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

Democratic Senators propose federal breach disclosure law with 5-year prison sentences for covering up data-loss

The Data Security and Breach Notification Act (S2179) was introduced by three Senate Commerce Committee Democrats, Bill Nelson [D-FL], Richard Blumenthal [D-CT] and Tammy Baldwin [D-WI] in the wake of the revelation that Uber hid a breach involving 50,000,000 riders and 7,000,000 drivers for over a year after paying hush-money to the criminals who stole the data. Read the rest

Major investors offer to buy a big stake in Uber -- at a 30% discount

A group of investors led by Softbank have put in a bid to buy $6B worth of Uber stock -- at a valuation of $48B, 30% lower than the company's valuation at its last finance round, which was followed by string of ghastly scandals including the removal of its founder, Travis Kalanick, from the CEO's office. The company has 20 days to respond. Read the rest

Uber admits it breached 57,000,000 accounts, then bribed the hackers to cover it up, now they're paying a top ex-NSA lawyer to teach them transparency

Uber's Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan and his top aide have both been forced out of the company in an act of penance for the revelation that the company suffered a breach in October 2016 in which hackers stole personal data from 50,000,000 riders and 7,000,000 drivers, including 600,000 drivers' US driving license numbers; Uber says the disgraced employees acted alone when they then paid the hackers who stole the data $100,000 to hush it up. Read the rest

Unsealed evidence: former Uber execs covered up evidence in stolen self-driving tech case

The court battle between Waymo and Uber took a revealing turn this week, after unsealed court documents exposed "damning evidence" of efforts to hide what is now obvious.

At this point it’s not terribly surprising that the summary report of the investigation — apparently codenamed “Project Unicorn” by Stroz Friedberg — casts Levandowski and Uber’s then-CEO Travis Kalanick in a particularly bad light. ... The report describes, for instance, employees caught in lies in their interviews with Stroz investigators, an elaborate saga around the surreptitious destruction of five disks of confidential information belonging to Google, furtive text messages advising each other to delete message logs, and search engine queries regarding “how to secretly delete files mac” or “can a MacBook be recovered after formatting the OS.”

Today's beautiful sunrise is tech executives thinking they can hide what they do by googling how to hide what they do.

On that note, it's always a surprise how computer-illiterate many successful "tech" executives are. They're representatives of something bigger than themselves, you might say, and their understanding is immaterial to their undertaking. Read the rest

Tim O'Reilly explains how self-driving cars will bankrupt Uber

Tim O'Reilly (previously) is my kind of technologist: someone who goes past the "is technology good or bad for us?" question and dives into the really meaty, important question, namely: "how can we make technology better for us?" Read the rest

London bans Uber; firm can stay while it appeals

Citing its failure to disclose serious crimes and the use of "Grayball" software to evade regulatory oversight, London banned Uber today.

The company has 21 days to appeal the loss of its license to operate cabs, during with Uber is permitted to continue doing business.

London's Licensed Taxi Drivers Association praised the decision. “Since it first came onto our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers,” a spokesman told the Independent.

Uber's London manager vowed to challenge the decision, arguing that it would hurt 40,000 Uber drivers in the city. "To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts," he said.

There's no love whatsoever in London for traditional cabbies, but Uber's such a vile company that this is likely to bring it to heel as it did in other European cities. That said, never underestimate the political power of consumer convenience—especially in a city whose leaders don't seem to understand why Uber is so successful. Read the rest

Small town Uber driver quits, launches a one-driver rival

Suzanne Ashe was the only Uber driver in Haines, Alaska, and the app wouldn't let her stay logged in and available because the rides came so infrequently. Read the rest

Class action lawsuit filed against Uber over lack of wheelchair access in NYC vehicles

A disability rights group is suing Uber over charges that the ride-hailing service violates New York City human rights laws by failing to ensure that enough of its vehicles are accessible to physically disabled riders.

Read the rest

CEO Travis Kalanick forced out at Uber

What was last week posed as an indefinite leave of absence is now for good: Travis Kalanick, CEO of scandal-wracked rideshare company Uber, announced that he is leaving the company.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Kalanick said in a statement...

Mr. Kalanick’s exit came under pressure after hours of drama involving Uber’s investors, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous because the details were confidential.

Earlier on Tuesday, five of Uber’s major investors demanded that the chief executive resign immediately. The investors included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber’s board. The investors made their demand for Mr. Kalanick to step down in a letter delivered to the chief executive while he was in Chicago, said the people with knowledge of the situation.

Uber is not only a terrible company operated by sociopathic criminals, it's a sham desperately searching for a real business model to profit from. Read the rest

Billionaire Uber board member made ‘inappropriate’ joke about women during sexual harassment event

Beleaguered rideshare behemoth Uber is in hot water over an internal culture in which sexual and racial harassment ran riot. At a big company-wide meeting on Uber's sexual harassment problem, billionaire board member David Bonderman made what he later admitted was an “inappropriate” comment about women. Why are we not surprised?

Read the rest

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick takes "leave of absence without return date" to "grieve for his mother"

He's not quitting or being fired, but Uber CEO Travis Kalanik won't be at the office next week, or any other week in the near future. Yesterday saw another top executive quit, amid an uninterrupted string of scandals at the ride-hailing company.

His decision comes as Uber finally unveiled the findings of an investigation law firm Covington and Burling conducted into the company’s culture and management to the staff. The investigation was prompted by a former engineer’s brutal account of sexism and sexual harassment at the company.

Among the recommendations that Uber’s board has unanimously voted to accept, is a reallocation of Kalanick’s responsibilities.

“The Board should evaluate the extent to which some of the responsibilities that Mr. Kalanick has historically possessed should be shared or given outright to other members of senior management,” the report reads. “The search for a Chief Operating Officer should address this concern to some extent.”

Uber is one of the most conspicuously disgusting tech companies, marked by the bigotry and criminality of its management and a work culture that makes fools of those who consider Silicon Valley an egalitarian or meritocratic environment. Read the rest

20 or more fired at Uber after internal probe into sexual harassment and discrimination

Various sources this morning report that Uber had an all-hands meeting in which staff were told more than 20 employees are being fired as the result of a company investigation into claims of discrimination and sexual harassment.

Read the rest

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