With $6M Raised, Ex-Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky Joins Car-Sharing Startup

Steven Sinofsky, the former head of Microsoft’s Windows group, is joining the board of Local Motion, an enterprise car-sharing startup.

Each day, millions of cars are shared between employees of universities, local governments, and corporations. Yet managing these enterprise fleets is a nightmare. “A larger municipality might have 3,000 vehicles, but people have the keys in their pockets or on a nail on the wall,” says Clement Gires in disbelief. “It takes a lot of time just to find out who has the keys!”

Steven Sinofsky

Enter Local Motion, which Gires cofounded with the aim of streamlining that process by enabling customers to manage and monitor their vehicle fleets from the web with Zipcar-like technology. Today, the Burlingame, California-based startup raised a $6 million round led by Andreessen Horowitz to bring the sharing economy to the enterprise. As part of the investment, new Andreessen Horowitz board partner Steven Sinofsky, the former head of Microsoft’s Windows group, will join the startup’s board.

Local Motion’s service eliminates the need for more vehicles. By installing a small module inside each vehicle of a corporate fleet, along with GPS and an accelerometer, employees can gain access to vehicles by simply swiping their existing employee badge. Real-time car data are transmitted over 3G to managers, who can use the information to track sharing–perhaps the startup’s most valuable service. Managers can now oversee reservations and future bookings, anticipate maintenance needs, and ensure employees are using the cars appropriately so they’re not off joy riding, Ferris Bueller-style. “We know the real-time fuel consumption of every driver,” Gires says.

More significantly, managers can also optimize their fleets for demand. “After a while, we’re able to build an actual map of the mobility demands, so we can say, ‘In front of this building at this time on Mondays, we know you need about 20 cars and 15 pickup trucks,'” Gires explains. According to the company, the data can be used to help reduce fleet sizes up to 30% on average, while providing savings from on-time repairs and reduced fuel costs.

With its funding round today, Gires says the company, which charges a monthly subscription rate, will expand its product and sales teams. Local Motion’s clients already include Google and the city of Sacramento.

But Gires seems most excited about having Sinofsky join the company’s board. “He’s a very intense guy, and we’re very excited to have him in our corner,” Gires says. “He helped build one of the largest companies in the world, and now I can get him on the phone anytime I want!”

[Image: Flickr user Akarakoc]

About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.