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Superpedestrian Will Add Another 1500 LINK Scooters to LA Streets – dot.LA

by Nov 3, 2022Blog0 comments

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Zac Estrada is a reporter covering transportation, technology and policy. A former reporter for The Verge and Jalopnik, his work has also appeared in Automobile Magazine, Autoweek, Pacific Standard, and BLAC Detroit. A native of Southern California, he is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston. You can find him on Twitter at @zacestrada.
While the electric scooter market might appear flooded based on how many of the vehicles are scattered along sidewalks in major U.S. cities, there is yet another company on the block trying to make the case for alternative mobility solutions across the country, including here in Los Angeles.
Founded in Cambridge, Mass., in 2013, transportation robotics startup Superpedestrian launched its LINK e-scooter network in its hometown (which is also home to Harvard and MIT) in early 2020—just as the coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on demand for shared services like ride-sharing, bike-sharing and, of course, e-scooters.
That may have helped LINK gain a footing in L.A. and other locales, however, as Superpedestrian has now expanded the service to nearly 50 cities around the world.
“At the beginning of the pandemic there were a lot of people who went out and bought their own cars because they thought it would be a safer way to get around,” Superpedestrian policy and business development manager Sharon Zhang told dot.LA. “But now they’re seeing how much it costs to own a car.”
Superpedestrian’s LINK scooters arrived in L.A. in August 2021 through a program with the city’s Department of Transportation. There are currently about 3,500 of the company’s electric scooters dotted around the city—from Downtown to the San Fernando Valley and in neighborhoods like Koreatown, Eagle Rock and Highland Park—and LINK plans to ramp up to 5,000 scooters on city streets this year. Superpedestrian has also parked some of the scooters around USC and UCLA, in the hopes of building ridership among college students.
Superpedestrian deployed its first vehicles in neighborhoods that it identified as either popular for other e-scooter companies, or as having less-than-adequate bus or light-rail service and ripe for micromobility solutions. While LINK initially appealed to recreational riders, it’s increasingly being used by riders to commute to work and school or to connect with other transportation options, according to Zhang. LINK says the average scooter ride in the city is 1.4 miles and less than 15 minutes long. (Rides cost $1 to unlock the scooter, plus 39 cents per minute.) So far, the company has attracted more than 400,000 rides in L.A. covering over 540,000 miles.
Of course, LINK has to compete in a crowded e-scooter market that has exploded in popularity since the mid-2010s. The L.A. area is dominated by Santa Monica-based Bird, which went public through an SPAC deal last year, and San Francisco-based Lime. Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have also stepped into the market—though Ford-backed Spin announced this month that it was “beginning to exit nearly all open permit markets globally” in a bid for profitability. There are also various bike-sharing services to account for, like the one run through L.A.’s Metro system.
“We’ve been asked in other markets why we’d want to be there when there were 6 or 7 other [e-scooter] companies,” Zhang said.
The ace up LINK’s sleeve, she noted, is that Superpedestrian designed and manufactured its own scooters, rather than outsourcing to a third-party company as some of its competitors do. Superpedestrian engineered the LINK scooters to be larger and heavier than some competing models; that makes them more stable on pothole-stricken streets and allows for a larger battery than other scooters, with an estimated 61-mile range in typical conditions.
Zhang said the reinforced chassis on the scooters not only provides stability but also lowers the costs of deploying them. Superpedestrian uses its own staff to charge and service the scooters—rather than employing contract or gig workers—at two L.A.-area facilities. That staff, part of a roughly 55-person team that the company employs in the area, can swap out different parts that might be damaged, rather than scrapping the whole scooter. And while the scooters are expected to last for several years on the streets, their batteries are expected to outlive other hardware pieces and can be reused with new scooters.
Vandalism is still the largest threat to LINK’s scooter fleet. Superpedestrian said they’ve received reports of the vehicles being recovered from across state lines and, in some cases, after being thrown into water; in the latter instance, some of the scooters were able to dry out and still function.
