Connect with us


The Airbnb of Cars Expands Into Equipment and Perks




Turo, the San Francisco-based company that lets people rent out their vehicles to strangers via an app, has added a new feature that gives users access to “extras” they might need on a trip from camping gear and bike racks to child seats and prepaid fueling.

Turo announced its new “Extras” feature Wednesday. People renting out their vehicles on the app can earn more by providing extras. However, Turo gets something in return, too. Hosts set their own prices and keep 90% of money earned renting out these extras. Turo gets the remainder.

That is lower than Turo’s typical take rate, which ranges from 15% to 35% of the trip, depending on which insurance package the host selects.

There is an important caveat, however. Turo’s protection plans don’t cover extras. The company recommends hosts to set clear guidelines with guests on how to use them and the return condition they expect.

Some extras fall under the convenience category. Hosts can add items like prepaid refueling, unlimited mileage, and post-trip cleaning.

The move illustrates how car sharing companies, including peer-to-peer ones like Turo are looking for ways to differentiate and lure more users — both hosts and renters — to the app. Car-sharing, once viewed as disruptor to the rental business and even car ownership, comes with its own set of challenges.

For instance, on BMW’s car-sharing service has hit some headwinds in Brooklyn, its busiest market. The company announced Tuesday that it’s canceling its free-floating car sharing service in the New York City borough. BMW’s ReachNow car-sharing service will end free-floating service June 5. It will continue its residential fleet services.

In September, Turo raised $92 million and acquired Croove, a car-sharing service launched in Germany in 2016 by Mercedes-Benz.

The Series D funding round was led by Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler and South Korean conglomerate SK Holdings. Liberty Mutual Strategic Ventures and Founders Circle Capital joined the round as well as existing investors August Capital, Canaan Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, GV, Trinity Ventures, and Shasta Ventures.

The Series D round brought the company’s total funding to $205 million.



Shake Shack finds unwanted fans in Wall Street bears




shake shack

Lots of folks love Shake Shack’s burgers and fries, but the eatery has become a particular favorite among Wall Street bears.

Short sellers have been feasting on Shake Shack’s stock after the company reported disappointing sales growth while profit margins are squeezed by rising costs for labor and store openings. New York Stock Exchange data show that more than half of all tradeable Shake Shack shares have been borrowed from brokers and sold, a bet that pays off only when prices fall and investors buy back the stock at a lower price. The heavy level of what’s known on Wall Street as short interest is a sign that investors think more tough times loom for the popular burger chain.

Shake Shack, founded in 2004 by restaurateur Danny Meyer as a no-frills burger stand in Madison Square Park, has struggled to meet investor expectations since going public in 2015. Its stock rose to nearly $93 a share in the post-IPO euphoria but quickly sank and now trades for about $34.50. A new chief financial officer joined in May, and last month a board member resigned on the day of the company’s annual stockholder meeting. Shake Shack said the departure of the director, Evan Guillemin, who chaired the board’s compensation committee and served on its audit committee, wasn’t due to any disagreements.

The good news is the stock could rise quickly if the company can persuade investors that it’s on the rise again. If enough bears decide Shake Shack is on the way up, they would exit their positions, which means buying the shares and the rush for the exits would provide a powerful tailwind for this recently ground-down stock.

shake shack food


Continue Reading


City Helps Manhattan’s Garment District Hang on by a Thread




garment district

New York City officials have hammered out a plan to end a decades-old zoning regulation that protects manufacturing space in Manhattan’s historic Garment District and replaces it with programs designed to keep some of the industry in Midtown.

The plan, which is expected to be announced within days, would achieve a major goal of the real-estate industry, which has long sought to end the zoning. Landlords have argued it preserves more space than declining garment-production businesses can fill.

Advocates of New York City’s fashion industry, who have battled to maintain the zoning, expressed support for much of the proposal, which was circulating behind the scenes last week. These proponents have argued that a vibrant Midtown presence remains critical to the local industry, which relies on a network of services that offer speed and efficiency. Advocates also recognize that foreign competition and other forces have caused the industry to hemorrhage tens of thousands of jobs, and they have been open to replacing the zoning with other programs.

The plan worked out by City Hall, elected officials and advocates on both sides of the issue would lift a 1987 mandate to preserve millions of square feet of apparel-production space on certain side streets in the Garment District, which is bounded roughly by West 40th and West 35th streets and Broadway and Ninth Avenue. If approved by the city council, the proposal would allow property owners to convert buildings to other uses, such as office space.

The plan would preserve a garment-industry presence in Midtown partly by using up to $20 million in city funds to acquire a building dedicated to manufacturers. The plan also includes a tax abatement for Garment District landlords who set aside at least 25,000 square feet in their buildings for manufacturers.

“I don’t view this as a win for the real-estate industry,” said James Patchett, chief executive of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “It was a win for the garment industry because we have been watching for…the last few decades the decline of the garment industry in New York.”

The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, last spring first proposed eliminating the special zoning, but that triggered fierce opposition from fashion-industry advocates who felt it didn’t include enough to preserve a portion of the industry in Midtown.

The latest plan incorporates recommendations from a committee of the Garment District’s various stakeholders including Council of Fashion Designers of America and Garment District Alliance. Representatives of the garment industry who served on that committee say the proposal is more palatable than the earlier plan, which sought to lift the preservation regulations and help businesses relocate to other emerging hubs.

