Lyft is on a bit of a Tesla poaching spree while Tesla employees are exiting in droves. The latest ex-Tesla employee to join Lyft is Cal Lankton, who most recently led the development of Tesla’s electric vehicle charging network up until May. At Lyft, Lankton will serve as VP of infrastructure operations where he will focus on the next generation of Lyft’s driver hubs.
“I came to Lyft because I believe in the company’s priorities of driver care and environmental sustainability, and I know that our retail footprint can effectively marry the two through smart design and deployment,” Lankton said in a statement.
“With Cal and Geoffrey leading our retail strategy, I am confident that our next-generation service centers will exceed driver expectations, and they will see the results of this team’s dedication reflected in their earnings,” McNeill said in a statement.
In May, Lyft committed $100 million to better support its drivers by specifically putting the money toward cheaper oil changes, basic car maintenance, serviced car washes and more. Lyft also will almost double its operating hours at its driver hubs in 15 cities throughout the nation.
The idea with that commitment is to help drivers make more money and maximize their earnings by offsetting the costs of driving. Other benefits will include car and SUV rentals, tax education and more.
Estonian ride-hailing company Taxify will compete with Bird and Lime in Europe with its new brand of e-scooters, called Bolt, launching in Paris on Thursday.
The company has rolled the scooter sharing service into its mobile app, which has attracted 10 million users in 25 countries since it launched in August 2013.
A spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch it plans to release scooters in several other European and Australian cities where their app is already established, but will also launch in new markets where they’ve been unable to offer ride-hailing services because of regulatory roadblocks, including Germany and Spain.
As of now, Taxify has no plans to scoot into the US market.
“One in five Taxify rides are less than 3 km, which is the perfect distance to cover with an electric scooter,” Taxify CEO and co-founder Markus Villig said in a statement. “It’s likely that some of our ride-hailing customers will now opt for scooters for shorter distances, but we’ll also attract a whole new group of customers with different needs. This means we’ll be able to help more people with their daily transportation problems.”
A Bolt scooter ride will cost 15 cents a minute, with a minimum fare of €1. Just like other e-scooter startups, you unlock the GPS tracked scooters by scanning the QR-code on the scooter using the Taxify app. Taxify will collect the scooters in the evenings for recharging.
Kristen Berman is a co-founder of Duke’s Common Cents Lab with Professor Dan Ariely. Common Cents is generously supported by MetLife Foundation. Kristen was on the founding team of Google’s behavioral economics team, and was previously the founder of Irrational Labs, a behavioral economics nonprofit focused on health and happiness.
Imagine you get a monthly paycheck on the 15th of the month but your bills come in on the 1st of the month. Between the 15th and 1st you must set a portion of your check aside to pay bills. This becomes a complicated budgeting equation. How much can I spend today vs how much do I need to set aside?
In a perfectly rational world people would reduce their consumption by the amount needed to afford their bills and have money left over to make it to the next payday. Sadly, this isn’t what happens. When income and bills are farther apart, we struggle to make the math work.
Researchers Brian Baugh and Jialan Wang found that financial shortfalls – payday loans and bank overdrafts – happen 18% more when there is a greater mismatch between the timing of someone’s income and the bills they owe.
We come up short.
Baugh offers some reasoning: When we get paid, we spend money. More money than usual. Research from Arna Olafsson and Michaela Pagel supports this. They find that both poor and rich households respond to the receipt of income, with the poorest households spending 70 percent more when they get paid than they would on an average day and the richest households spending 40 percent more. This inclination to spend more on payday makes the monthly budget harder to balance – and sometimes makes it unable to balance at all.
Many fintech companies are starting to address pay period timing, in hopes they can close the gap between income and consumption needs. Apps like Even, Earnin and PayActive provide people with instant access to their paycheck. Gig economy employers like Uber and Lyft have features that allow drivers to cash out immediately after they drive. For people who would otherwise get paid on a monthly schedule, this is critical. Jesse Shapiro of Harvard found that food stamp recipients consume 10 to 15 percent fewer calories the week before food stamps are disbursed. Even a few days matter. In Baugh’s study, the difference between a paycheck period of 35 days vs a paycheck period of 28 days resulted in 9% more instances of financial distress.
