Profile of People's Ride: a co-operative, driver-owned alternative to Uber

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People's Ride is a co-op ride-hailing company in Grand Rapids, Michigan: drivers own the service in common and collectively decide how to spend its profits (for example, on deploying an app to go with its website); for-profit competitors like Uber take 30% commissions from their drivers and deliver them to investors, while People's Ride spends all the revenue paying drivers and improving the service. Read the rest

Web companies can track you -- and price-gouge you -- based on your battery life

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In Online tracking: A 1-million-site measurement and analysis, eminent Princeton security researchers Steven Englehardt and Arvind Narayanan document the use of device battery levels -- accessible both through mobile platform APIs and HTML5 calls -- to track and identify users who are blocking cookies and other methods of tracking. Read the rest

How and why to short Uber

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Uber's $62.5B valuation is an utterly speculative bet on a company that can only pay out if many sub-bets pay off: the timely arrival of self-driving cars, widespread adoption of car-sharing (rather than private self-driving car ownership), no effective competition from other hailing companies (including those backed by the car manufactuers), regulatory reform to legalize its practices, and smooth sailing for its massive subprime lending program for its drivers. Read the rest

Uber loves competition, when it's the one doing the competing

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Uber terminated access to its API for Urbanhail, a startup that compared pricing and availability among ride-hailing apps and taxi companies, after chastising the company's founders for violating its terms of service, which forbid creating competitive uses. Read the rest

Uber gets $3.5 Billion from Saudi investors

REUTERS
A Middle East investor is now Uber's single largest source of cash. On Wednesday, the global ride-sharing startup said it had raised $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the main investment fund of the kingdom.

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Watch the trailer for Drive 2: The Uber Years

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Yes, I know that isn't really Ryan Gosling.

(Joey Thompson/YouTube)

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El Paso taxi companies upset that city council loosened taxi regulations

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Taxi companies and Uber are both awful, so it's fun to watch them fight each other. On Tuesday, El Paso's City Council voted to reduce regulations imposed on taxi companies, instead of increasing regulations imposed on Uber, as the taxi companies had hoped for.

From KVIA:

Joe Olivar, the owner of a local cab company Border Taxi, was disappointed with Tuesday's developments. He was pushing for stricter regulation of Uber drivers, including fingerprinting-based background checks.

"You guys are making a big mistake, no one operates with the same integrity. I hope the city council is accountable when something horrible happens," Olivar said, as he repeatedly brought up the issue of public safety.

"You wanted a level playing field, that's what we're doing," El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser replied. Most of the council agreed that adding regulations was not the answer. "How many blockbuster stores do we have left" asked City Rep. Peter Svarzbein. "Could you imagine regulating Netflix? How you do you regulate a technology," he said.

Olivar said the council's approach was "fullhardy."

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Uber and Lyft don't cover their cost of capital and rely on desperate workers

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Uber and Lyft are only economically viable because they offload their cost of capital -- the investment and depreciation on cars and the cost of keeping a driver fed and healthy -- onto the drivers, who are only willing to accept such a bad deal because the labor market sucks. Read the rest

New rideshare service bets women are ready to leave Uber's sleazy, rape-friendly service

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Chariot for Women is a new woman-only rideshare service launched by a former Uber driver who had a bad run-in with a hulking drunk dude that made him realize how scary things must be for woman riders and drivers both. Read the rest

Uber uses customer service reps to push anti-union message to drivers

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Once Seattle became the first city where Uber drivers were allowed to unionize, the drivers started getting "customer service" calls that polled them on their satisfaction with the company, while ham-handedly pushing anti-union messages. Read the rest

A close look at the new Uber logo reveals infuriatingly untidy details

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This person has three problems with the new Uber logo. The first problem ("It can be recreated in under one minute using three of the standard shape tools) does not bother me. I actually think that's cool. But the uncentered square and the overhanging line really do suck! Read the rest

20 minute Uber ride cost $1,114.71 on New Year's Eve

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After Matt Lindsay celebrated New Year's Eve in Southwood Community Centre near Edmonton, he hailed an Uber to take him and his friends home. The driver who picked up Matt warned him that the "surge rate" was 8.9 times the regular fare. Lindsay accepted the surge and took the ride, which lasted 20 minutes. From CBC:

Lindsay said he was using his previous trips with Uber as a base understanding of what the trip would cost.

"Generally Uber is very affordable. I can get from northside to downtown for under $20."

He has taken a couple of rides at a surge rate of two times the regular amount, which he said tallied $77.

"With the amount of people in the vehicle and a similar distance, I figured it would be a similar fare."

Lindsay said people are vulnerable after they've been drinking and surge rates can be confusing.

Lindsay said Uber had offered to reduce his fare by half.

Image: Prathan Chorruangsak / Shutterstock.com Read the rest

Lyft forms global team with Asian ride-hailing rivals to try and kick Uber's ass

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“The anti-Uber global alliance of ride-hailing companies has now officially taken shape,” writes Mike Isaac at the New York Times.

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Fighting Uber's Death Star with a Rebel Alliance of co-op platforms

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As Mark Andreessen noted, software is eating the world because once it's developed, it scales to infinity. That means that once a worker's co-op of drivers clones Uber's platform in free/open code, drivers in every city in the world can disrupt the company, throw off its rent-seeking, and fill their pockets with the money the company siphons off for providing very little at the margins. Read the rest

Silicon Valley is raiding tech academia: “Uber would like to buy your Robotics Department”

The National Robotics Engineering Center, part of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon. Credit Christopher Payne for The New York Times
Silicon Valley is raiding technology departments of universities around the U.S.—can tech academia survive?

Cab driver records music video with passengers

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I hated this song, but it's growing on me now.

[via]

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How posterity will remember this decade

Warren Ellis: "We saw the best minds of our generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves after an Uber that isn’t actually there because Uber fake most of those little cars you see on the Uber app map." Read the rest

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