Mission

Empower’s mission is to transform the “Gig Economy” so that hard-working Americans can earn a sustainable living. This transformation begins with the rideshare industry. To do that, Empower has built innovative software that allows drivers to set their own rates and collect and keep 100% of the fare. Empower’s software also enables riders to indicate what matters most to them. By decentralizing pricing and providing riders with greater choice, Empower’s software is able to suggest the driver that is the best match for a rider, not simply the driver that is closest to them.

Empower is revolutionizing the transportation industry. Not by providing transportation, but by selling software that puts transportation decisions back into the hands of drivers and riders. Empower provides the information and tools that drivers need to take control of their financial future and the choices that riders need to safely and affordably get from point A to point B.  With Empower, both drivers and riders win. By getting rid of the middleman, drivers using Empower earn more and riders using Empower pay less. 

At the end of the day, Empower understands what the rideshare companies don’t: While there are no rides without riders, there are also no rides without drivers. At Empower, we believe that everyone has a voice and we are listening. Together we can EMPOWER! 

Team

Joshua Sear

Founder & CEO

Prior to founding Empower, Josh was Senior Counsel at SageNet, a large managed network and cyber security services provider.  Before that, Josh gained M&A experience, first as counsel for Matterhorn Transactions, a legal tech startup, and then as an associate at a boutique transactional law firm.  Prior to practicing law, Josh worked in the Obama White House and for the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Josh is a graduate of The George Washington University Law School and The University of Virginia, where he was an Echols Scholar.  Go Hoos!

Ken Beasley

CTO

Prior to joining Empower, Ken was Senior Software Engineer at Upskill, where he helped lead Upskill’s augmented reality software platform team. Ken has worked directly with dozens of large enterprise customers, including Ryder, Boeing, GE and Telstra, to develop and deploy tailored solutions in manufacturing, logistics and field services. Ken has extensive experience working with AWS, Kubernetes and other cloud services and has significant experience with data collection and processing, having designed and developed Upskill’s analytics service. Ken studied computer engineering at the University of Virginia.

Eduardo Perez

Lead Mobile Engineer

Eduardo was the first iOS developer at Lyft and built the first version of their iPhone app. Over the course of four years, as Senior iOS Engineer, Eduardo helped to scale Lyft’s development team and, as he puts it, “saw all the crazy growth and all the pain that comes with it.” Prior to joining Lyft, Eduardo was a part of the team that built LinkedIn’s iOS app from scratch. Before that, he led the software development of a number of commercially successful biomedical devices, including Impulse Dynamics’ Optimizer System, used to treat patients with systolic heart failure, and the Lungpacer DPT System, used to preserve and restore the strength of the diaphragm in patients requiring mechanical ventilation. Eduardo received his degree in software engineering from Universidad de la Republica in his hometown of Montivideo, Uruguay.

Ben Le Cun

Lead Android Engineer

Ben was the first Android engineer hired on the driver side at Uber and spent three and a half years there as a tech lead and engineering manager. Ben co-built and led the development of Uber’s first Android Driver app. He then led Uber’s Driver Platform Team, managing a group of 12-15 engineers focused on building frameworks to support the app. Prior to joining Uber, Ben was an Android engineer at Schematic Labs, where he led Android development of their SoundTracking product. Before that, Ben was co-founder and lead engineer of a European rideshare startup. Ben is from Paris, France and earned his Masters in Computer Science from the European Institute of Technology.

Gabrielle Cecchi

Marketing & Operations Manager

Prior to joining Empower, Gabrielle served as a marketing assistant for PeopleGrove, a San Francisco startup that connects college students with alumni. Before that Gabrielle led grass-roots efforts for the Neal Simon for Senate Campaign. Gabrielle is a graduate of Fordham University and spent a year studying at La Sorbonne University in Paris.

Chris Betti

Lead backend engineer

Chris is an incredibly experienced SaaS architect and software engineer with significant startup experience. Prior to joining Empower, Chris worked on the Core Platform for Optoro. Before Optoro, Chris spent over 5 years as a Software Architect and as the Payments Team Lead at Toast, a SaaS provider to the restaurant industry. He also has experience building from the ground-up as a founder and the CTO of MynewMD / Evoncea, a prenatal healthcare platform. Before founding MynewMD / Evoncea, Chris spent 7 years as a software engineer at Endeca, which was acquired by Oracle in 2011 for $1.1B. Chris has a BS in Computer Science from the University of Maryland.

Advisors

David Hantman

David has over 20 years of regulatory, public policy, communications and management experience at the highest levels of both the private and public sector.  Prior to his current work as a strategic advisor and investor with companies like Empower, David was Head of Global Public Policy at Airbnb, where he led the company through numerous international, national, state and local regulatory challenges.  Before joining Airbnb, David was Deputy GC and VP of Global Public Policy for Yahoo! for five years.  David also co-founded an Internet company in 1994, worked for the state legislature in Maryland, ran for State Senate, and served as Chief Counsel to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and then Chief of Staff to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

David has a B.A. in philosophy and economics from Columbia University and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law.  

Mark Joseph

Mark has more than 30 years of executive leadership experience in the transportation industry and currently serves as CEO of Mobitas Advisors. Mobitas has more than a dozen early and mid-stage mobility companies and venture funds in its portfolio, including CarGo and NextGear Ventures. Prior to founding Mobitas, Mark spent more than a decade leading and transforming Transdev, most recently as the Chief Commercial Officer of the Transdev Group and before that as CEO of Transdev North America. Under Mark’s leadership, Transdev NA increased annual revenue from $50 million in 2006 to $1.5 billion in 2017, providing services to over 200 municipalities, airports and universities and employing over 20,000 people.

