By on October 11, 2017

uber volvo

Uber Technologies is about to be probed to a degree that would make even the most compliant alien abductee blush. The company is now looking at a minimum of five criminal investigations from the U.S. Justice Department regarding claims of bribes, illicit software usage, unfair marketing practices, corporate espionage, questionable pricing strategies, and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property.

The ride-hailing firm is also involved in dozens of lawsuits from from customers and employees — and one very public suit with autonomous research rival Waymo. But Uber’s skirting of the law was what made it so profitable to begin with. Its take-no-prisoners attitude may have been the thing that ultimately ousted founder and CEO Travis Kalanick and severely tarnished its corporate image, but it’s also an aspect that ensure its success. Still, nobody likes learning how the sausage is made and every look behind Uber’s curtain revealed another fresh horror the press couldn’t resist mentioning — including yours truly. (Read More…)

By on September 10, 2017

Uber At Igby's In Cincy Circa April 2014

Uber has undertaken a concerted effort to clean up its corporate act, but holdovers from its more aggressive era continue getting the ride-hailing firm into trouble. Currently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is checking into Uber Technologies Inc. to see if it had used software to illegally interfere with its competition from 2014 to 2016.

The program in question, which Uber calls “Hell,” was the focus of an April lawsuit where a former Lyft driver asked for $5 million in damages. By creating dummy accounts, Hell is supposedly able to track the areas where its rivals are doing business and better-compete by adjusting pricing or offering discounts to their customers. It’s also a way to see if Uber employees are double dipping by simultaneously working for Lyft.

It’s not the first time the company has been cited for playing on the fringes of legality. In addition to a high-profile court case against Alphabet’s Waymo over trade secrets, Uber has also been accused of testing self-driving vehicles without state approval, and using its “Greyball” software to hide from police and public officials. (Read More…)

By on August 28, 2017

Uber At Igby's In Cincy Circa April 2014

Uber Technologies has chosen Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi to run the global ride-hailing firm now that ex-CEO Travis Kalanick has been twice ousted from his executive role. While Uber confirmed it has named a replacement, it declined to make specific reference to Khosrowshahi, saying the board would inform employees first. Likewise, Expedia has not yet confirmed that its current CEO is leaving.

Hoping to distance itself from numerous scandals, Uber has vowed to end what many have called an unsavory corporate culture. As the company’s co-founder, Kalanick enjoyed sweeping authority on the board and has been frequently blamed for its misdeeds — primarily due to his encouraging of an unstructured, dog-eat-dog mentality among the staff. This may have something to do with the surprise choice of Khosrowshahi. As a former Iranian refugee, he is extremely critical of the Trump administration’s travel ban and has received praise in the media for his progressive politics.  (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2017

2016-Toyota-Avalon

Lyft, the ride-hailing company with nowhere near the amount of bad press as Uber, has launched a luxury black car service in five American cities as a challenge to its rival.

Luxury models in “excellent” condition from model years 2011 and newer are qualified to shuttle around Lyft Lux passengers, assuming the seats are either leather or “leather-like.” However, while Lincoln Town Cars owners will be dismayed to hear their vehicles don’t make the cut, newer flagships from other brands remain suspiciously absent from the accepted vehicle roster. (Read More…)

By on May 24, 2017

Uber ride, Image: Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures/Flickr

Uber has messed up — again. The ride-hailing company admitted to shortchanging New York City drivers to the tune of tens of millions of dollars due to miscalculated payments. It’s the second time Uber has been caught mishandling payroll, with the latest fiasco resembling Richard Pryor’s banking scheme from Superman III.

In its agreement with drivers, Uber is supposed to calculate its own percentage after taxes and other fees. However, it ended up calculating its New York commissions on total cost, including those expenditures. This has resulted in NY-based drivers receiving slightly lower fares ever since the November 2014 agreement. It doesn’t amount to much per fare but, when compounded by several thousand drivers and a handful of years, it adds up to millions. Regardless of how unintentional the error may or may not have been, the affected drivers are incredibly displeased.  (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2017

Uber (freestocks.org/Flickr)

Despite having put in as much testing time as most of the major players, experts have remained skeptical of Uber’s autonomous driving program. This isn’t because it lacks the necessary technology or hardware, but because it lacks a stable corporate environment. There have been no shortage of ugly headlines surrounding the company this year, and it’s beginning to hemorrhage essential staff members. This week, Uber lost its vice president of global vehicle programs, Sherif Marakby, and sustained another blow to its self-driving aspirations and pride.

