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Hello and welcome back to the station. Memorial day is next Monday, a holiday in honor of military personnel who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Over the years, it has evolved for many Americans who use the three-day weekend to light the grill, camp, go to the beach, local amusement park, or go on a trip. It is the unofficial start of the summer season – although we still have more than three spring weeks.
Every year at this time, AAA provides an estimate of weekend travel. For the first time in 20 years, AAA announced that no Memorial Day travel forecast would be released because the accuracy of the economic data used to make the forecast was undermined by COVID-19.
The travel forecast often reflects the economic situation or at least certain aspects. For example, Memorial Day 2009 holds the record for the lowest travel volume with almost 31 million travelers. Last year, 43 million Americans traveled to Memorial Day Weekend, the second largest travel volume since 2000, when the organization started tracking this data.
I will put on my forecaster hat for a moment, knowing that I may be wrong (I am sure you will remind me later). I expect this weekend to be a little travel vacation, but I expect this summer to mark the return of the road trip. And that's not just my forecast for the United States. I expect Europeans to stay closer to home and choose long-haul flights for road and possibly train travel for their summer vacation. This has all kinds of positive and negative effects. And that's why I'm going to spend some time in the coming weeks driving a variety of new SUV models looking for road trip vehicles.
Last week I drove the 2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport V6 SEL (premium equipment), a smaller and more accessible version of the massive three-row Atlas. I'll share some thoughts about it next week. After that I will drive the standard equipment of the Land Cruiser 2020. Do you have a vehicle proposal? Get hold of it and I'll try to put it in my queue.
Contact me and send me an email at email@example.com to exchange thoughts, criticism, opinions or tips. You can also send me a direct message on Twitter – @kirstenkorosec.
Should we focus on that? Vamos.
Micromobility had some good action this week, so let's dive in. Here in San Francisco, Bird’s Scoot reinstalled 300 electric scooters. Until the Memorial Day weekend, 500 electric scooters are available in Scoot. In addition, Scoot has expanded its scooter service area to serve other parts of San Francisco.
Over there in Atlanta, GoX and Tortoise have teamed up to use teleoperated electric scooters. At Peachtree Corners, GoX riders can call a scooter equipped with Tortoise technology. As Keaks, also known as Kirsten Korosec, explained earlier this week, drivers can ask a scooter to come to them. As soon as they are finished, the scooter drives itself back to a parking lot.
In Europe, Tier brought integrated helmets to his electric scooters. The foldable helmets fit in a box that is attached to the scooter below the handlebar. Tier plans to deploy 200 helmeted scooters in Paris and Berlin this month. During the summer, Tier will use another 5,000 scooters equipped with helmets. Given concerns about COVID-19, Tier is also experimenting with Protexus antibacterial, self-disinfecting handlebar technology. Tier tests this handlebar in Paris and Bordeaux.
Don't miss my analysis of why micromobility is getting stronger again after the pandemic.
– Megan Rose Dickey
offer of the week
Vroom, the online used car market that has raised around $ 700 million since 2013, announced an IPO this week. (Yes, IPOs are considered deals in my book). It is planned to trade with Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter on Nasdaq under VRM.
Vroom is an interesting company that I've been writing about for years. And there were times when I wondered if it would work overall. However, the company continued to collect donations, most recently $ 254 million in December 2019 in a Series H round where the company was valued at around $ 1.5 billion.
A look at the S-1 shows modest growth, rising losses and low gross margins. Corner!
Here's a quick breakdown:
- Vroom sales increased 39.3% in 2019 compared to 2018. During the same period, the gross margin decreased from 7.1% to 4.9%. The company's net loss as a percentage of sales increased from 10% in 2018 to 12% in 2019. (This does not include the cost of “acquiring redeemable convertible preference shares.” Counting non-cash costs adds $ 13 million on Vroom's 2018 net loss and $ 132.8 million in 2019.)
- In the first quarter of 2020, Vroom had sales of $ 375.8 million, resulting in gross profit of $ 18.4 million, or approximately 4.9% of sales. In addition, the company reported a net loss of $ 41.1 million in the first quarter, resulting in more money being lost in 2020 than in 2019.
theinformationsuperhighway's Alex Wilhelm takes a look under the hood of Vroom and examines why the company is entering the public market during this volatile period. Listen.
Missfresh, a Chinese food company supported by Tencent, is providing new funds of $ 500 million.
Autonomous start of aviation Xwing A $ 10 million funding round was completed prior to the COVID-19 success. Now the San Francisco-based startup is using the capital to hire talent and scale the development of its software stack, as it is scheduled to be commercialized later this year – subject to FAA approvals. The Series A financing round was led by R7 Partners with the participation of VC Alven, Eniac Ventures and Thales Corporate Ventures at an early stage.
Now fly pay later, a London-based fintech startup focused on travel, raised £ 5 million in Series A equity and another £ 30 million in debt financing.
