Uber Expands Uber Comfort, Waymo to Participate in New AV Pilot Program

This week, Softbank injects $250 million into Ola Electric, Waymo will begin participating in California’s EV Pilot Program, and Uber Comfort gives special attention to customers at a lower price point than Uber Black.

Uber Unveils New Level of Service

Some Uber riders have long complained about not having enough legroom during their rides or drivers who want to talk during the entire trip.

In response to these egregious offenses, Uber recently launched a new service tier called Uber Comfort. Pricing falls just below Uber Black, their flagship service tier.

Features of Uber Comfort rides include more legroom and “Quiet Mode,” which allows riders to request a silent ride. Riders can also request specific temperature settings within the app. Drivers will set the temperature prior to picking riders up, so it’s not too hot or cold.

Uber Comfort drivers are required to have a rating of 4.85 or higher and a late-model, midsize sedan to participate.

Uber Comfort is now available in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Charlotte, Chicago, Connecticut, Dallas, Fresno, Hampton Roads, Houston, Honolulu, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Madison, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Jersey, New Orleans, Omaha, Orange County, Ottawa, Palm Springs, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Rhode Island, Richmond, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Tucson, Wichita, and Washington D.C.

How well will the service do? With a lower price point than Uber Black but higher than the popular Uber X service, it’s too early to tell.

Softbank Injects $250M Into Ola Electric

After the Indian Government ordered both Ola and Uber to convert 40% of its fleet to electric vehicles (EVs) by 2026, Ola Electric has been working hard to beef up its program.

Ola Electric’s latest Series B financing round led by Softbank included a $250-million investment in the company.

Ola Electric has already been working on electric vehicles for years. This latest cash infusion will allow them to put 10,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of this year. They plan to put a million similar vehicles on the road in the “coming” years.

Ride-sharing giant Ola, the parent company of Ola Electric, recently partnered with EV manufacturers to meet Ola Electric’s government mandate.

With this recent investment by Softbank, as well as a $300-million investment from Hyundai and Kia into parent company Ola, Ola Electric will continue to dominate India’s ride-hailing market and make a significant impact on carbon emissions at the same time.

California Permits Waymo to Participate in AV Pilot Program

Autonomous vehicle operator Waymo recently received permission from the California Public Utilities Commission to participate in their AV Passenger Service Pilot.

The program allows Waymo to operate AV services in specific areas of California with a safety driver in the car.

Four companies have received permits, including Zoox,, Autox, and Waymo. The companies are not allowed to be paid for rides.

The government program was passed in California last year and includes two programs: one with a safety driver and one without. So far, no permits have been issued for the driverless portion of the program.

Waymo is already a leader in AV programs after opening the first commercial autonomous car service in Phoenix, Arizona.

Though the company can’t yet charge for rides, participating in a government pilot program in Arizona was how they found their first riders for the Waymo One service. They are quickly on their way to becoming the Uber of AV programs.

Indian Government Provides Tax Incentives to EV Buyers

India is getting serious about reducing emissions.

In addition to requiring Uber and Ola to convert 40% of their fleet to EVs by 2026, the Indian government announced a tax rebate for electric vehicle buyers.

The rebate will provide ₹1.5 lakh (about $2,000 in USD) to any driver that purchases an electric vehicle in the country.

India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced the government’s intention to develop a local manufacturing hub for EV parts in the country.

With a population of over one billion, it’s wonderful to see India taking steps to help reduce the amount of pollution created by the country’s drivers. By encouraging drivers to take advantage of the tax rebate, they are well on their way to helping the world become a greener place.

Food Delivery Apps Will Have 38M Users by Next Year

According to the data scientists at eMarketer, food delivery services will have approximately 38 million users in the US by the end of the year. This is a 21.8% jump over 2018’s numbers.

DoorDash (27.6%) and Grubhub (26.7%) continue to dominate the market, with a relatively new player on the scene, Caviar, appearing in the bottom slot with 2.7% of market share.

As the number of smartphone users increases, eMarketer estimates 60 million smartphone users will order food delivery at least once a month.

With the rise of “ghost kitchens” being used for food delivery, the industry could well surpass expectations. As with ride-hailing platforms, services like these continue to help reduce carbon emissions in the United States and beyond.


toyota e-palette mobility

Amazon Restaurants Closes for Good, Uber Eats Drone Service Almost Ready to Begin Deliveries, Self-Driving Car Service Investments on the Rise

This Week in Mobility – June 14, 2019

This week, Amazon Restaurants closes because it couldn’t compete with Uber Eats and Grubhub, rumors fly that Uber is in the final stages of its drone delivery service program, and 400,000 new bikes are coming to the Chinese province of Canton.

