For most people, driving for Uber or Lyft just ain't worth it

After a long day of driving for Uber and Lyft, this fella decided to work out exactly how much money he'd be taking home after paying taxes and expenses on his income as an independent contractor. While there's certainly a number of tax loopholes and write-offs that he could be taking advantage of, it looks like, for most people, driving for Uber or Lyft isn't worth the time. Read the rest

Michigan man offers "Amish Uber" rides in his horse & buggy

In a small village in Michigan, you can catch a ride in the "Amish Uber."

This new-fangled horse-and-buggy ride service was started by Timothy Hochstedler, a resident of Colon, Michigan.

Local21new.com:

"Uber is a cool thing, every single year something new comes in and Uber is hot right now, so we have the Amish Uber. We can deliver people to their front door steps," Hochstedler said.

A ride in the "Amish Uber" costs just five bucks. But, you'll have to flag Hochstedler down to get one because he doesn't actually work for Uber. Read the rest

Uber HR chief resigns in racism scandal

Liane Hornsey, Uber's HR chief, quit Tuesday after an investigation into racial discrimination found she "systematically dismissed internal complaints" about racism there.

The allegations raise questions about Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi’s efforts to change the toxic culture of the firm after he took over in August last year from former CEO Travis Kalanick following a series of scandals.

Khosrowshahi praised Hornsey in an email to employees, which was seen by Reuters, as “incredibly talented, creative, and hard-working.” He gave no reason for her departure. The allegations against her and Uber’s human resources department more broadly were made by an anonymous group that claims to be Uber employees of color, members of the group told Reuters.

They alleged Hornsey had used discriminatory language and made derogatory comments about Uber Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion Bernard Coleman, and had denigrated and threatened former Uber executive Bozoma Saint John, who left the company in June.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and as a midnight snack.

Photo: Uber handout. Read the rest

Former Tory chancellor takes over newspaper, sells "money-can't buy" coverage to Uber, Google and others

George Osborne was David Cameron's Chancellor of the Exchequer, the architect of UK austerity; he was fired by Theresa May when she became Prime Minister and he did not run for re-election in the disastrous election of 2017, instead taking a job as editor-in-chief of the Evening Standard. Read the rest

Uber driver accused of shooting and killing his passenger

Denver police say that at 2:45am MT this morning, an Uber driver murdered his passenger. Details are still emerging.

From the Denver Channel:

Police said the driver shot the passenger, an adult male, multiple times after getting into some kind of altercation inside the vehicle. According to emergency dispatch communications, the driver called 911 to report the shooting.

Officers on the scene attempted to perform CPR on the passenger but the man was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Neither the driver nor the passenger has been identified. Police said the driver is being interviewed at the police department headquarters.

Images: Macrovector / TY Lim /Shutterstock Read the rest

Uber and Lyft agree to stop forcing driver sexual assault victims into arbitration, confidentiality agreements

Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft have now both stated that they will no longer force victims of sexual assault into non-binding arbitration, as has been the practice of both firms until today. Read the rest

Realtor claims Uber and Lyft erode the premium homebuyers pay for good public transit links

Leonard Steinberg, a longstanding New York City luxury property broker, claims that the existence of Uber and Lyft has blunted the premium that buyers were willing to pay to live in neighborhoods with good transit links, because they can afford rideshare cars and use the commute time to work, meaning that commutes are less of a factor in calculating the quality of life (because your day starts when you get into the car, not when you get to your desk). Read the rest

The world is no longer willing to tolerate the plague of bullshit "agreements"

Mark Zuckerberg says it doesn't matter how creepy and terrible his company is, because you agreed to let him comprehensively fuck you over from asshole to appetite by clicking "I agree" to a tens of thousands of words' worth of "agreements" spread out across multiple webpages; when questioned about this in Congress, Zuck grudgingly admitted that "I don’t think the average person likely reads that whole document." But as far as Zuck is concerned, it doesn't matter whether you've read it, whether you understand it, whether it can be understood -- you still "agreed." Read the rest

Uber's autonomous vehicles require frequent human intervention

The New York Times reports that Uber's autonomous vehicles require human intervention every 13 miles, on average, while Google's go 5,600: they were "not living up to expectations months before a self-driving car operated by the company struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Ariz."

