Liftshare celebrates its 18th birthday this week! What’s changed… and what hasn’t?

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The Spice Girls were in the charts, Tony Blair was Prime Minister, Armageddon was the top blockbuster, and the iMac was the cream of the computer crop. Things have changed since 1998 – but have Liftshare?

Liftshare launched in 1998. Our mission then was as it is now; to ensure that everyone has someone to share a car with. The site started before ‘sharing economy’ was a term, and two weeks before Google!

There’s been some obvious cosmetic changes, and some award wins. We counted 28 in total, but to name some of the bigger ones, we won the 2008 Prime Minister’s UK Catalyst Award and the Queen’s Award for Innovation, and in 2012 the Ashden Sustainability Award and EU Sustainable Energy Europe Award.

Our offices

In 2012, Liftshare HQ moved into central Norwich, renovating a derelict squat into a bright, airy, energy-efficient office space equipped with a slide between floors – to show our dedication from getting from A to B as efficiently as possible, of course!

Our technology

Our technology has moved on, of course. In 1998 we were constantly asked to send out CD-ROMs with the latest software updates on out to members. Now, we’re a fully online software service, and are used across not just PCs, but also laptops, tablets, phones, and even watches.

Entering the dot com bubble back in 1998, you’d receive a similar CD-ROM through the post from your ISP and install it to get online. And of course, that’d be using dial-up – and you’d need to unplug it all if you wanted to use the phone, of course!

Our members

From humble beginnings, we originally charged members to join Liftshare – first £10, and then when we lowered it to £5, we doubled our member base. Now, Liftshare’s free to use (passengers just pay a petrol contribution to their driver), and we’ve grown from just Ali asking for lifts to 700,000 members; over 500,000 of which are currently active on the site.

Over 1,000,000 trips are shared through the site each month. Over £26,000,000 in petrol costs are saved every year as a result of Liftshare. 35,000 tonnes of CO2 are saved annually through the site – as much as 8,000 cars being taken off the road for a whole year, 9 new wind turbines being installed, or 4,000 homes annual energy usage!

So, what’s stayed the same?

Well, Liftshare’s still a start-up company, and still disrupting itself constantly in order to keep at the forefront of sharing and the technologies and ideas behind it. We’re still here to help facilitate easy, happy sharing, and are still aiming to get everyone liftsharing… so we’ll be here for a while yet!

Author Lex Barber

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