February 1, 2020
A common theme across much of Homebrew’s portfolio is the power of data in helping to introduce intelligence and efficiency to major industries. But one of the growing challenges associated with data is maintaining privacy and security, especially when that data lives in both unstructured forms and in the cloud. That’s why we were excited to partner with Concentric when we co-led their seed round. The company just launched publicly and shared its vision for AI-driven software that does the hard work of automatically identifying sensitive enterprise data and protecting it against misuse. We’re so excited to join the Concentric team on its mission to tackle the largest data challenge of our time.
WHO: Karthik Krishnan, Shankar Subramaniam and Madhu Shashanka are long time security executives, previously having helped build and sell Niara to HPE/Aruba. Their experience in the industry helped them identify a new problem facing companies that are dealing with an ever-growing volume of data. Not only is more and more sensitive data living in unstructured formats, but it is increasingly moving to the cloud, making traditional approaches to data protection ineffective. They started Concentric with the goal of leveraging AI and deep learning to automate data protection regardless of what form data takes or where it resides. By doing so, they hope to make the use of data safer for both companies and consumers.
WHAT: Concentric has built a software-as-a-service suite that uses AI and deep learning to develop a semantic understanding of all of a customer’s data. It then uses that understanding to to shield sensitive business and user information, including in contracts, financial documents, payroll, merger and acquisition plans, product road maps, and source code, while also meeting security, compliance, and privacy requirements.
HOW: Concentric’s product uses powerful deep learning technology to autonomously develop an unparalleled semantic understanding of each document to deliver the industry’s most complete, detailed and accurate risk-oriented view into business-critical information. When the solution finds at-risk files, Concentric’s native remediation capabilities proactively and automatically remediate the document’s risk factors to protect them effectively and efficiently. Legacy systems don’t work autonomously, can’t derive meaning from unstructured data and struggle with data in the cloud.
WHY: Data is the new oil, fueling every industry and making it possible to deliver more effective, less costly and more accessible customer solutions. But without protecting that data against misuse, the very same people who benefit from data are also endangered but it. Concentric is focused on solving the data protection problem so that data can be used safely in every industry regardless of what form that data takes or where it is stored.
Concentric is based in Sunnyvale, CA and is hiring through the Bay Area and in its Bengaluru, India office. If you’re looking for an incredible technical challenge, a special team and culture and the opportunity to have an impact on every industry and individual, take a look at the company’s open roles.
February 1, 2020
The progress in software development toolsets over the past decade has been stunning. Microservices, continuous deployment environments, Git, new IDEs and so on. Now it’s build systems’ time. And Toolchain is here with the first truly cloud-centric build environment.
Who: Toolchain is being built by a spectacular team of brilliant engineers led by Benjy Weinberger and John Sirois. We’ve known Benjy for years across his leadership positions at Google, Twitter and Foursquare. In him we see a CEO who doesn’t just care about his product and his business but his team and culture. John’s history of contributions also spans Google, VMware and Twitter, as well as the open source community, bringing with him an appreciation of the humans behind the software that’s evident in his ongoing mentorship of less experienced engineers.
What: A modern build system for engineering teams! What does this span? Well, as outlined in Toolchain’s Hello World blog post:
The process of transforming the code you write into software that runs correctly involves iterating over many linked steps, such as resolving dependencies, generating code, compiling, type checking, testing, finding errors, bundling, and more.
These processes form the build. The tools that perform them are build systems.
Why: Because build tools have not kept up with the trends in modern software. New programming languages and frameworks, containerization, microservices, the growth of open-source software, and the democratization of software development all have contributed to making current build systems flaky, slow and unreliable.
January 22, 2020
The unifying thread across many of the startups we back at Homebrew is that data transparency, aggregation and analysis are driving change in every industry. When we initially invested in Outlier, the thesis was that organizations would be overwhelmed by all of this data becoming available and thus, unable to make sense of it all in an efficient or timely manner. That’s why we were so excited for Outlier’s creation of automated business analysis.
