company:lyft

  • Working Through the Pain at TeslaReveal
    https://www.revealnews.org/article/inside-teslas-factory-a-medical-clinic-designed-to-ignore-injured-worker

    Inside Tesla’s factory, a medical clinic designed to ignore injured workers
    By Will Evans / November 5, 2018

    When a worker gets smashed by a car part on Tesla’s factory floor, medical staff are forbidden from calling 911 without permission.

    The electric carmaker’s contract doctors rarely grant it, instead often insisting that seriously injured workers – including one who severed the top of a finger – be sent to the emergency room in a Lyft.

    Injured employees have been systematically sent back to the production line to work through their pain with no modifications, according to former clinic employees, Tesla factory workers and medical records. Some could barely walk.

    The on-site medical clinic serving some 10,000 employees at Tesla Inc.’s California assembly plant has failed to properly care for seriously hurt workers, an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

    The clinic’s practices are unsafe and unethical, five former clinic employees said.

    But denying medical care and work restrictions to injured workers is good for one thing: making real injuries disappear.

    “The goal of the clinic was to keep as many patients off of the books as possible,” said Anna Watson, a physician assistant who worked at Tesla’s medical clinic for three weeks in August.

    Watson has nearly 20 years of experience as a medical professional, examining patients, diagnosing ailments and prescribing medications. She’s treated patients at a petroleum refinery, a steel plant, emergency rooms and a trauma center. But she said she’s never seen anything like what’s happening at Tesla.


    Anna Watson was a physician assistant at the medical clinic inside Tesla’s electric car factory in Fremont, Calif. She was fired in August after raising concerns. Credit: Paul Kuroda for Reveal

    “The way they were implementing it was very out of control,” said Watson, who was fired in August after she raised her concerns. “Every company that I’ve worked at is motivated to keep things not recordable. But I’ve never seen anybody do it at the expense of treating the patient.”

    Workers with chest pain, breathing problems or extreme headaches have been dismissed as having issues unrelated to their work, without being fully evaluated or having workplace exposures considered, former employees said. The clinic has turned away temp workers who got hurt on Tesla’s assembly lines, leaving them without on-site care. And medical assistants, who are supposed to have on-site supervision, say they were left on their own at night, unprepared to deal with a stream of night-shift injuries.

    If a work injury requires certain medical equipment – such as stitches or hard braces – then it has to be counted in legally mandated logs. But some employees who needed stitches for a cut instead were given butterfly bandages, said Watson and another former clinic employee. At one point, hard braces were removed from the clinic so they wouldn’t be used, according to Watson and a former medical assistant.

    As Tesla races to revolutionize the automobile industry and build a more sustainable future, it has left its factory workers in the past, still painfully vulnerable to the dangers of manufacturing.

    An investigation by Reveal in April showed that Tesla prioritized style and speed over safety, undercounted injuries and ignored the concerns of its own safety professionals. CEO Elon Musk’s distaste for the color yellow and beeping forklifts eroded factory safety, former safety team members said.

    The new revelations about the on-site clinic show that even as the company forcefully pushed back against Reveal’s reporting, behind the scenes, it doubled down on its efforts to hide serious injuries from the government and public.

    In June, Tesla hired a new company, Access Omnicare, to run its factory health center after the company promised Tesla it could help reduce the number of recordable injuries and emergency room visits, according to records.

    A former high-level Access Omnicare employee said Tesla pressured the clinic’s owner, who then made his staff dismiss injuries as minor or not related to work.

    “It was bullying and pressuring to do things people didn’t believe were correct,” said the former employee, whom Reveal granted anonymity because of the worker’s fear of being blackballed in the industry.

    Dr. Basil Besh, the Fremont, California, hand surgeon who owns Access Omnicare, said the clinic drives down Tesla’s injury count with more accurate diagnoses, not because of pressure from Tesla. Injured workers, he said, don’t always understand what’s best for them.

    “We treat the Tesla employees just the same way we treat our professional athletes,” he said. “If Steph Curry twists his knee on a Thursday night game, that guy’s in the MRI scanner on Friday morning.”