The question we should be asking now is what is the optimal timing for pay periods? Too long between checks causes hardship, but how short should pay periods become? These fintech companies are offering to “Make Any Day Payday” with promises that people can “Get your paycheck anytime you want.” While this smooths the gap between pay periods, given Olassof’s research, it may also serve to increase spending if everyday is payday.
To dive deeper into this problem, our team sought to understand what employees preferred. As a reminder, our preferences don’t always represent what’s best for us. You may want to eat that chocolate cake, but that doesn’t mean it will help you with your summer dieting goals. However, we were curious: do people have the intuition that more frequent pay periods are better, and how frequent is optimal? To do this we asked 384 people making less than median income ($30,000 a year) to tell us their preferred pay schedule. Using Google Consumer Surveys, we gave them six payment schedules to choose from: Annual, Monthly, Bi-weekly, Weekly, Daily or Hourly.
What should people say? If everyone acts rationally, we would expect people to say they want to get paid hourly – immediately after working. It’s their money and they would be best off with unfettered access to it.
This is not what we found. Instead, people prefer to get paid on a bi-weekly or weekly schedule. Aggregating everyone’s responses, people preferred bi-weekly (37.2%), followed by weekly (26.6%).
Why aren’t more people choosing hourly or daily? While we can’t be sure, one guess is that Baugh’s findings ring true. Weekly and biweekly paychecks can act as a self control device for spending. If paydays were every day, they may be more tempted to spend on non-critical items, leaving less money for bills. Weekly and biweekly paychecks also serve as a way to fix the misalignment of income and bills that Baugh cites drives overdrafts and payday loans. Our team interviewed 40 people in Fresno, California and found this to be a popular budgeting strategy – one paycheck is used for the family car payment and one is used for rent.
When we break out responses by income, we find some correlational differences across income groups. People reporting less than $6,000 income (50% below poverty line) are more likely to opt for an immediate pay schedule. As people’s income level rises above poverty (or part time status), the preference for weekly and bi-weekly pay schedules increases.
We also asked people to tell us how they would describe their personal need for money when paying their bills over the past year. No surprise, but the more people felt they needed money for immediate bills (or feeling scarce) the higher the demand for more frequent paychecks (hourly or weekly).
More research is needed to determine the effects of the growing trend to offer instant access to your paycheck. These apps can bridge critical gaps for people living paycheck to paycheck, but they may also have some detrimental effects if Baugh and Olafsson’s findings hold. If apps help people make everyday payday, and each payday results in higher spending, the end of the month may be much harder to get to.
Key insights for companies trying to improve people’s financial lives
Help move people off a monthly pay cycle. Our study suggests that lower income individuals don’t prefer monthly and other research suggests it has costly implications for their financial lives.
Help people match up their income and their bills. Lenders can do this upon loan origination or fintech apps (like EarnUp) can help people automate timing.
Provide (thoughtful) access to the paycheck. Apps could ask people up front to precommit to when they want to take money from their paycheck. This would still allow people to have access, but could possibly slow down an urge to withdraw too frequently.
The great San Francisco scooter decision has been made. And Skip and Scoot have claimed the prize.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) issued one-year permits to Skip and Scoot on Thursday, a decision that ends months of waiting for 12 companies that applied to operate within the city. JUMP, which Uber acquired in April, as well as Lyft, Skip, Spin, Lime, Scoot, ofo, Razor, CycleHop, USSCooter and Ridecell all applied for permits in San Francisco.
The permits will allow a maximum of 625 scooters for each company in the first six months. Scoot and Skip may have the potential to increase their number of scooters in months seven to 12 to a cap of 2,500, at the SFMTA’s sole discretion.
“The SFMTA’s decision is based on the strength of the proposals submitted by the two companies, combined with their experience of owning, operating and maintaining a shared mobility service in the public right-of-way. The agency looked for applications that prioritized the city’s concerns around safety, disabled access, equity and accountability,” the agency said.
