The Hottest Startup Of 2020 Is Cleaning Up Your Commute

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Thursday, March 26, 2020   /07:25 PM / by Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com / Header Image Credit: Oilprice


We've come a long way in a short time since ride-sharing emerged as a mainstream offering. Now, there's even an app that lets consumers participate in one of the biggest trends of the decade without leaving an environmental footprint. 

It's the app that does what Uber and Lyft don't, or can't afford to. 

Downloading it and hitching a ride with it means planting trees along the way. It also means, for the first time in our short ride-sharing history, having the option to choose to hail an EV or a hybrid to cut down on CO2. 

The app is from Facedrive, and it's not just another ride-sharing service--it's the next-generation model, and it's working to help the environment. 


What Riders Want

What the younger generation of riders want is exactly what the environment wants: An environmentally friendly solution to the mega-trend of sharing--and in this case, sharing rides. 

In other words, they want the cliche of "sharing is caring" to mean something. 

Millennial investors are nearly twice as likely to invest in companies or funds that target specific social or environmental outcomes. 

Where Uber missed out, Facedrive steps in. And the biggest problem is pollution. 

The ride-sharing segment is experiencing explosive growth, but what generations from Millennials on down can't countenance is the pollution. Transportation is the America's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, overtaking electric power a few years ago. 

And the evidence of ride-sharing pollution is mounting just as quickly as Uber and Lyft are expanding. 

A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that the average (U.S.) ride-hailing trip results in 69% more pollution than whatever transportation option it displaced. 

"It's not just that millennials, and younger generations in general, are increasingly opting out of the expenses and hassles of owning and parking a car," Facedrive CEO Sayan Navaratnam told Oilprice.com in a recent interview. "It's phenomenally bigger than that: Millennials demand more conveniences, and they demand that they be green. We are giving them that before anyone else does." 

Because it offsets any possible CO2 emissions, and for the very first time in ride-sharing history, gives customers the choice to be even more environmentally conscious. 

This is innovative, state-of-the-art, technology. FD's in-app algorithm calculates estimated CO2 emissions for each car journey and allocates a monetary value to Forest Ontario. Toronto Parks and Tree Foundation

That makes ride-sharing less polluting. 

Facedrive allows its riders to choose between EVs, hybrids and traditional cars. It's a choice no one's ever given consumers, and it means that it pleases everyone. For all those riders who are fine with the conventional, Facedrive is by no means sidelining them. They're just partially offsetting the related emissions. 

This resonates hugely with celebrities and the younger generations. It also resonates hugely with riders of any stripe because they won't be paying any premiums for offsetting, nor will drivers lose any of their fare to pay for the green initiative. It's a win-win for all, and the City of Toronto will also reap the benefits, which means that officialdom is solidly on board. 



What the Market Demands

And it's not just riders demanding a new model for ride-sharing--the market demands it, too. 

There is an ethics squeeze going on right now and it's pressuring major hedge funds to move money into things that are environmentally and socially responsible. 

They're doing it very willingly, too, because they have seen which way the profit winds are blowing. 

Look no further than Jeff Bezos, the richest man on the planet, who just committed a whopping $10 billion to a Global Earth Fund. Or, Larry Fink, the CEO of BlackRock--one of the world's largest hedge funds--who now describes climate change as a "defining factor in companies' long-term prospects". 

A major capital shift is coming, maybe sooner than we anticipated. Green stocks could be set to eclipse the current technology monopolies, and even the world's top oil traders are going green. 

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Facedrive caught on to the mega-trend years ago. 

"We're all about grabbing onto the biggest trends in tech before they're mega-trends. So that takes us back to 2016, when we first came up with the idea. Whenever a major new trend emerges, it's the job of the truly innovative to step back and say 'OK, this is an explosively great idea - so what's wrong with it?' When you figure that out, and you've got the right network and the right people behind you, you can jump in on one of the biggest trends and disrupt a massive market at exactly the right time," Navaratnam said. 

The problem for Uber was one of timing: This great idea emerged simultaneously with environmentally friendly investing, and both became more than passing fads but they failed to keep step with one another. 

And Facedrive's goal to build a sustainable multi-billion-dollar global organization in the Transportation as a Service (TaaS) industry, isn't just playing lip service to Millennial demands. It's "single purpose" is to become the #1 Eco-Friendly, Socially Responsible TaaS platform in any market it enters. 


