The future begins (in December)

The future of self-driving technology is scheduled to hit Arizona this December, and Waymo is the one (NOT) in the driver’s seat. The Hustle The age of autonomy starts this December, with Waymo at the wheel After 9 years of secretive R&D and more than 10m miles of testing, Google’s self-driving car subsidiary Waymo will […]


November 14, 2018

The future of self-driving technology is scheduled to hit Arizona this December, and Waymo is the one (NOT) in the driver’s seat.

The Hustle Felix Gray

The Hustle Daily Email

The age of autonomy starts this December, with Waymo at the wheel

After 9 years of secretive R&D and more than 10m miles of testing, Google’s self-driving car subsidiary Waymo will finally sell self-driving rides to the public in December. Not on a closed course, not for engineers only — on the open road with regular civilians in the passenger seat.

Analysts estimate that, as the first player in the market, Google’s unnamed autonomous ride-hailing company will be worth more than $80B before it even launches (Uber is valued between $70B and $120B).

A new name for a new game

Google’s self-driving taxi service will launch under a new brand name in Phoenix, where Waymo has been testing its autonomous cars with 400 volunteer “Early Rider” families since 2017 (Google has tested cars in at least 24 other cities).

Since Waymo is literally millions of miles ahead of the self-driving competition (the company hit 10m test miles while GM’s rival Cruise is likely shy of 1m), its new commercial self-driving company won’t compete against auto-automakers, but against rideshare giants.

Like Uber, but without the disgruntled drivers

Using an app that resembles Google Maps, commercial riders will be able to summon an autonomous ride between any 2 points in a 100 sq. mile area around Phoenix, 24/7.

Initial prices for the services will be competitive with Uber and Lyft, and backup drivers will ride along in some cars to “ease customers into the service,” according to Bloomberg.

The race is on, and everyone is speeding except Google

GM’s Cruise hopes to launch in 2019, Zoox in 2020, Tesla and Nissan shortly thereafter, and Uber is renewing its self-driving permits after accidentally killing a pedestrian in Arizona.

But despite the accelerating competition, Google has a commanding lead: Waymo has already ordered more than 80k cars and partnered with Walmart, Avis, and AutoNation to slowly expand its autonomous business.

With Uber stuck in timeout and self-driving competitors millions of miles (and billions of dollars) behind, slow and steady Google will probably be the first to offer you a robo-ride.

The only question is: Will the robots let us sit in the front seat?

Also: How much do you tip a robo-driver?

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The business of self-care: Meditation app Simple Habit raised a $10m Series A

People are f*cking stressed. And, over the past few years, “mindfulness” apps like Headspace and Calm have been here to profit help.

Now, the number 3 meditation app (in both downloads for iOS and revenue), Shark Tank alum Simple Habit, just raised a $10m Series A.

The wellness space is branching out

As Simple Habit basks in its Q3 glory, Calm plans to beef up its offline presence with a $3m equity investment in XpresSpa Group, a fast-spa service you’ve probably noticed and/or scoffed at in your local airport.

The jury on who sees those in the airport and thinks, yeah, it’s time for everyone in this terminal to watch me get a massage, is still out.

The industry has birthed some interesting business models too

Like Kayak-esque search engine for rehab centers, WeRecover.

WeRecover has raised $2m to help people find accredited rehab centers while combating the “predatory patient brokering system.”

And, unlike airport masseuses, the need for trustworthy rehab centers is apparent: Around 90% of people in need of rehabilitation services for substance abuse don’t have access to them.

» A wellness renaissance shall we say?

Sweetgreen raises $200m to pursue blockchain salad bars

Fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen announced what the company is calling its “second act” with a $200m financing round led by Fidelity Investments.

The round brings the green-slinger’s total funding to around $365m at a $1B valuation — and phase 2 involves a lot more than salad dressing.

This unicorn’s been eating its greens

Co-founded in 2007, the company has amassed a cult following among American millennials throughout 90 locations across 8 states, but salads are so 2018 — even for… a salad company.

Co-founder Jonathan Neman told Forbes that with the new funding, the company looks to go “beyond a food company” and become a full-fledged platform. And, you know what that means… blockchain.

Blockchain salads?

Shouldn’t we figure out crypto’s volatility first?

WHO CARES?! The Hollywood Bowl is delicious.

Sweetgreen’s calling card is fast food with fresh-sourced, healthy ingredients, and they plan to use blockchain to beef up their supply chain for the ultimate farm-to-salad-bar experience.

The company is also doubling down on delivery by personalizing each app to its specific user. Almost 50% of customer orders are processed through Sweetgreen’s app because, as Sweetgreeners know, they don’t allow you to pay with cash.

» Greens without the greens

To hang on to eyeballs, Facebook wants to match users with jobs (and partners)

Yesterday, Facebook expanded its growing “Jobs” portal and added new Mentorship and Education tools on its platform.

To keep its users entertained, The Good ’Book is dressing up in all kinds of costumes. In this week’s episode, FB dons a suit and tie to steal business away from its crotchety network nemesis, LinkedIn.

What’s in Facebook’s briefcase?

Facebook launched a job-posting portal 9 months ago as an experimental tool.

Now, its new features give job-posters more reach by allowing them to post jobs directly in Groups and make it easier for job-seekers to request Mentors in Groups (and access training in “Learn with Facebook”).

But, unlike LinkedIn (which charges a fee to post jobs), Facebook’s platform will be free to users and businesses.

So is Facebook a dating app or a job-finding platform?

The world’s biggest social network is having a midlife crisis. User growth in Facebook’s most profitable market, the US and Canada, has plateaued.

Facebook expanded its dating app to 2 new countries last week and plans to take on industry leaders like Hinge and Tinder. On the jobs front, Facebook will likely look to challenge LinkedIn.

It seems that, since users don’t trust Facebook’s news and they’re no longer interested in posting party pics, the platform wants to reinvent itself with 2 things that people are still interested in: sex and money.

» But LinkedIn IS the best dating app…
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“A rolling seasonal discount gathers no moss.”

– Cara Van from Mayo, SC

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