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

Lyft to challenge Uber with self-driving cars, launching first in Boston

We already know Uber's been investing millions of dollars in the future of self-driving. Now Lyft is making similar moves, including a partnership with Boston-based nuTonomy, a self-driving car startup founded by an MIT guy. Read the rest

California Uber driver charged with raping woman in car after trip home

A woman in Newport Beach was raped by her Uber driver on the way home from a social gathering, according to charges filed by prosecutors in Southern California on Wednesday. Read the rest

Securing driverless taxis is going to be really, really hard

Charlie Miller made headlines in 2015 as part of the team that showed it was possible to remote-drive a Jeep Cherokee over the internet, triggering a 1.4 million vehicle recall; now, he's just quit a job at Uber where he was working on security for future self-driving taxis, and he's not optimistic about the future of this important task. Read the rest

The Financial Times: Uber is doomed

On FT's Alphaville, Izabella Kaminska takes note of the excellent, deep series on Uber's Ponzi-economics that Hubert Horan published last year on Naked Capitalism and calls out some juicy highlights. Read the rest

Uber threatens to leave Seattle if drivers can unionize; drivers rejoice

The City of Seattle voted to allow Uber drivers to form a union, and Uber says that if its court challenge to the rule is unsuccessful, it might leave Seattle. Read the rest

Uber uses its in-app podcasts to broadcast anti-union messages to drivers

The City of Seattle says it will let Uber drivers form a union, and Uber has retaliated by producing a series of anti-union audio programs that it is pushing to Uber drivers' apps, where the programs light up a non-dismissable alert asking the drivers to listen to the program. Read the rest

If Google wins its trade secrets suit against Uber, it could tank Uber

Google is suing Uber, alleging that the company recruited a former Google exec who had secretly offered to give them access to trade-secrets from Google's self-driving car project. Read the rest

Uber-driving lawyer explains to cop why he doesn't have to stop video recording him

Jesse Bright is a lawyer who also drives Uber; when Wilmington, North Carolina police Sgt. Kenneth Becker stopped him and insisted that he stop recording the stop because of a "new law," Bright kept on recording and kept on insisting that he was allowed to do so. Read the rest

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