Curbivore Happy Hour: 8/1 IN San Francisco
CURBIVORE HAPPY HOUR 8/1 IN SAN Francisco
Join us Monday for drinks & good conversations; read on for a deep dive on the SF curb economy
You're invited to join the Curbivore community at our upcoming Happy Hour, this Monday, August 1st in San Francisco. We'll be gathering at Zeitgeist, in the Mission District, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM.
As anyone who's attended a previous happy hour knows, expect a good crowd and great conversations with other folks working to build a better future for the worlds of mobility, delivery, commerce, and urbanism! RSVP to join us.
As we head up to SF for this meetup, it's worth spending some time to analyze the Bay Area's curb economy - both from an urbanism / policy perspective, as well as looking at the myriad startups plying its streets. Starting in the city proper, it's safe to say that multimodality has long been a goal; the city's transit operator (Muni) has been municipally owned since 1912 - decades before that trend came into vogue in the rest of the country. The city by the bay also boldly declared itself a "transit first" locale all the way back in 1973, while the rest of the country responded to that year's oil crisis in slightly less enlightened manners. (Whether or not SF ever achieved said "transit first" goals is still debatable, as anyone who's waited for a bus by a barely marked power pole can attest.)
Not content to rest on its laurels, Frisco also was one of the first municipalities to start right pricing its curbs, with the launch of "SFpark" back in 2011. (Los Angeles' equivalent, LA Express Park, would launch a year later.) This demand responsive program means that when a block of parking has heavy demand, prices rIse accordingly - helping ensure enough empty spots remain. Cutting down on congestion / cruising for parking, while raising revenue - a decade ago this was the holy grail of curb management!
Sadly, there have been some bumps in the road since then. Like many cities, SF rolled out safe / slow streets and commercial parklets in response to the pandemic, but those have since been whittled back. Now many business that want a parklet are finding the regulations so daunting that it's not worth the trouble. And while moves like closing Great Highway and JFK Drive to cars were a hit with citizens that could suddenly walk along the beach and parklands, opposition has come from some surprising places... the city's own de Young Museum has run a disingenuous campaign to put cars back into the heart of the city's park, recently qualifying to put the issue on the ballot.
Moving from policy to startups, the country's tech mecca certainly has more than its fair share, including heavyweights like Uber, Doordash, Lime and Instacart. But perhaps more interesting are the up and comers...
On the courier / cargo biking side, keep your eyes on the likes of Espin; while it's also impressive to see folks like Upshift still plugging away at the fractional car ownership model. And when it comes to companies helping cities keeping their streets and curbs operating smoothly, we love what our friends at Populus and Tranzito are doing.
Then there's the companies plying the streets to bring stuff to you... Food Rocket is still rocking the 15-minute delivery model, even while other quick commerce players fold. Popcorn has taken a slightly different approach, bringing the entire store to you; their loaded up vans are making the rounds selling all sorts of essentials that meet you on the street in just minutes. Like seemingly most startups these days, they've gotten in trouble for some unusual reasons; perhaps you need to break a few eggs to deliver a 15 minute omelette!?
With so much happening on both the public and private sides of the curb, it's safe to say we'll all have plenty to chat about at this Monday's happy hour. RSVP now to join us!
HOT INDUSTRY NEWS & GOSSIP
Talk about a strategic investment! Ghost kitchens can be hit or miss, with the delivery-centric businesses not always known for the best food or for business models that play well with cities. Pasadena-based Local Kitchens takes a different approach, with vetted brands / chefs providing the recipes, as opposed to celebrities and influencers. More importantly is where they site their locations, with more of them going into large retailers with ample parking, as opposed to urban side streets that can back up when too many couriers show up at once. It looks like Kroger, Circle K, real estate giant Simon Properties, and Burger King's parent company liked what they saw too - they just helped pump $100 million of fresh funding into the company.
Tantalizingly close to profitability... Making money has always been the hardest part of delivery, but European giant Delivery Hero seems to be within arm's reach of it. The Berlin-based company just announced they've achieved adjusted EBITDA break-even. Now just do it again...
USPS connects... not many people? The postal service is getting in to the next-day local delivery game, but so far progress has been slow. The program, dubbed USPS Connect, earned just $191 (that's not a typo) in revenue from its first 3 months of testing. The agency is pushing ahead though, thinking it's ironed out some of the bugs that kept this initial deployment in Texas from catching on.
Research paper alert! New data published in "Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives" models how cities and commercial buildings should best allocate parking spaces and loading zones. The findings are far too juicy for us to summarize here, read on for more (preferably before bed time.)
Transit in trouble: DC Metro's new general manager has his work cut out for him, as commuters continue to avoid the troubled agency. Meanwhile NYC MTA has drama of its own, as not only has ridership continued to languish, but board members appear to be flipping each other off over parking placards. What a town!
Retrenching... Just Eat Takeaway slims down in France, as the food delivery holding company's market value has plummeted 84% in the past 10 months. In the U.S., food-techer Lunchbox laid off 1/3 of its staff. The founder quipping that the NYC-based company was "all drunk on VC capital, and we needed to sober up" must have really stung, given that it just raised $50M in February.
Launches and fundraising news: Drover raises $5M to keep scooters off sidewalks, while Nash closes $20M to make last-mile delivery easy. The Nimbus One excites the folks at Electrek. Street market helps vendors get permits, while Uber Eats pushes into new grocery categories. Ubicquia launches new curb tools, and Blue Systems is hiring for a few great positions.
P.S. Don't forget to join the Curbivore community at Monday's Happy Hour, at Zeitgeist in San Francisco!