The cofounder of messaging platform Viber is hoping to steal drivers from Uber for a new taxi app launching in New York this spring, according to The Financial Times.
Talmon Marco — who set up WhatsApp competitor Viber in 2010, before selling it to Rakuten for $900 million (£627 million) in 2014 — confirmed in February that he is behind stealth transportation startup Juno.
He told the FT that Juno is specifically targeting Uber drivers with high ratings by offering them lower commission rates and equity.
“What Uber left out in the process of building their company is that they completely and totally forgot about the people who do the work, the drivers,” said Marco. “Imagine a company where all the employees hate management; that is not a good place to be.”
Uber drivers have been protesting in cities like San Francisco and New York over fare cuts that were introduced in January.
In New York City, base fares went to $2.55 (£1.77) from $3 (£2.09), per-mile rates dropped $1.75 (£1.22) from $2.15 (£1.50), and the per-minute rate went to $0.35 (£0.24) from $0.40 (£0.28). In all, Uber X and Uber XL riders saw their total fares drop by 15%.
Lyft, another Uber rival, has been keeping drivers happy with its tip system, in addition to lower commission rates for full time drivers. Uber’s commission structure was changed last week to reflect Lyft’s, the FT writes.
Marco, who told the FT Juno has already raised tens of millions but refused to reveal the exact amount, said he would classify full-time Juno drivers as employees, not contractors like Uber does. He is proposing that Juno shares are allocated to staff each quarter. Over time, they could build as much equity as the founders, according to the FT.