Interview with Jesse Sommer, Co-founder and COO of

Jesse Sommer is the co-founder of, a web-based, mobile-accessible platform designed to facilitate “cab-sharing” among commuters in urban environments.  The prototype launched in May 2009 with widespread media acclaim, and this partially enabled the company to acquire the nascent online cab-sharing industry’s two biggest players: and  After a year of refinement and development, the upgraded CabCorner beta website relaunched on May 31, 2010.  The company is now looking to raise the public’s awareness of both and the concept of cab-sharing in general.

What is your company/service?
CabCorner connects people located in the same general location who are headed in the same direction around the same time so that they can split the fare of a taxi ride.  It seeks to capitalize the cabs’ empty backseat real estate to lower the costs and exhaust emissions required to transport people around town.  Our service is flexible; users about to leave the bar within five minutes can access the site from their phone in search of a nearby “cab companion,” while those planning a return trip from the airport two weeks down the road can post a Ride from their office desktops.  Either they join a Ride that meets their criteria, or they wait for someone to join theirs.
How has the public responded to your service?
One thing that surprised us early on was the demographic we attracted.  We had assumed that taxi commuters would appreciate the cost savings we delivered.  But in fact, the users who have been the most enthusiastic were those who were previously “priced-out” of the cab.  We’ve made travel by taxi affordable to an entire segment of the population that formerly could travel only by bus or train.  In a way, we’ve transformed a cities’ cab fleets into an upgraded form of affordable mass transit.  In NYC, where the city launched its own offline cab-sharing program, people are already familiar with the concept and that has been incredibly helpful to us.
Where are you based?
CabCorner operates primarily in New York City, which is a reflection of the resources currently at our disposal.  Yet we’re accessible nationwide, and we’ve begun generating attention in cities like Washington and Philadelphia.
Tell me how it all started, where did your vision/inspiration come from?
CabCorner’s founder, Jonathan McKinney, spent extensive time overseas where sharing taxi cabs was often part of the culture.  On his second night home, he was chilling in Greenwich Village and preparing to make the long trek home to Brooklyn, when he realized how many of his fellow bar-goers were gearing up for the exact same commute.  He hit me up the next day to explain his vision: putting people in touch with one another so they could share cab fares.  In fact, a large part of this project can trace its roots to Jon’s passionate dislike of the subway.  It makes you realize how much of our cab-sharing economy is built on a whine.
Why does the world need your product?
CabCorner seeks to reduce travel costs, street traffic, subway congestion, and urban pollution.  When we set out on this journey, our primary goal was to respond to the emerging recessionary pressures cities were feeling nationwide.   But as we began to design the service, it became clear that we could make a big impact environmentally; our service helps transport more people in fewer trips.  Notably though, in making taxis more affordable to more people, we’ve also been driving additional business to cabbies.  It’s really been amazing to see how many core constituencies are rooting for our enterprise.
What would you consider to be a successful result for your company?
CabCorner has very few overhead costs so we don’t need all that much money to operate.  Of course, we’d like to generate the revenue necessary to expand CabCorner, so effectively monetizing the site probably constitutes one measure of success.  Primarily, though, we’re just looking to cultivate “critical masses” throughout our target markets.  After all, CabCorner is only as useful as the number of users who post Rides.  If there’s a sufficient number of Rides to share, CabCorner will be a reliable solution for commuters trying to save costs or ride in style.  So I guess sustaining and increasing our traffic is the real objective right now.