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Veo Launches Class 2 E-bikes and Scooters in Washington, DC

Veo today announced a partnership with The District of Columbia to bring 720 Cosmo-E class 2 e-bikes and 720 Astro standing scooters to the city. Veo will begin deploying its mixed fleet of vehicles on Thursday, February 16, just in time for President’s Day weekend. Veo’s deployment in the District opens up new connections to Alexandria, VA and Arlington, VA, where Veo has operated since fall 2022.

In the District’s recent announcement of the news, DDOT Director Everett Lott said, “We are thrilled to see how popular this program is in the District and the great impact dockless scooters and bikes are having toward Mayor Bowser’s sustainability goals. With VeoRide successfully completing DDOT’s stringent permitting process, it will now help meet the ever-increasing demand for more devices and greater accessibility, something residents can now follow online, in real-time.”

Veo’s launch brings a new vehicle type to the District’s program: the Cosmo-E, a class 2 throttle-assist e-bike. The throttle allows riders to get where they need to go if they are unable to pedal, need support traveling up hills, or want a boost to get up to speed from a stopped position. Veo offers the shared micromobility industry’s only throttle-assist e-bike.

“We are honored to partner with the District of Columbia to expand sustainable transportation options with our most accessible e-bike yet,” said Candice Xie, Veo’s co-founder and CEO. “If we want to accelerate adoption of shared scooters and bikes, we need to follow the data. Veo’s throttle-assist e-bike receives four times as many rides per day as our pedal-assist e-bike. When we deploy vehicles that are in demand, more people will ride and cities can reach their clean transportation goals faster.”

Veo’s Cosmo-E and Astro will contribute to the District’s mixed fleet of micromobility options. Mixed fleets aim to offer something for everyone, from the parent who prefers a throttle-assist e-bike to make it home in time for dinner, to the young professional who wants to get to work on a standing scooter. Veo user research confirms the importance of mixed fleets: Riders between the ages of 18-25 prefer Veo’s stand-up Astro scooter, while riders aged 26+ prefer Veo’s seated Cosmo vehicles. Cosmo vehicles are also favored for longer trips, with riders traveling about one mile longer on Cosmos than stand-up scooters.

How to Ride

Locate a ride: Riders aged 18+ can locate vehicles across the District using the free VeoRide app.
Unlock and go: Using the VeoRide app, riders scan a QR code and pay $1 to unlock the vehicle. Riders then pay a $0.39 per-minute rate for the duration of their trip.
End your ride: Upon completion of the ride, riders park their vehicle in designated parking locations. To end a ride, riders must lock their vehicle to a bike rack or sign post using the Cosmo-E and Astro’s integrated cable lock and take a photo within the app to confirm proper parking.
District riders can get $10 in free credit with the promo code DCGO11 through March 18. Riders with low incomes can visit veoride.com/veo-access to apply for a discounted rate.

Meet the Fleet

The Cosmo-E and Astro are equipped with Veo’s latest operating system, meaning full compliance with local geofences and regulations, and Veo Voice, an on-vehicle audible feature that alerts riders and makes it easier to understand when they are entering slow-ride or no-ride zones. Both vehicles also include a swappable battery system which lets Veo technicians swap the battery pack on-site, enabling vehicles to be available 24/7.

Cosmo-E features:

Both a motor and pedals, giving users the option of pedaling or using the throttle to get where they want to go.
Large tires and a well-balanced frame with a low center of gravity.
18-inch alloy wheels for performance and control.
Active brake lights and glow-in-the-dark painted decals to increase safety and visibility at night.
Astro 4 features:

Active brake lights and the industry’s first integrated turn signal with flashing rear blinkers, allowing riders to communicate their movements to fellow road users while keeping their grip on the handlebars.
Bright under-deck lighting, in addition to front and rear lights, which increases rider safety by making the scooters easier to see during evening hours.
10-inch pneumatic wheels provide a more stable riding experience on changing terrain.
Front and rear suspension for a smoother ride with improved stability and control.
About Veo

Veo is on a mission to end car dependency by making clean transportation accessible to all. We have provided millions of shared bike and scooter rides in 50+ cities and universities across North America – and we’re just getting started.

Veo operates from a set of values that distinguish us in the industry. We are grounded in financial responsibility: Veo partnered with select cities to achieve profitability before scaling. Our in-house design and manufacturing process enables us to constantly innovate and provide cities with the next generation of shared electric bikes and scooters. We develop collaborative, long-term partnerships with cities and universities so we can work together toward a sustainable, safe, and equitable transportation future.

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Amid the AI hype, don’t forget about no-code

No-code startup Softr, which allows its customers to build apps from their existing data, announced Tuesday that it has added Google Sheets to its integration list.