Superpedestrian also leans on its “vehicle intelligence” technology to run more than 1,000 system checks on individual scooters, which can inform technicians whether there’s a low charge level or power delivery and braking problems. Its system can also determine if a scooter is left in an unsafe location—such as blocking a sidewalk or access point—or if it’s entering an area where e-scooters are banned, in which case it will flash lights on its handlebars before eventually coming to a stop.
Later this year, Superpedestrian plans to incorporate a pedestrian defense system, which it says can determine if riders are on the sidewalk when they shouldn’t be or violating other traffic laws based on regulations. The scooters, which can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, are regulated to a 15-mile-per-hour maximum, and are slowed even more when the scooter’s sensors detect it is entering a no-ride zone, such as Dodger Stadium.
Zhang said Superpedestrian is encouraged by the inroads LINK has made in L.A. and is looking to expand to other markets. In California, LINK also operates in San Diego and Bay Area cities including Oakland and San Jose.
But with e-scooters having rubbed many local communities the wrong way, Zhang added that LINK and other micromobility operators need more buy-in from stakeholders beyond city government officials. That includes not just city councils and local transportation departments, but also neighborhood councils and colleges and universities.
“Our goal is to continue to expand,” Zhang said. “L.A. is an open market for e-scooter permits, though—and the whole area can be like swiss cheese in terms of regulations.”
Zac Estrada is a reporter covering transportation, technology and policy. A former reporter for The Verge and Jalopnik, his work has also appeared in Automobile Magazine, Autoweek, Pacific Standard, and BLAC Detroit. A native of Southern California, he is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston. You can find him on Twitter at @zacestrada.
On this episode of the LA Venture podcast, Anthemis Group Managing Director Vinay Singh talks about empowering creators, payments in media and how being a VC is similar to being a producer.
Anthemis is a platform for broad financial change and runs everything from a venture studio, to a SPAC, and everything in between. Singh’s focus is on leading seed and Series A investments out of the Anthemis $150M early stage fund. It also recently expanded to Los Angeles—a move Singh says was in part driven by the number of portfolio companies it oversees that are based here.
“We blinked and we have 10 or more portfolio companies here,” he said, “It's a great place to build consumer fintech companies, but also, you know, regular fintech companies; also a great place to build any company.”
Singh focuses on early-stage investments, but the firm sees itself as a platform providing everything from consulting and media expertise to support for academic work through its Anthemis Institute.
“The vision is really the kind of full-stack evolution of financial services and being able to be a part of that at every level,” he said.
Singh is also a partner at production studio Archer Gray, where he leads the studio’s venture arm. There, he’s helped the company produce 15 movies, including titles like “Lost Girls” and “Inez & Doug & Kira.”
Singh said there are many similarities between investing and producing: both require someone to understand where an industry is going and what people will want years down the line.
“Part of our job is a little bit to be fortune tellers— to understand kind of where the zeitgeist is, and where it's going,” he said. “Whether you're producing a movie or backing a company, it'll be somewhere between years and a decade until they really, maybe, see the light of day.”
At Archer Gray, Singh found himself “as the kind of conduit between the creatives and the money.” That meant figuring out how to structure deals and find the financing that would keep productions running. It also gave him an insight into a new corner of the changing creator economy.
”Increasingly, during that time, the money was coming less and less from Wall Street and more and more from technology platforms,” including crowdfunding powerhouses Indiegogo and Kickstarter.
At Archer Gray, he found that a major limitation was access to capital, especially as content creation became more democratized. The problem was the same for any industry in which people exist outside of traditional workforces—whether in Hollywood, independent professionals or the gig economy.
“Everything from, kind of, how they file their taxes to how they access capital to grow their business has been hard, like it's been a struggle always,” he said.
Those entrepreneurs often require technology tools to help set up their businesses and also new structures for accessing capital.That leads back to his work raising capital for fintech startups at Anthemis.
“It's really hard to make a living as a starving artist, no matter how talented you are,” Singh said. “With the focus on the gig economy and the focus on the creator economy, I think there's a lot of new interesting solutions.”
Anthemis has been particularly interested in the notion that the internet’s next iteration will allow creators to more directly control their products and have direct access to their audiences.
“In order for this to be ready for primetime,” he said, “you have to build the infrastructure. We have to build the kind of scaffolding that's going to support all the different types of businesses.”
