Fixing the company car
FORTUNE — Clément Gires believes the company car model is broken, and he’s hoping that former Microsoft Windows boss Steven Sinofsky can help him fix it.
Gires is co-founder of Local Motion, a Silicon Valley startup that was originally formed to develop shared electric cars (i.e., ones sold to places rather than to people). When the team began to realize how long it would take to manufacture their vehicles at scale, they began working on a way to package their sharing technology for existing enterprise fleets.
The result is a platform that lets employees use their ID badges and smartphones to select and access company cars. It also provides a variety of analytics, including usage patterns that could help cut down on excess fleet purchases.
So kind of a Zipcar for the enterprise. Or, more specifically, a product that competes with Zipcar’s small enterprise offering, which is called FastFleet (Local Motion says it’s two big differentiators are the ability to use existing employee ID badges and the ability to book a “type” of car rather than a specific vehicle).
Paying customers already include Google (GOOG) and the City of Sacramento.
“What really drives us is the ability to enable sharing, because a lot of these cars are only used for one or two hours per day,” Gires says. “Sometimes that’s because a car is assigned to a small department, or because it’s a large department and it’s hard to find the keys.”
What Local Motion really needs now is to grow. It currently has just eight employees, but wants to be at 25 by this time next year. Among the hires would be electrical engineers, mobile/web developers and sales and marketing pros.
To get there, the company today announced that it has raised $6 million in venture capital funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. Perhaps equally important, its directors now include Steven Sinofsky, the former Microsoft (MSFT) Windows president who recently joined Andreessen Horowitz as a “board partner.”
“He helped build one of the largest companies in the world, and I can now get him on the phone any time I want,” explains Gires.
Sinofsky says was attracted to Local Motion by its founding story, and how it is using innovative technology to solve an organizational pain point. He also likes that the product’s analytics dashboard is easily accessible for the fleet administrator. “What they really need to do is scale in terms of both the business and R&D,” says Sinofsky, who originally joined Microsoft as a software engineer in 1989. “I’ve got some experience with that.”
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