Lyft raises scooter prices to $0.26 per minute, joining Bird, Lime and Jump

The days of $0.15 per minute scooter rides are officially over. Lyft announced Thursday that it raised prices from $0.15 to $0.26 per minute. The price …

The days of $0.15 per minute scooter rides are officially over.

Lyft announced Thursday that it raised prices from $0.15 to $0.26 per minute. The price hike comes several months after the other three micromobility companies authorized to operate in Santa Monica — Bird, Lime and Jump, which is owned by Uber — raised prices on scooters and bikes.

Lyft’s prices are now aligned with Bird and Jump scooters, while Lime scooters cost $0.23 and Jump bikes cost $0.30. All devices cost $1 to unlock.

Every company said it raised prices to maintain financial and operational stability.

“We’re committed to ensuring scooters are accessible and affordable for all riders in Santa Monica,” said Lyft spokesperson Alex Rafter. “Increasing prices will allow us to improve operations and make sure scooters are available throughout the city.”

Rafter added that Lyft offers a $5 per month pass for low-income residents. Jump also operates a similar program.

The four companies operate in Santa Monica under a pilot program with the city of Santa Monica that began last September and will end in January. When the pilot program launched, Bird, Lime and Lyft scooters cost $1 to unlock and $0.15 per minute, while Jump scooters and bikes were originally free to unlock and cost the same per minute. Jump later added a $1 unlock fee.

Scooters and bikes are now only slightly less expensive than Uber Pool and Lyft Shared rides, and the city’s public Breeze Bike Share program is substantially cheaper — although it has lost riders to the venture capital-funded dockless devices in the past two years. Breeze charges $0.12 per minute, $25 monthly and $99 annually.

Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus costs $1.25 per ride, only $0.25 more than the cost of unlocking a scooter or bike.

City spokesperson Constance Farrell said in July that the pilot program does not set or control pricing, but the city wants the program to be affordable and accessible.

As part of the program, each company must pay $20,000 annually, $130 per device annually, and $1 per device each day. The permitting costs are similar to what Los Angeles and other neighboring cities charge micromobility companies to use the public right-of-way.

When the pilot program launched, the four companies were allowed to deploy a combined 2,000 scooters and 1,000 bikes within city limits. In July, the city asked Bird to pull 250 scooters out of Santa Monica while allowing Lyft an additional 500 scooters and Jump 250 more bikes.

City of Santa Monica staff said Bird has generated a higher number of complaints and issues than the other three operators authorized to operate in Santa Monica, while Lyft and Jump have adhered to the regulations under the pilot program as the demand for their devices has increased.

Lyft and Jump’s larger fleets will bring the total number of scooters and bikes in Santa Monica from 2,500 to 3,000.

Lyft, which is based in San Francisco, did not launch the 500 bikes it was allowed to deploy in September and instead applied three times to increase its scooter fleet to 750 scooters.

The city rejected the requests because its ridership did not average more than four riders per scooter per day, which is the threshold the city set to approve a fleet increase.

Lyft told the city that having fewer devices than the other three companies put it at a competitive disadvantage, and the city enlarged its fleet in June when its ridership reached an average of 4.7 rides per day. City staff said the company complied with the program’s regulations, engaged with the community and proactively solved issues.

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VC Deals: SoftBank Invests $250M In Brazilian Renting

Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) Ventures joined the $37M Series B for AI-powered drug delivery startup Insilico. Qiming Venture Partners led the round.

Welcome to Seeking Alpha’s Venture Capital Deals of the Week. Follow this account and turn on the e-mail alert to receive VCDeals in your inbox on Friday afternoons.

  • SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBF,OTCPK:SFTBY) led the $250M Series D for Brazilian rental property marketplace QuintoAndar, pushing the company into unicorn territory. The startup’s marketplace lets users search, book, and advertise rental properties in the region. There’s also a credit analysis system that eliminates the need for co-signers, deposits, or rental insurance. The company projects over 2M visits scheduled in 2019 and 4,500 contracts signed per month. The funding will help expand into additional Brazilian cities, hire talent, and build out broker partners.
  • GV (GOOG,GOOGL) joined the $70M round for British cybersecurity company Snyk. Accel led and Boldstart Ventures also joined in. Snyk’s system detects security breaches and code license violations and corrects the problem. The protection is built from a data pool of vulnerabilities and covers the full cycle from code to the launched application. The company plans to use the money for hiring and marketing its products.
  • HPE (NYSE:HPE) joined the $51M Series F for Shape Security, a bot and online fraud mitigation startup that had a $1B pre-money valuation. C5 Capital led with assistance from the likes of Kleiner Perkins and Norwest Venture Partners. Shape uses AI to detect bots and quickly shuts down the attempted logins. The startup says it now protects against 2B fraudulent logins each day. The funds will fuel international expansion and product development. Shape is now gearing up to go public.
  • Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) Ventures joined the $37M Series B for AI-powered drug delivery startup Insilico. Qiming Venture Partners led the round. Insilico recently had work published in Nature Biotechnology that showed how machine learning networks could take years off traditional timelines for drug development. The money will help commercialize the technology and build out the senior management team.
  • Autonomous ride-hail company Voyage raised $31M in a round led by Franklin Templeton, which was joined by Khosla Ventures,Chevron Technology Ventures, and Jaguar Land Rover’s VC arm. Voyage differs from competitors like Waymo and Uber (NYSE:UBER) with its focus on retirement communities and is already in operation in The Villages, the retirement city with over 115K residents. The capital will help get the self-driving tech ready for commercialization, grow its team and G2 car fleet, and introduce the G3 vehicle.
  • Airbnb (AIRB) led the $20M Series B for media and experience company Atlas Obscura. A+E Networks and New Atlantic Ventures also participated. Atlas will use the money to expand its trips and local experience offerings. As part of the investment, Airbnb will include Atlas Obscura booking through its platform.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.