Mark is also a successful entrepreneur.  As President of Yellow Cab of Baltimore, Mark transformed his family’s taxi business into Yellow Transportation – the leading diversified regional transportation company in the Baltimore/Washington metro. In 2001, Mark sold Yellow Transportation to Veolia Transportation, where he served as COO, and then Vice Chairman and CEO. As CEO, Mark orchestrated the sale of Veolia to Transdev.

Throughout his career, Mark has served on a number of public, private and non-profit boards. Mark was President of The Transportation Alliance, the leading international trade association for the taxi and paratransit industry, and was a founding member and past Chairman of the DC chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization. He served as Chairman of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Privatization for the State of Maryland, and is on the Board of the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Mark has a B.S. in political science and economics from American University.


Katharine Weymouth

Katharine is an accomplished business executive and attorney. She spent much of her career at the Washington Post, where she served as VP of Advertising and then Publisher and CEO. In 2013, Katharine led the sale and transferred stewardship of the Post from her family to Jeff Bezos. Prior to her time at the Post, Katharine was an Associate at Williams & Connolly. She currently sits on a number of corporate boards and is President & COO of DineXpert, a “buy local” food services company.

Brent Thompson

Brent Thompson is the lead partner of Protocol Investments. Protocol invests in early-stage startups, particularly in companies exploiting network effects and leveraging platforms to transform existing demands and create new demands. Before founding Protocol, Brent served as Counsel to Mercury Public Affairs.  Prior to Protocol and Mercury, Brent was a long-time tech and internet executive, having spent over a decade at Expedia, most recently as SVP, Chief of Global Government and Corporate Affairs.  

Brent began his career working in the United States Senate for Paul Coverdell (R-GA).

Brent has a B.A. in history from the University of Washington and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law.


Neal Simon

Neal served as CEO of Bronfman Rothschild and previously of Highline Wealth Management. During his 17 years as CEO, each company grew every year. In 2019 Neal sold the combined $6.5 billion AUM company to NFP. Prior to founding Highline in 2002, he ran two other professional service companies.

Neal was an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maryland in 2018, polling as high as 18 percent in the three-way race. Unaffiliated with any political party, Neal ran to unite the country and to bring pragmatism to Washington. Neal continues to be an engaged advocate for political reform, and serves on the boards of BPC Action (Bipartisan Policy Center), Stand Up Republic, and Unite America. He recently published a book, Contract to Unite America: Ten Reforms to Reclaim Our Republic.

An active community leader, Neal has served as board chair for both the Greater Washington Community Foundation and the Montgomery County Community Foundation. In 2016, he and his family were recognized by Interfaith Works, a non-profit that helps low income families, as Humanitarians of the Year.

Neal holds a bachelor of arts degree in applied math and economics from Brown University and an MBA from the University of Chicago business school.

Tom Goldstein

Tom is an experienced attorney, entrepreneur and angel investor and has significant experience advising technology startups, providing both legal and operational assistance. Tom is Managing Partner at Cogent Law Group, a firm he founded and has grown into a team of over 20 experienced attorneys. Prior to founding Cogent, Tom served as the Managing Partner of the Washington, D.C. office of Perry, Krumsiek & Jack LLP. Before that, Tom founded and was President of GroupMagellan Legal Search. After receiving his JD from Yale Law School, Tom started his legal career as an Associate at Skadden, Arps in New York. Tom also has a BA in History from Haverford College. 

Brian Gebhardt

Brian has over 15 years of professional operations, strategy and management experience and was recently Uber’s Marketplace GM for the NW U.S. In that role, Brian was responsible for profitability and customer experience of riders and drivers across the Pacific Northwest.

Prior to his time at Uber, Brian was Chief of Staff to the CEO at CustomersFirst Now. Before that, he spent 6 years in strategic management positions at HPE.  Brian started his private sector career at BCG following 5 years of service in the US Army. 

Brian has a Bachelor’s Degree from West Point, where he was an All American D1 Track and Field athlete, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.


Ted Stern

Ted is a Partner at Outside GC, LLC and has 25 years of legal and business experience with a focus on consumer-oriented digital media, technology, e-commerce and professional services companies. Before joining Outside GC, Ted served as GC at Envision EMI. Before that Ted was the head deal attorney of the online division of the Washington Post. Prior to joining the Post, Ted was GC at ePals (now Cricket Media) and before that was the head licensing and technology lawyer at Amazon, managing legal for AWS, Kindle, and streaming music and video. Finally, before Amazon, Ted was the lead attorney for the mobile and messaging groups at AOL.  

Prior to going in-house, Ted practiced at Baker & Hostetler and Fisher Wayland Cooper Leader & Zaragoza.

Ted has a B.A. in American History from Columbia University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.

Kaylin Goldstein

Kaylin is an experienced marketing and branding executive having spent the past twelve years at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, where she served as VP, Group Strategy Director. Kaylin has developed award-winning marketing strategies for iconic brands, such as American Express, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Hershey’s, Charles Schwab and American Airlines. Her work has been recognized at multiple industry award shows, and in 2017 Kaylin was named Ad Age’s Strategic Planner of the Year. 

Kaylin has a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago and applies her deep understanding of human behavior to better connect brands with their customers. 

Prior to her time at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Kaylin worked in nonprofit marketing and development, building awareness and support for museums, higher education and scientific research. In addition to her PhD, Kaylin has a BA from Amherst College.