Firefly, a startup that allows riders to earn money through digital advertising, officially launches today. It was also announced that it has provided $ 21.5 million in seed capital.
The idea of putting advertising on a taxi is not new, but Firefly offers drivers a so-called "digital smart screen" that allows advertisers to run targeted, geofenced campaigns. The company appears to have completed more than 50 advertising campaigns during a beta test phase in San Francisco and Los Angeles with hundreds of vehicles.
"As the first to build the IP, the primary concern will be its distinctive nature," said Kaan Gunay, co-founder and CEO. "More than half of our team consists of engineers, and we've been very focused on developing core IP to make sure it's scalable."
In addition, Gunay said that thanks to the combination of Firefly's targeting Features with its "strict" advertising policies (ads for strip clubs, tobacco and cannabis companies are not accepted.): "We work with many advertisers who have not even advertised outdoors before. We believe that we are expanding the market.
One of the main goals is to help drivers earn more money for Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services. In fact, Firefly says the average driver on his network earns an additional $ 300 a month.
Gunay explained that if the driver reaches a certain limit for hours, the company will do so you will pay a flat fee to transport their advertising. But he also said the company is exploring ways to "maximize the revenue we share with drivers and provide the drivers with the most value".
Also New York has recently passed new rules for driver compensation.
Earlier this year, Uber entered into a partnership with a startup called Cargo, which allowed drivers to earn extra income by selling goods such as chewing gum, snacks and chargers. Firefly has no official relationship with the riding companies, but Gunay said, "In our talks with these big companies … they said that drivers can do what they want. That's why it's a win for everyone. "
Gunay also said that these displays will be the foundation for a Smart City Data Network. In other words, they will gather data that Firefly wants to share with local governments and nonprofit groups. He said, for example, that the company had already exchanged air quality data with the Clean Air Coalition, and was also looking for temperature sensors and acceleration sensors.
Apparently Gunay does not plan to make money on this site business. He said to me, "We want to enhance how cities work, we do not plan to monetize it."
To get funding back, $ 21.5 million is a big seed round, but Gunay said the company's past success could "justify a bigger raise and a higher valuation." The round was led by NfX, Pelion Venture Partners, Decent Capital (founded by Jason Zeng of Tencent) and Jeffrey Housenbold of the SoftBank Vision Fund (yes, ). that SoftBank Vision Fund).