Another Dotcom Disaster in the Making


Posted by Ed 58 days ago
Culture Trip Struggles to Justify Massive Investment
After taking in $102 million in funding you’d assume that travel media website Culture Trip would be well on the way to building a substantial business, but that’s not the case — at least according to its most recent set of consolidated company accounts.

In the year to the end of September 2018, The Culture Trip Ltd generated only $659,000 (£515,000) in revenue — a 44 percent improvement on the previous year’s total. Despite the growth, that figure that seems hard to square with its lofty external backing.

Unsurprisingly, given its ambitions, the business also posted a substantial loss of $30.3 million (£23.9 million) a 159 percent increase versus 2017. 


Ed 58 days ago
Culture Trip insiders expose toxic growth at a prized media startup
Culture Trip has raised $100 million and claims millions of visitors a month. Former staff members paint a less than perfect picture: they allege a culture of fear, high staff turnover and constant changes in strategic direction
On Valentine’s Day 2018, the most senior member of Culture Trip’s US editorial team stepped into a meeting with Kris Naudts, the firm's CEO and founder. During his last visit, Naudts had fired the then editor-in-chief and the head of sales, several former employees of the New York office claim.

A few weeks prior to Naudts' arrival, several editorial staff had also been made redundant. Soon after, Culture Trip's chief human resources officer left after just three months in the job.

Culture Trip is a London-based travel, media and entertainment website and app which, through its articles and videos, claims to “bring the world to everyone” and to “bring everyone closer together”. It says it has a network of over 300 contributors around the world, writing about dozens of cities, with content ranging from travel advice to culture and entertainment.

The company, which claims to have 18 million unique monthly visitors, is one of the few UK travel and media startups to rapidly grow in the last few years. Since it was founded less than a decade ago it’s attracted more than $100m (£80m) in funding, employs around 300 staff, and is launching a new travel booking service to compete with established holiday firms.

In New York, the US editorial lead remained the most senior member of staff in the satellite office. She had been called into the meeting after she refused a request by the CEO to rearrange the desks in the office in the middle of the workday. Sitting across from Naudts with a colleague from the sales team, she started to lay out a series of Post-it notes on the table as a way of mapping out the office's desks.

Naudts picked up one of the sticky notes, rolled it into a ball, and threw it at her. Then, chuckling, he did the same with another Post-it, and another, and another, sources aware of the incident claim.

Ed 38 days ago
Unicorn, e-scooter startup from co-creator of Tile, shuts down with no money for refunds
‘I am upset he basically robbed everyone of his customers and is closing without delivering any scooters’
It was a stupid idea at a terrible time; startup company Unicorn thought they could convince people to spend $699 on an electric scooter - as opposed to simply paying a few bucks each time they use one of the ubiquitous e-scooters littering cities across the country. 

After blowing all the cash they raised from investors and pre-orders on Facebook and Google ads, CEO Nick Evans said in an email that the company had "totally failed as a business" and would "spread the cost of this failure to you, the early customers that believed in us."

In total, the company received just 350 pre-orders for the glossy white e-scooters.  

And nobody is getting a refund, as "we are completely out of funding."

We could have continued moving forward and taking more orders and that would continue to fund the business, and if we did that might have been able to deliver the product, but we also may have not been able to sell enough Unicorns, so by doing that we would be risking more people’s orders. So we made the very, very difficult decision to stop.

A large portion of the revenue went toward paying for Facebook ads to bring traffic to the site. A portion also went to our manufacturer in the form of a down payment to build the scooters, but unfortunately that down payment cannot be redeemed for a portion of the scooters that we were planning to order.

Unfortunately, the cost of the ads were just too expensive to build a sustainable business. And as the weather continued to get colder throughout the US and more scooters from other companies came on to the market, it became harder and harder to sell Unicorns, leading to a higher cost for ads and fewer customers.


"We are so, so very sorry," Evans concludes.

Ed 7 days ago

Sometimes it’s darkest before it’s … pitch black.


Things are going from bad to worse at SoftBank. Since January 2019, Vision Fund firms have laid off over 10,700 employees — more than 2x the workforce of Twitter. And last year will soon be the good old days.


August turned into the mother of all summer bummers for the Vision Fund (let’s stop putting numbers on it, as this is the first and last fund from SoftBank). SoftBank was likely hoping Oyo’s growth would be the antibiotic to what ails the current portfolio.

However, Oyo is about to become a heat shield for We as it turns into the new problem child — not smoking pot behind the gym, but crashing dad’s car into a Chick-fil-A. 

Ed 3 days ago
Urban e-scooters have caused a 365% surge in hospital admissions, according to a recently published UCSF Study. And an increase in CO2 emissions.
Eggheads have crunched the numbers and the results are in: It’s not just your dignity you lose with e-scooters, life and limb are in peril, too.
If you’re thinking of riding one of those things, wear a helmet.
There were nearly 40,000 electric scooter injuries in the United States between 2014 and 2018, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Surgery on Wednesday.

Specifically, in 2014, there were 4,582 injuries, and by 2018, that annual figure stood at 14,651 – that’s a 222 per cent surge over the four-year period.

The number of hospital admissions from accidents also skyrocketed to almost 3,300, a surge of 365 per cent, over the same period.
The survey, conducted by researchers at UC San Francisco, analyzed data taken from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a project led by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to monitor the safety of consumer gizmos.

How green are dockless e-scooters?

Dockless e-scooter companies have for roughly two years touted their devices as not only convenient but also a win for the environment.
But a growing body of research suggests that the scooter craze may not be as green as advertised.
To change that, experts say, companies such as Lime, Bird and Wheels must manufacture more robust e-scooters while riders need to increasingly use those devices in lieu of driving.
According to studies, many people are cruising around on e-scooters as an alternative to cleaner forms of transportation, such as biking, walking and taking the bus.

Still, experts say the fast-evolving industry has the potential to revolutionize urban travel and significantly reduce planet-warming emissions.
Data starting to emerge from cities around the country seem to contradict that testimony. About 40% of scooter rides have replaced biking or walking trips in San Francisco and Portland, Ore., according to recent municipal surveys.

A survey from Paris was even more grim, finding that 85% of scooter rides replaced either walking, biking or public transit trips.

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