“The Garment Center’s unique ecosystem of skilled workers and specialty suppliers clustered in one place is the foundation that the wider New York fashion world is built on,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer who helped form and lead the steering committee with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “What we’ve negotiated here is a real plan to preserve it for years to come.”

In the Garment District’s heyday, from the 1920s to the 1950s, it was one of the city’s largest employers, with hundreds of thousands of clothing manufacturing jobs. But rising rents and global competition started to take its toll as manufacturers moved jobs overseas. In 1950, apparel-manufacturing jobs in the city numbered 334,182, according to the Garment District Alliance, a group that represents both landlords and businesses. By 1990, the number had dropped to 93,986, the Alliance said. And in April, the city’s apparel manufacturing fell to 11,900, a 7% drop from the prior year, according to the state Labor Department.

About 9 million square feet fall within the boundaries of the 1987 zoning regulation, according to the Alliance. But many landlords are leasing space for uses that don’t comply with those rules. Estimates of the amount of space used for garment production in the zoned area range from 700,000 square feet to 900,000 square feet, according to the Alliance and fashion-industry advocates.

“This plan provides needed investments in the fashion-manufacturing sector, while at the same time removing antiquated zoning restrictions that have simply failed to stop the exodus of jobs overseas,” said Barbara Blair, president of the Alliance, which counts many property owners among its members.
Indeed, even some Garment District proponents have given up space there, pressured by rising real-estate costs. For example, Nanette Lepore, the owner of her eponymous brand, is moving a large part of her operation from the Garment District to about 5,000 square feet of built-out space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She will maintain about 1,100 square feet in the Garment District, where her firm produces about 80% of its product, she said.

“It wasn’t just the cost that got me to the Navy Yards,” Ms. Lepore said. “We’re working in a place with paper makers, artists, jewelry makers and all the food people on the main floor.”

The city plan has a two-pronged approach for manufacturers seeking to stay in the Garment District. Landlords taking advantage of the tax-abatement part would have to lease space for a minimum of 15 years at rents, including expenses such as taxes, capped at $35 a square foot.

Officials with the Economic Development Corporation said they have gained commitments from three owners for space in four buildings, totaling 300,000 square feet.

The other major part of the proposal is the city’s commitment to buy a Garment Center Building with a nonprofit developer, who would operate and manage the property as dedicated production space. TThe city said it would issue a request for proposals for the building acquisition in the fall.Some proponents of preserving the District said they are concerned that the city’s efforts to acquire permanent space won’t immediately begin. Meanwhile,he city will launch the public-review process to lift restrictions on June 11, giving advocates limited time to get their constituents up to speed.
“We did want to preserve the manufacturing in what is the center now but be realistic that the growth is outside the district,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said.

“The most important part for manufacturers—the building acquisition—isn’t ready to release,” said Gabrielle Ferrara, a board member with the Garment Center Supplier Association. She added, “Manufacturers would like to acquire a permanent space so they can directly control their future.”


Continue Reading


Tesla to open Shanghai electric car factory, doubling its production




tesla shanghai

Tesla is to open a new electric car production plant in Shanghai, its first outside the US, chief executive Elon Musk said from the city on Tuesday.

The new auto plant is slated to produce 500,000 cars a year, taking Tesla’s total global manufacturing capacity to 1m vehicles a year. Most automotive factories are tooled to produce 200,000 to 300,000 vehicles a year.

The Shanghai municipal government welcomed Tesla’s move to invest not only in a new factory in the city but also in research and development. It suggested it would help with some of the capital costs saying it would “fully support the construction of the Tesla factory”.

China has long pushed to capture more of the talent and capital invested by global automakers in advanced electric vehicle technology. Shanghai is one of the centres of the Chinese automotive industry.

Tesla said the first cars would roll off the Shanghai production line about two years after construction begins on the factory. Production will ramp up to 500,000 vehicles a year about two to three years later, roughly matching the planned output at Tesla’s current Fremont, California factory.

The announcement came as the price of Teslas made at the company’s US factory and sold in China rose as a result of the new 25% tariffs imposed by the Chinese government in retaliation for Donald Trump’s increase in duties on Chinese goods. Tesla had been in protracted negotiations to open a Chinese factory to help bolster its position in the country.

China is the world’s largest auto market with more than 28m vehicles sold last year, and annual sales are forecast to top 35m by 2025. It is also the world’s largest market for electric vehicles, driven by new regulations and China’s aim to have 100% electric vehicles by 2030.

Tesla shares were up 1.5% in early US trading, even as some analysts questioned where the loss-making company will get the capital required to build and staff such a large plant. Tesla has burned through more than $1bn in cash while struggling to ramp up production of its all-important mass-market Model 3 electric car.
Tesla recently hit its 5,000-a-week production target for its Model 3 and opened up its configuration system to those with vehicle reservations, of which it has over 450,000, requiring a further $2,500 (£1,886) deposit from each buyer.

Musk has said Tesla will be cash-flow positive this year. Analysts have predicted the company will raise capital to fund a list of new projects, including launching an electric semi truck, a pickup truck and a compact SUV, as well as new battery and vehicle production facilities that Musk has proposed for China and Europe.


Continue Reading