After the CEO of Agroplasma, an Arizona fertilizer company, is told to sit in the back seat by a black driver, the CEO is greatly offended and argues relentlessly. The driver, an Arizona State University student, remains calm and polite and also firm about his no-front-seat-passengers policy. The CEO, Hans Berglund, 72, asks, "Is that because I'm white?" And then, finally calls him the N-- word. (Watch the exchange below.)
Agroplasma has suspended Berglund while they investigate what happened, and Uber has banned him from the app.
“In light of the events of this past Friday, Agroplasma CEO Hans Berglund has been relieved of his duties while the company performs a full internal investigation,” the firm said, adding, "The incident is not at all reflective of Agroplasma’s values and ethics.”
Uber told KPNX that it would ban Berglund from using its app, saying, “Discrimination has no place on the Uber app or anywhere.”
Berglund in a telephone interview with KPNX said he had been drinking and regrets his comments. “I apologize to the guy. I shouldn’t have said what I said.”
The driver has had a strict policy of not allowing anyone to sit in the front seat unless it's a party of 3 or more since someone sexually assaulted him last year.
Here's the Uber exchange, starting at (:30):
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The German taxi association scored a major victory by convincing the court to ban Uber in the country. Well, I guess people can still take an Uber if they are willing to €250,000 per ride.
In addition to the license violation, the court found several issues with Uber's dispatching process, including the fact that drivers could accept a job within its app without their official employer first receiving it. Additionally, under German law hired cars are obligated to return to their firm's main office after dropping a passenger off.take
"From a passenger's point of view, Uber provides the service itself and is therefore an entrepreneur," the court said, going on to add that Uber must comply with the country's passenger transport laws.
The German taxi association that brought the legal challenge against Uber said it plans to seek immediate provisional enforcement of the ban. Uber could pay fines as high as €250,000 per ride if it doesn't comply with the court's decision. The company can appeal the ruling, however.
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Women and girls, Uber at your own risk. Read the rest
Hubert Horan (previously) is a transport industry analyst who has written more than 20 essays for Naked Capitalism as well as two peer-reviewed scholarly articles explaining why Uber is a "bezzle" -- that is, a scam that can't possibly ever make money, no matter how much it preys on drivers, ignores passenger safety, and destroys safe, regulated taxi businesses. Harry "Mr Burns" Shearer interviewed Horan (MP3) on the latest episode of his radio show, Le Show. It's a fantastic interview that quickly gets to the meat of Horan's critique of Uber, and then digs into both the ridiculous defenses that Uber and its defenders mount of its possible sustainability, and the social circumstances that allowed Uber to bezzle $21b from its investors in just a few years, while still attracting more investors. (Image: Tarcil, CC BY-SA, modified) (via Naked Capitalism)
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Ride-hailing service Uber has lost its license to operate private hire vehicles in London, after Transport For London authorities discovered that over 14,000 trips were taken with more than 40 drivers operating under fake identities on the Uber app.
The Uber cars won't disappear from London streets right away -- the company plans to appeal. Read the rest
Not everything is legal in New Jersey: Uber has to pay the state of New Jersey $650m in unemployment and disability tax for the employee drivers that it pretended were contractors. Uber is appealing. It will lose. Uber drivers in Jersey are now entitled to unemployment insurance. (via /.) (Image: Quotecatalog, Ervins Strauhmanis, CC BY, modified)
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Uber is significantly backed by Saudi investments and the country's sovereign wealth fund controls a seat on its board. In this video, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is asked by Axios's Dan Primack about the Saudi regime's murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based journalist and dissident.
"It's a serious mistake," Khosrowshahi said. "We've made mistakes too, right? With self-driving, and we're recovering from that mistake ... So I think that people make mistakes. It doesn't mean that they can never be forgiven. I think they've taking is seriously."
Primack challenged his comparison of a political assassination, as described in a CIA report, to the presumptively accidental killing of a pedestrian by a self-driving car.
"I didn't read that part of the CIA report," Khosrowshahi said. "You're obviously deeper in it."
Khosrowshahi, however, is now very deep in something else.
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Khosrowshahi later backtracked, telling Axios after the interview had ended that he had misspoken. “I said something in the moment that I do not believe,” said the CEO in a statement. “When it comes to Jamal Khashoggi, his murder was reprehensible and should not be forgotten or excused.”
The problem with tipping is that employers pay employees less than they should. I much prefer the way things work in Japan, where there is no tipping and no uncertainty. That said, until restaurants, delivery services, and ride hailing apps in the US start paying their workers a fair wage, it's best to tip workers. This Vox video explains why tipping for ride-hailing services remains confusion and contentious.
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AB5 is about to pass the California legislature: it forces companies like Lyft and Uber to comply with the longstanding Dynamex decision and treat their employees as employees.
