Re: WebVan buys HomeGrocer: walking wounded

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From: Karl Anderson (
Date: Wed Jun 28 2000 - 14:35:33 PDT writes:

> Imagine scaling it up--imagine that this is a big market, and that in a place
> like Manhattan they are getting, oh, 500 calls an hour during peak times. And
> need to employ therefore about 200 bike-riding messengers. (Or car-owning
> messengers if in LA.) In THIS labor market? At THESE prices? How you going to
> amortize even the capital costs of a good bike? And even so: whjat market cap
> do you think a messenger service should have?

Most bike messenger companies don't supply anything but the
commnications equipment, worker's comp, and (sometimes) the
humiliating uniforms. Here in Portland I'm told that Kozmo bikers get

I've been watching the startup messenger company that some of my
friends are doing in SF. It's an interesting situation because
there's so little capital involved. A cell phone per rider, a
computer, and insurance and similar small business expenses (but no
rent, since the computer can be anywhere), that's about it. A handful
of riders, they dispatch themselves, sometimes there's an organizer at
the computer, sometimes she rides and catches up after hours. Riders
bring their own bikes (most worth <$250, some worth <$75) and locks.
There's a lot of movement between companies, stealing of routes &
stuff, & a few one-rider companies with a route, phone, and bike.
There's also several large national companies with offices in several
towns, I don't understand why they're still alive, must be client

Course, messenger companies make money off of the need to move very
important bits of matter around, which will always be there. Kozmo is
trying to make money off of the desire to pay through the nose for
luxury items, and pay extra to get them right now and with little
effort - which I hope throttles back before we start drinking gold
powder in our coffee.

Karl Anderson 

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