🚲 Universal basic mobility, defined

The Hustle

Electric automaker Rivian has already hit a $100B+ market cap despite having delivered just 156 cars. Some investors are hailing the company as the next Tesla.

But to match Tesla’s public market performance (658x since its IPO), Rivian would have to reach a $64T market cap. This feels a tad… unlikely.

Today’s rundown:

  • Universal basic mobility: Democratizing transit by linking bikes, rideshare, scooters and buses.
  • J&J: The $430B+ health care giant is splitting up into 2 publicly traded companies.
  • Digits: $400m of e-bikes, 8 public toilets, a $308k volleyball, and more.
  • Around the web: The 1st stock ticker ever, virtual museum tours, and a list of “alternative” apps.

Let’s do it.

The big idea

What is universal basic mobility?

Driving can be convenient, but it can be a hassle, too. Consider insurance, parking, pollution, and traffic. Plus, you can’t play “Candy Crush” (or read this newsletter) on your morning commute if you’re driving.

And while you may wish you could drive less, other people — including those with certain disabilities — can’t drive at all.

Enter universal basic mobility (UBM), a concept in which everyone has access to reliable, affordable transit. The name comes from universal basic income, a system where everyone gets some financial support from the government.

Why do people want UBM?

Los Angeles Department of Transportation GM Seleta Reynolds recently championed UBM at a transportation conference and Bloomberg CityLab called it a human right in 2018.

Essentially, people who can get around enjoy more opportunities, including in education, employment, and health care. This leads to greater success and happiness:

  • A 2019 study found that between 1960 and 2014, poverty in the US fell from 24% to 14%. But for households without cars, it slightly increased. The only place poverty didn’t increase was New York City, which has a robust public transit system.
  • Another study found 80% of people who don’t drive due to a disability and 40% of older adults can’t do what they need or want, resulting in feelings of frustration or isolation.

So, how would UBM help?

Several UBM pilots are underway, and most work by linking services. So instead of just driving or taking the bus, you’d use a mix of public transit, shared bikes and scooters, ride and car shares, and microtransit services.

  • In Oakland, California, ~500 participants will get a $300 debit card to use on public transit, bikes, scooters, and car shares, per Bloomberg.
  • A Bakersfield, California, program will give participants free bus passes, plus up to 5 rides per day on Spin e-bikes and scooters.
  • Spin is also involved in Pittsburgh’s UBM pilot, which uses Move PGH, a Mobility as a Service (MaaS) app that integrates a variety of transit options, including electric mopeds.

Fun fact: If MaaS apps sound interesting, check out Whim, a Finnish app that allows users to book transit, bikes, scooters, ferry tickets, rental cars, and more in 1 place.

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Bitcoin popcorn: AMC Theaters announced it will now accept Bitcoin, Ether, and other cryptocurrencies for online payment. #ecommerce-retail

Big split: Toshiba restructured by spinning off its energy and computer device businesses into stand-alone companies. Its energy unit recently did $18B in annual sales, while computer devices did $7.6B. #clean-energy

New unicorn: ENS, which stands for Ethereum Name Service and is the entity behind the “.eth” domain, reached a $1.15B market cap after issuing tokens to its users. #emerging-tech

Top secret spam: FBI email servers were hacked to send an “urgent” email about fake cyberattacks. #privacy

Growing percentage: 16% of US adults said they have traded, invested in, or used cryptocurrency, including 43% of men ages 18-29. #fintech-crypto

Reel bonus: Instagram announced it will offer select creators up to $10k to post on Reels, its TikTok competitor. This follows similar moves by Snap and YouTube to garner creators. #big-tech


Source: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Why is Johnson & Johnson splitting up?

When you hear the name “Johnson & Johnson” (J&J), what comes to mind?

Band-Aids? Baby powder? Listerine? Tylenol?

J&J does own those brands, but consumer products actually make up a fraction of its sales.

A big change is coming

Per CNBC, the $434B+ health care giant will spin off the consumer business over the next 18-24 months. After the transaction, there will be 2 public companies:

  • Consumer products: This division is on pace for $15B this year
  • Pharmaceuticals and medical devices: These 2 divisions will retain the J&J name and are projected to make ~$77B in 2021

The consumer division will also inherit a lawsuit related to charges that J&J Baby Powder causes cancer (the company denies it and says the legal action has nothing to do with the split).

Why the move?

Per The Wall Street Journal, J&J is separating “its high-margin but less predictable prescription-drug and medical-device businesses from its storied but slower-growing consumer group.”

J&J rivals — like Pfizer and Merck — also dumped their consumer businesses to focus on pharma, an industry thrust into the spotlight by the pandemic.

More broadly, the conglomerate model of putting everything under one roof is going out of fashion: GE is splitting into 3 companies (so is Toshiba).

Guess you could say they are ripping the Band-Aid off of their corporate structures.

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The Roblox universe (Source: umm….Roblox)

By the numbers: $400m of e-bikes, 8 public toilets, and a $308k volleyball

1) Ah, sh*t. According to one study, the US reportedly has 8 public toilets per every 100k people. That number ties us with Botswana in terms of toilet access. Iceland is the world leader in toilets, with 56 per every 100k people.

2) Today’s biker gangs go green. In the 1st half of 2021, $400m of e-bikes were sold in the US, up from $237m in all of 2019. Consequently, 113.2k e-bike thefts occurred so far this year, up from 96.5k in 2020.

3) Roblox, leading member of the reason-kids-don’t-go-outside club, saw average daily active users increase 43% YoY in October, to 50.5m people. The company made $637.8m in Q3.

4) Hmmm. Through September, 29k industrial robots were purchased in North America for a combined $1.48B. That’s up 37% YoY. 2021 also marks the 1st year non-car-related robots accounted for the majority of purchases.

5) Feels safe to say this is the most expensive volleyball ever. Tom Hanks’ “Cast Away” co-star, Wilson the Volleyball, was sold at auction for $308k. Will Ferrel’s “Elf” suit also sold for $235k.

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📈 On this day: In 1867, the 1st stock ticker debuted in New York City. It was invented by Edward Calahan, who used a telegraph machine to print stock quotes on paper tape. It made, as you may have guessed, a ticking noise.

🎸 That’s cool: Merriam-Webster’s Time Traveler shows you when words were 1st used in print. For example, “air guitar,” “comb-over,” and “infotainment” were all born in 1980.

🥬 How to: Going to the farmers market always seems wholesome and fun, but then what? Eater has some strategies for finding culinary inspiration and making the most out of your visit.

😃 Useful: Let’s say you kind of like an app or website, but it’s not quite right. AlternativeTo will suggest other similar options.

💾 Cure boredom: Take a free, virtual tour of the National Museum of Computing on your computer here.

🐱 Aww: And now, a cat making sure all her kittens are safely tucked in with her human.

Meme of the day
band-aid meme

That’s one way to use a Band-Aid (Source: MemeBase)

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