Point of View: Mind Boggling, a Favorite Law, the News


Point of View: Mind Boggling, a Favorite Law, the News

January 2024


would have thought that a business transaction in the parking industry would involve the number $1.5 billion? What venture capitalist would consider dropping that kind of change to purchase a parking operator? It boggles the mind.


Yet, apparently, it has happened.


Metropolis has attracted the capital and signed an agreement to purchase SP+. SP+ is one of the larger companies in the operator business, with 3,300 locations and 160 airports under its umbrella. Metropolis has some unique technology running around the country that can replace much of the revenue control equipment in those 3,300 locations, doing away with credit cards and cash, and many of SP+’s 20,000 employees.


But wait – in addition to this purchase, two more major parking entities are seeing a takeover. Flowbird in France is being taken over by EasyPark Group, owner of ParkMobile, and PayByPhone is being purchased by FLEETCOR, a major provider of vehicle payment systems.


Wags in our industry are predicting that this could cause a paradigm shift in how parking is run in commercial operations. It appears doubtful that it will affect university or on-street municipal parking, at least in the short term.


I will say that Alex Israel’s Metropolis is not a company to be sneezed at. It was just over five years ago that four people sat around their dining room table and began work on the ideas and technologies that became Metropolis. In those five years it grew to 450 locations and enough technology to attract more than a Billion and a Half in VC money. That is impressive.


I’m not sure how the purchases of Flowbird and PayByPhone are being funded, they are being purchased by companies that seem to have some skin in the game. Venture capitalists have only one type of skin in the game, that’s money. They look solely at the bottom line and if it doesn’t perform, they take action to make it so. Mr. Israel has reached out for funding and be certain that the source of that money will have an eagle eye on the bottom line. The other two companies are necessarily concerned about profit, but may have a longer-term view. 


It will be fun to watch what happens over the next year at these three companies. You can only wish them the best.


The law of unintended consequences is typically used to describe activity found in our government. It seems to work at all levels, however the higher you go, the more you see it.


Our President is walking a picket line with UAW auto workers. It seems the UAW is concerned, amongst other things, with the fact that it conceivably takes fewer workers to put together an EV than it does an ICE auto. They see a potential for considerable job losses on the horizon. My favorite law kicked in as the President and Co. are doing everything possible to support EVs, but are, at the same time, walking the picket line supporting the UAW. Hmmmmm.


When the new administration took over in Washington, gas prices skyrocketed almost instantly. This was reflected in inflation in all sectors of the economy. The folks in DC seem adamantly opposed to drilling for oil and gas and are doing most everything they can to make it difficult. Thus, gasoline prices are up, in some cases as much as $3 a gallon. Unintended consequences? Maybe not.


The Germans have switched over to ‘green’ energy. They are relying on wind to supply power to their industrial powerhouse. They have closed their nuclear power plants and are relying on gas from Russia (whoops). All this has caused the price of energy to go through the roof, and many of the factories in Germany are closing or moving out of the country. This, of course, means higher unemployment. One wag noted that the onetime powerhouse of Europe may be heading for another Weimar republic. Unintended Consequences…


Here in California and in other western states, lumber companies have been prevented from thinning forests and clearing undergrowth. Seems that destroys the natural state. However, it also keeps a high level of fuel so wildfires can burn quickly out of control and are almost impossible to stop. Of course, wildfires have been happening since the beginning of time, but thinning around towns and cities might not be a bad idea. Unintended Consequences.


We don’t seem to think things through to their natural conclusion. Wind farms kill birds and cause havoc for folks living nearby. Whales are dying near offshore wind turbines. GMO is outlawed, so farmers in poorer countries have difficulty with their crops and must use the insecticides that GMO replaced; and we can’t alter rice so kids in Southeast Asia are going blind with Vitamin A deficiency. So called “organic” vegetables are at least 25 percent more expensive than ‘non-organic’, thus making them more difficult for those with lower incomes to buy. Unintended consequences.


The list is endless.


Is it just me, or is the ‘green’ movement built around ignoring unintended consequences? Well, that’s a blog for another time.


I am periodically overwhelmed with information. My computer desktop is exploding with everything from special deals from Costco to what is happening in the parking world in Singapore. I wonder if it is all worth it. How does one separate the wheat from the chaff?


Let’s face it, it is impossible to sort your way through all this information. However, if you rely on someone else to do so and give you a list of what to read, you are filtering your information through their prejudices. Not a good thing.


Dennis Prager, radio talk show host and philosopher, believes that you can become overwhelmed. And when you do, your ability to understand any information is threatened. So, he takes a day off each week. For one day a week (in his case, Saturday) he talks to no one, turns off the computer and TV, and simply relaxes and lets the information in his brain percolate. He says the chaff simply goes away, and the wheat remains. The brain works in mysterious ways.


He is in a high information business and it’s important to him to get as much input as possible so he can carry on conversations on his talk show. However, he is not afraid to admit to a caller when he doesn’t know anything about the topic the caller brings. He then is in a perfect position to ask good questions and learn from his listeners.


It’s an editor’s job to sift through all the chaff and publish only the wheat. The problem is that you have the same issue. Back in the ‘day’ editors were hard-bitten realists who required at least three sources to confirm a story. Technology has changed all that. Stories move so quickly that there is simply no time to edit. A person catches a story on their cell phone and it can be flashed around the world in seconds. No one thinks to look at the pictures or question what happened. (An editor’s job).


Here at PT, we give it our best shot. We have an aggregator that publishes around 10 to 15 stories about parking each day. When you look at the story, you see the headline and the first couple of sentences. You can then decide what you want to read. It’s called parknews.biz.


Astrid and I worry daily over what stories we are including in PT and hopefully select those that interest you. If we don’t, let us know. Our goal is to keep the clutter minimized.


I read somewhere that only about 5 percent of the people who read online social media (Facebook, X, LinkedIn, etc.) actually comment on what is there. I’m not exactly sure what that means, except that perhaps the information we receive online is so vacuous, that it doesn’t intrigue us enough to comment about it. Or it could be that you are so overwhelmed with information that you simply don’t care enough comment.


I would commend Dennis Prager’s approach to you. Take some time away from the media, all of it, and let your mind relax and do its sifting. Who knows? Maybe you, too, can separate wheat and chaff automatically.

Article contributed by:
John Van Horn
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