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California's Assembly Bill 5 isn't radical: it merely affirms the obvious fact that Uber and Lyft drivers (and other "gig economy" workers) are employees, something that the California Supreme Court already made obvious in the Dynamex decision.
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Brian Feldman of The Intelligencer interviewed New York Times reporter Mike Isaac about his new book, Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.
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I haven’t read too many start-up histories but Super Pumped is the only one I’ve read that has a significant amount of violence. Uber drivers are pressured to keep driving in adversarial conditions and subsequently murdered. Medallion owners whose prices are undercut by Uber regularly commit suicide. On rare occasions, passengers are assaulted by drivers who slipped through Uber’s lax background checks. Do you think it’s fair to say that Travis Kalanick has a body count?
I don’t know if I want to tag him with that, but what I will say is that Uber is one of the first start-ups that really crashed into the real world in a very different way than Facebook or Snapchat or whatever. That said, you know, you could argue Facebook has a body count, too: People spread anti-vaxx information, for instance. Uber literally changed how cities work and in a very short period of time. Deep, quick cultural change can often come with pushback, and violent pushback. Brazil is a key reflection of that. Uber parachuted into Brazil at one of the country’s worst economic points in its history. They’re in the middle of this deep recession, unemployment is skyrocketing, and folks would resort to committing violence in order to stay afloat. Add drivers in Uber cars with a bunch of cash, because it’s a cash-based economy, and in a lot of ways, you have a recipe for disaster.
I hear endless stories of grief from the friends I have who try to make ends meet working for these services.
Jalopnik's Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon share the terrible economics:
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But Dave, who was granted anonymity out of fear of being deactivated by the ride-hail giant for speaking to the press, had no real choice but to wait. The passenger had requested the stop through the app, so refusing to make it would have been contentious both with the customer and with Uber. The exact number varies by city, but drivers must maintain a high rating in order to work on their platform. And there’s widespread belief among drivers that the Uber algorithm punishes drivers for cancelling trips.
Ultimately, the rider paid $65 for the half-hour trip, according to a receipt viewed by Jalopnik. But Dave made only $15 (the fares have been rounded to anonymize the transaction).
Uber kept the rest, meaning the multibillion-dollar corporation kept more than 75 percent of the fare, more than triple the average so-called “take-rate” it claims in financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Had he known in advance how much he would have been paid for the ride relative to what the rider paid, Dave said he never would have accepted the fare.
“This is robbery,” Dave told Jalopnik over email. “This business is out of control.”
It's rough out there for Uber and Lyft contract drivers. And getting rougher. Read the rest
Uber -- a bezzle -- projected $8b in losses this year; but it lost more than $5b in a single quarter, and despite an initial stock price rise (dead cat bounce?) the company's shares have tumbled by more than 10% since, hitting an all-time low. Engineers who were scheduled to interview at Uber have had those interviews canceled by the company's HR department, who told them the company now has a tech-worker hiring freeze. (Image: Tarcil, CC BY-SA, modified) (via Naked Capitalism)
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Uber says it can be profitable someday: all it needs to do is corner the "total addressable market" for all transportation and food delivery, which will give it $12t in annual revenue, which is 15% of all global transactions.
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Working for a ride-sharing company like Uber or Lyft can be a tough gig that offers low pay, long hours that keep drivers on there road and away from the people they love and, at times, wheeling under dangerous working conditions. In some parts of the world, pissed off drivers have walked off the job and protested their crappy working conditions and demanded--and I know this is crazy--a living wage. Up here in Canada, we tend to do things with a little more of a socialist flare.
First announced on Monday, Uber drivers based in Toronto expressed their intention to join the United Food and Commercial Workers, a 250,000-strong trade union which operates in both Canada and the U.S. The actual number of drivers who had signed cards was not released, but during a press conference this afternoon, UFCW Canada staffer Pablo Godoy claimed their support had hit the “high hundreds” and were growing rapidly.
The move comes at a time when Toronto's city counsel is attempting to sort out a balance between cab companies and the ride share operations that have been drinking their milkshakes. With this in mind, there couldn't be a better time for Uber drivers to invest in the power of a union. That said, there's still a number of legal issues to be ironed out before Toronto's Uber drivers are rubber stamped as a bona fide part of the union and afforded the protections that membership in UFCW provides.
Given the amount of trouble that Uber has had in recent years in locales like New York where the city has implemented strict living wage laws for ride share drivers and in Cancun, where they were forced to suspend operations to keep their people safe from pissed off taxi and colectivo drivers, its possible that the company might just consider not giving it's Toronto employees a tough time, at least in the short term: even giant, plundering corporations need a breather from all the bullshit they generate, every now and again. Read the rest
A federal judge has ruled that alleged misclassification of drivers as independent contractors by the ride-hailing service app Uber could harm competition and violate the spirit of America's antitrust laws. Read the rest