August 28, 2013
Ousted Windows President Joins Startup Local Motion
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Last November, shortly after releasing a brand new tablet and operating system, Microsoft fired their head of Windows Steven Sinofsky. Now he’s a board member with the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and has just announced his very first big investment in a startup called Local Motion.The startup, now funded with $6 million from Andreessen Horowitz, builds hardware and software to monitor and manage large vehicle fleets. Specifically, Local Motion hopes to put their boxes in city fleet vehicles and thus remove the need for municipalities to cut keys for every single car. The same idea could be used in a car-sharing service as well. The company claims organizations that use their system can start saving money on maintenance after just two months.
Co-Founder Clement Gires says they plan to use their new capital to hire more developers and electrical engineers, and adds that Sinofsky’s involvement was critical in earning them the capital they needed to get started.
"He helped build one of the largest companies in the world, and I can get him on the phone at any time of the day," said Gires in an interview with CNet. "That's tremendous operating background."
The pair seem content to leave the platform wars behind them. Gires says he’s never even used Windows 8, the operating system Sinofsky helped bring to fruition before his ouster. Like most other companies, Local Motion has an iOS app available for their customers.
So far their largest customer is Google, which uses the system to track and monitor vehicles driving around their campus. With their cloud-based software and in-car hardware, campuses, cities and governments can not only track each vehicle in their fleet, they can also get an analytics report about how efficiently they’re running their fleets.
The software can also tell fleet managers how much money they could save if they switched to electric vehicles, which cars in the fleet are getting the best gas mileage, and how many vehicles they could potentially get rid of to operate more efficiently. Sinofsky said this is one of the reasons he is so excited to be a part of Local Motion.
"The city of Seattle [owns] what seems like hundreds of these white Toyota Priuses. ... I see the giant parking lot where they keep them in, and I see that even during the day they're unused," he said in an interview.
"They're not an efficient use of resources. The people who drive the fleets, and own the fleets would love to have fewer cars that are used more.”
Drivers only need a key card, or an existing staff badge, to access the car. Employees who need a pick up can use the mobile app to have a car swing by and give them a ride without putting another vehicle on the road. Since all the information is in the cloud, Local Motion also says they’ll eventually be able to learn about different makes and models and recommend a more efficient vehicle for a fleet.
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has also signed on to use Local Motion for Project 100, a new transportation system for the city of Las Vegas. For a monthly fee, users can either borrow a Tesla Model S, schedule a pick up in one of the electric sports cars, or even rent a bike to get around town, reports TechCrunch. With Local Motion installed, Project 100 mangers can monitor their efficiency, schedule rides and more.