Zipcar was one of the first major successes in carsharing in the US and is still a major player in the market around the world. The business now has offices in 26 American cities with about 10,000 vehicles and 860,000 members around the world. Rental car company Avis bought it for $491 million in January 2013, and the company has continued to expand.
But behind Zipcar's success is the tale of two Boston-area moms who hatched the idea for the company while watching their children play at a park in Cambridge, MA. The business was incorporated in early 2000, and the first car was on the road in May 2000. However, from there the tale of the founders takes a more dramatic turn. The Verge explains how these two women went from creating an innovative new company to having no part at all in it three years later, and how the founders haven't spoken to each other in about a decade.
It's a fascinating story that shows the pitfalls of growing a business from idea to corporation. The duo founded Zipcar in hopes of providing an alternative to single-owner cars and succeeded, but you might be surprised to learn how relatively little they actually made when Avis bought the company. The Verge has done a great job going behind the scenes into the company's founding, and it's definitely worth a read, even if you've never tried a carsharing service.