Since then, Sean Byrnes, Mike Kim and team have gone on to create an entirely new category of software that is being embraced by customers throughout the Fortune 500 such as Capital One and Celebrity Cruises. That clear market pull, combined with a stellar team and a one-of-a-kind product, caused our friends at Emergence Capital to jump at the opportunity to lead Outlier’s next financing. Today, the company announces its $22.1 million Series B financing.
Outlier’s AI-powered platform is deployed in minutes and automatically starts generating key insights about important changes in the business and what may have caused them. It goes well beyond dashboard visualizations, data aggregation and reporting by uncovering relevant insights buried deep in volumes of data without requiring customers to generate hypotheses or know in advance what questions to ask. We’re excited to continue our partnership with Outlier and are looking forward to the evolution in business intelligence it has triggered.
If Outlier’s mission and technology intrigues you, they’re hiring.
January 21, 2020
When we started Homebrew in early 2013, we believed that software was going to enable and democratize access to a next generation of financial services products. But you know what an investor’s “beliefs” are worth? Zero. Unless that investor is fortunate enough to find entrepreneurs who are generating the actual insights, coding the actual products and building the actual team. Thankfully, we got introduced to Plaid cofounders Will Hockey and Zach Perret early on. We squeezed into their seed round and wrote this post. Now six and a half years later, Zach got to write this post. We're thrilled for the Plaid team and have no doubt they're going to continue to have a huge impact on the industry as part of Visa.
December 12, 2019
When we’re considering a new investment, one question we ask ourselves is “do we want to get up every morning and put sweat and reputation behind this team?” because that’s really what we’re committing to do. The capital part of the investment occurs quickly; the relationship portion is built over time. Shortly after meeting the Arthur.ai team we knew our answer (yes!), and now that they’ve announced their company, we’re happy to provide the details which got us to commit.
WHO: Founding DNA matters - you can add skillsets, you can add perspectives, but for quite a while, a startup *is* its founders. And Arthur.ai’s founding team is exactly what we believe is required for their mission to enable Trusted AI. A mix of high quality operational experience, academic grounding and community activism. CEO Adam Wenchel, lays it out pretty clearly in his Hello World blog post:
“Our founding team includes: Liz O’Sullivan, a noted responsible AI advocate with significant industry experience leading commercial adoption of computer vision and NLP; Dr. John Dickerson, a machine learning faculty member at the University of Maryland who completed his PhD studies at Carnegie Mellon and whose work has been funded by Google, Facebook, and DARPA; and Priscilla Alexander who worked with me at Capital One leading the development and deployment of their highest leverage AI projects.”
Combined with Adam’s serial entrepreneurship and experience leading large scale teams within Capital One, it hasn’t surprised us that Arthur.ai has very quickly built a strong technical team in NYC.
WHAT: Trusted AI. That’s Arthur.ai’s promise. What is Trusted AI? It’s AI that’s explainable. That can be easily monitored and measured against test performance. That doesn’t need to be babysat by expensive engineering talent. With Trusted AI, companies can understand their algorithms in order to minimize operational, performance and legal risk.
HOW: That’s the secret sauce here isn’t it? The Arthur.ai team is live with early customers in a variety of industry segments and finding particular interest from financial and health care companies. If you want to speak with them they’re easy to reach.
WHY: At Homebrew we believe that for every company to benefit from new software capabilities, they’ll need to be complemented by infrastructure. We believe Trusted AI is already a business imperative when work is algorithm-driven and potentially a regulatory imperative in the future, when companies might be held liable for algorithm bias or failure.
December 12, 2019
“Debit cards, not credit cards, are the dominant mass market choice for American consumers.” Today this seems like a ‘water is wet’ statement, but when we wrote that line in 2014, “challenger banks” were still a novel concept. Chime, which we funded a year earlier in 2013, always had a focus on the mainstream consumer. From test marketing in cities like Sacramento and Kansas City, to focusing on basics like no fee banking, the startup built a foundation for a durable, large-scale business.
Fast forward to 2019, Chime has surpassed 6.5 million accounts and recently closed a Series E financing to continue building out its banking platform. While Chime is still competing against incumbents worth hundreds of billions of dollars, the gap is closing quickly ;-) (and Chime already leads when it comes to consumer sentiment metrics such as NPS!). We’re thrilled with what the team at Chime is building and the impact that they are having on the financial lives of millions.
