -- a total of 13 -- while SideCar is only in nine. Furthermore, if marketing efforts are any indication, Travis Kalanick at Uber clearly sees Lyft as his competition and doesn’t view Sidecar as a threat. Uber has gone after Lyft aggressively, putting up “shave the stache” ads and rolling out free Uber X services for the month of September in the new cities Lyft expanded into. But Uber hasn’t raised a finger against SideCar.

This might be the only case where being Travis Kalanick's target is a good thing.

[Image source: LinkedIn]