The SFMTA noted in its decision that Skip and Scoot had the strongest applications. The agency seemed particularly interested in safety measures these companies planned to take. Scoot, which has been managing a fleet of shared electric mopeds in San Francisco since 2012, proposed mandatory instructional videos for users, helmets included in rentals and free in-person training.
Scoot also proposed using swappable batteries instead of manually taking the scooters off the street for regular recharging.
“This method could help the city reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled on San Francisco streets, which helps reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions,” the SFMTA said in its decision.
Scoot said it will soon introduce an electric kick-style scooter to its line-up of electric motor scooters and electric bicycles in response to the decision.
Unsurprisingly, the companies that lost out have expressed dismay with the decision.
“Jump both submitted a strong application and has a track record of successfully working with the city on our bike pilot,” an Uber spokesperson wrote in an email. “Granting only two scooter permits unnecessarily limits mobility options in San Francisco, and we plan to follow up with the SFMTA to share our concerns,”
Bird, a scooter startup that has $2 billion valuation, said it will continue to work with San Francisco officials, partners, community organizations and advocates in hopes of bringing Bird back to the City by the Bay, a spokeswoman said in an email.
Bird, which has a goal of operating in 50 cities globally before the end of the year, noted that residents have sent nearly 30,000 emails to city officials in support of bringing Bird to San Francisco.
The pilot program is the city’s solution to handling the scooter chaos of 2018. Bird, and soon after, Lime and Spin, released their fleet of scooters into the city in March without permission. They became an instant hit among city residents seeking fast and cheap ways to get around town. They also soon became a pariah as scooters inundated sidewalks and rights of way.
The SFMTA put a temporary ban on all scooters in May and initiated a permit process as part of a 24-month pilot program that would allow up to five scooter companies to operate in the city.
Bird, Lime, Lyft and JUMP didn’t completely lose out Thursday. The city of Santa Monica’s Shared Mobility Device Selection Committee officially awarded Bird, Lime, Lyft and JUMPBikes permits to operate both electric scooters and/or bikes in the city as part of its 16-month pilot program beginning September 17.
Lyft, which remains hopeful that it will have the chance to offer scooters in San Francisco in the future, is now focused on Santa Monica.
“We are thrilled to have been awarded permits for both bikes and scooters by the City of Santa Monica,” Caroline Samponaro, Lyft’s bike and scooter policy lead said in an emailed statement. “The city’s decision to collaborate with Lyft deepens a partnership that will reduce vehicle congestion, increase public transportation trips and provide equitable transportation solutions to all residents of Santa Monica.”
The city of Santa Monica has officially awarded Bird, Lime, Lyft and JUMPBikes, which Uber acquired in April, permits to operate both electric scooters and/or bikes in the city as part of its 16-month pilot program beginning September 17.
The city will allow Bird and Lime to each manage 750 scooters. Lyft and JUMP were granted permission to release 250 scooters each, as well as 500 bikes. In San Francisco, which is similarly launching a scooter pilot program this fall, city leaders chose Skip and Scoot as their official scooter providers.
Earlier this month, the committee had officially recommended to David Martin, the city’s director of planning and community development, that only Lyft and JUMP receive permits. Lime and Bird, however, followed up immediately with a protest, asking their riders to speak out against the recommendations in hopes of reversing course. Looks like that strategy was successful.
“Bird is honored to have called Santa Monica our home since we first launched shared electric scooters less than 12 months ago,” Bird founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden said in a statement. “We have a shared mission of reducing congestion and emissions, and look forward to continuing partnering with the City and to serve our community. Bird is committed to providing Santa Monica residents and visitors the accessible, equitable, and responsible transportation option that they deserve.”
“We’re excited to bring scooters and bikes to Santa Monica soon,” a representative from JUMP Bikes said. “Our ultimate goal is to reduce reliance on personal cars, and we believe the best way to do that is to offer multiple modes of transportation — scooters, bikes, cars, public transit and more — in one app. We’ll continue to partner with cities in the right way to bring more options to more people.”