Join the Chime team because they’re hiring!
December 1, 2019
Year-round, pesticide-free, indoor growing using 95% less water than traditional farming and with 100x more yield per foot. That’s Bowery Farming. It’s been an absolute pleasure to support this team since their seed round and now into their additional $50m financing announced earlier this month. The investment comes alongside Bowery’s opening of its largest facility to date in the Baltimore-DC area. This Mid-Atlantic farm is 3.5 times the size of earlier setups, as their FarmOS software + hardware platform continues to scale.
Bowery is a company with tremendous prospects at a global scale. THEY’RE HIRING across many functions in New York City, New Jersey and Baltimore.
December 1, 2019
From the outset, Homebrew has been focused on the idea that as technology becomes cheaper, more flexible and more accessible, it acts as a democratizing force. The impact of this trend has been felt most acutely in traditional industries that historically haven't benefited from technology. Real estate is certainly one of those industries. In the past 5-7 years the real estate industry in the US has arguably experienced more change than it had undergone in the several decades prior. We've made several investments in support of democratizing access to real estate in the US, and we recently made our first international investment with similar goals.
Habi, based in Bogota, Colombia, recently announced its $5.5 million seed round co-led by Homebrew, Tiger Global and Zigg Capital. The company is simplifying the process of buying and selling residential real estate for middle-class consumers in the complex, $10 trillion Latin American real estate market. This market does not have an MLS or standardized set of housing data. So Habi builds proprietary datasets and pricing algorithms to make it safer and faster to buy, improve and sell properties. We were blown away by the vision that Brynne McNulty Rojas and Sebastian Noguera have for Habi and are thrilled to be partners in their journey to revamp the Latin American real estate market.
December 1, 2019
Software may be *eating* the world, but it’s also enabling small and medium-sized businesses to be closer to their customers. Weave recently announced a $70m Series D from new investor Tiger Global, with continuing support from a host of earlier investors. Weave’s fast-growth, expanding from its beachhead of messaging and scheduling for service-based SMBs, to a full-suite of products including payments, customer insights and analytics was impossible to ignore.
With an estimated 29 million SMBs in the US, Salt Lake City-based Weave has lots of room to expand. Which means they’re HIRING (and have also repeatedly been named one of the best companies to work for).
November 25, 2019
We’ve approached blockchain and crypto investing with a slightly different strategy than our core Homebrew work. Whereas we we traditionally play a “lead” (or co-lead) investor role in seed rounds, in crypto we’ve preferred to make meaningful supporting commitments alongside a diverse syndicate including generalist VCs, sector-focused funds and industry angels/technologists. So far it’s worked well for us as we continue to pick and choose our spots where smart, agile teams create fundamental infrastructure that enables the widespread adoption and growth of blockchain and crypto technologies.
Bison Trails was one of these seed investments and it’s exciting to share news of their $25.5 million Series A, led by Blockchain Capital and including Kleiner Perkins, Coinbase Ventures and many more. The Bison Trails team is focused on becoming the easiest way to run secure infrastructure on multiple blockchains and were early founding members to the Libra Association. The early progress has been amazing to watch but they're definitely just getting started. And they’re definitely HIRING!
November 14, 2019
When we meet founders for the first time, one of the things that’s most important to us is the “why” behind their startup. It’s always exciting to us when that “why” stems from having experienced the pain that they are addressing firsthand and when the mission of the company is a personal one. Within the healthcare industry, where we’ve made a number of investments, many founding teams have compelling personal stories that led them down the path of starting a company to democratize access to better care, reduce costs and improve outcomes. But what stood out about the team at Noyo is that they had actually done it before within the context of another company and now wanted to tackle the same problem for the entire healthcare insurance industry.