    Yet at one point, Watson said a Tesla lawyer and a company safety official told her and other clinic staff to stop prescribing exercises to injured workers so they wouldn’t have to count the injuries. Recommending stretches to treat an injured back or range-of-motion exercises for an injured shoulder was no longer allowed, she said.

    The next day, she wrote her friend a text message in outrage: “I had to meet with lawyers yesterday to literally learn how not to take care of people.”

    Tesla declined interview requests for this story and said it had no comment in response to detailed questions. But after Reveal pressed the company for answers, Tesla officials took time on their October earnings call to enthusiastically praise the clinic.

    “I’m really super happy with the care they’re giving, and I think the employees are as well,” said Laurie Shelby, Tesla’s vice president for environment, health and safety.

    Musk complained about “unfair accusations” that Tesla undercounts its injuries and promised “first-class health care available right on the spot when people need it.”

    Welcome to the new Tesla clinic
    Back in June, on stage at Tesla’s shareholder meeting, Musk announced a declining injury rate for his electric car factory.

    “This is a super important thing to me because we obviously owe a great debt to the people who are building the car. I really care about this issue,” Musk said to applause.

    It wasn’t long after that that Stephon Nelson joined the company. Working the overnight shift Aug. 13, Nelson got a sudden introduction to Tesla’s new model of care.

    He was bent over putting caulk inside the trunk of a Model X. Something slipped and the hatchback crunched down on his back. Nelson froze up in agonizing pain. He had deep red bruises across his back.

    “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sit down. I couldn’t even stand up straight,” said Nelson, who’s 30 and used to play semiprofessional football.

    He asked for an ambulance, but the on-call Tesla doctor said no – he could take a Lyft to the hospital instead.

    “I just felt heartbroken,” Nelson said. “What they was telling us in the orientation, that Tesla is a company that cares about their employees’ safety, it just seemed like it was just a whole reversal.”

    No one was allowed to call 911 without a doctor’s permission, said Watson and two medical assistants who used to work at the clinic under Besh’s direction. Anyone who did so would get in trouble, they said.

    “There was a strong push not to send anybody in an ambulance,” Watson said.


    “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sit down. I couldn’t even stand up straight,” Stephon Nelson says of what happened when he injured his back while working on a Tesla Model X. Credit: Paul Kuroda for Reveal

    It’s unclear why there was such a focus on avoiding 911, though some former employees thought it was to save money. Also, 911 logs become public records. And first responders, unlike drivers for ride-hailing services, are required to report severe work injuries to California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the state’s workplace safety agency. Besh said ambulance use is based on “clinical judgment only.”

    The system was especially problematic on the night shift, as the factory continued churning out vehicles around the clock, but there were no doctors or nurses around, former employees said.

    Two medical assistants who used to work there said they often were left on their own – one on duty at a time – and struggled to tend to all the injured. Both had to do things such as take vital signs, which medical assistants aren’t allowed to do without on-site supervision, according to the Medical Board of California. Reveal granted them anonymity because they fear speaking out will hurt their careers. Besh said no one works alone.

    For a severely injured worker lying on the assembly line, it could take 10 to 15 minutes for a medical assistant to arrive and then contact on-call doctors, a medical assistant said. Getting a code for Tesla’s Lyft account was a drawn-out process that could take hours, she said.

    The medical assistants said they were alarmed and uncomfortable with the doctors’ orders to use Lyft because they worried some patients could pass out or need help en route. One worker directed to take a Lyft was light-headed and dizzy. Another had his fingers badly broken, contorted and mangled.

    Besh, who often serves as the on-call doctor, said anyone could call 911 in a life-threatening situation. He said he recommends using Lyft for workers who don’t need advanced life support.

    Besh gave the example of a worker who had the top of his finger cut off. He needed to go to the hospital, but not by ambulance, Besh said. He likened the situation to people at home who get a ride to the hospital instead of calling an ambulance.

    “We right-size the care,” he said. “Obviously, it’s all about the appropriate care given for the appropriate situation.”

    It’s a doctor’s judgment call to use Lyft, but many on the factory floor found it inhumane. In some cases, including the worker with an amputated fingertip, factory supervisors refused to put their employees in a Lyft and instead drove them to the hospital, according to a medical assistant.

