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๐Ÿข ๐Ÿš™ ๐Ÿค– Issue #41: sidewalks are lacking labs, Uber S1 and free radicals

๐Ÿข ๐Ÿš™ ๐Ÿค– Issue #41: sidewalks are lacking labs, Uber S1 and free radicals
Welcome to my newsletter, where I discuss thoughts and news on the intersection of the built world and technology #retail #mobility #realestate #tech
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Firstly, are you a London based early-stage founder looking to find product-market fit?
Well then, Iโ€™ve got the tonic for you. Iโ€™m running a product-market workshop alongside UCLโ€™s ConceptionX on May 29th at 3pm. Weโ€™ll be going through all the elements of building a product that satisfies a sizeable market; including product build, experiments and measuring PMF. Sign up here or respond to this email if you would like to attend
One Big Thought
โ€œTrampled under footโ€ by Led Zeppelin - pavements, sidewalks, le trottoir - whatever you want to call them. Today sidewalks tend to consist of around 5% of a cities surface areas, whilst area wise this may be small their importance as the connective tissue linking buildings, roads and humans canโ€™t be understated.
To date, theyโ€™ve been used for walking, selling goods, socialising and (un)loading goods. With the intersection of new technologies and emergent behaviours towards smaller, more efficient modes of transport, we may see cities begin to repurpose roads and sidewalks to serve a whole new set of use cases. Additionally, as we continue to see a secular shift away from parking, its likely that cities will may in part look to sidewalks as new revenue streams. Weโ€™ve already started to see a greater emphasis on repurposing roads/expanding sidewalks, as we have already seen in places like Barcelona:
Sidewalks in recent years have increasingly become hotbeds for new products, be it food delivery or micromobility. However, these new products have caused headaches not only for governments but for private organisations also. Local governments have a desire to regulate, control and democratise access to these public spaces, whilst private enterprises with an eye on unit economics would like greater granularity of these spaces, whether thatโ€™s more precisely direct a courier or to pick up a micromobility asset. Some of the new products and behaviours that are already happening on sidewalks:
  • last-mile services: whether it be delivery, mail boxes, inner city logistics and parcel consignment
  • micromobility: weโ€™ve started to see both eBikes and eScooters taking residence on our sidewalks. With network rebalancing and charging such a critical component, when will we see new sidewalk infrastructure for these?
  • AV pick up and drop off: autonomous vehicle fleets will need to know where and when to drop individuals off safely, real-time availability of parking and free spaces may be an important component of this
  • Environmental: cities are increasingly enforcing stricter regulations around pollution (this week London launched the ultra low emission zone). Beyond more greenery, which new products might help city streets lower emissions?
Whilst we understand the value of digitising roads with a meta-layer of data, there are an increasing number of startups which are specifically focusing on this ancillary space between buildings and vehicle traffic. Codifying these spaces to software will hopefully bring new use cases, user behaviours and greater efficiencies in terms of usage and pricing. HMU if youโ€™ve seen an interesting company in this space (yes that was a pun, no I donโ€™t regret it)!
Vague Scientist
Future of Work
Free Radicals - a detailed research report on freelance work in the UK. Some interesting snippets:
  • โ€œMoreover, given self-employmentโ€™s resilience in a variety of economic circumstances โ€“ before, during and after the Financial Crisis - there is little doubt now that its rise represents a structural rather than cyclical transformation.โ€
  • Irregular income is stated as the biggest issue most freelancers face
  • 80% of freelancers are happy to remain as freelancers
Atomico lay out their thesis - on the future of work, as European I found this paragraph particularly captivating;
Mobility
Lyft IPO - share price has seen some downward pressure - I guess you can say, it hasnโ€™t been lyfting! (ok, that was a bad one)
The company will likely stabilise, at what the Mr Market dictates as fair value - ith a -45% EBITDA margin, 10x sales was always very healthy!
The stock is down 24% since its first day pop - this is likely not being helped by retail investors anticipating the Uber IPO, as they just released their S1 filing (hopefully more on that next week)
Though, a boon for Lyft in that their recent acquisition Motivate has just been awarded an exclusive 9 year contract to operate Chicagoโ€™s bike sharing scheme- the NPV of those cashflows alone likely pay for this acquisition alone.
Cost of batteries are plummeting - most importantly the cost of lithium-ion batteries, the most widespread used battery cell technology, has fallen by 35% to $US187/MWh, since H1 2018.
Thanks for reading!
Sam
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Sam Cash // Physical World Technologies Newsletter

The intersection of the physical world and technology; with a focus on future mobility,real estate, retail and cities.

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