That made it easy for us to agree to lead Noyo’s seed financing, which it is announcing today. Noyo is building infrastructure that will power the next generation of health insurance platforms. By modernizing the industry’s core infrastructure, Noyo is helping to reduce the cost of delivering health insurance and to improve the overall experience, benefiting consumers, employers, brokers and carriers. Noyo is starting by streamlining benefits enrollment, a critical process in the healthcare insurance industry. We’re thrilled to partner with the Noyo team, alongside our friends at Fika Ventures, Precursor Ventures and Core Innovation Capital, as it works to health care affordable for everyone.
WHO: Shannon Goggin and Dennis Lee helped build the integrations that Zenefits needed to programmatically communicate with its carrier partners. They saw the process, data quality and cost challenges that a benefits broker like Zenefits, and its carrier partners, faced as the business scaled. And they knew that Zenefits wasn’t alone in facing this pain. So they started Noyo with the goal of trying to move the entire industry to a next-generation insurance platform that can provide the efficiency, integrity and simplicity needed to reduce overall costs and improve the consumer experience of health care insurance.
WHAT: Noyo is a modern API platform for the health insurance industry. It provides flexible, carrier-agnostic APIs that facilitate fast, accurate, and secure data exchange between benefits platforms and insurance carriers. Instead of manual data entry, custom-coded EDI files and cumbersome legacy systems, benefits platforms and insurance carriers can get connected quickly using Noyo’s best-in-class technology designed to provide the real-time transparency consumers deserve.
HOW: Insurance infrastructure is plagued by disconnected systems and divergent data formats. No central, universal standard that keeps data in sync across all systems exists. Noyo has partnered with some of the most forward-thinking companies in the health insurance space to build a comprehensive, standardized digital platform that will power the next generation of benefits platforms and consumer shopping experiences. Insurance brokers, benefits platforms and insurance carriers are all flocking to Noyo because more accurate data exchange is a must-have for moving the industry forward.
WHY: Healthcare is changing quickly and the consumer experience for insurance is no different. Discovering, enrolling in and managing healthcare insurance is becoming less frustrating and painful. But the fundamental infrastructure of the industry needs to change if the consumer expectations for speed, simplicity and value are to be met. In addition, reducing the nearly $3.7 trillion dollars in healthcare spending can only happen if healthcare data is managed more efficiently and accurately. This is where Noyo is focused.
Noyo is based in San Francisco and Durham, NC. If you’re excited about joining a mission-driven team that is working to change the cost structure and experience of health care, check out their open positions.
October 31, 2019
Tough markets require tough founders. Winnie cofounders Sara Mauskopf and Anne Halsall embody the combination of aptitude and attitude we seek to back via Homebrew. Having had the pleasure of supporting them for the past several years (and knowing Sara for far longer), it’s no surprise that they continue to attract other amazing partners to the table, as they shared last week in announcing a $9m Series A. And yes, they’re hiring.
October 24, 2019
More than 5 years ago, Galyn and Christina came to us with an idea for an inclusive kids clothing brand that celebrated kids without covering their clothes in logos, slogans and embellishments. The white space in the market that they had identified in the market wasn’t obvious – it was their unique insight. And that insight has been proven spot on as the business has grown revenue 2-3x each year since launch. The company recently closed a $20 million Series C financing to further support its growth. Homebrew is proud to continue to support the company on its mission to help kids be comfortable in their clothes and in their own skins.
September 30, 2019
A few years back a conversation with the CEO of a fast-growing coffee chain illuminated their expansion strategy. He said something along the lines of “there are three use cases for a neighborhood: work, live, play. Anywhere that’s at least two of these three can support one of our stores.” And so when we look at Stockwell, a smart retail experience which fits into spaces where you might live (apartment buildings, dorms, hotels), work (offices, coworking spaces), or play (gyms, arenas), it’s easy to imagine a path to ubiquity.
That’s what we saw when we invested in its seed round and, as announced last week, DCM and NEA identified in leading its Series A and B, respectively. With more than $45 million in financing and over 1,000 Stockwell stores in four cities, there’s a lot to be proud of, but a lot more work to do. They’re hiring in Oakland HQ and across the Bay Area, Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago.
August 6, 2019
“We’re going for a ride, would you like to come along?” When this question is posed by the leaders of Gin Lane, a preeminent brand-building digital agency, one’s first inclination is to say “YES” and so we did. Now as supporting investors of Pattern, we can tell you a bit more about what Nick and Emmett are up to.