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JUMP pulled its bikes from a number of markets in the last few months

Though, that may soon change given the courts recently approved Lyft’s preliminary injunction to prevent other bike-share providers from deploying in …

Uber -owned JUMP pulled its bikes and scooters from a handful of markets over the last few months. The latest city affected is San Diego, where JUMP’s bikes and scooters will no longer be available as of September 19, with the exception of two naval bases in the city.

“We understand this may have a huge impact on your day-to-day commuting and we regret the fact that we can no longer provide this service to you,” JUMP wrote in an email to its San Diego customers.

The decision was in light of San Diego councilperson Barbara Bry calling for a moratorium on scooters in the city until it could figure out a fiscally responsible and thoughtful plan.

“We agree with local elected officials in San Diego who’ve said current micromobility regulations foster an unsustainable operating environment, which is why we’re ending our operations as of today,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We look forward to working with the city to develop more sensible regulations.”

Earlier this week, JUMP removed its bikes from Providence following acts of vandalism and misuse. This month, JUMP is also removing its bikes from Atlanta after operating in the city for just nine months. Its scooters, however, will remain.

“We are winding down our current JUMP e-bike operations in Atlanta,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We will continue to offer JUMP scooters and look forward to continuing conversations with city leaders on how we can work together to expand transportation options.”

That decision came after Atlanta halted its permitting process for dockless vehicles and implemented a nighttime curfew for them. Meanwhile, JUMP also pulled its bikes from Dallas and San Antonio, with no real explanation. In Staten Island, regulatory hurdles forced JUMP to remove its bikes. Since June, JUMP has pulled its bikes from at least six markets.

“Our goal is to make JUMP electric bikes and scooters a sustainable part of the transportation ecosystem,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We currently have JUMP products in over 25 cities worldwide and we make operational decisions on a case by case basis.”

It’s likely those case-by-case decisions are at least partially fueled by unit economics — looking at everything from ridership to vandalism to theft.

Meanwhile, San Francisco seems to remain a solid market for JUMP bikes. In August, JUMP hit one million rides in San Francisco since launching in January 2018 with a total fleet size of 500 bikes. Earlier this year, JUMP touted its high utilization rates in the city compared to docked bike providers. Though, that may soon change given the courts recently approved Lyft’s preliminary injunction to prevent other bike-share providers from deploying in the city.

Uber’s JUMP, of course, is not the only company facing issues with its micromobility operations. In July, Lyft had to pull its e-bikes from San Francisco following apparent battery fires. Then, in August, a Lime bike caught on fire in Seattle. On the positive side for Uber, at least there have not been any reports of its bikes or scooters catching on fire.

This is all to say micromobility is not an easy business. Between regulatory hurdles, potential vandalism and faulty batteries, there are a number of factors that can stand in the way of success.

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Uber Is Pulling Jump Bike Operations From San Diego, Atlanta

Uber is shutting down its electric bike business in two more cities amid a difficult stretch for the company that’s included two rounds of layoffs and …

Uber is shutting down its electric bike business in two more cities amid a difficult stretch for the company that’s included two rounds of layoffs and record losses.

Jump, Uber’s brand focused on electric bikes and scooters, will halt operations next week in San Diego, a warm weather city that’s been seen as a natural fit for this form of transportation. Jump bikes will also disappear from Atlanta later this week, but its scooters will remain in the city.

This summer in San Diego and Atlanta, Uber began promoting bikes and scooters on its app’s home screen, giving the car alternatives more visibility.

“Our goal is to make Jump electric bikes and scooters a sustainable part of the transportation ecosystem. We currently have Jump products in over 25 cities worldwide and we make operational decisions on a case by case basis,” Uber said in a statement.

San Diego and Atlanta are the latest examples of Uber curtailing or halting Jump operations. It also stopped offering bikes in Dallas and San Antonio this June, and two weeks ago announced it was ending its program in Staten Island, New York.Uber also temporarily removed its e-bikes from Providence, Rhode Island earlier this month, after the bikes were used in crimes. But the company said it plans to return them to streets after finding a solution.

