Tag: uber

By on June 30, 2020

Uber Technologies is reportedly in negotiations to acquire Postmates, specifically for the purpose of incorporating the brand’s food-delivery services into Uber Eats and cashing in government lockdowns that look to ensure 2020 remains a perfectly dismal year.

Our collective loss may end up being Uber’s gain, however.

With constraints easing in most regions, ridership is slowly creeping back up. That will undoubtedly continue as risk-adverse urbanites choose to avoid the subway and bus lines for months to come.

Meanwhile, new restrictions on dining establishments are effectively forcing delivery services to become an umbilical cord between restauranteurs and their customers. Now is the perfect time to get a bead on the market and make moves, ensuring your place as the all-important middle man.  (Read More…)

By on June 18, 2020

On Wednesday, ride-hailing company Lyft announced every vehicle using its platform will be electric by 2030. Since its fleet is comprised primarily of contractors using private vehicles, one might assume the company is planning to offer some financial assistance upon their next purchase. But being sensible rarely means being correct in the postmodern era.

Rather than encouraging its own drivers to make the switch, Lyft plans to work with NGOs, lawmakers, and pressure its industry rivals to make electrification mainstream. Obviously, this will include financial incentives for organizations willing to make the switch to EVs in exchange for a fat wad of cash. That’s what you’re now supposed to focus on. Ignore that Lyft’s announcement literally offers no personal commitment and passes every scrap of responsibility it pretends to be taking on to the government.

Lyft is trying to play the hero, and thinking about it too hard is going to muck everything up.  (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2020

Amid widespread suspicion of other human beings and the general sense that public transit is a terrible way to travel when COVID-19 lurks everywhere, Uber has rolled out a feature offered overseas to some of its U.S. customers.

Instead of hailing a ride to the grocery store (or what have you), then dialing up another for the ride back, what if you could just keep your driver for the entire trip — like some sort of big shot? (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2020

Uber Technologies eliminated an additional 3,000 jobs on Monday, closing offices around the world as certain regions revealed less growth than the outfit had hoped for. We covered the ride-hailing firm’s financial situation last week, as reports circulated that it wanted to drop a few billion to acquire Grubhub and enhance its own food-delivery service in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

At the time, the firm had already cut 3,700 jobs pertaining to customer support and human resources. Even in the absence of people shunning shared transportation and local governments forcing citizens to stay indoors, Uber’s preexisting inability to turn a profit would probably have forced the company to restructure eventually. The pandemic pinned the accelerator to the floor mat, however, likely forcing additional cuts by the company’s own admission. Considering Uber has already axed about a quarter of its global workforce, it’s probably time to place it on death watch.  (Read More…)

By on May 12, 2020

Uber Technologies has reportedly made an offer to buy Grubhub — a food delivery service that links local restaurants directly to customers via a convenient app. Considering Uber Eats is as unprofitable as the company’s core ride-haling business, dropping a bunch of money to acquire a similar business seems silly… until you realize Grubhub is pretty much the only food-delivery outlet to occasionally turn a profit.

Buying up the only legitimate threat to your side business could be wise, even if it’s also somewhat monopolistic, but large, unprofitable tech entities with slick-sounding business plans and massive stock valuation seem bulletproof right now. They can buy up whatever outfits they want and nobody bats an eyelash until an isolated incident pops up that the media can temporarily harp on.

Even with the coronavirus rattling Uber’s share price in March, with ride frequencies more than halved in major metropolitan areas around the globe, its value crept back up in subsequent months. The company also enacted cost-cutting measures, eliminating 3,700 jobs and shuttering 180 driver service centers, with more cuts presumed to follow later this year. While dropping a few billion on Grubhub seems at odds with corporate thriftiness, it may prove beneficial in the long term — especially with investors heaping pressure on Uber to provide evidence it can someday become routinely profitable.  (Read More…)

By on April 15, 2020

With a pandemic suppressing the world’s need for transportation, Uber has kept itself busy by offering free rides to healthcare workers and expanding its food-delivery service, Uber Eats. Initially, that meant activating the program in more countries. The ride-hailing company has since added ways for businesses to manage meal plans for employees working from home while attempting to supply drivers with masks and disinfectant sprays.

This week, the company said it will expand the ways in which customers interface with these services. But this new method has been popular for well over a century. In a bid to encourage older Americans to use its food-delivery services, Uber has implemented a telephone line designed to help Luddites trapped in their homes. Customers can now dial a toll-free number and discuss menu options with an Uber representative who will help then finalize and pay for their order.  (Read More…)

By on March 5, 2020

Uber Otto

The former leader of Uber Technologies’ self-driving unit, Anthony Levandowski, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday, and it looks to have something to do with the $179 million he’s legally obliged to pay Google. A San Francisco County court decreed the same day that Anthony needs to pay out in order to settle his contract dispute.

In December, it was ruled that Levandowski and Lior Ron violated their agreement with Google when they left the company to start Otto — a rival autonomous vehicle company focused primarily on commercial trucking. Uber purchased Otto in 2017 but Google’s self-driving arm (which evolved into Waymo) claimed Levandowski violated intellectual property laws by stealing trade secrets it owned for Uber. While Ron decided to pay $9.7 million to settle with the tech firm, Anthony held out. He also faces a federal indictment over the alleged intellectual property violation.  (Read More…)

By on January 15, 2020

At the start of this month, Uber released a safety report in a bid to address concerns surrounding rider welfare. Not to be outdone, its main competitor also took steps to convince the masses that it’s also doing everything within its power to keep customers safe.

