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Herman said she “had a vision” about a more efficient system for New York cabs in 2009, while still working for JPMorgan Chase & Co. She decided to apply for a taxi license so she could take a closer look at the market. She still drives a yellow cab a couple of nights a week.
Herman immigrated to Texas with her parents at age 10, eventually coming to New York to attend college. Herman said her interest in Jews long preceded her marriage, or her work for an Israeli firm.
“I’ve been to Israel seven times, and the first six I wasn’t even working for GetTaxi,” she said.
Another strong contender for the lucrative app monopoly is Hailo, established in London by New York-born Jay Bregman. In less than two years, the company has expanded to Chicago, Boston, Toronto and, most recently, Dublin. Six thousand of London’s 23,000 cab drivers have signed up with Hailo so far, Bregman said, and 50,000 customers have used the service since it was launched in London’s iconic black cabs.
The app “looks at the driver side of the equation,” according to Bregman. Among other things, Hailo features a social network that enables drivers to interact with each other and share information about traffic and hot spots.
“We know the value of time efficiency,” Bregman said, “and this is a way to put a customer and a cab together in less than two minutes.”
If GetTaxi’s Herman is obsessed with cabs, for Bregman it’s the pure technology of public transportation. As Bregman tells it, he “fell in love” with technology very early in life thanks to his father, a New York surgeon. “My father saw that technology would be the next big thing, and made sure I’d always have the latest computers at the time,” he recalled.
According to Bregman, more than 1,000 cabbies have already filled out Hailo’s application to use the upcoming New York City app.
Another reported favorite in the TLC’s competition is Uber, which was founded in San Francisco and currently operates in more than 15 cities in the United States, Canada, France and the United Kingdom.
The author of Uber’s New York proposal is Josh Mohrer, the company’s general manager, who was born and raised in the Forest Hills section of Queens. Like his competitors, Uber refrained from releasing specific details of its New York app, but Mohrer said the project is similar to the successful model Uber has applied to busy metropolises like Chicago, Paris and Toronto.
“We see technology as a way to help you find yellow cabs,” Mohrer said.
The TLC is expected to announce the winning bid for its contract in November, and the new app should become available for download next spring.
Contact Andrea Palatnik at email@example.com.