Archive for the ‘bus’ tag
Talking with strangers on the bus is a great way to learn about the world, but some days you just want to shut yourself off. For those types of days, Wired has outlined some of the tactics you can use to keep the seat next to you empty. More »
Zimride, a San Francisco-based startup that helps commuters share rides, is bringing itself to the East Coast with a new route between New York and Washington D.C.
With an already popular route between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this will add another one on the other side of the country. The average passenger from New York to Washington D.C. should pay about $25 for a seat, and the average Zimride driver should make $150 if they sell three seats.
“With recent Chinatown bus closures in New York city and increased summer weekend travel along the country’s most trafficked corridor, the time is right to bring our rideshare success east,” co-founder John Zimmer tells us.
The geographic expansion caps off a very hectic spring and summer for Zimride. The company just added a third leg of its business in on-demand, mobile ride-sharing. Called Lyft, the product resembles Uber’s model except that it uses regular people who bring their own cars. Zimride, of course, vets drivers for their driving history, criminal records, auto safety and so on. They add some personal touches too with a fist-bump for every passenger and pink moustaches on the cars.
Lyft comes on top of two other prongs of Zimride’s business. There is the original ride-sharing program that works with universities. Then there is long-distance ride-sharing. To engender trust, Zimride uses Facebook to show friends or interests in common. Passengers and drivers can also review each other for reliability and response times. Zimmer says all three arms of the business have made the company enough revenue that it doesn’t necessarily need to raise another round of funding. The business supports more than 30 employees.
Since launching back in 2007, the company has seen close to 200 million miles shared and 360,000 users. A year ago, it hit 100 million miles. The company has raised just over $7 million from Mayfield Fund, Floodgate, K9 Ventures, Keith Rabois and Facebook’s original incubator fbFund.
A model, tweeting the failed attempts of a married man to pick her up on a cross-country flight.
A student with a smartphone who captured a video of bullies viciously taunting a bus monitor.
A blogging 9-year-old, chronicling the underwhelming food served in her elementary school cafeteria.
Next week as you get hit by that bus, will you be thinking about the canoli you didn’t eat?
That’s why whenever I go back to Italy I have a list of the best pasticcerie (and gelaterie) to visit for mid-morning coffee or a delightful dinner with my mother.
Regrets can make us bitter. (yes, I do see the pun)
As you go through your day, do you make decisions in the moment, do you ask yourself Is this is what you want to be doing right now? Or are you already projected well into the future (or worse, regretting yesterday’s choices).
Another way of looking at familiar things in a new way is to look at them to see and experience them.
The question popped into my head as I was listening to one of the last lectures Nora Ephron gave at the free library in Philadelphia. You can listen to the podcast here (stay tuned during question time. She is every bit as funny and wise as during her prepared remarks.)
Why this is a good question for business
Chances are, there are plenty of tasks you end up not missing at the end of the day.
You know, program your tweets so you can sound authentically staged and forget all about it while you go ahead and make more important spreadsheets. (hey, I’ve been there)
Of course you should make efficient use of time and prepare for your days. That’s not what I’m saying here. While you were doing that, did you remember to read and listen when a person reaches out to you and to open the door for them?
There’s a conversation going on right now about social networks the outcome of which is best summed by Frank Eliason in @YourService.
Why have things gone so far in an unproductive direction? Scarcity mindset? Fighting for bread crumbs when we could be making the pie bigger for everyone by developing the opportunity to connect and keep business promises?
Make a list of things you can contribute with your smarts and when thinking for yourself and then operate from that list. Jane Jacobs from my earlier post said something incredibly simple and yet so hard to do. In our gut we know when we’re being appropriate and when we step over the line.
Being considerate and respectful is a best practice in being human and in the moment. That’s where the most opportunity to connect and develop relationships is. Every single time I’ve held judgment until I could respond and not react I thanked myself for it.
That something we forget to do is look at the other person with the same consideration we reserve for ourselves. It is every bit as material to our development and enjoyable all the way to the core as eating that fresh pastry or gelato. (more, actually. It was the photo from the spring that made me pine for a canolo siciliano)
Nora Ephron highly recommends having Meryl Streep play you. I second that. It would be incredible to see someone so immersed in the character that it feels more real than your day was.
Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a speaking engagement click here.
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Uber is still growing its business as a disruptive (sometimes controversial) car service app, but in the meantime it continues to push the envelope on what else it might eventually do with the logistics infrastructure it is also creating. The latest development comes by way of Chicago, where Uber is now laying on busses with DJs and drinks. Yes, it’s bus bumping from Uber.
