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Written by Kirsten Korosec

GM’s car-sharing service Maven to exit eight cities

GM is scaling back its Maven car-sharing company and will stop service in nearly half of the 17 North American cities in which it operates.

A spokesperson who confirmed Maven was shutting down in some cities, without identifying the locations or number that will remain, said the company plans to focus on markets that have the strongest demand and growth potential.

The WSJ, which was the first to report the impending shutdown, said Maven will continue to operate in Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Toronto. However, TechCrunch has received information from Maven customers that the car-sharing and peer-to-peer service in Washington, D.C. was also shutting down. The Maven Gig service will remain in Washington D.C.

TechCrunch will update the article with more details about which markets Maven plans to exit.

Maven’s car-sharing service is available in Ann Arbor, Mich., Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. as well as Toronto, according to its website. Maven Gig, a service it launched in 2017 that rents out vehicles to rideshare and delivery drivers who use apps like Uber, Lyft and UberEATS, operates in Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, NYC and Washington, D.C. 

GM conducted a market-by-market analysis to determine which cities it would exit, according to the spokesperson.

When Maven first launched in 2016 it helped bring (and expand) several of GM’s existing test programs under one brand. The mobility division initially launched as a car-sharing service akin to Zipcar.

At the time of its launch, Maven was essentially three car-sharing services in one that included a city-based service that rented GM vehicles by the hour through an app and another for urban apartment dwellers in Chicago and New York.

A smartphone app, which is central to Maven’s business, is used by customers to search for and reserve a vehicle, unlock the door and remotely start, cool or heat the car.

But Maven has had its share of challenges. Demand was lackluster in some markets and the team tweaked, added or removed programs altogether in an effort to figure out what would work.

Maven CEO Julia Steyn left GM in January. TechCrunch has also received tips from users complaining about the service and the platform — even being locked out of the vehicles in areas with limited cellular service.

The company launched in 2017 Maven Reserve in Los Angeles and San Francisco to allow customers to rent its GM-branded vehicles for a month at a time. It also started Maven Gig in hopes of tapping into a growing demand from rideshare and delivery app drivers.

In July, the automaker launched a service in Chicago, Detroit and Ann Arbor that let owners rent out their personal GM-branded vehicles through its Maven car-sharing platform. The peer-to-peer car rental service was designed to operate in a similar fashion to how Turo and Getaround work.

The creation of Maven was an important milestone for the automaker. GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra used a study commissioned in the wake of the ignition switch engineering scandal to accelerate her plans to transform the culture and operations at the automaker. Dozens of executives participated in transformational leaders programs; Maven was one of the fruits that spun out of that.

Maven was part of a wave of initiatives and investments announced by GM in early 2016 that illustrated its new interest in unconventional transportation that moved past the traditional core business of producing, selling and financing cars, trucks and SUVs to consumers.

That year, GM invested $500 million into ride-hailing startup Lyft, bought the remaining assets and tech of ride-hailing company Sidecar and, most famously, acquired self-driving car startup Cruise.

Maven was notable because, unlike the other pursuits, this was its own commercial business.

GM’s car-sharing service Maven to exit eight cities

GM is scaling back its Maven car-sharing company and will stop service in nearly half of the 17 North American cities it operates in.

A spokesperson who confirmed Maven was shutting down in some cities, without identifying the location or number that will remain, said the company plans to focus on markets that have the strongest demand and growth potential.

The WSJ, which was the first to report the impending shutdown, said Maven will continue to operate in Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Toronto. However, TechCrunch has received information from Maven customers that Washington D.C. was also shutting down.

TechCrunch will update the article with more details about what markets Maven plans to exit.

Maven’s car-sharing service is available in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Washington D.C. as well as Toronto, according to its website. Maven Gig, a service it launched in 2017 that rents out vehicles to rideshare and delivery drivers who use apps like Uber, Lyft and UberEATS, operates in Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, NYC and Washington D.C. 

GM conducted a market-by-market analysis to determine which cities it would exit, according to the spokesperson.

When Maven first launched in 2016 it helped bring (and expand) several of GM’s existing test programs under one brand. The mobility division initially launched as a car-sharing service akin to Zipcar.

At the time of its launch, Maven was essentially three car-sharing services in one that included a city-based service that rented GM vehicles by the hour through an app and another for urban apartment dwellers in Chicago and New York.

A smartphone app, which is central to Maven’s business, is used by customers to search for and reserve a vehicle, unlock the door, and remotely start, cool, or heat the car.

But Maven has had its share of challenges. Demand was lackluster in some markets and the team tweaked, added or removed programs altogether in an effort to figure out what would work.

