Juno thinks it can beat Uber by playing nice

Talmon Marco thinks he knows what it takes to beat Uber in the on-demand ride sharing business. The Israeli entrepreneur, known for co-founding messenger service Viber, is launching Juno in New York City “soon.”

Marco spoke with our own Ingrid Lunden on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, explaining that by giving the drivers half of the company’s equity, he believes it will incentivize them to do a better job. The drivers can opt to be either W-2 employees or 1099 contractors, but either way they can get ownership.

What’s important is that drivers are not just driving, they also own the business,” said Marco. “Because we’re going to treat them properly, they’re going to treat their customers properly, everybody’s going to be happy.”

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Juno has already signed up 7500 drivers for its beta program which began in February, insisting that they are holding their work to a higher standard. “In order to join Juno, you need a minimum rating of 4.7,” said Marco. He said they are already the second-largest ridesharing company in New York by driver count.

He would not confirm or deny the reported $30 million funding round, but insisted that Juno is “very well-funded. We’re not as well-funded as Uber or even as Lyft, but we’re definitely sufficiently funded.”

Marco also spoke of his enthusiasm for self-driving cars. “Autonomous cars are coming, it’s just a matter of time.”

Ultimately, he says that Juno is more than just an Uber competitor. “It’s a social mission and a business at the same time.”