There’s been no shortage of start-up companies in the travel arena in recent years. Some of them have made it big, like Uber and Lyft. But others start out with a lot of flash and promise, and then flare out and disappear.
The latest company to join the latter camp is FlightCar, a San Francisco-based venture founded in 2013. Its business model was pretty simple : When you drive to the airport, drop off your car at a FlightCar lot and you get free parking and a car wash. You also agree to let the company rent out your vehicle to someone else while you’re away. And if they do, they’ll give you a share of the revenue.
Things seemed to be going well for a while, but then business started to falter. Stung by poor reviews about its customer service, FlightCar earlier this year went through a major overhaul, replacing a number of key executives and making other operational reforms.
But that apparently wasn’t enough. The company said in a blog post that over the next couple of weeks, it will be shutting down at all 12 airports where it had been operating. It noted that it has sold its technology platform to Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc. the automaker’s “innovation lab for new mobility services” located in Silicon Valley.
It’s the second San Francisco-based ride-sharing innovator to close up shop in recent months. Last December, the same thing happened to Sidecar, originator of a ride-sharing app in 2012. Sidecar got into the market ahead of Uber and Lyft, but it never expanded beyond nine U.S. cities, and was soon overwhelmed by its larger and better-financed competitors.
And it’s not just ride-sharing companies that can fail. The California-based all-you-can-fly membership airline Surf Air seems to be doing well, but last year three of its four founders moved east and started a company called Beacon, based on the same all-you-can-fly model for trips between Boston Logan and New York’s Westchester County Airport. They did not replicate their west coast success, however; Beacon shut down in April of this year.
Readers: Did you ever use FlightCar? What was your experience like? What’s the next travel startup to bite the dust?
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