Amazon Restaurants Shuts Down Delivery Service

Amazon announced this week that it is shutting down its food delivery service Amazon Restaurants on June 24. Experts speculate that fierce competition among major players like Uber Eats, Grubhub, and Postmates made it impossible for Amazon to gain any market share.

While it’s unusual for Amazon to back down from a fight, we believe that this is a smart move for the retail giant. By only allowing Prime members to participate in the service, they limited their ability to compete. Amazon Restaurants began in Seattle and expanded to over 20 cities. They closed down their London operation back in 2018.

Uber Eats Drone Service May Begin Deliveries This Summer

Just weeks after Amazon announced its Prime Air package delivery service would begin this summer, Uber had an announcement of its own.

The company is seeking FAA approval for a drone food delivery service in San Diego. If all goes well, deliveries would begin this summer in San Diego. The drones would not deliver food directly to customers but would deliver food to a landing spot. Uber Eats drivers would pick up the orders and take it directly to the customers.

Uber Eats is already a leader in the food delivery market. If all goes well with the drone delivery service, this could be the break they need to beat out Grubhub for the number one spot. It will be interesting to see how this develops and if any other food delivery services begin copying their idea.

Toyota and Softbank Invest in New Self-Driving Service

Toyota and Softbank announced they are investing in a new self-driving service called Monet that’s slated to open in 2020.

Monet will begin operating in Southeast Asia. The company plans to begin by rolling out on demand bus and car services in Japan next year, with an expansion into electric vehicles by 2023. Toyota and Honda already own a 10% stake in the company.

Will Monet become enough of a major player to compete with other Softbank-funded companies like Uber and Didi? Only time will tell. Softbank executives noted they are not worried about the competition, since Monet is funded by Softbank Corp., and their potential competitors are funded by the Softbank Vision Fund.

It will be interesting to see how much ground Monet gains over the next five years. With investors like Honda, Toyota, and Softbank, they are likely to gain a significant amount of market share once they begin operations.


Self-Driving Car Startup Aurora Gains Significant Investments

Hyundai announced it is investing in the self-driving car service startup Aurora. The investment is part of a Series B round of funding that includes over $600 million in investments from other companies, including Amazon and T. Rowe Price Associates.

Aurora creates sensors, data services, and software for manufacturers to integrate into their vehicles. The details of the deal with Hyundai are scarce, but Techcrunch reports Aurora is working with both Hyundai and Kia to integrate Aurora’s “Driver” package into Hyundai’s flagship fuel cell vehicle NEXO.

Aurora has worked with a variety of manufacturers including Volkswagen and Chrysler Fiat. Though they ended their partnership with Volkswagen, they are still working with Chrysler to integrate their software into commercial vehicles.

As the race for a Level 5 autonomous vehicle continues, it is clear that Aurora will become a major player in the space. By partnering with manufacturers like Hyundai, they are likely to help fuel the innovation needed to take autonomous vehicles to the next level.

Chinese Government Grants Permission for More Bike Rentals in Canton

Three of China’s largest bike rental services ― Mobike, Hellobike, and Qingju ― obtained permission from the Chinese government in the city of Guangzhou.

This is great news after a ban on new rental bikes stifled the growth of bicycle rental services in the city. One rental service was left out in the cold ― Ofo, which defaulted on its debts in 2018 is no longer allowed to operate. The bikes are still scattered along city streets and angry customers are waiting for their deposits to be returned.

The three operators that received permission to increase their fleets are only allowed to operate in six districts of the city and have quotas for the number of bikes they are allowed to add.

While bike rental is exploding in the US, other countries are starting to see the downside of micro-mobility services. We’ve reported before on the problems with legislation, scooter-related crashes, and data collection associated with these types of trips.

Though China is starting to loosen their grip on the number of vehicles these services can add, other major cities around the world will hopefully follow their example.


10 Autonomous Vehicle Startups That Are Making Waves

Not every startup has the resources and know-how to enter the autonomous vehicle sector. With complex technology and intensive research requirements, self-driving platforms require substantial investment and even more dedication. While large companies like Google’s Waymo, Toyota, and GM Drive work on the latest driverless technology, these plucky startups are giving them a run for their money by developing cutting-edge software and up-to-date self-driving systems.

1. Zoox

While many engineers were fitting sedans and crossover SUVs with autonomous systems, Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse Levinson of the Stanford Center for Automotive Research decided to build their own unique autonomous vehicle. Quietly launching Zoox in 2014, the two men set about developing a streamlined custom self-driving car. The company’s ambitious designs won it $790 million in backing from Lux Capital and Atlassian founder Mike Cannon Brookes.

2. Bossa Nova Robotics

Other startups concentrate on road-ready vehicles, but Bossa Nova decided to use autonomous car tech to make warehouse robots more efficient and effective. Bossa Nova is the brainchild of David Palmer, a former executive for FedEx, and Sarjoun Skaff, a robotics engineer from Carnegie Mellon University. The two men have developed a system that uses computer vision and facial recognition software to help guide helper robots around big box stores like Walmart. The firm recently completed a $29 million funding round led by Cota Capital.

