Feeling congested?


March 28, 2019

Today, we’ve got baseball subscriptions, and Alibaba and Tencent’s new addictions, but first…
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New York aims to become the first American city to tax drivers with traffic congestion fees 

New York aims to become the first American city to charge a new congestion fee to drive into the city’s busiest neighborhoods.

The tax is expected to be adopted as early as April 1, but the fees are not expected to take place until 2021.

But, before you New Yorkers road rage at the idea of a payout, consider for a second that the payoff may be worth its weight in gold.

Don’t shoot the messenger

According to Samuel I. Schwartz — a member on a state task force for congestion pricing last year — drivers will likely pay $12 to $14 for cars and ~$25 for trucks during peak business hours.

The bottom line is that the traffic relief rideshare companies have promised a myth — rideshares actually put more cars on the road. And, with autonomous vehicles at the cusp of hitting the streets, congestion will only get worse.

Adam Millard-Ball of UC Santa Cruz has argued in favor of these fees for some time — explaining that even 2k self-driving cars in a congested city, like today’s San Francisco, could slow traffic to less than 2mph. 

Congestion fees have already proven to work

London, Stockholm and Singapore have been global guinea pigs for congestion pricing. In each city, fees were met with disdain but later proved effective in reducing traffic, congestion, and air pollution.

In London, the number of vehicles entering an 8-square-mile area dropped by 18% in 2003 (the first year of the fees being implemented). Nitrogen oxide emissions dropped 12% in that same timeframe.

New York hopes to generate over $1B annually with congestion fees; a revenue stream that would be used for investing in a stronger transit system.

Not everyone agrees

State legislators are at odds, with some arguing for an exemption process for drivers who are low income, have disabilities or are going to medical appointments. Some believe all residents should be exempt. 

Problem is, exemptions mean higher tolls for everyone else. Alex Matthiessen, the head of a grass-roots campaign to support congestion pricing, said too many exemptions could hollow out the plan. 

“Now we must guard against a race to the bottom as legislators seek carve-outs and exemptions for every class of driver.”

NY loves giving exemptions
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This one’s for the cheap seats: Professional baseball teams launch subscription tickets

As baseball and all sports aim to reach a younger, more socially inclined audience, franchises have already targeted new-age sports fans with cheap, standing-room-only tickets — via subscription.

Subscription-based services are winning

Many MLB franchises including the Braves, Marlins, Twins, and Yankees have downsized their stadiums because of shrinking attendanceit’s hard for $45-$100 nosebleeds to compete with your curved 4K smart TV.

But, subscription-based companies like Netflix and Fubo (and a gamut of others) continue to rise, and baseball franchises (like the Cardinals and Twins) see this as the perfect solution to fill in the gaps.

Most recently, for less than $40 a month, New York Mets fans will now get season tickets with seats directly in front of everyone’s favorite spot at the ballpark: concession stands.

The sports, they are a changin’ 

Betting is now legal, making it cool for even more fedora-clad stress-cases to cuss their teams for fear of losing their mortgages. Plus, startups like biometrics company Clear have gotten their handprints on new methods to streamline stadium concessions payments — like booze.

Now, new-age fans can save the money they’d spend on normal seats to pay off their bookies, all while using Clear’s new thumbprint verification to quickly buy everyone in the room micheladas when they cover the spread.

These new innovations all seem to be connected in helping get sports fans back in the seats (or in this case on their feet), and we can only expect there to be more big swings like these in the future.

» A new day at the park

 

China’s biggest automakers and tech giants team up to topple Didi’s rideshare empire

China’s 3 largest automakers and 2 largest tech giants have joined forces to launch a new ridesharing platform to challenge dominant Didi Chuxing.

The new venture, T3 (short for ‘top 3,’ as in top 3 automakers) involves 12 partners — both private and state-owned — who’ve chipped in $1.45B to get the tires rolling.

When 2 rivals get in the same rideshare…

Normally, Alibaba and Tencent compete in everything from messaging to media to micro-mobility — so, what convinced the 2 tech giants to become friends? 

The answer is a “mixed ownership reform” program that was launched by the Chinese government last year. The program made it easier for private companies (like Alibaba and Tencent) to join public companies (such as China’s state-owned top 3 automakers) as equity partners.

T3’s largest shareholder, Suning, a private home appliance giant, will have 17% equity. The top 3 automakers will have 16% ownership apiece, with the remainder split among Alibaba, Tencent, and other partners.

Big names, bigger challenges

The power-packed partnership still needs to haul a** to catch up to Didi, which has dominated the market since it ousted Uber in 2016. T3’s $1.45B in funding will need to go a long way to compete with Didi’s $50B valuation. 

Plus, Didi isn’t the only player ridesharing Chinese roads: Geely-backed app Caocao and Alibaba-backed outfit Hello TransTech have both gained traction, and BMW recently became the first foreign automaker to launch a ridesharing service in China. 

T3 expects to get its first 5k cars on the road by June.

» Didi bother you?

 

Grindr’s swiping for a new owner after the US said its current one is a national security risk

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) is forcing Grindr’s current owner, a Chinese company called Kunlun, to sell the popular dating app for gay and non-gender-conforming people because its ownership poses a national security risk.

Now Grindr, which has dealt with similar controversies in the past, is back on the market for a new owner — and it’s looking for a match fast. 

Grindr’s rocky relationship

Kunlun sealed a $245m deal to purchase Grindr, an attractive acquisition target with 3.3m daily users, in 2018 after going steady with the company as a majority stakeholder since 2016.

But Grindr-Kunlun’s honeymoon phase ended quickly in 2016 when a researcher showed that users’ location data might be insecure. Grindr later came under fire for exposing users’ HIV statuses with 3rd parties and exposing their precise locations.

Now, since the US would have no way to protect Americans’ data if the Chinese government decided to seize it from Kunlun, regulators ordered Kunlun to dump Grindr.

A warning for Chinese investors to stay out of American pants

Usually, the CFIUS objects at the altar, preventing partnerships before their unions are finalized. But this time, the committee chose to send a message instead of forever holding its peace.

By breaking up a pair of full-fledged partners, the CFIUS will continue to tighten its tolerance for lazy data management by breaking up businesses.

After Facebook and dozens of other companies demonstrated the dangers of data, regulators are starting to pay attention to companies that devour American data — taking steps to ensure Americans can swipe right without fear.

» Fight for ur right to swipe
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