Interesting moves in the world of ridesharing apps as Sidecar announces funding of $15 million from existing investors Avalon Ventures and Union Square Ventures.

The company, which describes itself as a transportation marketplace, also welcomes Virgin Group founder Richard Branson on board as a new investor.

Branson explains his rationale for investing in Sidecar in a blog post saying transportation has been ripe for disruption for decades.

The funds will go towards expanding the company nationwide (currently available in 10 markets) as well as extend the ‘Shared Rides’ concept which was introduced in San Francisco to match users with nearby transport going the same way.

Sidecar says it expects to reach 500,000 shared rides in the space of a year.

The company also offers instant rideshare with drivers setting their own price and allowing users to choose the ride by vehicle quality, driver rating, estimated time of arrival and extra amenities offered.

Rivals in the rideshare space include Uber which raised $258 million a year ago and Lyft, which announced $150 million in a Series D round back in April this year.

All of these startups continue to face regulatory issues with Uber banned across Germany earlier this month following a ruling in a Frankfurt court while California’s Public Utilities Commission has ruled app-based carsharing is illegal.

Original author: Linda Fox