    Injured workers sent back to work

    In Nelson’s case, he called his girlfriend to take him to the hospital. But he said his supervisor told him that he had to show up for work the next day or Nelson would get in trouble.

    Nelson needed the job, so he forced himself to come in. He shuffled slowly, hunched over in pain, to his department, he said. When it was clear he couldn’t do the job, he was sent to the Tesla health center, a small clinic on an upper level of the factory.

    Workers too injured to do their regular jobs are supposed to receive job restrictions and a modified assignment that won’t make the injury worse.

    But the health center wouldn’t give Nelson any accommodations. He could go home that day, but he had to report to work full duty the following day, he said.

    By law, work-related injuries must be recorded on injury logs if they require medical treatment beyond first aid, days away from work or job restrictions. The clinic’s practices were designed to avoid those triggers, said Anna Watson, the physician assistant.

    There was a clinic rule, for example, that injured employees could not be given work restrictions, Watson said. No matter what type of injuries workers came in with – burns, lacerations, strains and sprains – clinic staff were under instructions to send them back to work full duty, she said. Watson said she even had to send one back to work with what appeared to be a broken ankle.

    Medical clinics are supposed to treat injuries and keep workers safe, she said, “and none of that’s happening. So at the most acute time of their injury, they don’t have any support, really.”

    A medical assistant who formerly worked at the clinic remembered an employee who was sent back to work even though he couldn’t stand on one of his feet. Another employee passed out face down on the assembly line – then went back to work.

    “You always put back to full duty, no matter what,” said the medical assistant.

    Dr. Basil Besh said patients are given work restrictions when appropriate. He said those hurt at night get first aid and triage, followed by an accurate diagnosis from a physician the next day.

    “There’s always going to be somebody who says, ‘No, I shouldn’t be working,’ ” he said. “But if you look objectively at the totality of the medical examination, that’s not always the case.”

    Four days after Nelson’s injury, Watson herself sent him back to work with no restrictions, according to medical records he provided. Nelson said this happened repeatedly as he hobbled in pain.

    But Watson did what she could to help: She referred him to Access Omnicare’s main clinic, about 5 miles from the auto factory. It was allowed to give work restrictions, Watson said. But most workers aren’t sent there, and it can take a while to get an appointment.

    Eight days after his injury, the outside clinic diagnosed Nelson with a “crushing injury of back,” contusions and “intractable” pain. He finally was given work restrictions that said he shouldn’t be bending, squatting, kneeling, climbing stairs or lifting more than 10 pounds.

    Even after that, the health center at one point sent Nelson back to his department in a wheelchair, he said.

    “And I’m rocking back and forth, just ready to fall out of the wheelchair because I’m in so much pain,” he said.

    In September, Nelson got a warehouse job at another company. It was a pay cut, but he quit Tesla right away. “I feel like it’s really not safe at all,” he said.

    Besh said he couldn’t comment on a specific case without a signed release from the patient. But, he said, “a physician examined that patient and saw that there was not a safety issue.”

    Besh was named chairman of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Board of Councilors this year. A Tesla spokeswoman set up and monitored his interview with Reveal.

    There’s been a “culture shift” at the health center since Tesla hired him to take over, he said.

    “So culturally, there were folks in the past who were expecting that any time they come to the clinic, they would be taken off of work,” he said. “And when we told them, ‘No, we really want to do what’s best for you’ … it’s taking some time to get buy-in.”

    In the end, Tesla counted Nelson on its injury logs, which is how Reveal identified him. That’s another reason the system didn’t make sense to Watson: Some workers whose injuries were so serious that they eventually would have to be counted still were denied proper care when they needed it most, she said.

    Many more injured workers never were counted, she said. Tesla’s official injury logs, provided to Reveal by a former employee, show 48 injuries in August. Watson reviewed the list for the three weeks she was there and estimated that more than twice as many injuries should have been counted if Tesla had provided appropriate care and counted accurately.

    Other ways Tesla’s clinic avoids treating workers
    The clinic seemed geared toward sending workers away instead of treating them, Watson said. The culture of the clinic, she said, was to discount workers’ complaints and assume they were exaggerating.

