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🛴 How scooters bounced back
June 1, 2022
PLUS: The future of the tampon.
If you like cars, luxury fashion, and collectors’ items, we’ve got news for you. The 2023 Mercedes-Maybach S680 is a sedan designed by Virgil Abloh, the late fashion designer and creative director of Louis Vuitton. Only 150 units will be produced, and the cost is expected to exceed $200k.
In today’s email:
Scooters: Is scooter-sharing back?
Chart: Golf taps into the blockchain.
Tampons: Why a startup redesigned them.
Around the web: Art as cake, a wildfire camera network, a brewery finder, and more cool internet finds.
🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s quick podcast to hear Zack and Juliet talk about changes in transit and tampons, Netflix’s big win, and recycling buildings.
The big idea
Is scooter-sharing back?
In 2018, scooter-sharing looked like the hottest investment in VC, and Bird vs. Lime appeared to be the sidewalk version of Uber vs. Lyft.
Then, 2020 happened.
After taking a nosedive in the early days of the pandemic, shared scooter usage is bouncing back in 2022, per Bloomberg.
In April of 2019…
… Lime and Bird were riding high, with 7.3m and 2.1m active users, respectively. A year later, and a month into the pandemic, both companies saw active users drop over 70%, leading them to cut back:
Limelaid off 13% of its workforce and paused service in 100+ cities
Usage started creeping back up in 2021, setting the stage for a full-on scooter resurgence in 2022. This April:
Bird had 2.6m active users (more than pre-pandemic)
Lime had 5m active users (~70% of its 2019 total)
… have found themselves in a very different world than pre-2020. More urban workers are considering scooters amid rising fuel prices. Lime says its number of trips in Q1 rose 75% YoY.
Additionally, the two scooter startups have increasingly pivoted their marketing to highlight their status as sustainable alternatives to conventional transportation.
There’s another silver lining to the last couple years. Per Lime CEO Wayne Ting, “When people change their transportation routines, usually it’s because they move homes or change jobs.”
In other words, the Great Resignation could be fueling the great scooter renaissance.
Rough ride: A new report highlights a challenging landscape for Uber and Lyft. The average fare is at an all-time high, and collectively, the companies had 20% fewer riders and 35% fewer trips in Q1 compared to Q1 2019.
Priced out: New data shows home prices jumped 20% YoY in March, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index. The rise marks the highest jump in the index’s 35 years of data collection.
No cashiers: Dollar General is going big on self-checkout. The discount chain is piloting self-checkout units as its sole payment method in ~200 of its 18k+ stores, and plans to have self-checkout machines in 11k stores by year’s end.
A Google for audio content is sorely missing from the world. Access our Trends research report on the upcoming audio search engine overhaul, and where the market gaps still remain.
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We all scream: A partnership between Unilever and Flytrex will see Flytrex’s drones deliver ice cream to customers in North Carolina and Texas. #ecommerce-retail
Cambridge University engineers say they’ve made “zero-emissions cement,” essentially by recycling old structures into new ones. #clean-energy
Not good: Visitors to Meta’s metaverse continue to face sexual harassment, prompting a new report to call it “another cesspool of toxic content.” #emerging-tech
NFT marketplace Ayoken — which features digital collectibles from athletes, musicians, and influencers — raised $1.4m in pre-seed funding. #fintech-crypto
Apple is expected to announce iOS 16 at its developer’s conference on June 6. Anticipated updates include notification bundling and a new Focus mode. #big-tech
Golf taps into the blockchain
In 2021, 37.5mAmericans played golf across courses, driving ranges, indoor simulators, and entertainment venues like Topgolf.
That includes a record number of newcomers — 3.2m — who played for the first time, as the PGA Tour jumps on funny TikTok trends and works on a Netflix docuseries.
And Callaway is leading the way
Last year, the company took over Topgolf in a $2.6B merger.
It’s also launching a partnership with LinksDAO, an exclusive crypto community of golf enthusiasts whose stated goals are “reimagining the modern golf and leisure club,” and, “We are going to buy a golf course.”
It’s kinda like the time people tried to buy the US constitution, except much more likely.
Big picture: Like many sports, golf is diversifying across entertainment and tech, and it’s attracting new blood into the mix as a result.
Can you work a spreadsheet?
Those with next-level Microsoft Excel skills are revered at The Hustle.
As they well should be. (Looking at you, Scott.)
Spreadsheets are one of the great tools for business professionals. Absolute gold for organization, productivity, and blessing your colleagues with that clean feeling of gazing at a well-trimmed lawn.
Even if you don’t use them, you’re probably aware that tampons can leak at inopportune times. That’s why Greta Meyer and Amanda Calabrese founded Sequel.
Well, sort of…
Meyer and Calabrese met while studying product design engineering at Stanford, where Meyer played lacrosse in an all-white uniform and Calabrese competed in lifesaving (AKA lifeguarding as a sport). So, yeah, no patience for leaky tampons.
The pair knew they wanted to create a better menstrual product of some sort, but narrowed their focus after their research found ~70% of US women use tampons.
How is Sequel different?
Per Meyer, most tampons have vertical channels that allow them to expand from the core to the outside as they fill with liquid.
“What we found is that that was actually contributing to a high prevalence of bypass leakage,” Meyer told The Hustle.
Basically, the tampons absorbed unevenly and leaked before they were full.
Sequel’s grooves are spiral, lengthening the flow path. Why?
“The spiral slows the flow,” Meyer says
Absorption is more even, reducing leaks as well as discomfort caused by dry spots during removal
A higher percentage of each tampon is used
Why hasn’t anyone ‘re-engineered’ the tampon before?
There are newer D2C brands offering tampons made from organic cotton or infused with CBD, but the US tampon industry isn’t easy to break into because tampons are a medical device that must be FDA-approved.
Calabrese also thinks complacency plays a role.
“We found that women blame themselves [for leaks],” she said. “If women have no idea [that tampons] should be better… how are we ever going to innovate?”
Sequel is expected to hit the market in a few months, pending FDA approval.
AROUND THE WEB
📰 On this day: In 1980, CNN became the first 24-hour news network. Its first lead story was about the attempted assassination of civil rights activist Vernon Jordan in Indiana.
🍺 Useful: If you enjoy beer, use this site to help you find a cool brewery.
🎂 Haha: The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, challenged bakers to recreate any of its 21k works of art as cake. See the entries here.
🔥 That’s interesting: The ALERTWildfire’s network of ~1k cameras in seven western US states and Australia allows anyone to watch for wildfires.
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