The news comes at a difficult time for Uber. It recently announced it lost $5.2 billion in the second quarter of this year, its largest quarterly loss ever. In July, Uber laid off roughly 400 people — about a third of its global marketing staff. On Monday, the company confirmed that it cut 435 positions from its product and engineering teams.

Uber’s stock has also dropped nearly 25% since its initial public offering in May.

In April 2018, Uber bought Jump, a bikeshare startup known for its popular e-bikes. It’s since expanded in the US and overseas. Jump has also joined the electric scooter trend and offers them for rent in many cities.

Uber sees the bikes and scooters as an alternative transportation solution for short trips, noting some riders have gravitated from cars to the smaller vehicles.

Uber has followed the rest of the bike and scooter industry by raising prices and adopting a per-minute charge, making longer Jump bike rides more expensive, but very short trips more affordable.


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How the Trump administration gave Uber drivers in California a way to unionize

The struggle for gig workers’ rights took a big step forward this week when the California legislature passed a law classifying many such workers …

September 13 at 6:00 AM

The struggle for gig workers’ rights took a big step forward this week when the California legislature passed a law classifying many such workers — including Uber and Lyft drivers — as “employees.” Once it is signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), the law will grant workers in California critical protections such as minimum wage, overtime pay, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance — all of which they currently lack. Uber has vowed to fight application of the law to its drivers through litigation or repeal by referendum.

It’s a significant victory for the gig workers, and California’s move could lead other states to act, but there’s a problem. It’s that the new law fails to offer gig workers one of the most important employment rights of all: the right to form a union. As important as minimum wage and overtime pay are, they are minimum protections that fall far short of ensuring that workers earn what they need; only a union and a collective bargaining agreement enable workers to demand and secure anything beyond these minimum standards. But even more important, a substantial body of economic research confirms that basic workplace protections are adequately enforced only when there’s a union on the scene.

Researchers find that overtime pay compliance is significantly higher for union workers, for example, that wage discrimination is lower in unionized companies and that unions increase compliance with occupational safety and health laws. This last effect can be seen most dramatically in the context of workplace deaths: Recent research shows that for every percentage-point increase in unionization in a state, there is a 2.8 percent decline in occupational fatalities.

[The GOP attack on American unions could cost Democrats the 2020 election]

The reasons for this are straightforward: First, unions ensure that workers who stand up for their rights aren’t fired for doing so. Second, unions make sure that workers know what their rights are in the first place (many lack such knowledge). Third, unions can bring claims on behalf of members that are too small to be brought individually but that the union can aggregate into a single significant case. So, there is a serious risk that California’s new law will give workers paper rights but not real ones.

To prevent that outcome, California ought to enact a law that grants gig workers the right to unionize and to collectively bargain with their employers. States don’t ordinarily have the right to take that action. In general, under the National Labor Relations Act, only the federal government can extend union rights to private-sector workers. But ironically, the Trump administration created an opening for state-level action by opining in May in a case involving UberX and UberBlack drivers that those workers are not covered by the NLRA — that they don’t fall within the law’s ambit.

Uber drivers didn’t lose a case under federal labor law. Rather, the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board — the administration official charged with enforcing the NLRA — made it clear that he will not, in any instance, enforce federal labor law on behalf of gig workers. By excising gig workers from the NLRA entirely, that decision leaves room for state action. There’s a general principle that federal law in this area preempts state law, but if the gig workers aren’t covered by the NLRA, that principle doesn’t apply.

[The new economics of Labor Day]

California could even devise a better set of union rights than what the outdated federal law provides — thereby making powerful unionization a realistic possibility. The federal rules give employers too many tools for subverting workers’ preferences, while they give unions too few tools for organizing, especially among dispersed and fluid workforces (like Uber’s). Under federal law, for example, employers can require workers to make their choice about unionization in a central workplace at a single time, under the coercive eye of their employer. Federal law also allows employers to demand that workers listen to a barrage of anti-union messages while, at the same time, barring non-employee union organizers from the workplace — physically or virtually.

A state law, in contrast, could give unions a right to contact drivers through the same technology that allows Uber and Lyft to coordinate rides, while giving drivers the right to register their choices about unionization through whatever technologies are easiest for the drivers. And California could establish that collective bargaining would take place between the drivers’ unions and all the relevant firms in the sector. This kind of “sectoral bargaining” — common in Europe — also helps workers, because among other reasons, it ensures that unionized firms aren’t put at a competitive disadvantage relative to nonunionized ones, because all firms in the sector would be covered by the same wages and working conditions. This in turn reduces, if not eliminates, each firm’s incentive to union-bust, and therefore frees employees to organize the powerful unions they want and deserve.

With its new law, California has taken an important step toward improving the lives of gig workers. But now the state has the chance to go even further.

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