    The clinic would look for reasons to dismiss injuries as not work-related, even when they seemed to be, former employees said.

    Watson recalled one worker who had passed out on the job and went to the hospital because of her exposure to fumes in the factory. Even though a work-related loss of consciousness is required to be counted, no such injury was recorded on Tesla’s injury logs.

    Temp workers hurt on the production line also were often rebuffed by the clinic, said former clinic employees. At one point, there was a blanket policy to turn away temps, they said.


    Tracy Lee wears a brace to help with a repetitive stress injury she developed while working at Tesla’s factory. She says the in-house health center sent her away without evaluating her because she wasn’t a permanent employee. Credit: Paul Kuroda for Reveal

    Tracy Lee developed a repetitive stress injury over the summer when a machine broke and she had to lift car parts by hand, she said. Lee said the health center sent her away without evaluating her because she wasn’t a permanent employee.

    “I really think that’s messed up,” said Lee, who later sought medical treatment on her own. “Don’t discriminate just because we’re temps. We’re working for you.”

    By law, Tesla is required to record injuries of temp workers who work under its supervision, no matter where they get treatment. But not all of them were. Lee said her Tesla supervisor knew about the injury. But Lee’s name doesn’t appear on Tesla’s injury logs.

    Besh pushed back on the claims of his former employees.

    He said the clinic didn’t treat some temp workers because Access Omnicare wasn’t a designated health care provider for their staffing agencies. About half of the agencies now are able to use the clinic, and the rest should be early next year, he said.

    Besh said a physician accurately and carefully determines whether an injury is work-related and the clinic is not set up to treat personal medical issues. He said the clinic is fully stocked.

    As for prescribing exercises, Besh said the clinic automatically was giving exercise recommendations to workers who were not injured and simply fixed the error.


    These sample Work Status Reports, posted in Tesla’s health center, show how clinic staff were instructed to handle different situations. The document on the left, labeled “Work Related,” is marked “First Aid Only” and “Return to full duty with no limitations or restrictions,” scenarios that would mean Tesla wouldn’t have to count the injury. Those were the only options, says Anna Watson, a physician assistant who used to work there. One document for contract employees such as temp workers (center) and another for non-occupational injuries (right) both say to refer the patients elsewhere. Credit: Obtained by Reveal

    Clinic source: Tesla pressured doctor
    Access Omnicare’s proposal for running Tesla’s health center states that Tesla’s priorities include reducing recordable injuries and emergency room visits, according to a copy obtained by Reveal.

    It says Access Omnicare’s model, with more accurate diagnoses, reduces “un-necessary use of Emergency Departments and prevents inadvertent over-reporting of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recordability.”

    Even before Access Omnicare took over the on-site health center in June, Tesla sent many injured workers to its main clinic as one of the automaker’s preferred providers.

    Tesla exercised an alarming amount of pressure on the clinic to alter how it treated patients in order to keep injury rates down, said the former high-level Access Omnicare employee.

    “There was a huge, huge push from Tesla to keep things nonrecordable,” said the former employee.

    A Tesla workers’ compensation official routinely would contact the clinic to intervene in individual cases, said the former employee. Tesla would take issue with diagnoses and treatment decisions, arguing that specific workers should be sent back to work full duty or have their injuries labeled as unrelated to work. The clinic gave Tesla what it wanted, the former employee said.

    For example, Bill Casillas’ diagnosis suddenly was changed by Access Omnicare after discussions with Tesla.

    In December, Casillas was working in Tesla’s seat factory. When he touched a forklift, he felt an electric shock jolt him back. Later that shift, it happened again. He said he felt disoriented and found he had urinated on himself.

    Casillas said he hasn’t been the same since. He struggles with pain, tingling and numbness. At 47, he’s unsteady, uses a cane and hasn’t been able to work, he said.

    A doctor at Access Omnicare diagnosed a work-related “injury due to electrical exposure” and gave him severe work restrictions and physical therapy, medical records show.

    Then, nearly two months after his injury, another Access Omnicare physician, Dr. Muhannad Hafi, stepped in and dismissed the injury.

