Airbnb on Mars, the end of Uber subsidies, meal kit consolidation, and other stuff to watch in 2017


Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. I “unplugged” as they say for a few days and was rewarded with hundreds of unread Google Alerts.

Had I thought ahead, I’d have asked for your predictions on what 2017 has in store for the sharing economy. Well, you know what they say, better late than never. Send them to me now, and I’ll include them next week. Also, while you are sending, consider forwarding this newsletter to someone who might be interested (signup page here), I’m trying to be marginally better about promoting it.

In the meantime, here's some stuff to watch for this year:

The end of ride-hailing subsidies.

There are a few legislative fights left in the US (e.g., New YorkNew Jersey), and plenty more in Europe, where regulators are far more skeptical of Uber’s business model and employment practices. Lyft and Uber will keep battling for market sharein the US with smaller competitors like Gett, Juno, and Via trying to maintain a foothold. But eventually the subsidies will go and prices will rise. They’ve already begun to climb in some international markets, and even Uber can’t sustain losses of $2 billion to $3 billion a year forever.

And carpooling looks like the future. A new study from MIT suggests that all the taxis in New York City could be replaced by just 3,000 UberPools or Lyft Lines with room for four passengers. Nationwide, car ownership appears to have begun its decline. The share of US households without a car, after shrinking for decades, increased in 2015.

Driverless car testing.

A lot of people are working on them! Where we’re at:

And the state of autonomous vehicle regulations in the US (via NCSL)

Food delivery & meal kit fallout.

Expect to see a lot more consolidation in this space as unprofitable, subsidy-dependent startups sell or fold. More than a dozen food, meal, and grocery delivery companies went out of business in 2016, according to data from CB Insights. Meanwhile, the struggling-but-still-alive list includes:

The wildcards are Uber and Amazon.

Airbnb’s crowdsourced future.

Airbnb will need to continue cutting regulatory deals with cities if it wants to pursue an IPO in 2017 or early 2018. (Employees certainly do.) It will also push hard on new markets like India and China, and continue its transformation into a more traditional online travel agency. Other ideas from the Twitterverse to CEO Brian Chesky: cars, bitcoin, housing the homeless, a subscription servicesolar energy, and Mars.

Other stuff.

All Mariah Carey Wanted for Christmas Was a $22 Million Airbnb. Airbnb hosts are telling guests to say they’re just a friend. Marc Andreessen courted Chicago’s mayor for Airbnb. Limo Driver Trapped in “Lyft Hell’’ by Phone Number Mistake. Watch Uber driver coast through 236 green lights in New York City without stopping. Computer glitch leads to $28,639.14 charge for Uber rider in Philly. Terse emails between Uber and Pittsburgh. Witness Says Self-Driving Uber Ran Red Light on Its Own. Uber Launches First Electric Car Fleet in Madrid. GM has 5,000 cars in Lyft rental program. Beijing’s Uber-for-bikes Ofo “will definitely be profitable” in 2017. Rent the Runway was profitable in 2016. China’s Uber-for-trucks Huochebang valued at $1 billion. Uber dismantles a homeless encampment. The most loyal hotel guests are still trying Airbnb. TaskRabbit’s Stalled Revolution. Smart cities. The Ugly Unethical Underside of Silicon Valley.