Lyft is forming a council of experts to assist the ride-hailing company in revising safety initiatives for riders and drivers. The group will include representatives from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), It’s On Us, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. As with Uber’s report, Lyft is focused on incidents of sexual assault — and blaming society for any problems it may have.  (Read More…)

By on January 6, 2020

Uber released its first safety report on Saturday, primarily to address concerns surrounding rider welfare. The media has become increasingly critical of Uber as a brand after its corporate culture was dubbed toxic — allegedly loaded with sexism and financial progress by any means necessary. Following a fatal accident involving one of the company’s autonomous test vehicles, many grew fearful that the company hadn’t fallen into the habit of promoting (or appreciating) public safety. Hoping to assuage some of those concerns, Uber put together its own safety report.

Earlier in the month, the ride-hailing service said it had received reports of 3,045 sexual assaults in the United States in 2018, with 9 people murdered (nearly half of them drivers… fortunately?) and 58 crash-related deaths. Uber said these issues only affected 0.0002 percent of the 1.3 billion rides the company orchestrated in the United States that year.

The new study attempts to frame data, accumulated over 21 months, against national averages to show that Uber is simply suffering from issues inherent to our society. While noting that an estimated 44 percent of women in the U.S. have been a victim of sexual violence seems like an odd way to absolve oneself from wrongdoing, Uber’s just a fancy cab service trying to distance itself from systemic fears that may have not have been entirely fair.  (Read More…)

By on December 26, 2019

Uber Technologies co-founder Travis Kalanick is leaving the company’s board to focus on his new business endeavors in other industries. The company made an announcement on Tuesday, with Kalanick expressing a need to move on.

“Uber has been a part of my life for the past 10 years. At the close of the decade, and with the company now public, it seems like the right moment for me to focus on my current business and philanthropic pursuits. I’m proud of all that Uber has achieved, and I will continue to cheer for its future from the sidelines. I want to thank the board, Dara [Khosrowshahi] and the entire Uber team for everything they have done to further the Uber mission,” Kalanick said in a statement.

Stepping down as CEO in 2017 after a series of wholly unnecessary scandals (sometimes with Travis at the center), Kalanick stopped managing the company’s daily business. Uber then embarked on an effort to improve its corporate governance, with its better-known founder (apologies to Garrett Camp) being pushed into the shadows. Pressure from investors became overwhelming after he was caught on video arguing with a driver over the company’s pay structure in a period where Uber’s corporate culture was already broadly presumed to be toxic. He was replaced with Khosrowshahi about a month later.  (Read More…)

By on November 25, 2019

Transportation for London (TfL) announced it has informed Uber that it will not be reissued a license to operate in the UK capitol, citing concerns over customer safety. TfL had previously declined to renew the ride-hailing business’ private hire operator license, which expired on September 30th, saying it was unsatisfied with the number of drivers it found “fit and proper to hold a licence.” Then it changed its mind, offering a two-month extension.

Now it’s claiming that at least 14,000 Uber trips taken within the city included drivers linked, via their app profiles, to cars they were not legally registered to drive. Having done an impromptu survey of his own (done as unscientifically as possible by just asking drivers if they owned the vehicle), your author found the number of “rogue” Uber drivers in New York City to be about one in five.

While easily framed as a gotcha moment, that ratio isn’t really any different from what I’ve experienced with NYC’s sanctioned yellow (or green) cabs. But that doesn’t exactly make it a non-issue either — just more of the same.  (Read More…)

By on November 8, 2019

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has disclosed Uber’s autonomous test fleet was involved in 37 crashes over the 18-month period leading up to last year’s fatal accident in Tempe, AZ. Having collected more data than ever, the board plans to meet on November 19th to determine the probable cause and address ongoing safety concerns regarding self-driving vehicles.

Reuters reports that the NTSB plans to issue comprehensive safety recommendations to the industry, as well demand oversight from governmental regulators, in the near future.

Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding the fatal incident in Arizona are as unique as they are complicated — ditto for most other crashes involving AVs. While Uber’s test mule failed to identify the pedestrian in time, leading to her death, she was also walking her bicycle on a particularly awkward stretch of road. “The system design did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians,” the NTSB said. (Read More…)

By on October 31, 2019

Uber has formed an independent board tasked with overseeing its autonomous vehicle program. As outsiders, they’ll have no official authority within the company. But the six-member group will have direct access to executive years, and will be using them to advise the business on how best to test and deploy new technologies.

Dubbed the Self-Driving Safety and Responsibility Board, the group was formed after one of Uber’s test vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in March 2018. An external review commissioned by the company following the incident recommended the board’s formation, with support from the NHTSA.  (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2019

Chicago is considering sticking ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft with a new tax that would add a few bucks onto each ride. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has proposed a $40-million-per-year tax increase as part of a broader traffic plan modeled after London’s famous congestion fines. That means not all rides would be subject to the same fees, but each trip taken within the city would still cost a little extra.

While congestion charges are all the rage in Europe, they’re uncommon in the United States. New York City recently decided to financially penalize every driver taking a trip below 60th Street (something I’m not thrilled about), positioning Chicago as the second major metropolitan area in the U.S. to move forward on congestion fees. Lightfoot claims it’s a necessary first step “to improve mobility and further our goals of ensuring sustainable, affordable and reliable access to transportation options in every neighborhood.”  (Read More…)

By on October 9, 2019

Uber is testing pet pricing in North America to see if it can minimize surprise cancellations stemming from unexpected animal passengers while simultaneously hoping to make itself some money. The program, entitled Uber Pet, launches in select cities on October 16th and tacks on a small surcharge while giving drivers the right to refuse service in advance.

As difficult as it is to believe, not everyone loves animals — and even fewer like having strange ones making a mess of their personal vehicle. One of the most common complaints among Uber drivers is people bringing aboard pets unannounced.  (Read More…)

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