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Photo: Kia Kokalitcheva / Axios

South by Southwest is no longer the preferred launchpad for social apps, but it may be for others like Blue Duck, a San Antonio-based transportation company debuting its scooter service this weekend.

Context: Between Twitter's big breakout moment in 2007 and Meerkat's in 2015, SXSW has served as a great marketing opportunity for social apps. But that's ended as consumer trends have shifted and Hollywood and other consumer companies have taken over the festival.

More about Blue Duck:

  • Standing outside the Austin Convention Center, co-founder Eric Bell tells me that he came up with the idea out of frustration with his local public transit.
  • The company is currently using Xiaomi m365 scooters, though Bell says that his team has built tracking hardware it mounts on the scooters and modifies a range of the scooter parts.
  • For now, the company is self-funded, but he expects to soon raise outside funding.
  • Outside of SXSW, the company will start with college campuses in the South. It has a partnership with Hooked, a mobile app that provides deals from local food and services for college students.
  • Electric scooters are a growing trend: Bird, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based electric scooter startup raised $100 million this week, while dockless bike startups Spin and LimeBike are planning or have launched similar services. Though Bird settled with local lawmakers a suit over permitting, its scooters can now be impounded if left in hazardous places. Bell says his company hasn't had problems with law enforcement during SXSW so far.

The story has been updated to include more details about the company's scooters and clarify that LimeBike has already deployed its scooters in some cities.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
55 mins ago - Economy & Business

The European Central Bank and the market's moment of truth

ECB president Christine Lagarde; Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The biggest event for markets this week will be Thursday's meeting of the European Central Bank's governing council and the press conference following it from ECB president Christine Lagarde.

Why it matters: With interest rates jumping around the globe, investors are looking to central bank heads to see if they will follow the lead of Fed chair Jerome Powell, who says rising rates are nothing to worry about, or Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda, who has drawn a line in the sand on rates.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's next power play

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), America's ultimate swing voter, told me on "Axios on HBO" that he'll insist Republicans have more of a voice on President Biden's next big package than they did on the COVID stimulus.

The big picture: Manchin said he'll push for tax hikes to pay for Biden's upcoming infrastructure and climate proposal, and will use his Energy Committee chairmanship to force the GOP to confront climate reality.

Why picking a jury for the Derek Chauvin trial is so hard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The tough task of selecting a jury for former MPD officer Derek Chauvin's trial for the killing of George Floyd is set to begin Monday.

The state of play: "This case may be the most highly publicized criminal trial in a long time. ... That means that it's harder to find people who really have an open mind," Richard Frase, University of Minnesota Law School professor of criminal law, told Axios.

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