Previously, Softr focused on Airtable databases. Its move to support data from Google’s spreadsheet product likely expands its potential customer pool. Even before that expansion, CEO Mariam Hakobyan told TechCrunch+ that her company grew its annual recurring revenue 3x from December 2021 to December 2022.

 

Softr’s quick revenue expansion is a good reminder that while the tech world seems completely consumed by all things AI, there’s quite a lot of work going on in other areas that are worth keeping an eye on.

That said, there is an interesting connection between AI and no-code worth writing down: Both are potentially great expanders of human capability. AI tooling could operate as a second brain of sorts for the digitally busy, and no-code services may allow nondevelopers to build the tools they need to complete their work. In both cases, the genres of new tech development have a shot at helping regular folks do a lot more, more quickly and often at a low cost.

Something else that modern AI tooling and no-code share is accessibility. Softr, for example, grew its base of signed-up users from 35,000 to 150,000 in 2022. That’s really quite a lot for a service that was, until recently, Airtable-specific. On the AI side, I don’t need to reiterate just how much market demand there is for modern LLM tooling.

Let’s dig into Softr’s progress since we last covered the company and chat about what we can learn about no-code progress as a method of building more accessible software.

Softr, no-code and empowering the regulars
Ask anyone who works at a company that builds software and isn’t part of the engineering or product orgs how long it will take them to get something built for their own needs. Without even making Jira ticket jokes, we all know what the answer will be. And to a degree, the standard situation makes sense: What nondeveloper employees need is often pretty basic software, and expensive engineers need to focus on the company’s core offering not internal tooling.

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Twitter’s legacy blue checkmark era is officially over

Twitter appears to have officially killed off its legacy blue checkmarks, one of the last remaining vestiges of the pre-Elon Musk owner era.

The legacy blue checks, which Twitter doled out to journalists, celebrities and other public officials for free to help curb impersonations and spam, were supposed to end April 1.

Musk took to Twitter on April 11 — days after the legacy checkmarks should have disappeared — to shift the end date to April 20 or 4/20. Yes, that’s the day when folks honor weed because Twitter is now owned by a middle schooler.

With the legacy checkmarks gone, Twitter will have verification marks only for paid users and businesses as well as government entities and officials. Now, if a user sees a blue checkmark and clicks on it, the label reads: “This account is verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number.”

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Autotech Ventures’ new $230M mobility fund adds fintech, circular economy to its investment strategy

Autotech Ventures will use its newly closed $230 million fund to expand beyond its foundation of early-stage ground transportation startups and invest in what the firm believes are the next big opportunities in automotive and mobility.

Fintech, logistics, supply chain and the circular economy are at the top of the list.

The $230 million fund, its third since launching in 2017, will be used to invest in seed through Series C mobility-related startups, according to the company. A mixture of financial and corporate LPs, including Allison Transmission, American Axle, Iochpe-Maxion and Shell participated in the fund.

“We’re still a ground transportation-focused firm and we have a very similar strategy [with this fund],” Alexei Andreev, Autotech Ventures managing director told TechCrunch. “On a high-level, it’s same as Fund 1 and Fund 2. However, one of the fastest areas of growth is SaaS-enabled fintech. Auto commerce is inefficient and there are large pockets of profit to capture.”

The firm is particularly interested in transportation-related fintech ventures that are poised to grow during a recession.

“We made a prediction that sooner or later there will be a recession and we identified areas that benefit when the economy softens, Andreev said, noting that this latest fund invested in Yendo, a Dallas-based startup (formerly known as Otto) that lets customers borrow against their vehicles at the same interest rate as standard credit cards.

Autotech Ventures’ previous fintech investments include U.K.-based buy now, pay later startup Bumper and Carpay, a buy here, pay here loan servicing SaaS platform for car dealers.

Andreev said the firm is also investigating investment opportunities in the circular economy, a nascent industry focused on finding ways to reuse materials and products. Circular economy startups have garnered an increasing amount of attention and investment as automakers transition away from gas-powered vehicles and towards EVs.

Autotech Ventures is also cautiously wading into generative AI, although Andreev was quick to note that the company has not made any investments in that area.

Autotech has more than $500 million under management and has invested in more than 40 companies.

Some of the firm’s investments include computer vision startup DeepScale (which was acquired by Tesla), Lyft, used vehicle marketplace operator Frontier Car Group, Drover, Outdoorsy, Swvl, parking app SpotHero and Xnor.ai, which Apple acquired in January 2020. Five of those startups have gone public, including indie Semiconductor and Volta Charging.

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