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Car-Service-Debate---On-Demand-vs.-Traditional Via’s mobile app connects multiple passengers who are headed the same way, allowing riders to share a chauffeured, premium vehicle at highly affordable rates – currently $5 (if prepaid) or $7 (for a single ride). Average pickup times are under 10 minutes, and trip durations are comparable to a taxi, despite the complexities inherent in matching routes for multiple passengers. The company’s proprietary algorithm dynamically matches passengers with seats at scale, solving unique computational and operational challenges and resulting in a more affordable and convenient mode of transportation. Via has been approved for pre-tax transit benefits, allowing members to pay for the service using pre-tax dollars. First launched in New York City in September, 2013, Via currently provides New Yorkers with tens of thousands of rides per week and has provided over 300,000 shared rides in total. 40,000 members have signed up for the service, 90% of which have come through word-of-mouth referrals. All Via drivers—now more than 500 of them—are TLC licensed and drive premium vans or SUVs. The company currently operates between 32nd to 110th streets in Manhattan and is expanding rapidly. Chemi Peres, a managing general partner and co-founder of Pitango VC, has joined the Via board of directors. “Today’s cities require a new approach to their transit challenges, but most solutions don’t address the very real problems of too many vehicles on the road and not enough affordable and convenient transportation options,” said Chemi Peres. “Via has a solution that will reduce traffic while getting people to their destinations faster and more comfortably. Via has built an impressive technology infrastructure to solve one of the world’s transit problems, and we are proud to invest in the company and the team.” The financing will be used to break into new markets, to accelerate product growth and development, and for hiring in key areas. Via is re-engineering public transit—from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. The Via algorithm matches, in real time, multiple passengers headed the same way with a single large SUV or van. Passengers request rides through a mobile app, and Via’s systems instantly select and, if necessary, re-route the vehicle that best matches the passenger’s route. Targeting the gap between outdated public transit and expensive luxury car services, the Via platform has been operating in NYC since September 2013. It currently provides tens of thousands of rides per week and is growing rapidly. Founded in 2012 by Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, who previously led engineering projects for the Israeli Air Force and have PhDs in neuroscience and systems biology from Stanford University and the Weizmann Institute of Science, respectively, the idea for Via came from Israel, where many people rely on shared vehicles called sheruts to travel quickly, cheaply and easily along major streets. Via is headquartered in New York, with offices in Tel Aviv. Pitango Venture Capital, the leading venture capital firm in Israel, has been investing in technology entrepreneurs since 1993. With offices in Israel and Silicon Valley, California, Pitango currently manages several venture funds totaling over $1.6 billion in committed capital. It is invested in more than 180 companies; among them are companies that have gone public, such as JinkoSolar and Radware, and companies that were acquired, such as dbMotion (acquired by AllScripts) Anobit (acquired by Apple) and Provigent (acquired by Broadcom). Pitango invests in seed, early stage start-ups, as well as growth phase companies in the IT, Life Sciences and Cleantech industries. Hearst Ventures makes strategic investments in companies operating at the intersection of media and technology. Starting with its investment in Netscape in 1995, Hearst Ventures has grown to become one of the most active and successful corporate venture funds. Notable investments include Pandora, Brightcove, XM Satellite Radio, Eink, Sling Media, Exodus, Broadcast.com, Hootsuite, IGG and Buzzfeed. Hearst Ventures is a unit of Hearst Corporation, one of the nation’s largest diversified media and information companies. 83North is a global venture capital firm with more than $550 million under management. The fund invests in exceptional European and Israeli entrepreneurs, across all stages of consumer and enterprise companies. With offices in London and Tel-Aviv, 83North is the sum of the latitudes of these two main hubs of operation.]]>