Its airness


March 8, 2019

Airbnb doubles down on hotels, but first…
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The survival of so many Uber-for-[X] startups shows the scary power of ‘the Uber effect’

We’ve heard the catchy descriptions: “We’re the Uber for Weed” (Eaze); “we’re the Uber for Massage” (Soothe); “the Uber for Booze” (Drizly). The list goes on… 

Uber proved the scalability of the so-called “2-sided market” 10 years ago, spawning copycats across dozens of industries. 

Has the mimicry worked? Based on Alexis Madrigal’s survey in The Atlantic, yes — for the companies, at least. For everyone else? Maybe not.

The Uber-ization of everything

There are hundreds of Uber-for-[X]s. The survey tracks 105 of them (in this lavish spreadsheet): Together, they have raised more than $7.4B in VC investment in industries ranging from food delivery to fitness.

But, to the more important question: How successful were they?

Here’s the breakdown: 54 are still kicking, 28 have gone the way of Enron, 19 have been acquired, and 4 have achieved hallowed “unicorn” status.

Imitation is the sincerest form of… fundraising?

The overwhelming majority, 73 of 105, did not fail. In pursuit of rapid growth, investors lined up for startups built from a template. But is “not failing” the same as succeeding?

Consider this: Uber is still not profitable, (despite the $24B it’s raised). The 4 unicorns in the group — Instacart, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Postmates — have followed Uber’s expensive lead, raising an average of $1B apiece without becoming fully profitable.

Most gig economy platforms aren’t profitable — and may never be. Lyft’s IPO statement says: “We have incurred net losses each year since our inception and we may not be able to achieve or maintain profitability in the future.”

There aren’t many winners here

Well, these platforms must be good for workers and consumers… right?! 

Not exactly: Ridesharing makes traffic worse, and gig workers struggle to make ends meet. But a myth of the “financial independence” they provide keeps these gig companies afloat in the court of public opinion. 

   @ Me Anything
Conor Grant, News Writer at The Hustle
@conor_p_grant

The Uber effect: n. A social psychological phenomenon wherein novelty marketing works so well that investors, employees, and consumers all act in their own worst interest; Travis Kalanick’s favorite type of mass-hysteria.
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Remix raises $15m to expand its SimCity-for-real-life platform

A startup called Remix that builds foolproof, drag-and-drop tools for urban planners raised $15m to expand its services.

Now that America’s city streets have morphed into mobility minefields filled with scooters, bikes, buses, and weird-looking hoverboards, traditional transportation planning has become trickier than ever. That’s where Remix’s platform comes in.

New cities need new systems

“This is an industry that has changed faster in the last 5 years than it did in the last 50,” Tiffany Chu, COO and co-founder, told TechCrunch. “One of our challenges is explaining to people… what are the impacts of certain decisions around the way things have always been?”

Today, public buses share crowded streets — making it difficult for outdated urban planning models to predict how adjusting one knob will impact the whole operation.

So Remix’s platform offers tools for urban planners to quickly forecast how adding a single bike lane or bus route would impact a city’s overall traffic.

Drag, drop… design a city

Remix’s system allows urban planners to model complex bus, train, car, and bike routes using a drag and drop menu that could have come from a 6-year-old’s video game.

The system’s success is measured by a tiny, anthropomorphized icon named Jane: By dropping Jane on a map, engineers can model how far Jane could travel in 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes based on recent changes.

Remix’s system, which is currently in use by 300 cities, already shapes the mobility of 100m people, and with its new funding the company hopes to Remix it up even more.

» Cities: The Remix

Home-share giant Airbnb is now the proud owner of a hotel startup

Airbnb announced that it’s acquiring HotelTonight. Sources told Axios the homeshare giant paid close to Hotel Tonight’s last private valuation of about $463m.

While HotelTonight sounds like the name of a nightly political chat show, its business model is actually exactly what you think it is: Last-minute hotel booking options.

Nightly hotel stays are a 2019 trend

Inspired by the success of a recent funding round for The Standard Hotel’s new venture, One Night (an app that assigns last-minute hotel books for procrastinating travelers), and Recharge (a hotel-per-minute app), Airbnb wants a bigger piece of the pie.

Airbnb introduced boutique hotels to its platform in early 2018, and according to TechCrunch, it has boasted quick growth, more than doubling the number of boutique hotels, B&B’s, and resorts available last year.

HotelTonight was founded in 2010 and has gained a valuation of $463m with a total of $131m raised in VC funding.

This looks good on a public résumé

Airbnb’s long-term goal is to become an end-to-end travel platform complete with home sharing, hotel booking, experiences, and much more.

As the company readies for its leap into public markets (possibly this year), the company believes including more than off-grid adobe desert homes and treehouses as its quirky options can only help the company’s cause.

» Hotels are hot again

Zuckerberg says Facebook will pivot to privacy, but what exactly does that mean?

For 15 years, Facebook has profited off of tricking billions of people into sharing their personal info online, all under the guise of being “more open and connected.”

On Wednesday Zuck claimed he will put an end to the years of controversy, with a new, completely opposite idea of openness and connectedness — hint: it’s everyone’s 2nd-favorite buzzword… online privacy.

“I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,” he wrote in a blog post announcing his new “vision” for social networking. 

We all know what happened last time Zuck had a vision

In the post, he likened the old Facebook to a townsquare of people and Facebook 3.0 to more of a “living room” vibe.

In the coming years, he said, the company will focus on moving its main apps (WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook) over to more encrypted platforms — meaning data is scrambled so that outsiders, and even Facebook, can’t read it.

But how will one of the richest corporations in the world, whose prime source of revenue is coming up with sexy new methods of data collection, make money?

That’s the trillion-dollar question

There were no real solutions or examples into how respecting user privacy could in any way remain lucrative, making reactions to the announcement all the more quick and suspicious. 

Privacy advocates believe “encryption” is too vague an idea, while others believe it could only worsen online harassment and misinformation.

That said, this announcement should put hungry regulatory hawks at ease for now… until they aren’t.

» Full stop
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In short, it makes big businesses shockingly effective

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Ready to build that app your team has been asking begging for?  Try Quick Base today.

Create custom apps → shower thoughts
  1. If you use scented deodorant, you’re actually using reodorant.
  2. They never stopped selling snake oil. They just changed the “snake” part to “essential.”
  3. Hot sauce is just sexy ketchup.
  4. Traditions are basically dead people peer pressuring us.
  5. When you’re a kid, you don’t realize you’re also watching your mom and dad grow up.
  6. via Reddit
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