Tag: uber

More top execs flee Uber

Uber is in a bit of trouble as its top executives flee the organisation.

Company president Jeff Jones, a marketing expert hired to help soften its often abrasive image, has decided that there is nothing he can do for the outfit and has cleared out his desk.

Jones told the press he could not continue as president of a business with which he was incompatible.

“I joined Uber because of its mission, and the challenge to build global capabilities that would help the company mature and thrive long term. It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business,” he added.

Jones’ role was put into question after Uber earlier this month launched a search for a chief operating officer to help run the company alongside Chief Executive Travis Kalanick.

Jones had been performing some of those COO responsibilities. He joined Uber from Target Corp (TGT.N), where he was chief marketing officer and is credited with modernising the retailer’s brand.

Uber’s vice president of maps and business platform, Brian McClendon said he wants to leave the company at the end of the month to explore politics.

But they are the latest in a string of high-level executives to leave the company.

Engineering executive Amit Singhal was asked to resign due to a sexual harassment allegation stemming from his previous job at Alphabet Google. Earlier this month, Ed Baker, Uber’s vice president of product and growth, and Charlie Miller, Uber’s famed security researcher, departed.

Uber, while it has long had a reputation as an aggressive and unapologetic startup, has been battered like a Scottish Mars bar lately with multiple controversies over the last several weeks.

Some are even daring to question Kalanick’s leadership capabilities, although it is unlikely they do it to his face.

A former Uber employee last month published a blog post describing a workplace where sexual harassment was common and went unpunished. The blog post prompted an internal investigation that is being led by former US Attorney General Eric Holder.

Bloomberg released a video that showed Kalanick berating an Uber driver who had complained about cuts to rates paid to drivers, resulting in Kalanick making a public apology.

Uber is facing a lawsuit from Alphabet self-driving car division that accuses it of stealing designs for autonomous car technology known as Lidar. Uber has said the claims are false.

Jones expected to be Kalanick’s No. 2. Jones and was tasked with overseeing the bulk of Uber’s global operations, including leading the ride-hailing program, running local Uber services in every city, marketing, and customer service, and working with drivers.

 

Uber might be forced to test drivers’ English

Uber lost a court battle to stop a London regulator from imposing strict new English reading and writing standards on private hire drivers.

The move could mean the loss of thousands of workers.

The company took legal action in August after public body Transport for London (TfL) said that drivers should have to prove their ability to communicate in English, including to a standard of reading and writing which Uber said was too high.

Judge John Mitting said the TfL was entitled to require private hire drivers to demonstrate English language compliance.

Uber had cited Tfl data that the language rules could mean about 33,000 private hire drivers out of a total of 110,000 operating in London would fail to renew their licenses over the next few years.

TfL’s new rules were partly a response to protests from drivers of London’s famous black cabs, who are concerned that Uber’s over 30,000 drivers are undermining their business model by not meeting the same standards.

Uber’s General Manager in London Tom Elvidge said in a statement said that writing an essay has nothing to do with communicating with passengers or getting them safely from A to B.

“We intend to appeal this unfair and disproportionate new rule.”

Uber did manage to overturn two other TfL proposals for drivers to have permanent private hire insurance and that it should operate a 24/7 call centre.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the court’s decision and said he was focused on better regulating the sector.
“From my first day at City Hall I have been determined to drive up standards and improve safety for every taxi and private hire passenger traveling in London,” he said.

I gotta grow up says Uber boss

Uber Technologies Chief Executive Travis Kalanick admitted that it was time for him to “grow up” and get help after a video was published showing him getting into a slanging match with one of his drivers who complained about pay rates.

Bloomberg published a video of Kalanick, a co-founder of the company, arguing with a driver who tells him that rates have been cut and he has lost money. The 40-year-old Kalanick responds angrily that some people don’t take responsibility for their own actions.

The video is the latest in a series of challenges and embarrassments for the ride service. The driver in a dash cam tells Kalanick, a passenger, that “people are not trusting you anymore,” and complains that rates for drivers have fallen.

Kalanick responds, “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!”

In his statement released later Tuesday, Kalanick said he was ashamed for treating the driver disrespectfully, and he apologized to the driver and others.

“It’s clear this video reflects me – and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it,” he wrote.

 

Alphabet sues Uber over self-driving car tech

Old carsAlphabet’s Waymo self-driving car unit sued Uber’s autonomous trucking subsidiary Otto over claims that it stole confidential and proprietary sensor technology.

Waymo claims Uber and Otto nicked confidential information on Waymo’s Lidar sensor technology to help speed its own efforts in autonomous technology.

Waymo’s complaint in the Northern District of California said that Uber’s LiDAR technology is actually Waymo’s LiDAR technology.

Uber said that it is considering the allegations.

Lidar, which uses light pulses reflected off objects to gauge their position on or near the road, is a crucial component of autonomous driving systems.

Previous systems have been prohibitively expensive and Waymo sought to design one over 90 percent cheaper, making its Lidar technology among the company’s “most valuable assets,” Waymo said.

Waymo is seeking an unspecified amount of damages and a court order preventing Uber from using its proprietary information.

Otto launched in May, due in part to the high profile of one of its co-founders, Anthony Levandowski, who had been an executive on Google’s self-driving project.

Waymo said that before Levandowski’s resignation in January 2016 from Google he downloaded over 14,000 confidential files, including Lidar circuit board designs, thereby allowing Uber and Otto to fast-track its self-driving technology.