Singh and his team are also interested in virtual economies like Roblox, and exploring financial instruments outside of traditional currency, such as blockchain-based ownership structures. That’s an evolution he sees playing out right now, which is bound to undergo more experimentation and more failure before the community arrives at a good structure.
“I think what we're probably going to find is that to have a truly decentralized economy,” he said, “you have to have some centralized regulatory kind of constraints on it to make sure that it can, you know, withstand turbulence and withstand, you know, everything from inadvertent problems to actual financial crime and attack. And I'm not sure we're there yet.”
“There is an emotional intelligence that's really important around innovation,” she said.
dot.LA reporter Kristin Snyder contributed to this post.
This podcast is produced by L.A. Venture. The views and opinions expressed in the show are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of dot.LA or its newsroom.
Click the link above to hear the full episode, and subscribe to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.
People are back to dining out after a steep drop-off in reservations during the pandemic. According to data from OpenTable, the number of reservations made on the app in August and September was higher than the same period of time in 2019.
As writer Amanda Mull recently noted for “The Atlantic,” a large part of this demand has been propelled by the reservation app Resy, an OpenTable competitor that “emerged with a simple proposition: It would show users what was available only at buzzy, well-regarded restaurants, and it would let them join a digital waitlist to maybe, just maybe, get called up for a tough-to-grab table if someone else canceled.”
But what if instead of ever having to worry about reserving a table at your favorite restaurant, you could own it instead? That’s the proposition behind NFTable, a Los Angeles-based startup co-founded by CEO Jordan Udko.
NFTable plays on the ever-alluring concept of being exclusive. Having your spot. Being on the list. The way it works is that NFTable partners with a dining establishment to create an NFT that corresponds to a specific table at said restaurant. In some cases the NFT is also coupled with unique properties— some restaurants opt to throw in complimentary drinks. NFTable then auctions off the NFT on its proprietary private auction platform. For now, those eligible to bid are existing customers at the restaurants who are invited via emails from the establishment.
One of the first adopters of this new technology is Angelini Ristorante & Bar, an upscale Italian-American eatery in the Pacific Palisades run by Amici Restaurant Group.
To start, Angelini Ristorante partnered with NFTable to auction off a 7:00 p.m Friday night reservation at one of its tables. Udko tells dot.LA, the NFT sold for 130 Sol — a cryptocurrency that translates to roughly $4,250. NFTable received 25% of the sale with the rest going toAngelini Ristorante. According to Amici Group operations manager Alessandro Silvestri, the restaurant donated its proceeds to charity. If the NFT is resold on a secondary market, NFTable gets an additional 7.5% of the sale, Udko says.
Silvestri says Angelini partnered with NFTable because Udko and his family were longtime customers at Angelini Ristorante’s sister restaurant, Amici Brentwood.
“The idea seemed solid and it was pretty revolutionary,” Silvestri says. “So we decided that we could help them push the project forward, and they could help us with the revenue.”
The prospect of owning your own restaurant table is, according to Udko, especially appealing as wait times for restaurants continue to soar.
“I think [calling it] season tickets for a restaurant is a great analogy,” Udko adds. He envisions NFTable not just as a utility for fine dining restaurants, but any place with a wait. “Any restaurant that has more demand than and supply is a potential utilizer of the product,” Udko says.
So what happens if the NFT owner doesn’t show up to claim their table?
To circumvent restaurants losing money on tables that are left vacant by the NFT holder, Udko says they can put a 15-minute “grace period” in place. If the NFT holder doesn’t alert the restaurant they aren’t coming or are a no-show for their reservation, the establishment can give the table to another guest.
Like all other NFT products, NFTables are tradable as well. In other words, if someone buys a table at one restaurant and later decides they don’t want it anymore, they can list their NFT to be auctioned off on the same platform.
There’s also the option of temporarily transferring ownership of the table to a friend using a temporary password system.
For now, Angelini Ristorante plans to stick with just one NFT-reserved table since it’s a relatively compact establishment. “I want to be clear that our first priority is our regular customers, especially the locals, so they will always have a kind of preferential channel,” Silvestri says. The limited usage is in part due to the fact that not everyone is on board with this new technology.