The App That Plans To Take On Uber 
Facedrive has already planted 3,500 trees and expects to have plant ~68,000 trees in 2020, while offsetting around 2.1 million kg of CO2. 

And rides are on the steady upswing, with August-October 2019 alone experiencing 76% growth: 

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The next big push comes in Q3-Q4 of this year, when Facedrive targets expansion into U.S. and European markets. 

The app itself is seamless, and not only makes it easy for riders to choose--for the first time--whether they want an EV, a hybrid or a conventional car; but it also lets them watch their carbon footprint being erased and keeps track, live, of Facedrive's tree-planting operations. 


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And it's much more than just an eco-friendly way to ride-share--it's ethical in more ways than one because the company recognizes that drivers are the key to its success and its guiding principles include one very important aspect that has been left out along the way: Drivers and their families deserve to earn more. 

The app isn't just seamless for riders, it's seamless for drivers and offers them platform choices that they've never had before. 

Facedrive's reputation as an ethical, principle-driven company in a high-growth space has already filled its partnership pipeline with some huge names, including a deal with Canada's Tier-1 telecoms provider to give free phones and major plan discounts to 'Facedrivers', and a deal with a Canadian commercial banking giant. 

But the pipeline is already much bigger than that: 

Facedrive isn't just latching onto the explosive ride-sharing segment--it's changing the model. And all that tree-planting that it's doing in Canada right now is headed for the U.S. and European markets where a bigger population has more people concerned about their own environmental impact. 

Facedrive wanted to take something as simple as hailing a ride and turn it into a collective force for change, and it's doing just that. 


Other companies set to ride the new wave of environmentally friendly alternatives:

Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER) 

The big story in tech last year was the Uber IPO-the ride-sharing app joined the market with a tepid showing, and it hasn't done much business since. 

It's the cherry on top of a cake of trouble for the revolutionary tech company, which has suffered from a mountain of bad press. It's controversial CEO Travis Kalanick was forced out over his behavior and the company's struggle to generate revenue, but the new management hasn't been able to do much better. 

Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT) 

Lyft may be a bit overvalued, but it's still sustainable. 

Lyft went public in March for $87.24 and hit $88.60 on the first day of trading. 

It's shed over half that and has been treading water ever since. Lyft's next earnings report is due on October 30th. But $36 makes this a cheap stock for a ride-sharing market that's killing taxi cabs and cutting in on car sales, too. 

Right now, Lyft is valued at 4x its sales, and it's still losing money-like Uber. But it does have over $3 billion in cash, and it is investing in micro-mobility, too, through bike-sharing startups. 

General Motors (NYSE:GM) has created its own brand of electric bikes, called Ariv. The bikes were just launched this year, but have already captured the attention of the European market. 

While they err on the side of pricey, coming in at $3,800 per unit, they do boast a high top speed and can travel a modest distance on a single charge. 

The kicker for many, however, is that they can fold into an easily carriable pack, making them the perfect choice for a lot of commuters. Especially in big cities like London or Berlin. 

Ford (NYSE:F) is taking a different approach. It's swooped right into the scooter market, buying Spin for a clean $100 million. 

Initially deployed in San Francisco back in 2017, Spin is widely considered to be a part of the Big Three of the scooter world, along with Lime and Bird. 

While Ford's buyout of Spin made headlines, it's certainly not the first urban transportation alternative Ford's sunk its teeth into. 

In recent years, Ford also bought commuter shuttle service Chariot, Autonomic and TransLoc, aiming to ensure that it does not miss the boat as this new movement accelerates. 

BAIDU (NYSE:BIDU), for its part, is taking on the automated car market. With more miles under its belt than any of its competitors in Beijing, it's an easy choice for a number of investors. 

Likewise, it has an equally large portfolio of innovative new technology…at a lower entry point than its competitors. 

As the 'Chinese Google,' Baidu is following a similar path to its American counterpart. It began as a search engine but is quickly expanding into almost all things tech related. 

From artificial intelligence to television and finance, Baidu's ever-expanding reach is a not to be ignored. Especially for investors looking to stay on top of the new tech trends. 


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