Theranos is a classic tale of hubris and schadenfreude, a blood-testing tech company that generated massive press, with a female CEO straight out of Gattaca who attracted hundreds of millions of dollars from investors, that is now imploding because its technology never worked.
Every sector gets its Theranos—so, who is the Theranos of the mobility space?
The answer starts with “mobility,” a word that bores me to tears. What does mobility mean? I’m already mobile; Americans are among the most mobile in the world, but in transportation, mobility ≠ “Mobility”, the new buzzword for companies that don’t have clear strategies in a world of increasing connectivity, autonomy, and electrification. (Case in point: BMW has for the last few years been beating the drum that they are no longer a car manufacturer, but a “mobility provider”—whatever that means.)
Mobility is used so broadly that it has become meaningless, and yet billions of dollars are flowing into disparate companies converging on what they hope will be a pot of gold, but will more likely be an expensive grave.
Bubble, thy name is Mobility. The criteria? Big fundraising, big name investors, beaucoup press, and the high expectations that come with big promises.
Let’s take a look at our candidates, courtesy of a flood of suggestions that came in when I posed the question online. Let’s start with the ride-hailing business, dominated by what are called TNCs, or Transportation Network Companies.