Uberpalooza will feature DJs Dante, Bobbylite, Megan Taylor and Andrew Hayden, and is being run to coincide with the Lollapalooza music festival taking place in the Windy City this weekend. Those requesting the service will be charged $50 for 25 minutes or 5 miles — whichever comes first (so pick your traffic-clogged streets of Chicago carefully). Up to 10 other people can join in on the party bus — as long as all are over 21.
Uber’s DJ bus is the latest variation on the car service theme. Others have included barbecue delivery and pedicabs during SXSW in Austin, and, just last month, ice cream on demand in different U.S. cities.
How it works: Pretty simple. People using the Uber app in Chicago will be able to select the service a headphones icon on the app.
Uber’s also linking up with Soundtracking, the music/moodsharing app. People who post music on Soundtracking during their rides get entered into a contest to win tickets to a Lollapalooza after-party (but sadly not the sold-out event itself).
Does $50 for 5 miles sound expensive to you? Maybe not for this particular ride. Not only are you getting booze and a live DJ, but the idea is that those already in the music/party mood, and already forking out up to $230 for their weekend Lollapalooza tickets (plus more for everything else), will be well up for taking the experience a little further. Also splitting between 10 friends means it only costs each of you a fiver.
Uber says people who spread the word about Uberpalooza also get the chance to win tickets to other events, as well as an Uber swag bag.
Relaties van Unilever worden gedurende de Olympische Spelen rondgereden in een speciaal bestickerde bus.
Last month Karen Klein, a 68-year-old bus monitor from New York State, was ruthlessly harassed by a group of students. The incident was recorded, uploaded to YouTube and before long found its way to the social news site Reddit. Almost instantly, the video went viral and – as is often the case when a story pulls at the heartstrings of Redditors – a fundraiser was born.
The story has since been featured on every major news network, has over 2 million shares on YouTube and most staggering of all, the fundraiser has raised over $650,000 – enough to send the beleaguered bus monitor on a much-deserved vacation (and then some).
As impressive as this outcome might seem to most, those familiar with the Reddit community won’t be surprised. And that’s why brands should be paying attention to Reddit.
Reddit is social, responsible and viral
Hardly a week goes by without a sizeable amount of money being raised for charity on Reddit. Back in 2011, Redditors (as Reddit users are known) raised $55,000 for a three-year-old who needed a bone marrow transplant. Just last month they raised $30,000 to send a 23-year-old Vancouver man dying of cancer on a trip of a lifetime.
Then there’s the $80,000 that Reddit users donated in just 24 hours for a man whose face was slashed with a machete while singlehandedly defending a Nairobi orphanage with 35 children inside.
While not all fundraisers gain as much media attention as Karen Klein’s, I’ve always wondered why major brands and agencies have such little presence on Reddit, despite the clear opportunity for positive PR. What could be holding them back from what seems like a no-brainer?
Learning to let go of the conversation
At 2 billion page views and over 35 million unique visitors a month, Reddit remains a misunderstood gold mine. The problem for marketers is that Reddit’s massive and highly active community is a little too authentic.
Unlike the messages on a billboard, a display ad or a TV commercial, no one controls or dictates Reddit’s content. Redditors have no obligation to stay on topic. They feel perfectly comfortable discussing whatever they want, whenever they want and however they want.
Arthur C. Clarke once opined that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” For brands peering into online communities like Reddit, the corollary might be: Any sufficiently large community of authentic, unrestricted users is indistinguishable from chaos.
What this means is that marketers hoping to approach Redditors with a campaign had better be prepared for that one-way message to become a two-way conversation.
How good messages can turn bad
Woody Harrelson’s PR team learned this lesson the hard way. The plan was to gain exposure to Reddit’s huge audience through an open-access online meet-up called “Ask Me Anything” in advance of Harrelson’s film, Rampart.
But instead of letting Reddit users engage on their own terms, Harrelson and his PR team hijacked the conversation with thinly veiled attempts to keep their answers “on message” and steer the discussion back to the film.
The result was a PR disaster. It spawned a massively popular meme, thousands of “dislikes” of the movie’s YouTube trailer and millions of dollars worth of negative press.
Failed PR stunts like this represent a colossal missed opportunity on the part of brands, which don’t know how to leverage the site or else ignore Reddit altogether.
Nevertheless, the Reddit audience has an uncanny ability to make good content go viral, making it all the more astonishing why brands have such a limited presence in the community.