Waymo accused Levandowski of attempting to “erase any forensic fingerprints” by reformatting  his laptop.

“While Waymo developed its custom LiDAR systems with sustained effort over many years, defendants leveraged stolen information to shortcut the process and purportedly build a comparable LiDAR system in only nine months,” the complaint said.

 

Tech companies lean on presidential hopefuls

trumpuckerThe tech industry is already leaning on the US presidential hopefuls to see which one will give it a shopping list of things it wants ranging from cheap Chinese workers to supporting the god-awful Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

Ahead of the Republican and Democratic conventions in July, the tech industry plans to issue on Wednesday an open letter charting a dozen policy recommendations for the candidates running in the November 8 presidential election. The groups are not aligning themselves with either of the two major political parties.

Backing for the TPP runs counter to positions taken by Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Trump has slammed international trade agreements and he is not fond of bringing in immigrants that to take over US worker’s jobs.

However in March the billionaire real estate developer shied away from arguing against more H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers, saying he was “softening the position because we need to have talented people in this country.” So basically he is just anti-Mexican.

Clinton has not said if she would try to renegotiate TPP, which was signed in February but has not yet got congressional approval. She has said she supports expanding the number of visas for high-skilled workers.

The tech coalition letter, signed by groups including the Internet Association, Telecommunications Industry Association and Information Technology Industry Council, is the first time a wide range of technology trade organisations have staked out a common platform during a presidential campaign, according to a person familiar with its writing.

The platform also calls for “narrowly targeted government access to user data” and recognition of encryption as a “critical security tool.”

Trump wants the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk collection of US phone records, saying that U.S. authorities should err on the side of protecting national security over privacy concerns. He also called for an Apple boycott the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation over unlocking an encrypted iPhone linked to a San Bernardino, California gunman.

Clinton has supported some reforms to the NSA and has said a balance needs to be found between privacy and security in the encryption debate.

The association letter also calls for preventing censorship online by limiting unreasonable third-party liability for speech, support for the sharing economy, and an updated and simplified tax code, among other issues.

Signing the letter are Amazon, Uber, Apple, Facebook, Allied for Startups, the BSA, The Software Alliance, Computer Technology Industry Association, Computer & Communications Industry Association, Consumer Technology Association, Semiconductor Industry Association, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Software & Information Industry Association, Technology CEO Council and TechNet.

 

Uber drivers take firm to court

London taxi cabBritish drivers for Uber are to take the company to court, according to a BBC report.

Over 100 people want legal rights as employees, not self employed people.

A lawyer representing the disgruntled drivers claimed Uber is not complying with UK employment laws.

The drivers want legal rights such as being paid the minimum wage, and paid holidays.

The BBC said that Uber’s response was to say that most of its drivers wanted the flexibility that being self employed gave.

But drivers, who have to pay Uber 20 percent of taking, said it was hard to scrape a living under the current arrangements.

Uber gets thumbs up from UK High Court

London taxi cabA UK High Court judge has ruled that the Uber app that is used to estimate charges and distances is not a taxi meter.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) had taken the case to court and claimed that the company’s smartphones aren’t taxi meters. Private hire vehicles aren’t allowed to use meters.

But Mr Justice Ouseley said that taxi meters don’t work in the same fashion as black taxi meters, because those don’t use GPS technology or the software in smartphones.

The LTDA will appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court, and argues that smartphones work exactly like taxi meters.

The mayor of London, who regulates black cabs in the capital, is attempting to bring new regulations in to stymie the use of Uber. Transport for London (TFL) is in the process of consultation on how to regulate the industry.

Microsoft plunges money into Uber

London taxi cabA report said that software giant Microsoft has invested $100 million in taxi contender Uber.

Uber, which faces stiff inspection in various cities around the world has drawn the ire of car hire firms and traditional taxi cab outfits.

A report in US wire Bloomberg said that Uber will use the cash injection to launch its operations to more cities worldwide.

Uber is now valued at close to $50 billion, according to Bloomberg.

Last month Microsoft sold a share of its Bing mapping outfit to Uber and both companies have agreed to integrate Uber into Microsoft Cortana – a Siri like voice system that was rolled out along with Windows 10.

Uber already has a strong reach covering over 300 cities in over 50 countries worldwide.

Taxi drivers revolt against Uber

Taxi drivers sowed traffic chaos in Europe’s top cities on Wednesday by mounting one of the biggest protests ever against a smartphone app.

Uber summons rides at the touch of a button and it is apparently unpopular with licensed cabbies because it is a big company and competes against them. Although it is a high tech option, the cabbies feel that it breaks local taxi rules, violates licensing and safety regulations and its drivers fail to comply with local insurance rules.

Uber claims that it is all because the taxi industry has not faced competition for decades and was seeing competition from companies such as Uber which was bringing choice to customers.

Uber says its minicabs arrive in five minutes in central London and its fares are 30 to 50 percent cheaper than a black cab.

Hundreds of licensed black taxis snarled traffic in the streets around Trafalgar Square in central London, hooting their horns as they passed Downing Street, home of Prime Minister David Cameron, and the Houses of Parliament.

In Paris, taxis slowed traffic on major arteries into the city during the morning commute. Hundreds choked the main road to Berlin’s historic centre while commuters packed buses and trains, or just walked, to get to work in Madrid and Barcelona.