3. Arbe Robotics

This Israeli startup combines the machine learning expertise of CTO Noam Arkind, the business acumen of CEO Kobi Marenko and the programming skills of COO Oz Fixman. Arbe is laser-focused on developing high definition 4D radar, a technology that has origins in military drones and helps self-driving cars navigate streets safely without a human operator. Arbe has been popular with investors since it launched. It has raised over $20 million, most recently completing a $10 million funding round led by Fausto Boni’s 360 Capital Partners.

4. Nuro

In 2016, Google engineers Jiajin Zhu and Dave Ferguson decided to launch their own autonomous vehicle startup. The company designed a tiny autonomous delivery van to transport groceries, dry cleaning and packages. Nuro recently partnered with Kroger to fulfill same-day grocery delivery and is expected to roll out an entire battery-powered delivery fleet by the end of the year. Investors have given their stamp of approval to the industrious little vans by pumping more than $90 million into Nuro’s coffers.


In 2016, the two-man team team behind left lucrative careers in Baidu’s Autonomous Driving Unit to launch their own self-driving startup. The team quickly rolled out their own auotnomous vehicle system, testing their cars in California and China. After successfully debuting a fleet of autonomous cars in early 2018, the company attracted substantial investment from Chinese VC firms like Legend Capital and Morningside Venture Capital. In 2018 alone, has received over $200 million in investments.

Pony AI test vehicle


6. DeepMap

Mark Wheeler and James Wu had years of experience at Google Maps when they decided to quit in 2016 and start their own mapping startup. Knowing autonomous vehicles would need accurate, up-to-date maps, the two developed high-definition mapping software accurate to the centimeter. Backed by big names like Accel, DeepMap has raised $92 million. The company recently inked a deal with Chinese car manufacturer SAIC Motor to include its technology in SAIC’s new autonomous vehicles.

7. Aurora Labs

After years of working on automation for homes, pets and banking, Zohar Fox decided to turn his attention to self-driving cars. Together with VC maven Ori Lederman, Fox started Aurora Labs in 2016. The company developed its own machine learning tool to help autonomous vehicle systems predict, detect and manage faults without outside input from humans. The Israeli company, which recently completed a $8.4 million Series A funding round, plans to to branch out into the US in the coming year.

8. Voyage

In 2017, University of Nevada researcher MacCallister Higgins saw an opportunity in the startup market for a new autonomous vehicle company that caters to the elderly and disabled. The company’s self-driving vans and sedans were deployed in retirement communities in California and Florida in early 2018. The company also made headlines when it lured tech executives Justin Erlich and Drew Grey away from Uber. Voyage has the backing of Jaguar Land Rover, which raised $15 million for the company in early 2018.

9. Brain Corporation

Founded in 2009 by a pair of neuroscientists, Brain Corporation has developed BrainOS, an autonomous platform that powers self-driving cleaning robots and floor scrubbers. The company’s robots use LIDAR to safely navigate around airports, hotels and big box stores. The company has attracted a bevy of investors, including SoftBank and Qualcomm Ventures, the VC arm of American telecommunications conglomerate Qualcomm.

10. Nauto

The brainchild of Princeton neuroscientist Frederick Soo and Stanford professor Stefan Heck, Nauto was founded in Palo Alto in 2015. The startup has developed tech that helps to reduce collisions caused by distracted driving. The system is designed for commercial drivers and features an advanced collision warning system and in-car collision avoidance training. Nauto has raised more than $170 million from big investors like Softbank and Greylock Partners.

As autonomous vehicles advance by leaps and bounds, these startups are getting the jump on emerging technologies. By relying on well-monied backers and their own technical expertise, these companies are able to use financial capital to fund complex research and transform the modern transportation sector forever.


Softbank rideshare king

Deep Pockets: The Top 10 Ridesharing VC Firms

As ridesharing startups roar forward, cutting large swathes through the transportation market, a handful of venture capital firms have been injecting massive amounts of cash into the leading ride-hailing companies. With sharp-eyed instinct and practiced senses honing in on top prospects, these VC firms have refined investing in a sure thing to a fine art.

1. Softbank

Few VC firms have had as much influence on one sector as Softbank has had on ridesharing startups. The Tokyo-based firm has been pouring money into the ridesharing market since 2015 when it first funded Ola, a cabsharing company from India. Softbank has helped to raise $4 billion for Didi Chuxing, more than $7 billion for Uber and has invested $3.4 billion in Cruise Automation, a San Francisco startup that makes software for self-driving cars. In 2018, Softbank moved into logistics when they raised $1.9 billion for Manbang Group, a swiftly expanding truck-hailing company based in Beijing.

