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When do you go native?

So you’re a startup founder. Or you’re in charge of a new project at a big company. (Or maybe you just imagine being either of these things.) And you suddenly realize: you have to make a whole slew of massive decisions right now, based on imperfect information, which will reverberate for months or years, and may spell the difference between success or failure.

Among the most dreaded and dangerous decisions are the technical ones. Your web stack. Your cloud provider. Your datastore. But it’s fair to say that the most contentious, lately, is for projects which involve a smartphone app. There, the biggest question of all, the one which must be answered before any work is done, and the one which will probably hang over you for years, is: do you go native?

What that means is: do you build separate native Android and iOS apps, each from scratch in a native language, almost certainly meaning two development teams? Or do you use one of the many tools which promise you two apps for the price of one?

You can of course just build one app at at time. That makes sense if iterating swiftly to product-market fit is more important than doubling your initial addressable market. But if you do so with a native app, be aware you’re implicitly deciding to have two development teams, and two separate and out-of-sync codebases to maintain, somewhere down the road.

Choose your technologies (and your developers) wisely, and you will be able to move deftly, hire (relatively) easily, iterate quickly, and pivot gracefully. Choose poorly, and you’ll be burdened with technical debt that weighs you down until you’re barely able to fix bugs, much less roll out new features.

Speed matters. Cost matters. The long-term benefits of a single codebase are obvious — as are the costs of subpar apps which wind up costing far more than your initial gains. You could conceivably be betting your whole company on this decision. So what’s the right answer?

This is a decision I see a lot. For context, I’m the CTO of HappyFunCorp, and we wrestle with this decision multiple times a year, as we design and architect new apps for clients, or do major overhauls or existing ones. So I can tell you with great confidence that the answer is: “It depends.”

Uber Freight snags Airbnb, Box veterans as it eyes global expansion

Uber Freight, which helps truck drivers connect with shipping companies, has made two high-profile hires this month as it continues to scale up its app and plans for a global expansion.

The company has hired Andrew Smith, one of Box’s early employees, to head up global sales at Uber Freight, and Bar Ifrach, formerly of Airbnb, to lead its marketplace team, TechCrunch has learned.

Smith had a 10-year run at Box, where he was most recently vice president of field and commercial sales for North America. Ifrach has moved up the ranks at Airbnb during his 5-year tenure, starting as a data scientist and eventually becoming director of data science for Airbnb Homes. Ifrach oversaw the data science development of Airbnb marketplace features such as matching, instant book, pricing, and monetization.

The pair started at Uber Freight this month, TechCrunch has learned. Both report directly to Lior Ron, who returned last summer. Ron was one of the co-founders of autonomous trucking company Otto, which Uber acquired in 2016. He left the company following Waymo’s trade secrets lawsuit against Uber.

As head of marketplace, Ifrach is going to build out and improve the app’s pricing infrastructure as well as how it matches drivers and loads, Uber Freight confirmed. Meanwhile, Smith will be focused on building out the company’s sales team and shaping its go-to-market strategy.

Uber Freight, which spun out of Uber to become its own business unit in 2018, has offices in San Francisco and Chicago. The company has been scaling up its business since launching in May 2017, growing from limited regional operations in Texas to the rest of the continental United States.

Uber Freight has bigger expansion plans for 2019. The company plans to more than double its staff this year and is eyeing international markets. The company doesn’t disclose employee numbers. However, insiders target the number at “hundreds.” Uber Freight already has a dedicated team looking into international markets, the company confirmed.

Uber Freight has been building out features in its app as it expands to other markets and tries to lure more users. For example, the company recently added a facility ratings feature that allows drivers to rate facilities on a scale of 1 to 5. There’s also an option to leave a written review. The facilities rating aims to help drivers decide whether to book a load.

These amenities – stuff like parking, bathrooms, and load wait time, are more critical than outsiders might realize. A survey of 150 trucking companies in 2018 found that 80 percent of carrier respondents refused to take loads from facilities for reasons that included inflexible appointment hours and lengthy detention times. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates detention times cost truckers a total of $1.1 to $1.3 billion in earnings each year.

Paris sues Airbnb for illegal listings and seeks $14.2 million

The City of Paris first warned Airbnb, and it is now taking action. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, told the JDD that the city is suing the company for 1,010 illegal listings. The fine could be worth as much as $14.2 million (€12.625 million).

Based on current legislation, you can’t rent an apartment more than 120 days a year. If you want to rent an apartment on Airbnb in Paris, you first must register your apartment with the city. The city then gives you an ID number so they can track how many nights you’re listing your apartment on Airbnb.

And yet, many listings still don’t have that ID number. The mayor’s office flagged around 1,000 apartments back in December 2017 and said Airbnb was dragging its feet. The company had little incentive to comply, as hosts were responsible for their own listings.

Thanks to a new law, the responsibility is now shared between the hosts and the platform. The City of Paris can now fine Airbnb for all those illegal listings, up to €12,500 per listing.

According to Hidalgo, Airbnb has been putting too much pressure on the housing market. She thinks that 65,000 apartments are now reserved for Airbnb in Paris alone. In some areas, it has become quite hard to find an apartment because of that. Local shops also suffer because tourists have different needs. In addition to better monitoring, Hidalgo is also in favor of restricting listings to 30 nights per year.

Airbnb told the JDD that it has complied with regulations and informed all Airbnb hosts about the new rules. The company also says that regulation in Paris doesn’t comply with European regulation. It’s clear that this fight is not over.