11 votes

Uber loses $2.9 billion in Q1 2020, offloads bike and scooter business

6 comments

  1. joplin
    Link
    I'm thrilled to hear this! I hope the other scooter companies go under, too. I'm all for the business model of supplying vetted riders with (safe) scooters that are docked at a place that the...

    I'm thrilled to hear this! I hope the other scooter companies go under, too. I'm all for the business model of supplying vetted riders with (safe) scooters that are docked at a place that the company renting them pays for. But that's not how they currently work. These things litter the sidewalks here and make them impassible for people in wheelchairs (like my spouse), and I constantly trip over them. They get bumped and start screeching. And that doesn't even get into the customers of these companies that don't follow the local laws and do stupid shit that hurst the community with them, and the total lack of safety inherent in their design.

    As a counter example, Hulu set up rental bikes around town. They have Hulu-branded stands on many major street corners. You get a bike from one of them, ride it to your destination, and drop it off at another one. Their bikes don't litter the streets and sidewalks and have caused no major issues that I've heard about. Had the scooter companies followed this model, they would have been much better received.

    3 votes
  2. [5]
    culturedleftfoot
    Link
    I'm commenting without reading the article because it isn't loading for me for some reason, but I've been looking at all these intra-city scooter and bike options for the past few months and...

    I'm commenting without reading the article because it isn't loading for me for some reason, but I've been looking at all these intra-city scooter and bike options for the past few months and wondering how they could all possibly be making money. I imagine margins are pretty thin with all the competition and would only be feasible if you can manage market dominance, and on top of that, my immediate impression when I saw Uber's versions were that they look like they must cost more to make than the others... so I guess this isn't exactly surprising news.

    1. [3]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      What I'm surprised at is there isn't more short-term rental cars, like those scooters and bikes. Here in the Bay Area, we actually have them, they're called Gig Cars, and surprisingly enough...

      What I'm surprised at is there isn't more short-term rental cars, like those scooters and bikes.

      Here in the Bay Area, we actually have them, they're called Gig Cars, and surprisingly enough they're not run by a VC backed startup. Rather, it's the AAA of California. Actually run by a not-for-profit company, so I guess it genuinely doesn't need to make money, just break even.

      Bizarre, but regardless they're actually super useful, and make not owning a car honestly pretty practical. I recently used one to move some stuff and it came out just $15 after an hour of on-off driving.

      Many times when you Uber/Lyft, it's not really the driving you want, it's the car that you can use temporarily.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        Deimos
        Link Parent
        There are definitely VC-backed car-sharing companies there too. I remember seeing a lot of Zipcars when I was in SF, and there were several other companies too (not sure if they're all still...

        There are definitely VC-backed car-sharing companies there too. I remember seeing a lot of Zipcars when I was in SF, and there were several other companies too (not sure if they're all still around).

        Here in Calgary, we had car2go for quite a while, but they decided to shut down here and in a bunch of other cities around the end of 2019. These businesses don't generally seem to be viable, and there's often multiple of them fighting over the same market.

        2 votes
        1. stu2b50
          Link Parent
          I think that's why the AAA led services are probably going to be the ones that survive. They don't need to make a profit, just break even. Their parent org doesn't pay taxes, because their...

          I think that's why the AAA led services are probably going to be the ones that survive. They don't need to make a profit, just break even. Their parent org doesn't pay taxes, because their not-for-profit. Because they're really intended to be a public service, cities usually cut them break-even deals for parking.

          That all shifts the financial model hopefully to a point where it's sustainable, at least for urban areas. I don't think they're viable in rural areas, but they're also not needed.

          3 votes
    2. emdash
      Link Parent
      I really do want bikes, scooters, and all forms of "last mile rideables" to succeed—because there's really no good reason for cars or heavy automotive vehicles to be in city centres. They pollute,...

      I really do want bikes, scooters, and all forms of "last mile rideables" to succeed—because there's really no good reason for cars or heavy automotive vehicles to be in city centres. They pollute, they're noisy, they cause health problems, and they require enormous amounts of space both in terms of parking and roading. The whole idea is just ludicrous. Cars make sense as "inter-city" and "across-city" transport solutions. But if you're going down to a local restaurant, rideables should just be the 'default' option—cars shouldn't even be allowed in most city centres.

      The problem is venture capitalists currently own the rideable model, and that doesn't seem right to me—they need to approached more as a common good/service, but also an interoperable standard, you shouldn't need to download each city's app to use their own implementation. The other problem is that cities aren't designed for them—this often gets scapegoated as "people abuse rideables by parking them in bad places", usually, it's not the people's fault, it's fundamentally an urban design problem. There's no space demarcated for parked rideables, because roads and parking take up space that should be for bikes, scooters, and pedestrians.

      The last 5 years has seen these silicon valley companies trying to wedge 21st century city functionality into 19th or 20th century city design, and it just causes strife.

      4 votes