Turning conversations into PR opportunities
Why hasn’t a major hotel chain, for example, offered Karen Klein a free stay at any one of its worldwide locations? Why haven’t Nike, Reebok and Adidas pledged to provide the Nairobi orphanage with top-of-the-line sports equipment, or matched the donations of the Reddit community?
Perhaps the one exception is Southwest Airlines, which gave Klein and 10 friends a free trip to Disney. But even then, the company didn’t jump on board until after the story had blown up.
Instead of drastically over-thinking the approach or trying to move mountains to “engage” their target audience, major brands should be asking themselves what in-progress Reddit stories people are already interested in and how they can become a positive factor in them.
Even if Reddit’s audience isn’t your ideal target demographic, every day the site becomes more prescient in detecting (or creating) viral content: It’s where you discover the Karen Klein stories before they hit CNN.
Reddit offers a solution to PR firms that wish to find unobtrusive, inexpensive and impactful ways to positively influence people’s lives. In short, it’s the best friend brands don’t even know they already have.
A version of this article appeared in the Dx3 Digest.
There’s something very cool about Google Now, which the company announced at its I/O developer conference a few weeks ago. At the same time, though, Now also has the potential to become Google’s creepiest service yet. Here is what it does (assuming you opt in to the service and have a phone or tablet that runs Jelly Bean): Google Now learns from your search behavior and shows you cards with information you regularly search for (think game scores of your favorite teams, flight schedules) or that could be relevant to you because of your current location, including weather, nearby restaurants, schedules for the next bus station, how long it’s going to take you to drive home and currency information if it finds you are in a different country. It also uses a whimsical theme to highlight the time of day and where you are (it showed an image of Sydney’s Opera House, for example, when I was there a few weeks ago).
All of this could easily scream “invasion of privacy.” After all, this is one of the few Google services that really reveal how much the company really knows about you. The reason why it doesn’t quite feel like that yet is because of the limitations of the service. There is so much more Google could do with this service, but it almost feels as if Google deliberately kept some features back for the time being to ensure that users (or at least those few lucky ones who have access to a Jelly Bean device) can get used to how it works before adding more tools.
“Just the right information at just the right time.”
Google says Google Now is meant to give you “just the right information at just the right time.” Having used it pretty intensively both at home and on the road for the last three weeks, I’m happy to report that it works pretty well. When I’m at a bus stop, it will show me when the next bus is supposed to arrive. When I was out of the country, it would automatically show me what time it was at home and the latest currency exchange rate. Back at home, it quickly learned where “home” actually was (it did ask me to confirm this information just to make sure, though) and would then always show me how long the drive home would be whenever I was more than a few miles away.
It culls its data from all of your Google searches, no matter where you search (as long as you are logged in to your Google account). After a local search (say for a restaurant or airport), for example, it will start showing you a card with the current driving time to those locations. Do a flight search on Google to see if your flight is still on time and it will start showing you that info in Google Now, too.
When you opt in to using the service, Google says Now says that it will access your location data and your location history. The service also “uses data from other sources, such as your data in Google products or in third-party products that you allow Google Now to access. For example, your tablet’s synced calendar may include entries from non-Google calendar products.” Currently, though, it seems like the service most relies on search data and access to your calendar.
Despite everything that works well, though, Now can also be clunky at times. For no apparent reason, for example, it often decided to show me directions and travel times to local restaurants I searched for weeks before Google Now was even available. Unless you use Google instead of Flightstats or other tools to search for flight delays, it will never show you any flight information and because Google Search doesn’t let you search for flight numbers and dates at the same time, it will always show you information for the current date, even if your flight is still a day or two out.
Still A Few Features Shy Of Being Creepy
It’s easy to imagine a few scenarios where Google could do even more with your data. What if Google Now could look at your email inbox, for example, and automatically detect flight itineraries, hotel reservations and OpenTable confirmations and then use this data to give you more specific information on the Google Now screen without having to first search for it? There are no technical reasons why Google couldn’t do this. TripIt, WorldMate and others already do some of this with emails you send them, for example.
That’s apparently a line that Google isn’t ready to cross yet, though. People would likely freak out if Google decided to analyze their individual emails for Google Now, though it obviously already takes a close look at your inbox to target ads anyway. For many, it will already be creepy enough to see what Google can learn about your daily habits based on your search and location history. For now, though, Google has decided to err on the safe side and with just about a dozen different Google Now cards, it’s a pretty limited service that, despite its promise, doesn’t always offer you “just the right information, at just the right time” (most of the time it just shows the weather card anyway). As Google expands the service, though, it’ll be interesting to watch how long it will take before it starts pushing things a bit too far.