Best of the Week – CW 10

Mar 7, 2019

Here’s a short summary of what happened in the world of mobility, logistics & transportation this week:

Musk: The Good (SpaceX) and the Bad (Tesla)

In a key milestone, a SpaceX rocket with an unmanned crew capsule blasted off for the International Space Station. This was a long-delayed goal to resume human spaceflight from U.S. soil later this year.

Now for the bad news: Tesla revealed last week that it would not be profitable in the first quarter. The company recently launched a $35.000 version of its Model 3 sedan and also stated that it would be closing most of its stores, making its global sales online-only.

Are Autonomous Vehicles Racist?

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that the detection systems in AVs (their sensors, cameras, etc.) are better at detecting people with lighter skin tones, meaning that the technology used has a racial bias that makes autonomous vehicles more likely to drive into black people.

The theory was that unintentionally programmers are including their own biases when they create algorithms. Check out artciles on Inc. and Vox for more details and previous studies.

Uber VS Lyft

Lyft unveiled its much-anticipated IPO prospectus on March 1, 2019. The main question on everyone’s minds naturally is how the company stacks up against Uber, its main competitor.

Quartz has effectively summarised the main differences: Lyft operates only in North America, and mostly in the US. It mainly provides on-demand rides, andhas recently invested in shared bikes and scooters. Uber, on the other hand, has a large food delivery business (Uber Eats), a trucking business, similar investments in shared bikes and scooters, and is reportedly exploring on-demand staffing. Uber is also available in 60 countries and over 400 cities worldwide.

Via Quartz. Check out the article for more great graphics that explain Uber vs Lyft.

More Uber/Lyft News: Drivers to get Stock in IPOs

More on Uber and Lyft. As both are teasing an IPO, it has now emerged that both are planning to give some drivers money to buy stock in their initial public offerings.

The WSJ reports that Lyft and Uber will both offer some of their drivers cash to bonuses to buy stock in their upcoming IPOs. Lyft’s program will impact a minority of its drivers, who will get cash that they can either keep or buy shares with at the IPO listing price, according to the report. Uber’s program will likely reach the majority of its 3 million drivers.

Investments of the Week: Jupiter, Grab, FlixBus, VOI, Ubitricity 

Let’s start off with a somewhat different investment: With the increase of natural disasters, cities and the businesses are becoming increasingly aware of needing to understand how climate change will affect them. That’s where Jupiter Intelligence comes in. The US company has made a business selling data from satellite imagery and advanced computer models to cities like New York and Miami, along with the Federal government and big insurance and real estate customers.

Although no amount has been disclosed, FlixBus announced that it is entering a deal to acquire Eurolines, a competing service currently owned by Transdev, a European public transport giant.

The SoftBank Vision Fund has invested in Grab, with an impressive $1.46B (that’s billion, not million). The Southeast Asian ridesharing company said the new money will be used to further its super app strategy, which is aimed at making its service a daily app for consumers, but it is also likely to be used to battle rival Go-Jek.

On to scooter news: Founded in 2018, the Stockholm-based e-scooter startup VOI has already expanded into 14 cities, including Paris, Madrid, and Lisbon. After raising a €44 million Series A round last November, VOI has raised another €26 million to accelerate its expansion. The funding came from existing investors Vostok New Ventures, Balderton Capital, LocalGlobe and Raine Ventures, alongside new investors Project A and Creandum, and a host of business angels.

The Berlin-based streetlamp charging startup Ubitricity has received €20M, a funding round in which Honda participated.

Bonus: Bail for Nissan’s Ex-Boss Ghosn

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn has been allowed bail and is now out of prison in Japan. A Tokyo court made the surprise decision to allow his release this week Tuesday, setting bail at 1bn yen (£6.8m; $8.9m). Mr Ghosn has been charged with financial misconduct and aggravated breach of trust, but denies wrongdoing.

Image Source: SpaceX