You may have never heard of the ride-hailing service Juno, but chances are your Uber and Lyft drivers have.
That’s because FiDi-based Juno is trying to differentiate itself in the crowded ride-hailing marketplace by putting the welfare of their drivers first.
In a market where it's no secret that many drivers are discontent, Juno is making a strong play for the hearts, souls, and loyalty of the city’s on-demand drivers.
To accomplish that, the company has made some big tweaks to a model that made Uber a $62.5 billion company and Lyft a $5.5 billion one.
For example, Juno takes a flat 10 percent commission fee from every ride, where Uber takes as much as 25 percent. Juno also offers their drivers things like 24 hour phone support, and pays for their drivers cellphone plan including data. But the biggest — or at least the most eye catching — thing the company has done was to set aside half their shares to be split amongst drivers.
But, they didn't just stop there. The company is reportedly preparing to offer full employee status. That means drivers who work exclusively for Juno will get benefits, paid vacation and sick leave. That represents a huge departure from Uber and Lyft, who have fought contentious and costly legal battles to maintain their drivers’ status as independent contractors.
Of course, whether Juno's play for market share actually works is ultimately in the hands of a consumer that likely cares more about getting a quick, cheap ride than about their driver's overall economic wellbeing.
Drivers are a limited commodity, and if Juno manages to attract enough of them away from their competitors, they could quickly become the most convenient and cost-effective tool among the myriad of on-demand options.
From the consumer's perspective, Juno offers a few benefits over the competitors as well. While Juno does pay the drivers extra during demand surges, that cost is not passed on to the consumer. Drivers get a premium when demand is high, but riders never pay more.
The service is still operating in beta, but anyone can download and try it out without an invite. It shouldn't be too hard to get a ride, either, as the company said they have almost 13,000 drivers on the ground in New York City.
Only time will tell who will win the battle of the ride-hailing apps. But, in the meantime, it's a lot easier to get your hands on Juno stock than Uber stock.
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