And here’s what Lyft had to say: “We are thrilled to have been awarded permits for both bikes and scooters by the City of Santa Monica,” Lyft’s bike and scooter policy lead Caroline Samponaro told TechCrunch. “The city’s decision to collaborate with Lyft deepens a partnership that will reduce vehicle congestion, increase public transportation trips and provide equitable transportation solutions to all residents of Santa Monica.”
Lime did not immediately reply to a request for comment. We will update the story when we hear back. The other contenders for a Santa Monica shared-mobility permit: Hopr, Razor, Scoot, Skip, Spin, Cloud, Drop and Goin’ did not receive permits and will not legally be able to operate scooters in Santa Monica.
Martin’s decision to stand by the committee’s recommendation is good news for Lyft and Uber, which are already the dominant players in the ride-hailing space and are now poised to dominate the scooter market as well. It’s also worth noting that Uber and Lime struck a deal this summer that will involve Uber pasting its logo on Lime scooters and investing $355 million in the company.
The city’s decision was based on several factors, including each company’s experience operating shared mobility devices, the company’s proposed operations plan and the company’s ability to launch operations in a timely manner. Additionally, the committee took into account the company’s history with compliance with local law.
Bird has been a contentious company among Santa Monica city leaders because of the nature of its entry. Taking a cue from Uber, Bird erupted onto the scene without official permission. Granted, at the time, the city didn’t have an official process for regulating bike-share and e-scooter startups.
For four years, Edhuar Arellano has left his house at 7 a.m. on weekdays to drive customers around the Bay Area for Lyft and Uber . Most days, he doesn’t get home to Santa Clara until 11 p.m. On weekends, he delivers pizzas to make ends meet.
Like a lot of drivers plugging in to ride-hailing apps for work, he likes the flexibility the gig economy has offered. But given the choice, Arellano says he wishes he could just become an employee. That would get him paid vacation, benefits, overtime, his own health insurance and perhaps more say over his working conditions.
“We need to accept whatever they want,” said the 55-year-old father of two grown children. “I can’t control anything.”
That quandary is behind a ferocious battle quietly playing out in the Capitol in the final days of the legislative session, which ends Aug. 31. Lobbyists for ride-sharing companies and the California Chamber of Commerce are scrambling to delay until next year (and the next governor’s administration) a far-reaching California Supreme Court decision that could grant Arellano’s wish—and, businesses fear, undermine the entire gig economy.
The April ruling, involving the nationwide delivery company Dynamex Operations West Inc. and its contract drivers, established a new test for enforcement of California wage laws, and made it much harder for companies in California to claim that independent contractors are not actually employees.
Though the ruling only applies to California, the state’s labor force is so huge that it has already had national impact. Shortly after the decision, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced a bill to make a version of California’s new rule the federal standard, a move that only added urgency to employers’ calls for state lawmakers to hit the pause button on implementing the ruling.
“Businesses are very concerned. The key is who’s going to be sued here in the near future,” said Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber, which represents 50,000 businesses.
They should be, says labor leader Caitlin Vega, who has been similarly lobbying Capitol Democrats to refrain from meddling and let the Supreme Court decision move forward.
“Companies have made so much money already at the expense of workers,” Vega, the legislative director of the California Labor Federation said Tuesday during a harried break between Capitol meetings. “We really see the Dynamex decision as core to rebuilding the middle class.”
State and federal labor laws give employees a wide range of worker protections, from overtime pay and minimum wages to the right to unionize. But those rights don’t extend to independent contractors, whose ranks have grown dramatically in the gig economy.
Apps such as Uber, TaskRabbit and DoorDash, which match customers and services online and in real time, have given workers an unprecedented ability to freelance but they also have blurred traditional employer-employee relationships and, labor advocates say, invited exploitation.
Some 2 million people, from Lyft drivers to construction workers, consider themselves independent contractors in California. In 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one in 14 workers was an independent contractor nationally.
