Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh first heard of Project 100, the new car-sharing program that was supposed to launch this spring, at a 2013 Super Bowl party. The startup’s founder Zach Ware shared the idea over drinks at the Hard Rock Hotel, and Hsieh was inspired enough by the concept to make one of his largest personal investments in the project.
Two weeks ago, the company closed a $10 million series A funding round, led by the Zappos CEO, and marked the new phase in its development by changing its name to Shift.
The company first made headlines in 2013 after placing the largest order for the Tesla Model S. The purchase of 100 vehicles was to make up part of the fleet of the membership program that would also include bikes, larger sedans and shuttle buses, all to be located by using a mobile app.
“We believe mobility is broken. We believe that the titans of today’s transportation innovation are taking broken systems and making them marginally better,” Ware writes in his CEO blog. “We believe the system needs to be rebuilt. We believe we can do it better.”
Many Downtowners were excited at the prospect of zipping through the streets in these sporty electric cars, until news hit of the membership’s $400 monthly price tag. By comparison, Zipcar, the popular car-sharing system available across the nation, only charges an annual $60. Mobility was quickly overshadowed by accessibility, and many critics of the Downtown Project used Project 100 as another example of how Hsieh’s urban development plan left out the non-affluent.
Despite the criticism and setbacks, Hsieh and the Shift team haven’t lost faith. In the past year, Ware and his staff of 22 people have been working on building relationships with Tesla, Nevada Transportation Authority and the Regional Transportation Commission. The project also includes the construction of an electric vehicle charging station, new hardware that will control the fleet and the development of Android and iPhone apps for members.
With a comprehensive package of transportation alternatives to car ownership, Ware’s goal is not only to replace your car, but to offer more than your car could in the first place. Although his blog post doesn’t mention lowering the membership price, he does allude to the concern: “We’ll be far more affordable than you might think.”
The Bitcoin craze is spreading in Las Vegas. Michael Terpin recently wrote on CNN Money that Las Vegas could be a safe haven for the digital currency due to a lack of state taxes, access to low-cost air travel and the culture of championing individual rights over centralized bureaucracy. The Golden Gate and The D announced early this year that they would now accept Bitcoin for non-gaming transactions, and even escort agency Bunnies of Las Vegas announced in early May that they will be doing the same.
So it makes sense that Las Vegas finally has a Bitcoin ATM, just installed at The D. Manufactured by the local company Robocoin, the ATM allows for the buying and selling of the currency, just like at the bank.
“The D and Robocoin are both located in the growing high-tech hub of downtown Las Vegas which made this a natural fit, but we ultimately chose Robocoin because it is easy to use, extremely secure and one of the best brands in Bitcoin,” The D CEO Derek Stevens said.
So The D will apparently also be the go-to destination for the Bunnies to cash out.
Got a tech story tip? Email Nicole Ely at firstname.lastname@example.org.