While the ride-haling service has declined to elaborate on the reasons for Marakby’s exit, he had only been with the company since last April. After twenty-five years with Ford, Uber poached him specifically for his expertise in autonomous development and electronic safety systems.

This loss follows the departure of Uber’s president, vice president of product and growth, senior director of engineering, its head of communications, head of AI labs, and numerous members of its self-driving programs — all within the last few months. (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

Uber (freestocks.org/Flickr)

Uber’s president Jeff Jones is quitting the car-hailing business after a brief six-month stretch.

Jones’ choice of a swift departure is essentially down to the company’s controversy laden decisions and apparent degenerate corporate culture. In addition to allegations of widespread sexual harassment, Uber has managed to routinely anger local governments by ignoring autonomous testing laws and by employing algorithms that denied service to potential investigators, regulators, or law enforcement officials. It’s also been accused of property theft, and CEO Travis Kalanick is exhibiting behavior unlikely to win people over.

It’s a real shit show.

(Read More…)

By on March 5, 2017

Uber ride, Image: Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures/Flickr

It would be an understatement to suggest that Uber has had a bad couple of weeks. It kicked off with a highly publicized blog posting from former engineer Susan Fowler describing intrinsic sexual harassment at the San Francisco-based ride-hailing service. This was followed by an open letter from two of its investors condemning the company for fostering poor corporate behavior and unhealthy business practices. This, of course, was fast followed by a lawsuit from Google-parent Alphabet’s Waymo that alleged Uber stole some of its driverless car technology.

That was last week. This week saw Uber CEO Travis Kalanick asking his senior vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal, to step down after it came to light that Singhal had neglected to reveal that he was the subject of an ongoing sexual harassment investigation at his previous employer Google. However, Kalanick ended up being the subject of his own controversy just a few days later.  (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2017

Uber ride, Image: Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures/Flickr

Is your boss really grinding your ass today? Did Karen book your top choice for vacation week? Is Kyle playing fast and loose with his lunchtime hours? Consider yourself lucky.

There’s an altogether different alternative to the white- and blue-collar jobs out there today. Uber. Yes, the ride-hailing service that allows people to pocket a little extra cash in their off hours can be just that, or a grueling, never-ending career.

Economy-class syndrome isn’t just for airline travelers. (Read More…)

By on August 23, 2016

Uber ride, Image: Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures/Flickr

From the everyone’s a winner! file comes this story. Soon, whenever a Massachusetts resident hails an Uber, the state will hand part of their fare to their direct competition.

Reuters reports that Massachusetts lawmakers are poised to levy a five-cent-per-trip levy on ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft — a new corporate welfare initiative that is the first of its kind in the U.S. (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2016

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Uber wants to eliminate drivers from its operation, but the ride-hailing service reportedly just purchased an armada’s worth of Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans that don’t yet have fully autonomous capability.

On Friday, Reuters reported that sources at both companies told the German publication Manager Magazin that an order had been made by Uber for “at least” 100,000 S-Class vehicles.

The shelf price for that volume of Benz’s would be in the neighbourhood of $10 billion. (Read More…)

By on March 12, 2016

2016 NAIAS Ford Stand

Ford Motor Company has decided it wants to do more than just sell cars and trucks.

On March 11, the automaker announced the creation of a new business subsidiary in the hopes of becoming a leader in the field of mobility services.

Ford Smart Mobility LLC will be headed by former Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett, who will leave Ford’s board of directors in order to take on the new position.

Ford joins a growing list of automotive rivals looking to diversify their operations by investing in the emerging field, the most prominent aspect of which is ride-sharing and ride-hailing services.

(Read More…)

By on May 19, 2015

Uber Texas BBQ Pedicab

Tesla and Uber are among those whose efforts were for nothing as a crucial deadline to win approval on the Texas House floor passed last week.

(Read More…)

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