Ride sharing startup Zimride raises $6M

Ride sharing startup Zimride has raised its first substantial round of funding. On Wednesday the company, which allows people to arrange shared car rides together via the web and mobile apps, said it has raised $6 million in a Series A round led by Mayfield Fund and including FLOODGATE and K9 ventures.

Four-year-old Zimride has built a combination of semi-private, paid ride-sharing networks, and utilizes already-established groups and social networks to grow its communities. The company told us last month it had 110 Zimride communites at universities and companies across 30 states in the US., and also last month launched its first public ride-sharing route, and a new in-app payment system. Zimride’s first public route, called the “sunshine route,” is from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and essentially all Zimride users can go outside their private company or school networks to share rides along that route.

Zimride has been trying to straddle between private ride sharing for already-established groups — which are willing to pay for the service and which can be a relatively safe system — and ride sharing for the public, which is a lot bigger audience, but which needs more safeguards and doesn’t seem to be as willing to pay. Zimride co-founder John Zimmer told us in an interview last month: “It’s always been the plan to make Zimride a new form of transportation for everybody. Network-based silos can only get you so far.”

Zimride is also part of the whole collaborative consumption trend of using the web and mobile to share “stuff” from cars to rides to apartments to tools, which is a more sustainable, digital economy, for the growing global population. While studies have found that car sharing reduces overall personal vehicle ownership, ride sharing is also a more efficient use of cars, adding more passengers to fewer vehicles. At our RoadMap event in Novemberin San Francisco, we’ll talk more about the collaborative consumption trend, and we’re featuring the co-founder and CEO of Airbnb Brian Chesky.