Valet Apps Are Silicon Valley Entitlement at Its Silliest
Young men in bright blue blazers are taking over the streets of San Francisco. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this, except these guys (I’ve never actually seen a woman) are valets. Not for the Valentino-clad patrons of a posh restaurant or hotel, mind you—these valets are rushing around on infantilizing scooters, ready and willing to serve hoodie-wearing you the ultimate city-dweller fantasy.
They work for Luxe, the soi-disant Uber of parking. With its $25.5 million in funding, the year-old startup has created a suave app that lets you summon a prescreened driver to your location so he can pick up your vehicle, park it in a secure lot, and retrieve it whenever you want—all for $5 an hour or $15 a day. Others have wised up to the trend, and now the sidewalks of downtown flow with the rainbow blood of a real-life color war: While Luxe valets sport blue blazers, competitors at Zirx wear yellow, and Carbon’s minions flaunt a loud pink.
In our oversaturated world of on-demand anything, the emergence of insta-valet services is, sadly, not shocking. We want everything to be cheap and easy, and venture-backed startups are perfectly happy to help. But at what point does our obsession with convenience go from maximizing efficiency to optimizing laziness? Parking your own car is the cost of driving in a city. That’s how it is. Startups may hope to make the world a better place, but Luxe—a name that says it all—is scratching an itch of the sorta-rich at the cost of our collective dignity. Parking teaches patience; Luxe rewards indolence. It’s Silicon Valley-funded entitlement at its silliest. And it might not even be so viable after all. In August, Carbon said it would be “pivoting” (ugh) into some kind of delivery service. The message is clear: Delivery is the limit for serving our sloth. We can park our own damn cars. At least until our cars can do it for us.