Pattern is a multi-brand consumer goods company owned and operated under one roof, with each of its brands working toward a shared mission: to help people find more enjoyment in daily life. The team lays out a deeper explanation in this thoughtful launch post -- you’ll see that their decision to close down Gin Lane, after helping to create over $15b worth of new brands, wasn’t because they were thinking small.
Pattern’s first brand launch will be Equal Parts, all about the joy of home cooking, and you can sign up here for more information.
August 5, 2019
We often say our investment thesis is “team, team, market.” That is, no matter how excited we are about a market opportunity, we won’t invest unless we really believe in the team. For NEAR’s Alex Skidanov and Illia Polosukhin, it was basically “team, team, team” because when we had the chance to seed fund the cofounders, the market opportunity was basically unknown.
Well, since that time it’s become more clear. Alex and Illia recently announced a $12.1 million round in support of their goal to the most developer-friendly platform for building decentralized applications. Top crypto and blockchain investors, Metastable and Accomplice, led the round with participation from Coinbase Ventures, Electric Capital, Pantera Capital, Amplify Partners, Naval Ravikant, Balajai Srinvasan and many others. With a focus on usability and scalability, the NEAR Protocol is a sharded, proof-of-stake blockchain. Access to its beta program is now open. We can’t wait to see what applications NEAR enables to bring blockchain technology to a broad population of consumers.
July 16, 2019
It’s no secret that Homebrew loves financial technology and services startups. Since our founding in 2013 we’ve been fortunate enough to invest in companies like Chime, Even, Gusto, Hummingbird, Plaid, and TrueAccord. Today we get to introduce you to Finix, an amazing team we led the seed financing for in 2017. They’ve been quietly creating software upon which the next generation of billion-dollar payments companies will be built, and have raised an additional $17.5m Series A to scale their work.
Who: Finix cofounders Richie and Sean both saw that new software stacks would need to be created to help companies bring their payments processing in-house. They combined their own deep expertise in the finance vertical with a team spanning established payments companies like First Data, PayPal, and Worldpay and fintech startups like Klarna and Balanced.
What: Vertically-focused software providers – companies like MindBody and Veeva that deliver purpose-built solutions for specific industries – are increasingly bringing payments in-house to increase profits, grow market share, and delight customers. And the best way to bring payments in-house today is to become a payment facilitator.
Traditionally, becoming a payment facilitator was a time-consuming, complicated and expensive proposition -- but Finix is changing the equation, and leveling the playing field for businesses that want to own, manage and monetize their payments in as little as 60 days.
How: Finix gives payments teams the flexibility to configure the perfect payments stack for their unique business needs with easy-to-use APIs and dashboards, deliver a seamless payments experience to customers and conveniently manage their entire provider ecosystem through a single platform of record. The Finix platform is SOC I and SOC II, PCI-Level 1 and GDPR compliant.
Why: As the Finix team explains eloquently in their own post, there’s both margin and customer satisfaction gains to be made for companies bringing their own payments processing in house. Before it was too complex to roll your own technology, develop internal expertise and manage the risk associated, but with Finix, you are allowing software to do the heavy lifting.
We know the Finix team has many more milestones ahead and we’re excited to be part of that journey. If you’d like to join them on this journey they’re hiring.
June 4, 2019
At Homebrew, we’ve made a number of investments in the healthcare industry that are focused on democratizing access to better care or to vital data that can help reduce costs and improve outcomes. As part of our work, we’ve often been pitched by startups that are focused on selling to employers as a means of getting to employee patients. But most of those companies have suffered from the lack of a clear ROI for companies and the inability to generate long term engagement from employees.
That’s why we were so excited when we met the team at Level and heard about the clear and ongoing value they were able to create for companies and employees. Level is working to improve health care by providing employers and employees with more flexible, lower cost and higher quality health care experiences with transparent pricing. As Level announced today, it’s starting with dental benefits, an often ignored but critically important part of health care. We’re elated to join Level on its journey and to have co-led Level’s seed financing along with our friends at First Round Capital.
