This week, D.C. demands real-time trip data, scooter services grind to a halt, and a major micromobility OEM in China is back online, but first…
Welcome to the Micromobility Newsletter, a weekly missive about mobility, mostly mobility in cities by small vehicles like bikes and scooters. The reason you’re reading this email is that you signed up on our website or came to one of our events.
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Introducing the Micromobility Growth Toolkit. Over the next few weeks Founder Shield will be releasing some indoor reading and unique resources with a focus on future expansion.
Though we may be hunkered down now, current conditions will not thwart the future of mobility. Founder Shield is taking the time to help you develop strategies for growth, understand the risk landscape, and prepare useful tools for when this situation subsides.
Blog: Urbe Semper Vincit
By Horace Dediu
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” It’s a comforting idea—that we can respond to stresses, threats, or sources of harm by becoming stronger. This is not only in contrast to the idea that we weaken with harm but also in opposition to the idea that we “bounce back” from harm. It says that we are not merely the same but we become better when harmed.
This idea was formalized in N. N. Taleb’s now famous “Antifragility” property of systems. That is, an antifragile system, when stressed, is not only resilient (recovers from failure) or robust (resists failure) but, paradoxically, prospers after failure.
It may sound like a rare phenomenon but it’s evident in each of us. Our bones, muscles, lungs, and heart, if stressed through exercise, not only repair themselves but get stronger in doing so. Moreover, through persistence and repetition our brains get stronger. This is how we learn, memorize, and develop skills. We call it education or exercise or homework or gaining immunity. This ability is in all of us. It is plain to see but it is not automatic. It is not easy to do. It is not the default path. We need to force it on ourselves. It hurts to stress muscle, to study and to repeat and repeat and repeat. It costs energy, time, and opportunity, but at the end, the bitter end, the result is strength.
So this idea of antifragility got me thinking about many successful systems, even companies. Those which are robust may endure one shock but may waver after more than one and will certainly succumb to many. Those which are resilient may recover a few times but weaken slightly each time. What is really extraordinary is a system or a company that gets stronger every time it’s challenged. A company that suffers no challenges (i.e. a monopoly,) seems strong at first glance. It has nothing to fear. But when suddenly faced with a threat, especially an asymmetric one, it crumbles. A company that builds up its defenses to parry every challenge becomes rigid and can fail when faced with an agile opponent. History is filled with examples of “strong" companies failing.
The bigger they are, it seems, the bigger the fall.
However there are exceptions. And I’d like to draw attention to a major one. A construct we experience every day: the city. Cities are so big and pervasive that we take them for granted. We are living in a society of cities. They are our civilization. (The word civilization itself comes from the Latin “civitas,” which refers to a city as a body of citizens). Urbanism is modernism.
Triple M: How Coronavirus Could Alter the Future of Cities
Stuck inside? We sympathize.
To help keep you informed and connected during this time of social distancing, we are making 30-day trials of Triple M free for everyone to try.
Being a member of Triple M comes with many benefits, including access to our regular video conference calls in which famed disruptive innovation analyst Horace Dediu and other top executives in the field present unique insights and answer live questions about the future of mobility and urbanism.
The next edition of the Triple M call, “How Coronavirus Could Alter the Future of Cities,” is coming up on tomorrow, March 25 at 9AM PST, on Zoom.
In it, Horace will look at what happens to cities and transportation systems when people aren’t leaving the house for weeks or months on end, and how micromobility is utilized during a pandemic.
Sign up for your trial of Triple M below to receive the participant info.
Podcast: Getting to a Better Place with Mobility
Electric cars → autonomous cars → micromobility
On a new episode of the podcast, veteran transportation VC Michael Granoff of Maniv Mobility recounts the mental transformation that he and a lot of other smart people went through in the last decade.
Don’t forget, for one more week, tickets to Micromobility America are $300 off the General Admission price.
Book now, save a bunch, then join us in the Bay Area on July 16-17 for two unmissable days of talks, networking, test rides, and more.
When this deal is gone, it’s gone.
What You Need to Know This Week
Leading off, Lime may only have 12 weeks left before it runs out of money, according a source within the company. Documents show that, over the course of three days in mid-March when many cities were shutting down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the scooter giant’s revenue and ridership plunged by two-thirds. Lime felt the impact acutely in its biggest market, Paris, where trips crashed by 98%. The company is rumored to be looking at laying off 50 to 70 people, mostly at its San Francisco HQ. | Bloomberg
To stay afloat as ridership collapses, many shared micromobility providers are limiting service.
