Avis is buying Zipcar for $491.2 million, expanding its offerings from traditional car rentals to car sharing services. Zipcar, which was founded in 2000, has more than 760,000 members. It went public in 2011.
Car sharing is sweeping the nation as companies cash in on the largely immobile nature of automobiles. Whether it's through a company-owned fleet or by encouraging neighbors to let each other borrow their wheels, it has never been easier to get by without a car.
Asset sharing has become a popular theme on Wall Street. There was no shortage of demand when HomeAway and Zipcar went public, and a second-wave of companies, led by airbnb, is currently attracting considerable interest from venture capital firms. Plus, private airplane firm NetJets is owned by a certain oracular billionaire's holding company.
Zipcar's 400,000 customers -- its "zipsters" -- have earned it $131 million over the past decade, which makes the company sound like a nice success story, and its upcoming IPO seem like a good buy. But check under the hood and that hip ZipCar stock starts to look a little more like a lemon.