WHO: When building a modern insurance company, you really need a team that deeply understands insurance, payments and user experiences. Fortunately, Paul Aaron, founder of Level, worked on the core product offerings at Square and Oscar Health. With those experiences in hand, he’s set out to rethink how health care benefits can be delivered, benefiting employers, employees and care providers.
WHAT: Level is an employer-sponsored benefit that allows people to easily find, manage, and pay for care. The company is tackling dental benefits to start because it’s an under-appreciated segment of healthcare that accounts for over $100 billion in US spending each year. Level is the only dental benefit with an app that combines searching for providers, comparing fees, managing benefits, and paying bills. It also aligns incentives with employers through a flat fee for service that doesn’t benefit from unused benefits.
HOW: Level combines simple-to-use technology with a robust health care offering to deliver unprecedented simplicity and efficiency. Its mobile app and web dashboard allow employees to find dentists in their area, and compare options, in or out of network. People can compare prices for services and treatments from dental providers up front, and keep tabs on their remaining benefits to avoid surprises later on. And importantly, members can pay what they owe as soon as they leave the dentist office, with no waiting, insurance estimates, or mail. All of this while saving companies up to 20% on their dental benefits spend. Level helps employers, including those that have historically been too small, transition to self-insurance, which saves them money and enables them to build highly customized plans based on budgets and workforce needs.
WHY: Healthcare in the US represents approximately 18% of the GDP and is the largest industry in the world. Innovation is needed to improve the system from both a cost and outcomes perspective. Most companies have been focused on the medical side of the industry, so Level is creating a new approach for dental, which has largely gone unchanged for the last few decades. In the long term, Level intends to improve all employee benefits, and as a result, all health care delivery and outcomes.
Level is based in New York and already working with a number of leading companies. If you share their passion for dramatically enhancing the health care experience for all, join the already stellar team.
June 2, 2019
When we make investments at Homebrew we look for many different things in founders. We always back founders who have a unique vision for how the world should work differently than it does today. But even more important is relentlessness in pursuing that vision. We found those things and much more when we learned about Ride Report. So it was easy for us to agree to play the lead role in the company’s seed financing, which was announced last week. Ride Report already works with more than 30 cities in the US and overseas. We’re ecstatic to be part of the company’s journey as it grows to hundreds of cities in the coming quarters.
WHO: William Henderson grew up fascinated by public transportation and how it shaped cities. Later in life, when he began to commute by bicycle, he saw an opportunity to make cities safer for cyclists and started advocacy work to that end. With the emergence of electric bikes and scooters, William saw the opportunity to expand Ride Report’s work to include micromobility solutions more broadly. And he’s now full steam ahead on making the movement of people and goods within cities more safe, reliable and equitable.
WHAT: Ride Report’s long term goal is to empower cities to make transportation more equitable, efficient and sustainable. The company has a vision for the world in which cities are able to quickly and intelligently adapt physical and digital resources to enable safer and more reliable transportation for their entire populations. The tools and data that Ride Report provides to cities enables them to shape, audit, manage, analyze and enforce micromobility policies.
HOW: Micromobility services generate enormous amounts of data about rides and citizens and are negotiating agreements and rules with cities that could set important precedents. Ride Report makes sense of all of that data for cities, starting with assessing compliance, so that both cities and operators have a shared understanding of how micromobility services are being operated and utilized. The company’s software dashboards and APIs make it easy for all stakeholders to exchange and visualize the data that is needed to make important decisions that will make microbility available to all.
WHY: It’s clear that everything from electric scooters to autonomous cars are going to impact the way that citizens move about their cities. Cities have borne the costs of supporting these services and haven’t had access to the data needed to make decisions about where, how and under what constraints these services can operate. Ride Report makes it possible for cities to get the data they need to make decisions about how to enable micromobility services that benefit their citizens and make the cities themselves better places to work and live. If Ride Report it successful it will help cities make decisions about not just these services but also the physical infrastructure of cities themselves.
It’s been a joy to work with William and team so far. If you care about the future of cities and their development, consider joining Ride Report’s team in Portland.
