Media & Entertainment

Nick Allen Is Out As CEO Of Shuddle, Doug Aley Steps In To Lead ‘Uber For Kids’ Startup

Comment

Image Credits:

The cost of competing against Uber can be high, and today comes news of another casualty in that race. TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Nick Allen, the founder of Shuddle, has stepped down as CEO of the company. Shuddle is an on-demand transport service aimed at mainly at children, but also seniors and others who need extra attention beyond simple pick up and drop off.

Allen, who quietly left the role earlier this month, has been replaced by Doug Aley. Aley comes from Minted, where he had been the GM of new business. Before Minted, he was an executive at e-commerce giants Amazon and Zulily (where he also focused on parents as customers).

Allen — who had also cofounded Uber competitor Sidecar — is not leaving Shuddle altogether. He will stay on as a board member and special advisor, “helping to guide the company’s mission,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement to TechCrunch.

Shuddle did not comment on the reason for Allen stepping down. One of our sources claims he “jumped ship” after Shuddle failed to take off and revenue stagnated. Shuddle simply says he stepped down voluntarily. In any case, his departure from the role earlier this month was sudden and unsettling, sources say.

Still, it seems amicable enough. “I’m extremely proud of the Shuddle team for pioneering safe and trusted rideshare for busy families, and I feel privileged to have served in my founding role,” said Allen in a quote provided by Shuddle. “As the company expands and evolves I’m thrilled to pass the reins to experienced working parents like Doug on the front lines of work and family balance.” (We have also reached out to Allen directly and will update with further comment as we get it.)

“My passion has always been growing companies that improve the lives of consumers,” Aley added in his own statement. “Today, I’m thrilled to join a great team that improves the lives of the most important social unit: families. As a father of two myself, I intimately understand the challenges facing modern families today, and I feel Shuddle is in an incredible position to be a great resource for those families.”

Bumpy roads for transportation startups

It’s hard to say how Shuddle has been doing of late. The company does not disclose data on how many rides it’s providing today, nor do we have other metrics that might underscore its progress. In the past it’s said it has thousands of customers and hundreds of drivers.

Earlier this year, Shuddle raised $9.6 million led by RRE Ventures to expand from its initial base in the Bay Area. As of today, Shuddle has yet to start services outside the region. But it has made moves to grow the number of rides on its platform. Teens and tweens, for example, can now get their parents’ permission to book rides directly on Shuddle.

From the start, Shuddle differentiated itself from other on-demand transport startups by focusing on certain niches of the market: children and others who needed extra assistance and care. For drivers, Shuddle provided them with extra insurance to carry children and additional training to do so. For parents and caregivers, it provided peace of mind with apps to track the progress of a passenger, extra safety and background checks of drivers, and more details about the drivers.

Adding extra checks and features may weigh down on Shuddle’s margins, but it also charges more than other transport services — there is a membership fee of $9, and rides are typically 15% higher than a basic Uber fare to the same destination, starting at $8 for carpooled rides or $12 per family.

But the wider picture for transportation services has been that success comes with economies of scale, which means a bumpy road for all but the very biggest players.

Allen’s earlier company, Sidecar, recently pivoted into concentrating on deliveries for businesses instead of transporting passengers after finding it too hard to go up against Uber and Lyft.

Lyft, meanwhile, is raising $500 million on a $4 billion valuation but is apparently spending a lot more than it is bringing in to grow and compete against its bigger rival.

Hailo ($100m raised and now looking for more) has retreated from the U.S. and faced layoffs. And like Sidecar, Gett is also looking to diversify into different verticals.

And even as Shuddle provides extra layers of service for its niche, it could easily find itself competing against much bigger and more capitalised rivals.

Uber, which has raised around $1 billion, could easily take it on by launching a similar service. Uber is already making some inroads into specific use cases for those unable to transport themselves: this service in Sarasota takes patients to and from medical appointments. And with UberFamily, it has already started honing its relationship with parents by offering extras like carseats. (Lyft used to provide rides to minors when their parents requested the service, but that is no longer the case.)

And that is before you consider existing competitors, which include no less than Mercedes Benz and smaller startups like HopSkipDrive out of LA.

Shuddle itself has raised around $12 million to date — extremely modest by Uber standards. Its investors are also behind the leadership change.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are grateful to Nick for the important role he has played in launching Shuddle and helping to lay the foundation for the company’s future growth,” said Kirsten Green of Forerunner Ventures. “Today we are excited to welcome Doug Aley as CEO and to leverage his track record of success in leading teams and products that put consumer experience at the forefront.”

On top of the CEO swap, Shuddle’s also adding another exec to its lineup. Andrew Byrnes is joining as general counsel and SVP of public policy. Byrnes’ last role was as chief of staff at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. On-demand startups including Shuddle itself have faced a lot of regulatory scrutiny, and this appointment should help Shuddle on that front.

