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Sometimes it isn’t the technology that is disruptive… it’s just the way you do business.

Years ago, Yahoo was the go-to homepage for the web. It’s where the world went to search the web. One day a couple of brats from Stanford offered Yahoo executives a much more accurate and precise search engine.

Yahoo’s response? “Nah, that’s really not our thing.”

You see Yahoo could have developed a better search engine… a great search engine isn’t secret sauce. The problem with Google’s offer to Yahoo was that Yahoo’s business model was contingent on the searcher having to go through multiple pages of search results, being assaulted with multiple advertisements before finding what they were looking for. It was all about generating ad revenue.

You know what sucks? Why do you always find what you’re looking for in the last place you look. And for Yahoo, 3 or 4 pages of your inconvenience was a profitable business model. A business model that Yahoo was handcuffed to in order to meet the demands of stockholders and wall street expectations.

So the Google boys decided to create their own go-to home page, a page that found what you were looking for in the first and last place you looked. Yahoo couldn’t react without crushing their revenue and profitably and now Yahoo has been bought and sold multiple times and its worth has gone the way of the Rupel. Google is now the standard.

A couple of weeks ago, I was having lunch with Venture Capital investor, Randy Demolky, of Private Access Network (PAN). Randy’s made some great investments. He invested in Tesla. Locally, he’s in such winners as, Hungry, and So imagine my surprise when Randy told me he made the bonehead move of investing in a company that competes with Uber and Lyft.

My response, just what the world needs another rideshare app. And then he explained to me the disruptive business model. Empower is driver-friendly. The company charges a monthly subscription to drivers. Drivers set their own rates and keep 100% of their fares.

Remember when America first opened up after the Pandemic lock-downs? Do you recall how difficult it was to get an Uber or Lyft? Well if Empower attracts drives away from Uber and Lyft, it will be as difficult to find an Uber driver as it is to locate a functioning brain cell at a QAnon convention.

When I ask Uber drivers what they think about Uber, I learn new four-letter words I didn’t know existed. These unhappy drivers will be lured to Empower and as it gets more difficult to get rides from Uber and Lyft, we’ll all start using Empower.

I recently tried Empower for a ride home from Dulles Airport. A driver was available and picked me up after waiting 4 minutes. There were a few glitches with the app, yet the driver was great, the car was spacious and clean. Best of all, it cost 30% less than Uber (not counting the $10 discount for the first ride).

For humans who care about gender, Empower allows you to select the gender of the driver. It’s not a dating app and no… by selecting gender you don’t get to change the driver’s gender, you do get to request if you prefer a male or female driver.  The app allows you to select drivers as favorites and request that specific driver for rides. So in a lot of ways, maybe it is a dating app. It’s like Tinder for ridesharers.

As a business model, both Uber and Lyft are handcuffed to match Empower’s driver-friendly business model. The cost structures and demands of the stockholders for the two dominant publically traded rideshare companies hampers their ability to adjust to meet this driver-friendly model.  It’s possible that if Empower starts eating into Uber and Lyfts revenues, it may be cheaper for them to acquire Empower making Randy Domolky look like a pretty smart dude. Then you and I can start our Empower like Uber and Lyft competitor.

Will Empower do to Uber what Yahoo did to Google? Too early to tell, but for me, I’m now an Empower first, ride sharer. If you want to try it, you can get the app here:

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