Maven CEO Julia Steyn left GM in January. TechCrunch has also received tips from users complaining about the service, the platform, even being locked out of the vehicles in areas with limited cellular service.

The company launched in 2017 Maven Reserve in Los Angeles and San Francisco to allow customers to rent its GM-branded vehicles for a month at a time. It also started Maven Gig in hopes of tapping into a growing demand from ride-share and delivery app drivers.

In July, the automaker launched a service in Chicago, Detroit and Ann Arbor, Mich. that let owners rent out their personal GM-branded vehicles through its Maven car-sharing platform. The peer-to-peer car rental service was designed to operate in a similar fashion to how Turo and Getaround work.

The creation of Maven was an important milestone for the automaker. GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, used a study commissioned in the wake of the ignition switch engineering scandal, to accelerate her plans to transform the culture and operations at the automaker. Dozens of executives participated in transformational leaders programs. And Maven was one of the fruits that spun out of that.

Maven was part of a wave of initiatives and investments announced by GM in early 2016 that illustrated its new interest in unconventional transportation that moved past the traditional core business of producing, selling and financing cars, trucks and SUVs to consumers.

That year, GM invested $500 million into ride-hailing startup Lyft, bought the remaining assets and tech of ride-hailing company Sidecar, and most famously acquired self-driving car startup Cruise.

Maven was notable because unlike the other pursuits, this was its own commercial business.

Quadric.io raises $15M to build a plug-and-play supercomputer for autonomous systems

Quadric.io, a startup founded by some of the folks behind the once-secretive bitcoin mining operation “21E6,” has raised $15 million in a Series A round that will fund the development of a supercomputer designed for autonomous systems.  

The round was led by automotive Tier 1 supplier DENSO and its semiconductor products arm NSITEXE, which will also be one of Quadric.io’s customers for future electronic systems in all levels of autonomous driving solutions. Leawood VC also participated in the Series A round.

The company says it will use the injection of capital to build out its product and hire more people, as well as business development.

PearUncork CapitalSV AngelCota Capital and Trucks VC are seed investors in Quadric.io.

The roots of Quadric.io grew from a seemingly disconnected mission to produce an agricultural robot designed to transform the way vineyards were managed. The company launched in 2016 by CEO Veerbhan Kheterpal, CTO Nigel Drego and CPO Daniel Firu — all co-founders of 21 Inc. The bitcoin startup, once known as 21E6, would later rebrand as Earn.com before being acquired by Coinbase for $100 million.

Quadric’s original plan was stymied by some real-world fundamentals. The power-hungry ag robot was weighed down by batteries that became too unwieldy to move amongst vineyard rows and the processing time to turn loads of environmental data into actual actions based on algorithms were too slow.

Quadric was looking for a chip designed for processing on the edge and that supported decision making in real time — all while crunching data faster and sipping, not slurping power. That need grew into Quadric’s core product today: a supercomputer that the company says hits that sweet spot of increased computational speed and reduced power consumption.

Kheterpal noted in a recent post on Medium that Intel’s CPUs work “very well for standard computer processing” and Nvidia’s GPUs have “ushered in astounding new graphics processing for gaming and much more.” But, he argued, Quadric needed something neither of those companies could provide: a chip designed for processing on the edge.

The company created a single unified architecture in the supercomputer that enables high-performance computing and artificial intelligence. The supercomputer, which is built around the Quadric Processor, is plug-and-play. This means people can plug in their sensor set and build their entire application to support “near-instantaneous” decision making, Quadric says. The company claims that early testing of Quadric’s system has shown up to 100 times lower latency and a 90% reduction in power consumption. 

Quadric designed the instruction set, chip architecture and system architecture of the chip. System-level manufacturing is done at a contract manufacturer in Santa Clara, Calif., while chip manufacturing and assembly is done in Asia.

Quadric argues this underlying technology is a prerequisite for companies developing autonomous systems that will be used in the construction, transportation, agriculture and warehousing industries. The underlying tech that supports autonomous machines used in these industries either lacks the performance or solves only a small part of the full application, according to Quadric.

The startup contends that machines with autonomous functions require processing speed and responsiveness “on the edge” — meaning at the machine level, not in the cloud.   

Other companies, most recently Tesla, have opted to build their own chips to meet this specific need. But as Kheterpal notes, not all companies have the resources to build the tech from the ground up. 

“ Quadric is a plug and play option that eliminates the need for building heterogeneous systems with significant hardware and software integration costs — thereby taking years off of product development roadmaps,” Kheterpal wrote.