If state lawmakers don’t rewrite the law or stall its implementation for a few months, as businesses want—which the Legislature can legally do, though the clock is ticking—the Dynamex decision will subject businesses in California to a standard that is tougher than the federal government’s or most states’.
Known as the “ABC test,” the standard requires companies to prove that people working for them as independent contractors are:
A) Free from the company’s control when they’re on the job;
B) Doing work that falls outside the company’s normal business;
C) And operating an independent business or trade beyond the job for which they were hired.
That’s a high bar for the many companies whose bottom lines have depended on large numbers of contractors to deliver a particular service. According to the business lobby, in the months since the Dynamex decision, law firms have received 1,200 demands for arbitration and 17 class action lawsuits.
Last month, business leaders sent a letter to members of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration, warning that the new test would “decimate businesses,” and urging the governor and Legislature to suspend and then limit the court’s ruling to only workers involved in the Dynamex case. The letter also asked that the decision not apply to other contractors for the next two years.
Not all those contractors are in tech, Chamber head Zaremberg points out. Emergency room doctors and accountants, for example, could also be impacted. Emergency hospitals and trauma centers contract their doctors through medical groups, and doctors generally work at a combination of hospitals and community clinics.
Photo: shapecharge / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Dr. Aimee Mullen, president of the California chapter of American College of Emergency Physicians, confirms that ER docs are among those uncertain about their contractor status.
“A lot of our members use that model. It’s choice. They like flexibility. They like working at multiple hospitals,” Mullen said.
The California Labor Federation’s Vega contends that, disruptive though it may be, the Dynamex ruling is the right one, particularly on worker exploitation. The core group affected tends to be low-income and immigrant workers, she said.
“The Dynamex decision was a victory for working people—truck drivers who are cheated out of wages, warehouse workers forced to risk their health and gig economy workers who want to be treated with dignity and respect,” Vega wrote in a Sacramento Bee op-ed.
Some workers see room for hybrid solutions. Edward Escobar, a San Francisco ride-hail driver of four years and founder of the Alliance for Independent Workers, a group formed by drivers three years ago, says he has seen a big decrease in how much these companies compensate drivers without a commensurate increase in control over working conditions.
Escobar believes gig companies are trying to have it both ways, and should give their workers either true independence or full employment. His proposal: Let workers choose their own classification, with wage and benefit protection for those who choose to be employees, and more control for contractors over which rides to take and what prices to set.
“These tech titans have been taking advantage of these gray areas,” Escobar said.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Paramount Democrat, said earlier this month that while the Legislature is eager to delve into workforce issues, leaders do not have adequate time to act on it before the session ends next week.
“The Dynamex decision strikes at the core of what the future of work looks like in our society,” Rendon said in a statement. “From the decline of union membership to court rulings like the Janus decision, we’ve seen the continual erosion of workers’ rights. If the Legislature is to take action, we must do so thoughtfully with that in mind. That will not happen in the last three weeks of the legislative session.”
Nor are the stakes likely to be lowered for workers like Arellano.
“If I don’t work, I have no money,” said the Lyft and Uber driver. “Everything is so expensive in Santa Clara and the Bay Area.”
CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.
Lyft is going to offer half-priced and free rides to polling places around the country on Election Day (November 6).
The ride-hailing giant said that it’s going to give out 50 percent off promotional codes to partners that encourage voter turnout. The company has linked up with Vote.org, Nonprofit VOTE, TurboVote and others to help distribute the codes to anyone who needs them.
On the day of the election the company said it will also provide a product integration that will help voters find their polling places to make it even easier to cast their ballot.
This non-partisan effort to get people to the polls is only becoming more critical. Election officials in one county in Georgia have proposed closing 7 of 9 polling places because they’re not sufficiently accessible for handicapped voters. Having Lyft available to help those voters who would be impacted by the closures (some of whom would have to walk three hours to get to the nearest open polls) could certainly be a boon.
As the company noted in its announcement, there’s a participation problem impacting elections in the U.S. Estimates from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement indicate that roughly 15 million people didn’t vote in the 2016 election because they didn’t have transportation to get to the polls.