    “I have spoken again with (the workers’ compensation official) at Tesla and he informed that the forklift did not have electric current running. With that said, in my medical opinion, the patient does not have an industrial injury attributed to an electrical current,” he wrote.

    Hafi, who’s no longer with Access Omnicare, didn’t respond to questions. Besh said he can’t discuss patient details.

    The co-worker who was in the forklift during the second shock, Paul Calderon, said he disagrees with the Tesla official but no one asked him. He backed up Casillas’ account and said Tesla “tried to really downplay what happened to him.”

    Hafi’s January report noted that Casillas said he was “miserable,” used a cane and had pain all over his body. But he discharged him back to work full duty, writing, “No further symptoms of concern.”

    A Tesla safety team manager informed Casillas last month that his injury was not counted because it was “determined to not be work-related.” Casillas is still a Tesla employee, but he’s off work because of his injury. His workers’ comp claim was denied based on Hafi’s report, but his lawyer, Sue Borg, is seeking an independent medical evaluation.

    Besh said Tesla does not pressure him to dismiss injuries.

    “What Tesla pressures us on is accurate documentation,” he said. “What they want is their OSHA log to be as accurate as possible, so what they’ll push back on is, ‘Doctor I need more clarity on this report.’ And we do that for them.”

    “They are not in the business of making clinical determinations at all,” he said. “We make those clinical determinations only based on what the patient needs.”

    State regulators not interested
    By late August, Watson, the physician assistant, reached her breaking point. She got into an argument with Besh, who fired her for not deferring to doctors.

    Afterward, she filed a complaint to Cal/OSHA, California’s workplace safety agency.

    “I just see the workers at Tesla as having absolutely no voice,” she said. “I do feel extra responsible to try to speak up for what’s going on there.”

    Watson thought Cal/OSHA would put an immediate stop to the practices she witnessed. But the agency wasn’t interested.

    Cal/OSHA sent her a letter saying it folded her complaint into the investigation it started in April after Reveal’s first story ran. The letter said it had investigated and cited Tesla for a recordkeeping violation.

    But Cal/OSHA already had closed that investigation two weeks before Watson’s complaint. The agency issued a fine of $400 for a single injury it said was not recorded within the required time period. Tesla appealed, calling it an administrative error.

    Reveal had documented many other cases of injuries that Tesla had failed to record. But the agency had only about six months from the date of an injury to fine a company. By the time Cal/OSHA concluded its four-month investigation, the statute of limitations had run out.

    After Reveal reported that the time limitation makes it difficult to hold employers accountable, state legislators passed a bill giving investigators six months from when Cal/OSHA first learns of the violation. It was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, but it was too late for the Tesla investigation.

    A Cal/OSHA spokeswoman said the investigation found four other “injury recording violations that fell outside of the statute of limitations.” Even if those other violations had been included, the spokeswoman said Cal/OSHA would have had to combine them in a single $400 citation.

    Tesla, meanwhile, inaccurately cites Cal/OSHA’s investigation as vindication.

    “We do get these quite unfair accusations,” Musk said on his October earnings call. “One of them was that we were underreporting injuries. And it’s worth noting that OSHA completed their investigation and concluded that we had not been doing anything of the sort.”

    Watson called Cal/OSHA officials to insist they investigate her complaint. She told them that she had detailed knowledge of a system that undercounted injuries by failing to treat injured workers.

    But Cal/OSHA officials told her that it wasn’t the agency’s responsibility, she said. They suggested contacting another agency, such as the medical board or workers’ compensation regulators.

    As Watson kept pushing and Reveal began asking questions, a Cal/OSHA spokeswoman said her complaint now is being investigated.

    Watson has a new job at an urgent care clinic. She said she just wants someone to make sure that Tesla workers get the care they need.

    “You go to Tesla and you think it’s going to be this innovative, great, wonderful place to be, like this kind of futuristic company,” she said. “And I guess it’s just kind of disappointing that that’s our future, basically, where the worker still doesn’t matter.”

