PayPal cofounder, Peter Thiel, once said, “Investors are always biased to invest in things they themselves understand. So venture capitalists like Uber because they like driving in black town cars. They don't like Airbnb because they like staying in five-star hotels, not sleeping on people's couches.” Well, it looks like VC’s attitudes are changing about the vacation rental marketplace. According to TechCrunch, this week, “the company filed a new form D that has closed off its Series F with an additional $447.8 million, bringing the total to more than $1 billion — or $1,003,312,065, to be exact. TechCrunch has confirmed with sources close to the company that it is now valued at $31 billion.”
In a move that might see backward, e-commerce company, Tictail, opened a brick-and-mortar retail location. Forbes interviewed Tictail Cofounder, Carl Waldekranz, who said, “We reach approximately 50 visitors a day— 2,000 in a month—and we’ll capture around 500 emails from the lot. The store makes about $50K a month; rent is $17K. Salaries and expenses bring us close to $8K, and that about covers it.” The success of the Tictail store highlights the growing theme of turning retail into an experience. The article reminds us that e-commerce sales still only represent 12 percent ($400B) of total retail sales. So, there may still be hope yet, for the struggling asset class.
While this article in the Huffington Post comes off as a little alarmist, the author Payam Zamani, who is an entrepreneur and angel investor, make one really excellent point. Government regulations are not adapting to fit modern business needs. He tells a story of moving to a new office space, and the code compliance that comes along with the remodel. “As we are remodeling many aspects of the new building to suit our needs, the City wants to ensure we are following their codes, and rightfully so. However, one of their codes has to do with parking to square footage ratio.” As car ownership and usages continues to change, these rules stay stagnant, and this is in a major city in the Bay Area not the middle of America.
While some municipalities are slow moving, others are taking an experimental approach to community growth. Kansas City partnered with Bridj, the world's first pop-up mass transit system to give their citizens an app to summon a ride downtown in a van that would follow a route calculated on the fly by an algorithm, for only $1.50. While user adoption wasn’t a huge success, Jameson Auten, Leader of Kansas City’s Transportation Authority Innovation Division, said, “I’ll be honest: The ridership was not the top priority...The top priority for us was learning who uses on demand. Really, the big goal for us was learning itself.” While the on-demand ride program didn’t see many riders, just 1,480 people in six months, the program made it so the typical rider was never more than 10 minutes from a stop compared to current mass transit which can only reach just 30 percent of local jobs.
You wouldn’t expect an architect to ever say to Google, “You’ve got all of this land, but I wouldn’t build a building. I’d turn it into a nature preserve.,” but, that is exactly what NBBJ architect Sam Stubblefield is proposing. His recommendation to sprawling companies is to figure out how to get people working in shifts and largely from home. Maybe the next big trend in office space, is less office space.