French startup Angell has entered into an extensive partnership with SEB, the French industrial company behind All-Clad, Krups, Moulinex, Rowenta, Tefal and others. Under the agreement, SEB Angells will manufacture electric bicycles in a factory near Dijon, France. The SEB Alliance, SEB's arm, also invests in Angell. The terms of the contract are not known, but Angell plans to raise between $ 7.6 million and $ 21.7 million with a group of investors, including SEB.
Layoffs, breakdowns and people
hertz filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, a step we have been anticipating for some time. Bankruptcy protection results from the COVID 19 pandemic.
After business trips and other trips were stopped, Hertz suddenly sat on an unused property – lots and lots of cars. It wasn't just that the sales spigot was off. The used car prices have dropped and further devalued the fleet.
The company said it had more than $ 1 billion in cash to keep the business going during the bankruptcy process. Hertz also said that its major international operating regions, including Europe, Australia and New Zealand, are not included in the U.S. Chapter 11 process, nor are franchise locations.
Indian hail fighting company Ola Revenue has dropped 95% in the past two months when India pushed through a home stay regulation for its 1.3 billion citizens in late March. You can guess what happened as a result. Ola's co-founder and CEO, Bhavish Aggarwal, said in an internal email that the company is shedding 1,400 jobs in India, or 35% of its workforce in the home market.
India's best food delivery startup Swiggy cuts 1,100 jobs and reduces some neighboring companies to reduce the cost of surviving the coronavirus pandemic.
Here is something about the "new" job front …
A lot of attention has been paid to autonomous delivery robots. These companies are sure to have difficulty getting profitable. On-demand delivery is a delicate business. But COVID-19 could have accidentally expanded the labor pool for these companies.
On-demand delivery startup Postmates saw an increase in demand for autonomous delivery robots called Serve, which operate in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The company uses teleoperators, people who remotely monitor and control the autonomous robots. COVID-19 prompted Postmates to set up teleoperation centers in each employee's home. Postmates sees the potential to reach a new group of workers.
Turtle, which we have already mentioned in Micromobbin, sees the same potential, according to its founder and CEO Dmitry Shevelenko.
A little bird
We hear (and see) things. But we are not selfish. We share!
For those who are not familiar with "a little bird", this is a periodic section in which verified insider tips are published. This week comes from the hyped world of on-demand delivery. It is a business that may be in high demand. However, demand does not always match profitability.
Take postmates, for example. The company has raised approximately $ 900 million to date, including a $ 225 million round announced in October in which the company was valued at approximately $ 2.5 billion. But now it seems that, according to our sources, common stock is trading at a 45% discount on the secondary market.
Early investors take money off the table from time to time. But it can also indicate other problems that are worth paying attention to. Postmates submitted confidential IPO records in February 2019, but these plans have been delayed. The company is also fighting for market share against giants like Doordash. An Uber-Grubhub fusion would even express it with DoorDash.
This leaves Postmates in a distant fourth place. Dan Primack of Axios noted that "multiple sources" have told him that the company plans to raise approximately $ 100 million in new private funding.
Other notable parts
Here are a few other things that I noticed…
Amazon joins the Indian online grocery delivery market just as local top players Swiggy and Zomato are reducing their workforce to cope with the coronavirus pandemic and months after Uber Eats left the country.
GM A "large team" is working on an advanced version of its Super Cruise hands-free driver assistance system that will expand its capabilities beyond highways and apply to city streets, said Doug Parks, vice president of global product development for the automaker's webcast interview at Citi 2020 Car of the Future Symposium.
cake, tThe Stockholm-based mobility startup unveiled the Kalk OR, a 150-pound, battery-powered two-wheeler designed for agile off-road driving and available in a street-legal version.
Nauto has introduced a new feature in its driver behavior learning platform that can detect upcoming collisions to reduce rear-end accidents. Driver behavior data, vehicle movements, traffic elements and context data are recorded in order to predict and prevent collisions.
Organizer of the New York International Auto Show, hoping to hold the rescheduled event in August, have decided to scrap it all year round. The show was officially canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic for 2020, the organizers said on Friday. The next show will take place from April 2nd to 11th, 2021. The press days are March 31 and April 1.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company would raise the price of its "Full Self-Driving" package of its autopilot driver assistance package by around $ 1,000 on July 1. This has already happened and, as I promise, will happen again. The Verge has a good breakdown of why. The financial reasons are of course important to me. At the moment, Tesla can only count about half of the revenue it gets from FSD. The other half is accrued income – money that Tesla can later show on its balance sheet.
Miracle mobilityThe Hamburg-based startup, which offers a range of mobility services, from carpooling to the rental of electric scooters, announced the launch of Wunder Vehicles and a business-to-business partnership with the Chinese EV manufacturer Yadea. Wunder Vehicles is a service that offers customers a kind of toolkit to set up a fleet sharing company. The company offers software, a marketing plan, data, financing options and the electric vehicles that will come from Yadea.
Rad power bikes unveiled the latest version of its electric cargo bike. The RadWagon 4 has been redesigned from scratch. Trucks VC's Reilly Brennan recently described this on Twitter as a possible F-150 of micromobility. We hope to test it soon.