2. Tiger Global

This aptly named American VC firm has invested heavily in ridesharing startups since the beginning of the ridesharing boom. Tiger Global is a longtime supporter of both Ola and Grab, a ride-hailing startup based in Singapore. The firm also participated in two large funding rounds for Brazil’s 99 carsharing service before it was snapped up by Didi Chuxing in 2018 for $1 billion.

3. Fidelity Management & Research Company

As the investment arm of the American financial services company Fidelity Investments, Fidelity Management & Research Company has plenty of cash to use in bankrolling the ridesharing sector. The firm has recently become one of the top investors in Lyft, raising more than $2 billion for the ridesharing giant in less than one year. They recently raised $335 million for bikesharing startup Lime and have turned their eye to the sky, investing more than $100 million in the airline charter startup Wheels Up.

4. Magna International

Canadian automotive company Magna International is banking on self-driving cars as the wave of the future. Initially, the company was mainly interested in car tracking technology. They first invested $8 million in car locator app Zubie in 2014 and followed it with a hefty $16 million payout for Peloton Technology, a truck tracking company. In May 2018, they joined in the ridesharing funding craze by raising $200 million for Lyft.

5. Seqouia Capital

One of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious VC firms, Sequoia, has been just as eager as smaller firms to dive into the rapidly growing ridesharing sector. They were an early investor in Uber, joining in on an $11 million Series A funding round in 2015. Sequoia has also dabbled in the Asian ridesharing market, financing iCarsClub in Singapore and Ola in India. More recently, Sequoia led a $300 million funding round for Bird, an up-and coming scooter sharing service.

5. Coatue Management

This New York-based VC firm has hedged its bets by investing in a wide variety of ridesharing companies from every part of the globe. From Didi Chuxing in China to Careem in the United Arab Emirates, Coatue has helped to raise over $3 billion for various ridesharing companies. Coatue has also invested substantially in both Uber and Lyft, as well as the bikesharing startups Ofo and Lime.

Careem cofounders


6. Index Ventures

Although the Swiss VC firm was a late arrival to the ridesharing scene, they have more than made up for lost time. They raised $100 million for Blablacar, Europe’s largest ridesharing startup and helped fund Bird’s $100 million Series B funding round. The Geneva-based company has also contributed to less well-known ridesharing startups like Less, which was recently acquired by Blablacar.

7. Tencent Holdings

The owner of China’s ubiquitous WeChat app, Tencent is also one of the largest investment corporations in the world. Long focused on investing in e-commerce and entertainment startups, Tencent began to eye the ridesharing sector in 2014 when they helped raise a $700 million Series D funding round for Didi Chuxing. The company has never looked back, raising $150 million for Lyft and $7.7. billion for Uber. Tencent has also dabbled in the bikesharing market by raising $1.1. billion for Ola and more than $900 million for Mobike.

8. Accel

As one of the world’s top VC firms, Accel has invested in many successful tech startups, including Groupon, Flipkart and Spotify. However, Accel has also made its mark in the ridesharing world. A longtime investor in France’s Blablacar, Accel has also raised substantial funds for lesser known ridesharing companies like Shuddle and Hailo. More recently, the company has shifted its focus to electric scooter firms, raising $300 million for Bird and $25 million for Skip Scooters.

9. GGV Capital

GGV Capital is one of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious VC firms and has a bevy of high-profile investments top prove it, most notably Alibaba and Pandora. However, the firm has also injected millions of dollars into ride-hailing startups like Grab and Didi Chuxing. More recently, they began concentrating on the bike sharing sector, raising over $150 million for Hellobike and participating in a $50 million Series B round for Lime.

10. Steadview Capital

Unlike other VC firms, Hong Kong-based Steadview Capital is particularly choosy when selecting its investments. Since it was founded in 2009, Steadview has only invested in a select few companies. Together with Softbank and Tencent, it has funded Ola’s rapid rise to the top of the ridesharing market in India. Altogether, the firm has raised more than $400 for the taxi-hailing startup.

By carefully selecting the most promising startups, these VC firms jumpstarted and rode the ridesharing boom. Whether they have a diversified portfolio of investments or are just focusing on one part of the market, their capital has helped fund the rapid rise of ridesharing companies in North America, Asia and Europe. As the market moves into bike sharing and scooter sharing, these firms will continue to be on the forefront of the ridesharing trend.


Mercedes and BMW Jumpstart Joint Rideshare Venture

It seems at times that ridesharing has become ubiquitous in the United States. But by every conceivable metric, things are still somehow only picking up steam. Every day, new companies are trying to get in on one of the most significant technological revolutions of our time. Now, BMW Group and Daimler AG have announced a joint rideshare and mobility venture. Their service is bit different from others, as it aims to create a new global player that will offer sustainable urban mobility services to customers across the country.