    #USA #Tesla #Arbeit #Krankheit


  • Lyft Is Not Your Friend
    http://jacobinmag.com/2018/10/the-myth-of-the-woke-brand-uber-lyft-capitalism

    BY MEAGAN DAY
    Lyft is the latest brand trying to build market share by posing as a “progressive” corporation. But the fight can’t be good corporations against bad ones — it’s working people against capitalism.

    In early 2017, liberals hit on a new strategy to resist the nascent Trump administration: #DeleteUber.

    It started when New York City’s taxi drivers refused to service JFK airport to protest Trump’s travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries, and Uber was spotted leveraging the ensuing crisis for profit. Then Uber CEO Travis Kalanick came under fire for accepting an appointment to Trump’s economic advisory council. He announced his resignation from the council, but only weeks later a video leaked of Kalanick reprimanding a driver for his company.

    Amid various ensuing scandals, Kalanick stepped down as CEO of Uber, but by then millions of consumers had turned on the brand in protest, deleting the Uber app from their phone and opting instead for the rideshare giant’s rival Lyft.

    Lyft leaned in, eagerly branding itself as the progressive alternative to Uber by pledging a $1 million donation to the ACLU and trotting out celebrities to promote it as a company committed to “doing things for the right reasons.” Lyft, of course, operates on the same labor model as Uber — its drivers are not employees but independent contractors, and are therefore denied all the benefits and protections that workers receive under more ideal circumstances. Nevertheless, a new refrain rang out across liberaldom: “I don’t use Uber, I use Lyft.”

    What socialists understand that liberals don’t is that brands are corporate enterprises, and corporate enterprises are fundamentally motivated by the pursuit of profit — even in their ostentatious acts of charity and wokeness.

    Three surefire ways to maximize profit are: suppressing labor costs by paying workers as little as you can get away with, lobbying the state for deregulation and lower taxes, and opening new markets by finding new things to commodify and sell. Businesses will always pursue these avenues of profit maximization where they can. It’s not a matter of ethics but of market discipline: if they don’t, they run the risk of losing out to the competition and eventually capsizing.

    Sometimes corporations do things for publicity that make it seem like their interests are not fundamentally misaligned with those of the working-class majority, who rely on decent wages and well-funded public services. But those efforts are meant to sustain public confidence in a given corporation’s brand, which is occasionally necessary for keeping up profits, as Uber’s losses in 2017 demonstrate. When corporate profits come into direct conflict with active measures to improve people’s wellbeing, corporations will always select the former. Case in point: Lyft just donated $100k to the campaign against a ballot measure that would create a tax fund to house the homeless in San Francisco, where the company is based.

    Why did the progressive alternative to Uber do this? Well, because the company doesn’t want to pay higher taxes. Because high taxes imperil profits, and profits are the point. Another likely rationale is to build stronger bonds with pro-business advocacy groups in San Francisco, so that the company will have allies if the city decides to implement regulations against ride-sharing services, which is rumored to be a possibility.

    Lyft has already mastered the art of suppressing labor costs and opening new markets. Next on the wish list, low taxes and deregulation. It’s pretty formulaic when you get down to it.

    San Francisco is home to an estimated 7,500 homeless people. Proposition C would tap the large corporations that benefit from the city’s public infrastructure to double the city’s homelessness budget in an attempt to resolve the crisis. The corporations opposing Proposition C say that the move would imperil jobs. This is not an analysis, it’s a threat. What they’re saying is that if the city reaches too far into their pockets, they’ll take their business elsewhere, draining the region of jobs and revenue as punishment for government overreach. It’s a mobster’s insinuation: Nice economy, shame if something happened to it. Meanwhile thousands of people sleep in the streets, even though the money to shelter them is within the city’s borders.

    Of course, in every struggle over taxes and industry regulation there may be a few canny corporate outliers looking to ingratiate their brand to the public by bucking the trend. In the case of Proposition C, it’s Salesforce, whose CEO Marc Benioff has made a public display of support for the ballot measure. But before you rush to praise Benioff, consider that only two months ago he lauded Trump’s tax cuts for fueling “aggressive spending” and injecting life into the economy.

    You could spend your life as an engaged consumer hopping from brand to brand, as liberals often do, pledging allegiance to this one and protesting that one to the beat of the new cycle drum. You could delete Lyft from your phone the same way you did with Uber, and find another rideshare app that you deem more ethical, until that one inevitably disappoints you too.

