Top Venture Capitalist Calls for “Urban Innovation” for Elevators

Michael Eisenberg, a venture capitalist and director of of automobile technology company Nexar Inc. and insurance startup Lemonade Inc., is considered one of the world’s top investors by such publications as Forbes. Now, he’s talking about elevators. As he writes about drones and pinpiont delivery in an opinion piece on CTECH, he adds, “Simply put, elevators do not serve customers today. Residential buildings today do not serve the residents living in our new ecommerce, micro-mobility society. That needs to change.”

I have a couple questions about this article. First, why doesn’t it mention thyssenkrupp’s MULTI? It doesn’t seem like the elevator industry is letting this “ripe for innovation” industry die on the vine. Also, as someone who lives in the country, I have to wonder if getting packages is as much of a chore as this article makes it out to be.

Do you have any ideas for what Eisenberg calls “the ‘last 50 floors’ of mobility”? Is it overdramatized? Is repurposing garbage shoots as a sort of dumbwaiter even viable? Check out the first part of the article series on CTECH‘s website here.

Michael Eisenberg is a cofounder of Tel Aviv-based Aleph Venture Capital who has worked in venture capital for more than 20 years.

Would Wood Be Good?

Of all the recent advances in tall-building construction, perhaps the most counterintuitive is the nascent move toward wood as the primary material for high-rise towers. Yes, wood construction is environmentally friendly. It comes from trees that trap atmospheric carbon dioxide (a gas that, most scientists say, is the cause of manmade climate change); it’s a renewable resource; and, according to experts, the manufacturing process for wooden building products emits less carbon than that for any other material used in construction.

But, wood isn’t as strong as steel and concrete, right? And, an even bigger concern: wood burns. It’s not hard to imagine a giant timber tower being quickly devoured by flames. It’s an image that’s hard to shake.

A recent article posted on the website Fast Company, however, may put these fears to rest. In it, author Jesus Diaz tells of Mjøstårnet, an 18-story, 265-ft.-tall project being built in Brumunddal, Norway, that will soon be the world’s tallest all-wood building. With the help of a five-part mini-documentary produced by construction company Moelven, we learn that the latest engineered-wood building materials are both strong and fire-resistant. We also learn of innovative construction techniques being employed on this jobsite.

It’s not likely that wood will replace steel and concrete in every future high-rise project. But, it does appear to be a viable option for many types of buildings.

Elevator Operator: Being a Walmart Greeter Just Won’t Be The Same

There are still a few around, but elevator operators are a dying breed. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently told the story of

Wodke operating the elevator in the 1925 Century Building in downtown Milwaukee; photo by Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

a gentleman who has been operating the elevator in the 1925 Century building in downtown Milwaukee since 1992. More than simply a button presser, James Wodke had more of a public-relations, customer-service role, handing out treats for canine passengers and spraying air freshener when certain smells lingered in the cab. Originally an office building, the eight-floor structure now houses condos on several of its floors, and requires an elevator that can be operated automatically, 24/7. That puts Wodke and two part-timers out of a job as of October 1. Wodke told the Sentinel he might become a Walmart greet; certainly, it will not be nearly the same!