Here's to the Curb in 2023
Automotus Podcast, Ottonomy's New Bot & Bikeshare Surges
It’s safe to say it’s been a wild few weeks for commerce on the curb! Shoppers spent a record breaking $211.7 billion during the holiday season, pushing already beleaguered shippers and couriers to the edge, especially as inclement weather hammered major cities. That same wild weather flooded and froze streets from coast to coast, highlighting the frailty of our transportation systems, while causing some food delivery networks to pause deliveries ( if you did manage to get a wet pizza delivered - you better have tipped damn well!) And on a personal level, I spent the winter holidays traveling Asia - where every visit is a reminder of just how much more vibrant a city can be when it has robust public transit and lively street dining scenes.
But back in the here and now, it’s 2023, and it’s never been a more important or exciting time for the curb, as we see a number of trends colliding. To wit, some of the big unanswered questions in the sector these days include:
How will cities and agencies deploy the bonanza of Federal dollars unlocked in recent legislation like the IRA, ILJA, and ARPA?
What will cooling VC appetites mean for cash hungry delivery and mobility startups?
As some cities roll back slow streets / outdoor dining, while others embrace more active curb management, and others yet finally slash parking minimums - will we end up with a new status quo for American cities? Or are we entering a period of wildly divergent urban outcomes depending on the policies adopted?
Will Americans obsession with giant cars mean every EV is the size of a tank? Does Tesla’s waning fortunes mean the electric revolution is coming more slowly than expected, or are people just sick of Elon in particular?
Conversely, can Americans be convinced to kick the tires on a mini-car, three-wheeler, micro-EV, pod car, or beefed up ebike?
Do local and state governments have the institutional capacity to create and maintain public spaces that are supportive of our changing needs: more public chargers, more PUDU zones, more parklets, etc?
Will people actually eat a vegan sandwich from 7-Eleven? Or sample a delivery-only snack brand from an aging basketball player? 😉
Suffice to say, it’s going to be an interesting year! And that’s just part of the reason why we’re so excited to bring together the people working to solve all these quandaries - March 3rd at Curbivore 2023. Yesterday we announced our latest tranche of industry innovators - Lyft Delivery, Stoovo, Para, Beans, Orderbyte, XOTO, BIB, Roll To, Arcimoto, & Parking Reform Network - that will be joining us, alongside big city mayors and policy makers, inventive delivery and mobility technologies, and iconic players both large and emerging. We’ll have even more exciting news to share in the near future - but in the meantime we only have 22 Early Bird tickets left. So if you’re ready to shape the future of commerce on the curb - I hope you’ll join us!
HOT INDUSTRY NEWS & GOSSIP
Curb chat: Harry sat down with Curbivore partner Automotus’ Kelly Ferguson, to hear what’s coming next for curb management, including updates from projects in Pittsburgh and New York City.
Some housecleaning: Harry also chatted with BrightDrop’s CRO about how their truck is the “fastest vehicle in the history of General Motors” (in terms of sales volume growth, that is.) And if you have a short attention span, here are the 60 most important seconds of it. If you have a longer attention span: this is your last call to fill out Curbivore’s speaker submission form.
Get-ir back to the office! The pandemic may have fueled rapid delivery leader Getir’s growth, but it sounds like the company’s execs are fully ready for things to get back to normal. The Turkish company is ordering all employees back to the office, including those at recently acquired Gorillas. (Is this perhaps a way to push a few newly redundant employees to quit, to avoid paying hefty European severances?)
Assorted cutbacks: Rivian loses top execs as it misses production quotas. California’s preemptive budget belt-tightening means less money for transit. Fedex walks back Sunday deliveries. Wonder gives up the ghost on in-truck cooking, opting instead to go all-in on dark kitchens. Instacart sees yet another valuation markdown. And Flexport delivers some bad news to 20% of its workforce.
Now for some good news: Bikeshare usage surged in London, proving the importance of a resilient and robust transportation network in light of strikes on the Underground. And new data out of NYC shows that putting speed governors in fleets improves driver behavior, even when users have the option to override the limit.
At Curbivore, we care about Subway and subways… On one hand, the iconic sandwich slinger is rumored to be for sale at a cool $10 billion valuation. On the other hand, congratulations to the Ivory Coast for breaking ground on an automated metro system. Maybe one day American cities like San Antonio, Tampa, and Columbus will be prosperous enough to go toe-to-toe with a country that’s had two civil wars in the past 20 years…
Trying to offload some ugly sweaters? DoorDash has a new way to rid yourself of unwanted Christas gift: Package Pickup sends a courier to your home to haul away your reverse logistics.
“It takes a long time.” Democratic senators are pushing the NHTSA to roll out new auto safety regulations, including crash avoidance tech and automatic engine shutoff.
Prices up, sauciness down! New data shows inflation taking a bite out of the iconic New York slice.
New bot, who dis? PDD player Ottonomy revealed a new model, capable of dropping its contents off at the destination with a clever sliding door mechanism. We’re thinking this is more for packages than food…
The dark store speaks: Gorillas’ former Chief of Staff Ashwin Wadekar shares his insights into what went wrong with the quick commerce sector, laying much of the blame on VCs competing to nail deals in a frothy capital environment.
The first link roundup of 2023: A look at all the new micro-EVs at CES. Starbucks’ quietly testing its first U.S. ghost kitchen in Culver City. Fine dining star Noma to shutter and instead become dining laboratory; maybe they’ll be the first to crack the code for luxurious food delivery? Remote work dims odds of a Facebook-funded SF Bay rail crossing. New list of world’s most congested cities is rich with public transit options; maybe try leaving the car at home? Boxed looks for buyer. Cities across the world are keeping some streets car-free. In less-enlightened quarters, Philly has all but dismantled its outdoor dining program, and SF’s foot dragging on traffic calming Valencia St. causes yet another fatality.
P.S. Expect a deep dive on the curbs of Asia in the coming weeks!
- Jonah Bliss & The Curbivore Crew