When Mr. Khosrowshahi took over as Uber’s chief executive, he had considered shutting down the self-driving car operations, according to two other people familiar with Mr. Khosrowshahi’s thinking.

But he became convinced that it was important to Uber’s long-term prospects. His visit to Phoenix was seen by the Arizona team as a critical opportunity to demonstrate their progress, according to the people familiar with the company’s operations in the Phoenix area. They wanted to take him on a ride without human interventions to demonstrate that the cars could handle so-called edge cases, tricky road situations that are hard to predict.

“With autonomy, the edge cases kill you, so you’ve got to build out for all the edge cases,” Mr. Khosrowshahi said at a conference in November.

They sure do.

It's almost as if Uber's whole autonomous vehicle program was a sham to get money out of the Saudis. Read the rest

The future legal shenanigans that will shift liability for pedestrian fatalities involving self-driving Ubers

This week, a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in Arizona, the first pedestrian fatality involving an autonomous vehicle; in his analysis of the event, Charlie Stross notes that Arizona's laws treat corporations that kill people with considerably more forbearance than humans who do so, and proposes that in the near future, every self-driving car will be owned by a special-purpose corporation that insulates its owner from liability. Read the rest

First pedestrian killed by autonomous vehicle

KNXV in Arizona reports that a pedestrian died last night after being hit by an autonomous vehicle.

The Uber had a human safety driver but was self-driving when it collided with the victim, according to KNXV. Early reports identified the victim as a bicyclist, but the latest updates say she walked into the street. It appears to be the first pedestrian killed by an autonomous vehicle.

10 pedestrians were killed in the last week by cars driven by humans in Phoenix in what local officials described as a "major crisis."

Read the rest

Drunk man accidentally takes $1600 Uber ride from West Virginia to New Jersey

An inebriated gentleman at a party in West Virginia thought he was ordering an Uber to take him to West Virginia University's campus. But in his drunken state he messed up his order, blacked out in the Uber, and ended up at his house in Gloucester County, N.J. The fare came to a mere $1,635.93.

According to USA Today:

The report states that [Kenny] Bachman woke up two hours into the trip, but didn't want to just be dropped off in the middle of no where, so he stuck it out all the way home. 300 miles from where he was partying and staying.

"Afterwards I had it fully sink in," Bachman told NJ Advance Media. "Once the ride ended and I saw how much it was when I was like 'Alright, this is insane, that's just crazy.'"

Uber confirmed the ride occurred, the report states, and the driver took Bachman to the destination he requested.

Let's hope the party was fun.

Image: Mark Warner/Flickr Read the rest

Surge-taxing Uber as a way relieve urban congestion

Every city where Uber and Lyft have found a foothold has also faced impossible congestion in the city center; Felix Salmon says this is because drivers are incentivized to come to the city-center despite the traffic (because that's where the fares are) and riders are incentivized to skip public transit when there are a lot of cars around to hail with their apps. Read the rest

Debullshitifying Uber's financial statement reveals a hemorrhaging fountain of red ink with no path to profitability

Uber trumpeted its Q4/2017 financial statements as evidence of the company's progress towards CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's goal of profitability and IPO by 2019; the company argued that despite losing $4.5 billion in 2017, its cust-cutting in the final quarter of the year was proof that they would eventually go from losing money on each ride to actually earning money. Read the rest

The elite belief in Uberized, Muskized cities is at odds with fundamental, irrefutable facts of geometry

The appropriately named Jarrett Walker is the author of Human Transit, a seminal text on transportation and cities that draws on his decades of experience in urban planning; he has the distinction of being called "an idiot" by Elon Musk on Twitter, when he pointed out that Musk's Boring Company tunnel proposals could not possibly work due to their low capacity. Read the rest

How depending on a platform is a ticket to financial ruin, and what to do about it

UC Berkeley economist J Bradford DeLong's wide-ranging Reinvent interview covers a lot of ground, but is especially fascinating on the long-term trajectory of small businesspeople who bet their commercial futures on platforms -- he uses Uber drivers as an example, but this has implications in lots of sectors. Read the rest

Uber's major shareholders just dumped a ton of stock for a lowball offer 30% under the current share price

Softbank's bid to buy Uber shares based on a valuation 30% lower than the company rated in its last round has been largely successful, with about 15-20% of shares changing hands at that price. Read the rest

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