Waze Carpool is the latest Google attack on Uber and comes from one of their massive technology arsenal companies, Waze.
Waze CEO Noam Bardin. (Photo via Waze)
Waze was an Israeli start-up that successfully developed a full traffic monitoring map, creating an online community of drivers that report traffic situations as well as providing metrics as they drive. The smartphone GPS would give Waze the location, and time is allowing Waze to calculate traffic and project optimum ways to travel. Google bought Waze up in 2016 for $1.5 billion, and added to their arsenal of software solutions, although Waze is an autonomous company and operates in its own sphere.
Now, with the Waymo affair behind them, Google has taken the 5-year lead time that Uber had to learn from all their mistakes, and basically give Waze an advantage of being able to start from a very solid place. Waze is already a preferred mapping system used by most rideshare drivers, Google is in everyone's phone, and between the two, they developed a new rideshare app called Waze Carpool, which will try to eviscerate their competition by stealing UberPOOL, Express POOL, and Lyft Line passengers.
Waze will pay its drivers $0.54 per mile, which is the IRS mileage reimbursement rate, which means that the drivers will not need to meet commercial tax and insurance requirements and will be matched to riders through the app. offering riders the lowest rates on the market.
Waze has been active in the last two years, they had their service operational in California, but very low key. Now it's their time to step out into the limelight, and they are preparing a national launch in Seattle, Washington.
Josh Fried, head of Waze Carpool told the press that "This is the first time we are approaching a state with a very aggressive municipal partnership plan, as well as talking to a bunch of employers, you could see pretty rapid expansion from us going forward."
Noam Bardin, Waze CEO said that "There are too many cars and not enough roads. Traffic is getting worse and worse. You look at the numbers, and it is shocking." He added that Waze has over 400,000 users in the Seattle area, and "There is a very dramatic difference in using HOV versus single occupancy lanes. That's not true in every state." He should know since Waze is an impressive mapping and GPS traffic coordination app.
Bardin compared Waze to Amazon in that "If you think about Amazon, it's not about the engineer. It's about the person working in the warehouse. That's where I think we can make the biggest impact. If you have a short commute, you aren't in our demographic. If you have an hour-long commute, you'll learn about us." Bardin added that the reason he does not intend to compete with Uber for the short-term rides is that "my dream was never to run a taxi company."
What is interesting is the timing of Google Waze launch, so close after the Waymo victory. Having mentioned this, Josh Fried claims that "There are other apps out there, but they don't have the power of Waze. We have a leg up in terms of technology." Which is so true, in fact when you look at the advantage that Waze has on everyone, it is obvious that if they decided to go into a full ride share gig, they would impact the global market immediately, I expect that they could take up to 25% of all the drivers globally in one week.
The big difference between Waze Carpool and its competition is that Waze does not perform driver screening, what they do give are full details about the driver and the car to the customer, and customers can compare drivers and decide which one they want to take.
Fried explained that "You get to do a tremendous amount of vetting. At any point in time, if it's not right for you, you can find another partner. It's really up to you at every step of the way to make that carpool happen."
The other main difference is price, an average Uber Pool trip from Seattle to downtown Tacoma would cost around $50 in Uber Pool but will only cost you $7 with Waze.
Currently, the launch plan will give drivers total autonomy and 100% income, after a while, Waze will take a small percentage from the income, but it will not be anywhere near the exorbitant 25% that Uber takes.