More TechCrunch

Andreessen Horowitz’s American Dynamism fund has established a new fellowship program aimed at introducing top engineers and technologists to venture investing, a move that could help the firm less obvious…

a16z’s American Dynamism team launches program to introduce technical minds to VC

Another fintech startup, and its customers, has been gravely impacted by the implosion of banking-as-a-service startup Synapse. Copper Banking, a digital banking service aimed at teens, notified its customers on…

Teen fintech Copper had to emergency discontinue its banking, debit products

Autodesk — the 3D tools behemoth — has acquired Wonder Dynamics, a startup that lets creators quickly and easily make complex characters and visual effects using AI-powered image analysis. The…

Autodesk acquires AI-powered VFX startup Wonder Dynamics

Farcaster, a blockchain-based social protocol founded by two Coinbase alumni, announced on Tuesday that it closed a $150 million fundraise. Led by Paradigm, the platform also raised money from a16z…

Farcaster, a crypto-based social network, raised $150M with just 80K daily users

Microsoft announced on Tuesday during its annual Build conference that it’s bringing “Windows Volumetric Apps” to Meta Quest headsets. The partnership will allow Microsoft to bring Windows 365 and local…

Microsoft’s new ‘Volumetric Apps’ for Quest headsets extend Windows apps into the 3D space

The spam reached Bluesky by first crossing over two other decentralized networks: Mastodon and Nostr.

The ‘vote Trump’ spam that hit Bluesky in May came from decentralized rival Nostr

Welcome to TechCrunch Fintech! This week, we’re looking at the continued fallout from Synapse’s bankruptcy, how Layer wants to disrupt SMB accounting, and much more! To get a roundup of…

There’s a real appetite for a fintech alternative to QuickBooks

The company is hoping to produce electricity at $13 per megawatt hour, which would be more than 50% cheaper than traditional onshore wind.

Bill Gates-backed wind startup AirLoom is raising $12M, filings reveal

Generative AI makes stuff up. It can be biased. Sometimes it spits out toxic text. So can it be “safe”? Rick Caccia, the CEO of WitnessAI, believes it can. “Securing…

WitnessAI is building guardrails for generative AI models

It’s not often that you hear about a seed round above $10 million. H, a startup based in Paris and previously known as Holistic AI, has announced a $220 million…

French AI startup H raises $220M seed round

Hey there, Series A to B startups with $35 million or less in funding — we’ve got an exciting opportunity that’s tailor-made for your growth journey! If you’re looking to…

Boost your startup’s growth with a ScaleUp package at TC Disrupt 2024

TikTok is pulling out all the stops to prevent its impending ban in the United States. Aside from initiating legal action against the U.S. government, that means shaping up its…

As a US ban looms, TikTok announces a $1M program for socially driven creators

Microsoft wants to put its Copilot everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before Microsoft renames its annual Build developer conference to Microsoft Copilot. Hopefully, some of those upcoming events…

Microsoft’s Power Automate no-code platform adds AI flows

Build is Microsoft’s largest developer conference and of course, it’s all about AI this year. So it’s no surprise that GitHub’s Copilot, GitHub’s “AI pair programming tool,” is taking center…

GitHub Copilot gets extensions

Microsoft wants to make its brand of generative AI more useful for teams — specifically teams across corporations and large enterprise organizations. This morning at its annual Build dev conference,…

Microsoft intros a Copilot for teams

Microsoft’s big focus at this year’s Build conference is generative AI. And to that end, the tech giant announced a series of updates to its platforms for building generative AI-powered…

Microsoft upgrades its AI app-building platforms

The U.K.’s data protection watchdog has closed an almost year-long investigation of Snap’s AI chatbot, My AI — saying it’s satisfied the social media firm has addressed concerns about risks…

UK data protection watchdog ends privacy probe of Snap’s GenAI chatbot, but warns industry

U.S. cell carrier Patriot Mobile experienced a data breach that included subscribers’ personal information, including full names, email addresses, home ZIP codes and account PINs, TechCrunch has learned. Patriot Mobile,…

Conservative cell carrier Patriot Mobile hit by data breach

It’s been three years since Spotify acquired live audio startup Betty Labs, and yet the music streaming service isn’t leveraging the technology to its fullest potential — at least not…

Spotify’s ‘Listening Party’ feature falls short of expectations

Alchemist Accelerator has a new pile of AI-forward companies demoing their wares today, if you care to watch, and the program itself is making some international moves into Tokyo and…

Alchemist’s latest batch puts AI to work as accelerator expands to Tokyo, Doha

“Late Pledge” allows campaign creators to continue collecting money even after the campaign has closed.

Kickstarter now lets you pledge after a campaign closes

Stack AI’s co-founders, Antoni Rosinol and Bernardo Aceituno, were PhD students at MIT wrapping up their degrees in 2022 just as large language models were becoming more mainstream. ChatGPT would…

Stack AI wants to make it easier to build AI-fueled workflows

Pinecone, the vector database startup founded by Edo Liberty, the former head of Amazon’s AI Labs, has long been at the forefront of helping businesses augment large language models (LLMs)…

Pinecone launches its serverless vector database out of preview

Young geothermal energy wells can be like budding prodigies, each brimming with potential to outshine their peers. But like people, most decline with age. In California, for example, the amount…

Special mud helps XGS Energy get more power out of geothermal wells

Featured Article

Sonos finally made some headphones

The market play is clear from the outset: The $449 headphones are firmly targeted at an audience that would otherwise be purchasing the Bose QC Ultra or Apple AirPods Max.

8 hours ago
Sonos finally made some headphones

Adobe says the feature is up to the task, regardless of how complex of a background the object is set against.

Adobe brings Firefly AI-powered Generative Remove to Lightroom

All cars suffer when the mercury drops, but electric vehicles suffer more than most as heaters draw more power and batteries charge more slowly as the liquid electrolyte inside thickens.…

Porsche Ventures invests in battery startup South 8 to boost cold-weather EV performance

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

EU Council gives final nod to set up risk-based regulations for AI