  • The two companies are investing more than a billion dollars in this joint venture.
  • In addition to car sharing, the ecosystem will offer ride hailing, parking, and multimodal transport services.
  • The efforts are seen as an opportunity to pave the way for a world that “travels via autonomous and electrified vehicle fleets.”

What Does This Joint Venture Include?

The venture itself will actually see the launch of not one but five new services. This is possible thanks to the fact that both brands are essentially combining services that were already being offered under one virtual “roof” for the first time. They include:

  • “Reach Now,” which will be the home for multimodal services.
  • “Charge Now,” which is aimed at helping people find opportunities to charge their electric vehicles in any location.
  • “Free Now,” which will be used for taxi ride hailing services.
  • “Park Now,” which as the name suggests will be a more efficient way for people to find parking in major urban areas.
  • “Share Now,” which is the name given to the traditional car sharing services offered by these companies.

“Park Now” allows people to book their ideal parking space with just a few quick clicks of a button. Not only is it a more effective way for people to locate parking in a matter of seconds, but certain locations will offer additional value added services as well. These can include but are not limited to 24/7 security and monitoring services, along with comprehensive car wash services.

“Charge Now” offers similar functionality, only geared at existing owners of electric vehicles. It is the next evolution of a similarly named program that was offered by BMW that came to an end in December 2018. Via the app, users can instantly see a complete map of available charging stations in their area. They can not only book time in a charging station that suits them, but can also get turn-by-turn directions to get there as soon as possible.

“Reach Now” is the service that will be the most familiar to users as it is naturally very similar to solutions offered by companies like Uber and Lyft. It does have a number of features that make it unique, however. Via the app, all someone has to do is enter a destination and they can either choose to drive themselves or get a ride. If they select the former, they’ll be given turn by turn directions similar to any conventional GPS and they will get the use of a car from the company’s fleet. If they choose the latter, a driver will pick them up and take them wherever they need to go. The “Get a Ride” functionality is what makes it close in execution to competing services that already exist, but everything else indicates that this is where those similarities end.

In terms of payment for driving yourself, users can drive by the minute, the hour or even the day depending on where they’re going and what their intentions are. As per the website, current rates for driving yourself begin at approximately $15 per hour. Booking the same car for multiple days is also an option. Under this scenario, they can also find parking anywhere in the coverage area for maximum convenience.

BMW boasts that its current fleet offers hundreds of BMWs, electric BMWs and MINIS via the service, though more will be added in the future. Currently, “Reach Now” is only available in Seattle and Portland although a rapid expansion is predicted over the next few years to other areas in the country.

Why This, Why Now?

BMW and Daimler are both optimistic about the future of this joint venture, offering five key reasons why this is the right move to make at exactly the right time.

  1. The companies insist that this will be a major step towards bringing sustainable mobility to people all over the country, particularly in urban environments.
  2. Leveraging the existing infrastructures of both companies allows them to offer an individual, personalized all-round service package. This includes services designed to “cover the entire value chain.”
  3. BMW and Daimler say that they have the “financial strength” to make sure this effort succeeds, as evidenced by their one billion investment across the five joint ventures.
  4. Both companies have an eye towards growth. Not only do they want to increase the network of 60 million customers they’re already serving, but they also want to create more than 1,000 new jobs as well.
  5. Both companies insist that they are still competitors. This will motivate them to “deliver top performance in core business functions in the future.”

What Does the Future Look Like?

Things are a bit murkier as far as whether or not this joint venture will trigger the genuine revolution that both companies hope it will. Not only is a cooperation agreement of this size unique, but the scope of the project is essentially unparalleled.

Because of that, there is really no existing example one can point to in order to say “this is going to work, and here’s why.” Plus, one has to consider that this comes somewhat late in the game in terms of ride sharing. Established players like Uber and Lyft already command sizable customer shares and there are no signs of that slowing down anytime soon.

However, despite the fact that the market is still growing, this may be a genuine opportunity for a new player to enter the game. In the third quarter of 2018, Uber posted a $1 billion loss as overall booking volumes slowed significantly. Despite the fact that Lyft delivered its one billionth ride last year, it’s growth has slowed as well. This is part of the reason why the company is already exploring new transportation options like bikes, scooters and even public transit.

Have BMW and Daimler waited too long to launch something of this magnitude? Or does the growth of their two largest competitors mean that they’re acting at precisely the right moment? Only time will tell.

From another perspective, things are a bit more optimistic in terms of the raw value that the joint venture is capable of delivering. A recent CNET article noted floated the premise that “Uber wants to be the ‘Amazon of transportation,’ but BMW and Daimler might do it first.”

