From Fresh Delivery-Only Restaurants to Hot New Mobility Data Standards
On the interconnected nature of curbside commerce...
We’re just two weeks and one day away from Curbivore (or really two weeks away if you’re attending the Opening Reception the evening before the main event) and it’s amazing how quickly the curb is coming together. If you haven’t seen it already - we just put up our 2023 Program - and it’s chock full of fascinating sessions that will hammer home just how interrelated curbside issues are, while bringing in both new voices and established leaders to discuss mobility, delivery, commerce, and more.
On top of that we’ve got some exciting additional speakers (including Wonder’s Chad Lore, Pipedream’s Justin Robinson, and KitchData’s Mike Jacobs) and amazing new partners, ensuring that not only will you meet amazing people, you’ll get to kick the tires on compelling new technology and try some very novel cuisine.
When compiling the links for this week’s newsletter, I was struck by just how many of these stories tie back to people and companies that will be present at Curbivore on March 3rd. So read on and whet your appetite - or just go ahead and register already!
HOT INDUSTRY NEWS & GOSSIP
Can you turn fine dining into fast food? Wonder leapt to a unicorn valuation off its novel concept of cooking chef-quality meals from trucks directly outside customer homes in an interesting traffic and urban real estate arbitrage play. Now its adjusting its model, hewing closer to a ghost kitchen concept with an emphasis on bringing haute cuisine to wider reaches, and devouring data to perfectly select its locations. We’ll learn more about this from Co-Founder Chad Lore on March 3rd (and note the article’s author Nancy Luna will also be featured at Curbivore.)
The on-demand trilemma: getting delivery to work sustainably requires balancing speed, profitability, and affordability of the final product. Conjure’s CEO Ali Ahmed shares in TechCrunch why this is such a fine line to walk, and why he thinks “bringing the store to you” is the best solution. He’ll be bringing the store TO YOU at Curbivore - be sure to grab some of his tasty treats.
Hot new data standard just dropped! Our friends at the OMF just released version 2.0 of the Mobility Data Specification – now in use by over 160 cities – expanding its functionality to also support taxis, rideshare, carshare, and delivery bots. It’s a big week for our friends there, as they also just elected their latest street committee members. We’ll be hosting a number of OMF members on March 3rd’s panel discussions, and we’re honored that the foundation is hosting a board meeting in town as part of the larger festivities.
Cargo bikes in the Empire State: New York State assemblymembers are advancing a number of bills to prioritize last mile delivery via cargo bicycles and other smaller form-factor vehicles. As anyone that’s ever watched an illegal 18-wheeler try to make a 500 point turn around a tight NYC block, this is long overdue (as is enforcement of the city’s existing rules around trucking.) We’ll have some sweet cargo bikes and micromobility delivery vehicles on display, including from Cero, Arcimoto, ElectraMeccanica, Pico, XOTO, Nimbus, and more. And speaking of Arcimoto - TechCrunch’s Harri Weber takes a FUV for a spin and loves the versatility, even in the rain.
Bots and bots of love! A number of delivery bot startups celebrated Valentine’s Day in style, delivering flowers and toys as a great reminder that PDDs aren’t just for food. Who wore it best: Kiwibot, Coco, or Serve? Be sure to tell them in 15 days!
What’s in a name? Chipotle is pushing further into off-premises, with a new bowl-focused restaurant concept: Farmesa (is that name also being tested?) The test location in Santa Monica will be available for delivery via Uber Eats and DoorDash. But as the launch is actually a partnership with Kitchen United Mix, this isn’t purely putting more delivery vehicles on the streets - folks can order in-store from the multi-restaurant concept as well. SVP Corey Manicone will be paneling on “Cooking Up Something New: New Tools, New Menus, New Spaces.”
EV uptime: Our friends at Urban Movement Labs are hosting a webinar next week on how to promote EV charger uptime. After all, that $5 billion in NEVI funding is moot if the chargers don’t work… Be sure to ask the UML folks all your best EV charging questions when you see them at Curbivore.
A touchdown for Uber One? Over at Expedite, Kristen Hawley analyzes Uber’s subscription product: Uber One. Whether or not the ad made you laugh, the service is certainly making the company smile - its proving to be a growing source of the company’s revenue (while increasing customer stickiness.) Let’s see if Uber’s Head of Grocery + Retail Fulfillment Products David Meers has any more to say about this…
Walmart drops the ball on pickup: This one flew under the radar, since the pickup-and-delivery concept never strayed far from Bentonville, but Walmart just closed the last of its experimental stores that didn’t actually allow drivers inside. The company is instead doubling down on bringing the goods directly to the consumer, as Walmart Spark Driver VP Nav Chadha will elucidate for us.
Can better maps mean better cities and a better gig working experience? Ridesharing and food delivery put thousands of drivers onto unfamiliar streets, challenging all city dwellers. Lyft has been working to untangle this gordian knot - ideally they’ll chat about it with our other mapping partners Beans.ai, Stoovo and Para.
Ear worms: Harry and I go behind the scenes on his latest podcast episode, sharing some of what it takes to pull off a conference - what’s easy and what makes us pull out our hair. And if you want more of Harry’s smooth NPR voice, tune in to his chat with Automato’s Deloss Pickett.
Slightly less self-serving links: UPS cuts back. Teslas recalled. Feds advance nationwide EV charging networks. Australian instant deliverer Milkrun is run, run, running out cash. But Ireland’s Buymie looks more solvent, after takeover by a supermarket chain. Is Amazon tightening the screws on suppliers too much? If dangerous driving costs NYC taxpayers half a billion dollars, imagine the nationwide toll! Why the pizza box sucks. Torontonians can get home cooked meals delivered. E-grocer Weee! screams that customer data was stolen. Automotive SPACs continue to plumb new depths. How do you say “no new highways” in Welsh? (Google says the answer is “dim priffyrdd newydd.”) JOKR says adios to Mexico. London’s Lizzie Line hits 100M pax eight months in. Zoox robotaxis hit the mean streets of Foster City (don’t forget we’ll have a Motional AV at Curbivore!) ChargerHelp pulls in a hair-tingling $17.5M in new funding. CookUnity and celebrity chef John DeLucie talk alternative delivery models. Track the movement to decriminalize jaywalking. New TomTom data shows the costs of moving people and goods by less sustainable means. While big city downtowns are bemoaning the “cost” of lost workers, its really an opportunity for other neighborhoods to enliven their sidewalks and commercial districts. (And a rational government would underwrite the lost transit fares; workers are voting with their preferences that consumer surplus has improved!)
See you in two weeks!
- Jonah Bliss & The Curbivore Crew