Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you’ve probably noticed that everybody’s favourite ride-sharing app, Uber, is not averse to a little gentle price-gouging of its riders given the opportunity.
Thanks to its transparent but also barefaced price-surge model, anything from bad weather, big sporting events or any other circumstance that creates high demand sees Uber’s prices rise. While that model may look great from a driver/shareholder perspective, it’s also guaranteed to create paroxysms of rage when you’re inconvenienced by it yourself.
So while the technology is smart and the product convenient, a few more idealistic types are looking to apply a different economic model to ride-sharing.
Enter La`Zooz, an Israeli start-up that says it knows exactly where the technology needs to go next, and it’s not towards profitability.
Pronounced ‘La-zuze’, La`Zooz is the latest ride-sharing app that, like Uber, wants to harness the power of your mobile to make your car obsolete, but it wants to do it without all the obstacles and opportunities that the profit-motive produces. To accomplish that, La`Zooz takes Uber’s sharing philosophy and turns it up to 11, replacing cash payments with a considerably more utopian token-based economy (called Zooz) and a community-ownership model to create a true ‘ride-sharing’ experience.
In their own words, La`Zooz is “a Decentralized Transportation Platform owned by the community and utilising vehicles’ unused space to create a variety of smart transportation solutions. By using cryptocurrency technology La`Zooz works with a ‘Fair Share’ rewarding mechanism for developers, users and backers.”
If you’re detecting a hint of politics in all this, there is.
“The Zooz economy…is decentralised,” the company says in their promo video. “The community decides on how Zooz tokens should be distributed. Based on a fair-share model in which everyone…is compensated according to his or her contribution to La`Zooz.”
“The end of capitalism has begun.”
The whole point of La`Zooz is to increase the occupancy of cars on the road, rather than putting more cars on the road (which has, up until now at least, been the case as users adopt Uber). To this end, La`Zooz drivers are not motivated by any real profit incentive at all, other than covering the cost of the shared drive, making the cost of using the service very low (a La`Zooz ride costs about one tenth of the price of Uber).
The app also matches rides and riders together based on their shared interests using an algorithm that reads social profile details to create a more pleasant experience for both parties.
“Our basic beliefs are reflected in the La’Zooz initiative,” reads the company website. “Using a decentralized digital coin enables us all to enjoy and share our own wealth (and empty seats). All efforts are directed to make this a community project so that all can become part and enjoy the value that is created. We share a deep hope that La’Zooz will become a people’s project creating prosperity for all.”