May 31, 2019

Profit-seeking "unicorns" turn to side hustles

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Many well-known consumer service startups have begun supplementing their core businesses with secondary revenue streams.

Why it matters: After lukewarm investor reception to IPOs by Uber and Lyft, there’s increased pressure to find paths to profitability.

On-demand delivery companies, whose business model is most similar to ride-hail because of slim margins and human labor costs, have been drawing additional revenue in several different says.

  • Grocery delivery service Instacart gets paid to promote select packaged goods to consumers.
  • Meal delivery companies Postmates and DoorDash offer a range of services to restaurants, from order management software to a white-label delivery fulfillment service to merchants like Apple and Chipotle.

WeWork, best known for its flexible office rentals, sells office design and management services to companies that want to import the WeWork brand and experience without physically uprooting.

  • The company also is experimenting with such things as an elementary school and apartment building with flexible leases.

Airbnb is going with a more direct adjacency: Hotel bookings.

SoFi, which for years was best known for refinancing student loans, has recently launched new businesses like deposits and robo-advising.

The bottom line: Few of these initiatives will rival the core business, but might give future investors more comfort that growth needn't come at the indefinite expense of profit.

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3 mins ago - Technology

The slippery slope of protest surveillance

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's call to treat antifa supporters like terrorists could be a green light for high-tech surveillance of dissidents.

Why it matters: It's unlikely the Trump administration can designate antifa as a terrorist group in any legally meaningful way, but the declaration gives law enforcement tacit approval to use a plethora of tech tools to monitor protesters and left-leaning activists.

The biggest crisis since 1968

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Bettmann/Contributor

The year 1968 has been on a lot of people’s minds lately — another year of protests, violence and upheaval that seemed to be tearing the nation apart.

Yes, but: This crisis also has moments we’ve never seen before — and some historians and experts say the differences suggest that 2020 doesn't compare well at all.

SoftBank to launch $100M fund backing companies led by people of color

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure said in a letter to employees early Wednesday that the firm will create a $100 million fund that "will only invest in companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of color."

Why it matters: The Opportunity Growth Fund is one of the first to put significant capital behind companies' statements of empathy and outrage in response to protests over systemic racism in the U.S. typified by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other African Americans by police.