Current users of Luxe are out of luck: The San Francisco-based parking service known for its blue-jacket clad, scooter-toting valets, is shutting down its door-to-door service. But CEO Curtis Lee is pushing back against the perception that the company is going out of business, Tweeting that he "doesn't care" what "most people think or say" about him, and making clear that "we have cash."
One would hope so. Last April, Luxe touted a $50 million series B investment from car rental company Hertz, and according to the Business Times, it's scored a total of $75 million in investments since it was founded in 2013. Nevertheless, users of the venture-backed service received news via an email obtained by techCrunch that the door-to-door valet service — wherein city drivers hand over their keys to Luxe valets to go find parking and scooter or skateboard back — would shut down at the end of May.
"We are launching a new service in the Summer of 2017 that makes finding parking and servicing your vehicle even easier," the email announced. "We will tell you more when the launch date nears. Stay tuned! However, as a result, we will no longer be continuing our door-to-door valet service in San Francisco after Thursday May 25, 2017."
Since its founding, Luxe has beat out similar app-based valet parking services that launched here like Zirx and Caarbon. "The reason why a lot of our competitors folded and the reason why the on-demand space is under so much heat is that companies haven't been able to demonstrate that they can turn profitable," Lee told Business Insider in an interview after receiving funding from Hertz.
In 2015, Luxe also differentiated itself from services like Uber and Lyft by moving away from a contractor-based business model and hiring its valets as employees. “As we grow, we have realized the need to assert more direct control over the customer experience and provide our valets with career development opportunities and benefits, none of which are possible within the boundaries of the 1099 model,” Lee wrote in July 2015.
Luxe valets have been involved in at least one fatal accident during the service's run. Last year, a Luxe driver operating an SUV was reportedly involved in a collision that killed a 56-year old woman. She was the passenger in a car driven by her husband on the way to a Giants game.
Last month, Luxe introduced Luxe Garages, a series of branded parking garages in San Francisco and Chicago. Lee tells TechCrunch that his company's vague new service will be "different" but “along the same vein” as Luxe Garages.
"We aren't going out of business," Lee tweeted this morning after news broke of the changes at Luxe. He did indicate, however, that there have been layoffs: "Many friends have reached out asking if I'm ok? Thank you, but it's not about me, it's about the great people who lost jobs. I'm fine." In a subsequent tweet, Lee encouraged a sense of perspective. "We have a lot of f**ked up things going on in this world, that's what we all should be caring about."