That is a very real possibility and at least for right now, it is one that cannot be overlooked. After all Damiler and BMW have a massive service and production infrastructure that no other mobility company can match at this point.

In the End

Ride sharing isn’t going anywhere any time soon, particularly in the United States. What began as a simple alternative to traditional taxi services has since evolved into an alternative to the idea of transportation as we know it.

Daimler Bmw rideshare venture


Ride sharing itself has been going through something of an evolution for years. First you could choose the type of car you were able to order, and now you don’t have to order a car at all to participate. As the gig economy continues to expand as well, this is a trend that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

But is this joint effort between Daimler and BMW a vision of the future in the ways that both companies insist that it is? The answer to that question is one that professionals and users alike will be paying close attention to for the foreseeable future.


on demand apps sharing economy

Softbank’s Billion Dollar Grab, Lyft Scoots, And Uber Goes E-Biking

This Week In On Demand – Dec. 29, 2018

The holiday season only seems to up the ante in the world of on demand. From food hustles to scooter hauls, here’s your rundown of the latest side hustle happenings.

Delivery Hero Earns $1.1 Billion for Germany Market

Late last week, Delivery Hero announced it reached a $1.1 billion deal with rival for the former’s entire German operation. The agreement covers all of Delivery Heros direct services as well as their subsidies in the region.

The deal was split between cash remittance and an 18 percent shareholding transfer. Additionally, Delivery Hero will maintain a seat on the board as long as they own at least 10 percent of the shares.

The move comes as the European food-delivery market becomes increasingly saturated. Some of the biggest competitors include top-performers like UK-based Deliveroo, as well as Uber Eats, which is reportedly pushing to triple its delivery fleet. Despite the sale, however, Delivery Hero is still a powerful force with over 40 markets worldwide.

SoftBank Continues On Demand Spree With Grab

SoftBank has become the go to investment bank for on demand companies around the globe.

Last Thursday, news broke the the company was planning to invest $1 billion in Grab. The Singapore-based ride-sharing company has shown rapid growth in Southeast Asia over the past year, beginning with their defeat of Uber in the market.

Once finalized, Grab joins other Asian-based companies that caught the eye of the Toyko-based investor in 2018.

SoftBank made investments in Coupang, OYO, and Ola this year, the latter of which made their own $100 million backing in Voga Lands last week. On the international level, the company provided funding for Uber and Fair — a deal finalized only a week ago.

Uber Hit With French Fine and Sets Sights on Rapid E-Bike Expansion

A 2016 data breach continues to hit Uber’s pockets. On Thursday, the business was fined $460,000 by the French CNIL agency for the handling and alleged attempted coverup of the incident.

Reportedly, 1.4 million French customers were impacted by the hacking event. In November, Uber was fined $1.17 million by the UK and Netherlands governments following an investigation into the breach. While there were substantially fewer users affected in the U.S., the company settled for a $148 million payout to state municipalities.

While the fines are quickly adding up, the situation doesn’t seem to be phasing Uber. Days after revealing their new Jump e-bike model, news broke that the company had ordered around 8,000 new bikes.

A report from Ocean Audit showcased the on demand company’s U.S.-bound shipments from China all occurred within a two-week period in December. While it’s likely in an effort to avoid the new tariffs that start next year, the news serves to highlight Uber’s e-bike expansion goals in 2019. But the company hasn’t commented on how soon the new fleets will hit the street.

Lyft Hires John Maddox for Self-Driving Division and Chases Uber in E-Scooter Markets

It’s been a busy year for Lyft’s Level 5 self-driving division. The company recently announced the addition of John Maddox as the senior director of autonomous safety and compliance. Maddox offers an impressive resume, including previous work in vehicle safety research at the U.S. Department of Transporation. He also founded the American Center for Mobility.

Maddox’s hiring comes just weeks after the company was granted a U.S. patent for their autonomous vehicle communication system. Other big-name hires include the former senior manager of Tesla’s Autopilot Programs, Sameer Qureshi, and infrastructure engineer Cal Lankton.

They also added a new team of senior designers last week to assist with improving user-experience in various aspects of their expansion efforts, including e-bikes and e-scooters.

Speaking of scooters, Lyft has spent the last week chasing after Uber’s expansion efforts. First, Uber announced the debut of its Jump scooter program in Atlanta and San Diego. Within 24 hours, Lyft shared their own plans to launch dockless scooters in San Diego, and within 48 hours, they were also entering the Atlanta market.

While the companies are known for rideshare services, both Uber and Lyft are quickly working to expand their transportation offerings. The latest push for scooter domination comes as the two brands push toward their 2019 IPOs. The closer they get to the public market, the tighter the race becomes.