The last presidential election was decided by 80,000 votes in three states, so getting out the vote and getting people to the polls clearly matters.
For those underserved communities where the 50 percent discount on rides isn’t enough, the company will provide transportation free of cost through non-partisan, nonprofit organizations like Voto Latino, local affiliates of the Urban League and the National Federation of the Blind.
Beyond just getting people to the polls, Lyft is providing ways for people to register to vote and learn about voting initiatives that are up for approval on election day. Through a partnerships with When We All Vote and National Voter Registration Day the company intends to remind passengers about voter registration deadlines; give drivers voter registration handouts and voter information at Hub locations; offer in-office voter registration for employees; and offer online voter information through the company’s partner organizations.
Voting access is a critical issue in making sure that every American’s voice is heard through the election process. According to studies from the Pew Research Center (cited by Lyft), 46 percent of nonvoters have incomes under $30,000 compared with 19 percent of likely voters. And 43 percent of people unlikely to cast ballots are Hispanic, African American or other minorities, which is double the percentage among likely voters.
Lime and Bird are protesting recommendations in Santa Monica, Calif. that would prevent the electric scooter companies from operating in the Southern California city. We first saw the news over on Curbed LA, which reported both Lime and Bird are temporarily halting their services in Santa Monica.
Last week, Santa Monica’s shared mobility device selection committee recommended the city move forward with Lyft and Uber-owned Jump as the two exclusive scooter operators in the city during the upcoming 16-month pilot program. The committee ranked Lyft and Jump highest due to their experience in the transportation space, staffing strategy, commitments to diversity and equity, fleet maintenance strategies and other elements. Similarly, the committee recommended both Lyft and Jump as bike-share providers in the city.
“The Lyft and Uber applications to operate e-scooter sharing programs in Santa Monica demonstrate the desperate lengths CO2 polluting companies will go to for the purpose of undermining clean energy competition,” a Bird spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We at Bird are dedicated to replacing car trips with clean energy trips and will continue to fight against car dependency alongside our loyal riders.”
Santa Monica! We've taken our fleet offline until 4:30pm locally in order to rally your support in opposition to the council's recommendation. Don't let a #LifeWithoutScooters be the future. Help City Hall make the right decision + take action right now: https://t.co/PiuR9pwk4y
Now, both Bird and Lime are asking their respective riders to speak out against the recommendations. Bird, which first launched in Santa Monica, has also emailed riders, asking them to tell the city council that they want to Bird to stay.
“In a closed-door meeting, a small city-appointed selection committee decided to recommend banning Bird from your city beginning in September,” Bird wrote in an email to customers. “This group inexplicably scored companies with no experience ever operating shared e-scooters higher than Bird who invented this model right here in Santa Monica.”
Bird goes on to throw shade at Uber and Lyft — neither of which have operated electric scooter services before. That shade is entirely fair, but one could argue both Uber and Lyft already have more experience operating transportation services within cities and would be better equipped to run an electric scooter service than a newer company.
Lime says it’s worked collaboratively with the city to design a program tailored to the needs of the Santa Monica community since day one.
“It’s clear Santa Monica residents and visitors have enthusiastically embraced Lime, with over 180,000 unique riders choosing us as their affordable, zero-emission transportation option since we launched in April,” Lime CEO Toby Sun said in a statement to TechCrunch. “As the most experienced shared bike and scooter company in the United States, we are disappointed by the City’s current proposal because Santa Monica riders deserve access to best-in-class technology. We have on-the-ground experience operating shared scooters in Santa Monica and around the world, giving us the greatest readiness to fulfill the needs of residents without interruption when the pilot program begins.”
In addition to asking people to contact their city officials, Bird and Lime are hosting a rally later today at Santa Monica City hall. But given that most of these electric scooters are manufactured by the same provider and that the services are essentially the same, I’d be surprised if there’s much brand loyalty. Over in San Francisco, I personally miss having electric scooters, but I really don’t give a rat’s pajamas which services receive permits. That’s just to say, we’ll see if these efforts are effective.