“We received emails back with a lot of compliments, and they said, ‘oh, this is so brilliant, it's a genius idea, who is behind it?’” Silvestri says. “And some others were like, ‘oh, this is disgusting, now that you are doing these things your business will go upside down.’”
Still, Silvestri remains optimistic about the new arrangement adding that it doesn't change much, in terms of day-to-day operations. “What we are doing is being innovative,” Silvestri says. “Maybe cryptocurrency will be the biggest flop of the 21st century, or maybe one day we’ll forget about U.S. dollars and we’ll all use coins or blockchain or whatever.”
Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.
Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.
Last year, TikTok made $4 billion in ad revenue. In 2022, that number is expected to jump to $11 billion. As companies like YouTube see their advertising earnings dwindle, TikTok’s ad revenue will account for 2.4% of this year’s total digital ad spend—up from 1% in 2021. The changing landscape coupled with TikTok’s ever-growing user base has forced digital marketing agencies to shift their strategies.

According to Ethan Curtis, the founder of TikTok marketing agency PushPlay, larger agencies are being forced to hire pre-existing teams dedicated to developing short-form content.
“These bigger agencies are slower because they're having to totally rehire the creative departments or acquire smaller agencies like mine,” Curtis says. Adding that much of the company’s early business consisted of completing projects for bloated agencies not yet familiar with the speed of TikTok trends.
To that end, Curtis says, says more traditional content approval methods—some of which involve multiple teams having to sign off on a piece of content which could take days—struggle to keep up with TikTok’s quick trend turnover. Adding that a song that trends one week can become irrelevant within the next, a reality most TikTok native creators already know.
Which is why some agencies are even hiring people just to consume content and assess trends.
“It is forcing brands to rethink their content approval and scheduling process—there needs to be room to just cut and post stuff on the fly,” Curtis says. “A lot of brands aren't set up that way.”
Kellis Landrum, co-founder of True North Social, says that while clients of his digital marketing agency aren’t turning away from platforms like Instagram, there’s a heightened awareness of TikTok—at least 70% of True North’s new business inquiries involve the short form video hosting service.
Though Landrum stipulates that, TikTok is “probably one of the most important things that we're working on right now.” True North hasn’t hired a team directly dedicated to the platform. Instead, the digital agency has incorporated TikTok production into its pre-existing social team. Part of this is due to TikTok’s rapid growth; TikTok lacks detailed data analytics and content scheduling tools that other platforms have. Because of this, Landrum says many agencies are still honing their strategies as the platform evolves.
True North has however reprioritized how it creates content for clients. On top of outsourcing some videos to influencers, he says one method involves producing longer videos that are then chopped up into smaller bits to be distributed on TikTok. He says the switch to video requires more effort than the early days of social media marketing—just a few years ago, one photo shoot could produce months of content for Instagram. Now, he says agencies have to put in more day-to-day production work as they create individual short-form videos.
Part of that production work includes trying to recreate the lo-fi aesthetic that comes from filming videos on a phone, that’s native to TikTok. But as more money is poured into TikTok marketing, Landrum also believes that ads will become more elaborate and have higher production value.
“Over the course of time, TikTok videos will start to become more produced as people can make more money off of them and the stakes get higher,” Landrum says.
Even as content becomes more produced, influencers remain at the core of many marketing agencies’ strategies. Aaron Cuker, CEO of digital marketing agency Cuker, says that since most of their clients view TikTok as a priority, his company integrated the platform into its pre-existing social team and expanded its influencer roster to include TikTok creators.
Part of TikTok’s marketing power is due to the platform’s algorithm, which Cuker says reaches a wider audience and increases conversion rates. Cuker says TikTok has reshaped the traditional path-to-purchase for customers as the algorithm exposes an extensive number of users to new brands and products.
“What once was a linear sales funnel, is now an infinite loop of consumers entering, exiting, and re-entering the sales journey based on various wants and needs,” Cuker says. “TikTok lies at the forefront of this new era for brand discovery and new customer acquisition.”
Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.
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