That’s it for your last side hustle rundown for 2018. Check back in the new year to find out what excitement 2019 holds for the on demand ecosystem.


on demand apps sharing economy

Uber Scooters Make The Jump, Softbank Moves With Toyota – This Week In On Demand

This Week In On Demand – October 5, 2018

Welcome to the first edition of This Week In On Demand, Rideshare Central’s roundup of the biggest news stories from the sharing economy. Every Friday, we’ll be recapping key new investments, company partnerships, new hires, and major app updates.

This week, we’ve got IPO news, some partnerships, and a whole lot of scooters.

Lyft IPO news and diversity report

It looks like J.P. Morgan will be Lyft’s lead underwriter for it’s IPO. Lyft has also retained IPO advisory firm Class V Group LLC, and is targeting an IPO date of late Q1 2019. The company seems to be in a good position for their IPO, more than doubling their revenue in the first half of 2018, to $909 million.

Lyft also released it’s second annual diversity report. Overall, the report is a mixed bag. African Americans, Asians, and Latinx or Hispanics, all make up a larger percentage of Lyft’s workforce now than in 2017. However, women now actually make up a smaller percentage (40% vs. 42%) of Lyft’s workforce than last year. However, they’re still ahead of Google (31%) and Apple (32%) in this area.


Lyft Diversity Chart Ethnicity 2018


Lyft Diversity Chart Ethnicity 2017

Taxify gets Google Maps integration

You can now order a ride from Taxify, the rideshare startup competing with Uber in Europe, Africa, and Australia, through Google Maps (outside the U.S.). The Estonian rideshare startup rolled out the service in 16 countries. This should level the playing field with Uber, which has had Google Maps integration since 2016.

While Taxify has no plans to enter the U.S. market, the company currently operates in about 30 countries. Last year, they took investment from, and entered into a strategic partnership with Didi, the Chinese rideshare giant. The company also recently closed a $175 million funding round led by Daimler and Korelya Capital, that valued the company at $1 Billion. Didi was a returning investor for this most recent funding round. With that sort of backing, Taxify looks set to take the battle to Uber across Africa, Australia, and Europe.

Upwork has it’s IPO.

Upwork, the on demand freelancer company, went public on Wednesday at $15 per share. The price shot up about 50% at the open, to $23 per share, but gave back some of those gains before closing at $21.18 per share.

The company connects buyers and sellers of services that run the gamut from social media management, to translation services, to business plan writing. Upwork was formed from the merger of Elance and Odesk back in 2014. While that merger process has been turbulent, Upwork has seen strong revenue growth over the past year. However, the company is currently unprofitable, and should remain so, since it’s expenses are currently growing faster than revenue.

Uber’s Jump escooters join the fray

Uber’s first Jump escooters hit the sidewalks this week, launching on Wednesday in Santa Monica. Uber acquired the bikesharing start up Jump earlier this year for a rumored price of around $200 million. The Santa Monica pilot will involve 250 Jump escooters, to go along with the 500 Jump ebikes they already operate in the city. Uber was one of four companies awarded permits for the Santa Monica pilot.

When it comes to escooters though, it looks like Uber may be playing a bit of catch up. Main rival Lyft launched their scooter pilot last month in Denver. Lyft was also granted one of the coveted Santa Monica permits, and have already been operating there for a couple of weeks. Bird and Lime are also a part of the Santa Monica pilot. The escooter wars have officially begun!

GM and Honda team up to build an autonomous vehicle

Honda is investing and partnering with General Motor’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Cruise Holdings. Under the deal, Honda will take a 5.7% stake in the subsidiary, investing $750 million immediately, and an additonal $2.05 billion over the next 12 years.

Honda’s investment values Cruise Holdings at just shy of $15 billion, roughly a third of the total market cap of GM. GM previously invested $500 million in Lyft, but that partnership seems to have cooled as the Lyft – Waymo partnership has strengthened. Currently, GM and Lyft have no active projects together.

Softbank and Toyota are forming a mobility services joint venture.

Toyota and Softbank are forming a new company, Monet Technologies, with an initial investment of $18 million. The company will develop a software platform for autonomous vehicles that can be used by businesses and consumers alike.

The joint venture makes a lot of sense. Softbank collects a lot of data from phones and other Internet of Things devices. By coordinating this data with Toyota’s data from it’s connected vehicles program, the new company hopes to create an ecosystem with services and products suited for a world where most people don’t own their own cars anymore.


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on demand economy - man ringing bell held by robot hand

The State Of The On Demand Economy

On Demand In 2018: The Arena Is Crowded, But Growing

It’s hard to believe Uber was founded almost a decade (2009) ago. Lyft is a bit younger, but still a six year old company. It’s incredible to think how much these two apps, along with Postmates, Google Express, Instacart, Grubhub, Doordash, and a whole bunch of others, have changed how we get around, and how we shop for food and household items.

