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Transportation

Austin (Briefly) Gets a No-Frills Private Bike Share

A San Francisco startup, Spin, debuted a station-free bike share in Austin. Is it the next big thing or are they just spinning their wheels?
At South by Southwest, bikes are a popular mode of transportation: Here's a scene of a bike pile-up from the 2012 festival.
At South by Southwest, bikes are a popular mode of transportation: Here's a scene of a bike pile-up from the 2012 festival.Julia Robinson/Reuters

In Austin, Texas, it’s time once again for South by Southwest—the annual film, media, and music festival/tech conference where the dreams of indie bands and startups are born. The combination of creativity, talent, and population density makes the event ripe for an entrepreneurial opportunity.

That’s the environment where we find the launch of a private bike-share company called Spin, which pronounced itself “live in Austin” this weekend. The San Francisco-based company launched a bare-bones program armed with an app and a fleet of bikes. Unlike most existing programs, Spin bikes aren’t docked at stations. On Friday, Spin CEO Derrick Ko told CityLab that his company planned to deploy 300 to 500 bikes in Austin. Ko and his co-founders, Euwyn Poon and Zaizhuang “Z” Cheng, are alumni of Lyft, Y Combinator, and Disqus as an engineer, an investor, and a software designer respectively.