Earlier this week, New York Times technology columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote a column about an app called “Luxe” that helps people park their cars.
The way it works is simple: You punch your driving destination in to Luxe. It estimates when you’re going to arrive. Then, a Luxe employee greets you. The Luxe employee takes your car and finds somewhere to park it.
In San Francisco, where Manjoo lives, parking is a giant pain. Luxe only charges $US5 per hour, or $US15 per day. The daily rate is half the price it normally costs to park in the city all day. The hourly rate isn’t too bad if you value your time properly.
Still! This seems like a silly, frivolous app.
Manjoo and I do a weekly podcast, and we talked about the app. He thoroughly defended it. He says it’s not frivolous, and that it is in fact one of the great, hidden benefits of living in San Francisco.
Here’s what he said about living in San Francisco. He’s being slightly jokey, but only slightly:
“San Francisco is this amazing place where there are many, many kinds of services that are enabled by smartphones and they just do stuff for you like this. But it’s not like they’re 1%-er apps, they’re cheaper than previous models, and they’re cheaper in some way because they are being funded by VCs. We in San Francisco get to — first of all, we have to pay higher real estate prices, but the benefit is that we get all these services at cut rate. So you get all these services that aren’t making a profit, you’re not paying for them to make a profit, VCs are funding them. But, on the other hand you have to pay real estate prices.”
He also said, that there are going to be competitors to this, so they are going to collectively lower the price of parking in San Francisco, which solves a huge dilemma in San Francisco. Lots of people drive to work in the city, and they used to have to pay $US30 a day, so Luxe has cut the price of parking in half.
This is a small hidden benefit to living in San Francisco. It’s super duper expensive to live there, but new mobile services are cutting down slightly on other costs, and making life better.
I doubt people who are protesting rising rents really care, but it’s an interesting counter view.
Here’s the podcast. We talk about this around the 17:18 mark.
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