The other day, I tried to remember the last time I was in a taxi cab. I couldn’t. Then, I tried to remember the last time I actually called a restaurant to order delivery or take out. Couldn’t remember that either. However, although I used Instacart once, I still generally go to the supermarket myself. Call me old fashioned.

Bikes and Scooters: A New Wrinkle

Besides all the available rideshare and delivery apps, a new type of app has appeared in the last year that looks to further change how we get around – ebike and escooter dockless rental apps. The concept is pretty simple. A user searches for an available ebike or escooter on the app. The app locates a nearby escooter or ebike. The user walks over, unlocks the ebike or escooter using the app, and rides to their desitnation. When they get there, they can just leave the ebike or escooter parked off to the side. Although the field is pretty new, there are already a few major players. It’s likely not all of these companies are going to make it (remember Sidecar).

  • Bird – $115 million in funding, raising an additional $200 million
  • Jump – Already bought by Uber
  • Limebike – $132 million in funding, raising up to an additional $500 million
  • Spin – Originally bikes, recently added an ebike to their offerings – $8 million in funding
  • Skip – $6 million in funding

If that weren’t enough, Lyft is also developing it’s own e-bike/e-scooter service.

So much change in just a few years, and yet, it’s likely only the beginning.

The Next Five Years

Both Lyft and Uber aim to integrate more with municipal transportation systems in the coming years. Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, is aiming to make Uber the “Amazon of transportation“. This is why both companies are moving into the ebike and escooter area. Both eventually aim to become an end to end transportation company. Currently, you can use the Lyft or Uber app to book a Lyft or Uber ride only. Look for e-bike options to be added with a year. Over the next five years, expect Lyft or Uber to try and integrate subway, light rail schedules and external booking into their apps.

On Demand Economy - hands holding phone

2018 is likely to be a year of massive change for the on demand arena, and especially for Uber and Lyft. Although Uber is aiming to go public in late 2019, Lyft may try an IPO in late 2018. Whatever happens, 2018 is likely to be the last year in which all the on demand companies are privately held. Besides the coming IPO’s, there’s also the question of how fast both companies will be able to integrate autonomous vehicles into their fleets.

International Rideshare Players

In the U.S., it’s basically Lyft and Uber. Outside the U.S., it’s a whole different ballgame. Didi cleaned Uber’s clock in China (Uber surrendered, left and took a small stake in Didi.) Grab is dominant in S.E. Asia (Uber sold their s.e. asia business to them recently). In India, Ola is number one, with Uber a distant second. In Europe and Africa, Uber is dominant, but stiff competition is coming.

  • Didi – Dominant in China, operates in Brazil; Planning expansion to Europe, Africa, and the U.S.
  • Ola – Dominant in India
  • Grab – Dominant in S.E. Asia
  • Taxify – European startup, also expanding in Africa – just closed a $175 million funding round led by Daimler Chrysler.
  • Softbank – Japanese conglomerate that has stakes in Uber, Didi, Ola, and Grab. Nobody realizes it, but Softbank is actually the quiet king of rideshare on the planet earth. They also just invested in GM’s self driving car division.

Self-Driving Cars

Autonomous vehicles are coming, but they’re not likely to fully take over the roads in the next five years. Even when they do, they’ll still be a need for drivers (although not as many) However, they will start to become a more common site in the next few years. Virtually every major automaker is a player in this area, and they’re all doing some testing in California. Here’s a quick rundown of who’s doing what and who’s ahead.

  • Waymo (Google subsidiary) – The leader in the field. They have more self driving cars on the road, that have driven more miles, than everyone else on this list combined. One of the ways success is measured in self-driving cars is how long the vehicle can go without a human driver having to intervene. By this metric, Waymo is first by a large margin.
  • Ford – A strong second, but they need more testing.
  • GM – Third, but just got a massive investment from Softbank.
  • Tesla – Tesla gets a lot of hype, but their actual self-driving technology lags behind the three front runners
  • Uber – Overall, their program has been a disaster. They don’t have the funds, or the engineering talent to compete with Google in this area.
  • Lyft – partnering with various companies – no real internal program
  • Daimler-Mercedes, Fiat, Honda, Toyota, BMW and many others – all have testing permits for autonomous vehicles in California.

In all likelihood, both Uber and Lyft will wind up incorporating self-driving cars from Waymo, Ford or GM into their platforms. As it turns out, developing true self-driving vehicles is incredibly difficult, and frankly, beyond the scope of Uber and Lyft’s capabilities. Put another way, Google has unlimited funds, the best self-driving engineering talent in the world, and has been working in the field for six years, and they’re just getting to the point where they can safely put a lot of their self-driving cars on the road. As you can see, the on demand economy is a complicated and crowded arena with a lot of moving parts.

It’ll be interesting to see what everything looks like in 2023.