May 29, 2019
There’s no question that new mobility options are here to stay and are going to transform our cities over time. When we met the team at Ride Report, it was clear that its unique position sitting between cities and micromobility operators (i.e. the companies providing shared bikes, e-scooters, and small electric vehicles) represented both a compelling investment opportunity and an important position in shaping the future of cities. It seems like our country is obsessed with scooters, and there is a new media storm about them every day. Meanwhile, Ride Report has been quietly working behind the scenes to make these micromobility programs run smoothly everywhere from Austin, TX to Madrid, Spain.
It’s been amazing to watch - we couldn’t have imagined that a software system to help transit regulators and city planners would be an exciting Homebrew investment (just announced!). As summer approaches and more people take advantage of new transit options in their city, we thought now would be a great time to share more about Ride Report by sitting down with CEO and Co-Founder, William Henderson.
To get started, one of the things we were intrigued by was your background. Could you explain what led you to create Ride Report?
To be honest, I wouldn’t have guessed I’d end up doing something like this. Before starting Ride Report, I led consumer payments at Square and worked on products at Apple, so my expertise was in using technology for financial systems and privacy protection. I was pretty far removed from mobility and govtech in that work, but in 2003 I started using my bike to get around Portland and came to see efficient transportation options like bikes as key to creating healthier, more sustainable cities.
As I grew from a person biking to a bike advocate, I started to understand the work that needs to be done to address our transportation infrastructure, how we pay for it and the policies we use to govern it. And underlying all of that is a need for cities to use data more quickly and effectively.
So I was already working in this space when scooters launched and I could see that cities had an urgent need to see and control what was happening with this new mode of transportation. We had already built a system to efficiently gather, anonymize and protect micromobility data, so we were in a really natural position to help cities with this problem.
As scooters expanded to more cities, both cities and operators started to realize that sharing the data in real time enables a far better outcome for everyone - it lets cities scale up micromobility faster, more gracefully and in better partnership with operators. Our cities have much better relationships with most of the scooter sharing services than they did with ride-hailing companies, and I think having a good way to share data has been at the center of that.
We remember when scooters first showed up on the streets of San Francisco - people were calling it scooter-mageddon. It feels like the world has been transfixed by scooters and new mobility devices in the past year. How did we get here?
Let me provide some context. In the early days of the automobile, people hated having them in their cities. Newspapers from the 20’s and 30’s are full of enraged accounts – people are parking their personal cars in the street for free! People are driving too fast and children are dying! Several cities came extremely close to mandating a speed-limiting device in every car. Automobile companies had to spend an enormous amount of time and money lobbying at every level of governments to create the city design we have today. We shouldn’t be surprised that the same thing is happening with scooters.
And to understand the city perspective, you have to look at what happened with taxis and ride hailing. Taxis were initially unregulated, but cities were able to successfully impose driver requirements, accessibility standards, rates, etc. When ride-hailing launched and resisted cooperation, that represented a huge loss of control for cities. So that’s why cities immediately asserted their control when some scooter operators tried to copy the ride-hailing playbook.
And yet, despite this history, there is something very compelling about scooters. Both city planners and technologists understand that cars can’t take us much further, that we desperately need a new solution. This has been the case for a while, but now there is a product that can solve these problems that seems to have a much wider appeal than pedaling a bike for a lot of people.
It certainly seems like people love riding them.
Yeah! It’s amazing how much demand there is for these new forms of mobility. We are nowhere near the scale this innovation is capable of. That said, cities are right to take a cautious approach. There are limits to our current micromobility infrastructure, like protected bike lanes. As more people keep asking for these new vehicles, cities will need to adapt today’s street design to support the transportation networks of the future.
What’s your hope for what you’ll be able to achieve?
I think my goals are the same as most people in this space. Both cities and operators want micromobility to work, to scale quickly, to fulfill its potential to disrupt the current system – but in a way that makes cities greener, more accessible and more equitable. But the devil is in the details. That’s where Ride Report comes in - we’re helping cities and micromobility operators be more effective partners in this shared mission. Rather than see it as just another thing to manage, we’re helping cities harness the potential of micromobility.
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