Cake
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    • The Information just published a big article about electric scooter startups. One of them got to a $100 million run rate in 17 months. There aren't many companies that can do that and they're already valued at $2 billion and raising $300 million at a time in rapid succession because they burn it so fast.

      But this chart. What does it mean? Does it mean scooters are no fun when it's cold and snowy? That's what they believe, so they are busy moving their scooters to Australia. Or is it that when they burst on the scene, it was really cool to try them for fun but the novelty wore off?

    • Based on the assumption that the chart represents data from May to December of a single year, probably 2018--it doesn't say so explicitly--either interpretation is reasonable and both may be true. But you can't decide based on the data presented--the time frame is too short. I wouldn't want to claim evidence of seasonal effects with less than 18 months, and 24 would be better. The chart shows growth rate, which would be affected by the rollout of the service to new areas, but could also reflect novelty wearing off. Perhaps a transaction/scooter ratio over time would help, If the data had been broken down by region (warm v. cold) and time since introduction of the service in that region, you might be able to torture the variance enough draw some other tentative conclusions, dunno. All that said, it would be very surprising if scooter use didn't drop in winter. It's less clear what the novelty effect would look like, but I for one am really getting tired of seeing them on the ground, cluttering up the sidewalks. I suspect I'm not alone.

    • (Minor grumble: I had to get out of my beautiful app to view the graph in Safari so I could view it more easily in landscape mode and zoom in.)

      I agree with @Richard that the data is too short to be conclusive. And for that reason I feel the unicorn 🦄 valuation is more speculator-driven than a reflection of true value for the segment.

      The real societal value of these scooters is to cut down on the environmental impact of cars in big cities. Idling during frequent traffic stops is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

      Using electric scooters as an alternative to cars for short trips of less than 5 miles is a really good thing. I would argue the federal government should be subsidizing consumer usage in urban areas, especially since most apartment dwellers don’t have the opportunity to add solar panels to their homes.

      But instead of focusing on the long-term environmental value proposition, Silicon Valley appears to have chased the hipster market, trying to make it the next cool thing since the hover board a few years ago. So come fall and winter, when it’s no longer riding around in shorts, the fun factor takes a nose dive.

      I would be curious to know what percentage of fourth quarter sales their current inventory represents compared to the third quarter.

    • Heh, I just came across this article in Harvard Business Review:

      I usually have a great deal of respect for authors who write things like that, especially in HBR, but my jaw went slack on this one and all I could think is WHAT?!!! Someone is living in an alternative universe to the one I live in. The universe of VCs I know is all about growing to $100 billion ffffaaasssstttt, or go home. Pump out a zillion electric scooters ftw.

    • This guy must be spending too much time with marijuana startups. While it all sounds wonderful, I don't see the slightest reason to think that any of it is going to happen unless/until the current system has a catastrophic, world-wide meltdown, at least, not at the behest of VCs. Externally imposed regulation remains a possibility, but only if there is a dramatic change in the political climate.

    • I think as long as the power law exists, which is that one investment is all it takes to become unimaginably rich, people will chase it. Lance Armstrong says the reason he is not bankrupt is the investment he made in Uber. People speculate Jeff Bezos would be a billionaire even if Amazon failed, which it almost did, because of his early investment in Google.

      The VCs have a saying: one and done. Find that one and your career is made. That one needs insane growth.