Lime is “winding down or pausing” in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It will continue to operate in a handful of cities in the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, and New Zealand.
Bird is temporarily shutting down in all of Europe as well as San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, Portland, Miami, and Coral Gables in the U.S.
Voi hit pause in all but nine cities: Copenhagen, Helsinki, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Oslo, Berlin, Hamburg, Nuremberg, and Munich.
Jump paused operations in Sacramento, one of its biggest markets.
Wheels suspended service until the end of March.
Tier is keeping a reduced fleet active in Germany, Sweden, Norway, and Finland, while removing scooters in Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, and the UAE.
Spin, by contrast, is embracing its role as an “essential service” for people who cannot quarantine and do not feel safe taking mass transit. The Ford-owned company is stepping up its scooter disinfectant procedure and continuing to operate as normal in many places in the U.S.
Washington, D.C. wants to force shared mobility services to provide customer trip data at a level of unprecedented granularity. According to a letter sent by the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology to the city’s transit chief, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is not only demanding that scooter and bike companies report real-time trip data through MDS, it also wants to know route information within two hours of a trip’s completion. Even Los Angeles waits 24 hours before requiring companies to publish this highly sensitive information. The privacy and security concerns are overwhelming, and at the height of a global pandemic, there is great risk they will not receive sufficient public scrutiny. | Center for Democracy and Technology
Indian micromobility players Vogo and Bounce have let go off 15% and 20% of their staffs, respectively. For Vogo, the layoffs drew mostly from the product and hardware teams; at Bounce, customer support and “New Initiatives,” a division that had been developing car-pooling and bike taxi services, were hit hardest. While the timing coincides with the coronavirus’s arrival in India, it is worth noting that Bounce has been trimming costs since January. | Entrackr
With the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYC’s council speaker is calling for street closures to allow pedestrians and cyclists to space out more. Mayor Bill de Blasio is dragging his feet. | Streetsblog
Segway says its production in China is back up to full capacity following the emergence of the coronavirus. | Morning Consult
Uber’s ride-hail volume is down by as much as 70% in key U.S. cities. | TechCrunch
Following the lead of Bogota last week, NYC is adding temporary protected bike lanes to two busy corridors in Brooklyn and Manhattan to account for the surge in cycling due to coronavirus. | Streetsblog
Similarly, Philadelphia closed Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to cars on Friday to open up more space for cyclists, pedestrians, and other socially distanced travelers. | Bicycle Coalition
Finally, Mexico City is creating an emergency bike lane network to promote social distancing in transportation. | Queen Anne Greenways
Like many cities, ridership for Chicago’s Divvy bike-share system is up since the coronavirus outbreak started. Last week there were 26% more rentals than there were during the same period last year. | Streetsblog
Miami-based Bolt is offering scooters to help organizations deliver essential goods, like food and medicine, during the public health crisis. | Bolt
Many micromobility services are pivoting from shared to personal rental models to help keep customers safe during the pandemic, including France-based Pony (with weekly or monthly options) and India-based Yulu (with daily rentals).
Traffic and air pollution are plummeting in the U.S. as millions shelter in place. | NYT
New York bike shops, which have been deemed “essential” businesses that can remain open during the state’s shelter-in-place ordinance to serve commuters and delivery workers, reported sales are twice as high as usual for this time in March. | Gothamist
Uber and Ola are restricting ride-share in many Indian cities. | TechCrunch
Andrew Hawkins writes that cities should use the coronavirus crisis to snatch space away from cars and remake streets in favor of pedestrians, cyclists, and other vulnerable road users. He’s right. | The Verge
Jobs to Be Done
Welcome to our jobs board. Every week we post new career openings in hopes of connecting our smart and talented readers with exciting professional opportunities in the world of new mobility.
Find out who’s hiring below and sign up for the newsletter to see more listings every week.
Business Development Manager at Wunder Mobility in Hamburg
Chief of Staff at Spin in San Francisco
Digital Performance Marketing Manager at Niu in Beijing
Sales Manager at Bond in Helsinki
Various roles at Ride Report in Portland
If your company is looking to make its next hire, and you want to reach thousands of qualified candidates who live and breathe mobility, you should list with us.
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