    Or you could press pause, stop scrambling for some superior consumption choice to ease your conscience, and entertain the socialist notion that deep down all corporations are objectively the same. They all exist to maximize return on investment for the people who own them. They are all in competition with each other to plunder our commons most effectively, with the lowest overhead, which means compensating the least for employees’ work. And when the rubber meets the road, they will all prioritize private profits over the wellbeing of those who own no productive assets, which is the vast majority of the people on the planet. They will demonstrate these priorities on a case-by-case basis, and on a massive global scale so long as capitalism prevails.

    “We’re woke,” said Lyft CEO John Zimmerman at the height of the Uber scandal. It was horseshit — it always is. And until liberals stop believing than any brand can be truly “woke,” or can offer a genuine alternative to the predatory behavior they observe in other “unwoke” brands, they’ll be unable to mount a meaningful resistance to anything.

    Whether we want to ensure clean drinking water for the residents of Flint or to shelter the homeless of San Francisco, we have to draw clear battle lines that are up to the challenge. The fight can’t be good corporations against bad corporations. It has to be working people against capitalism.

    #USA #Lyft #Uber #Arbeit


  • The mad, twisted tale of the electric scooter craze
    https://www.cnet.com/news/the-mad-tale-of-the-electric-scooter-craze-with-bird-lime-and-spin-in-san-fran

    Dara Kerr/CNET

    For weeks, I’d been seeing trashed electric scooters on the streets of San Francisco. So I asked a group of friends if any of them had seen people vandalizing the dockless vehicles since they were scattered across the city a couple of months ago.

    The answer was an emphatic “yes.”

    One friend saw a guy walking down the street kicking over every scooter he came across. Another saw a rider pull up to a curb as the handlebars and headset became fully detached. My friend figures someone had messed with the screws or cabling so the scooter would come apart on purpose.

    A scroll through Reddit, Instagram and Twitter showed me photos of scooters — owned by Bird, Lime and Spin — smeared in feces, hanging from trees, hefted into trashcans and tossed into the San Francisco Bay.

    It’s no wonder Lime scooters’ alarm isn’t just a loud beep, but a narc-like battle cry that literally says, “Unlock me to ride, or I’ll call the police.”

    San Francisco’s scooter phenomenon has taken on many names: Scootergeddon, Scooterpocalypse and Scooter Wars. It all started when the three companies spread hundreds of their dockless, rentable e-scooters across city the same week at the end of March — without any warning to local residents or lawmakers.

    Almost instantly, first-time riders began zooming down sidewalks at 15 mph, swerving between pedestrians and ringing the small bells attached to the handlebars. And they left the vehicles wherever they felt like it: scooters cluttered walkways and storefronts, jammed up bike lanes, and blocked bike racks and wheelchair accesses.

    The three companies all say they’re solving a “last-mile” transportation problem, giving commuters an easy and convenient way to zip around the city while helping ease road congestion and smog. They call it the latest in a long line of disruptive businesses that aim to change the way we live.

    The scooters have definitely changed how some people live.

    I learned the Wild West looks friendly compared to scooter land. In San Francisco’s world of these motorized vehicles, there’s backstabbing, tweaker chop shops and intent to harm.

    “The angry people, they were angry,” says Michael Ghadieh, who owns electric bicycle shop, SF Wheels, and has repaired hundreds of the scooters. “People cut cables, flatten tires, they were thrown in the Bay. Someone was out there physically damaging these things.”

    Yikes! Clipped brakes

    SF Wheels is located on a quaint street in a quintessential San Francisco neighborhood. Called Cole Valley, the area is lined with Victorian homes, upscale cafes and views of the city’s famous Mount Sutro. SF Wheels sells and rents electric bicycles for $20 per hour, mostly to tourists who want to see Golden Gate Park on two wheels.

    In March, one of the scooter companies called Ghadieh to tell him they were about to launch in the city and were looking for people to help with repairs. Ghadieh said he was game. He wouldn’t disclose the name of the company because of agreements he signed.

    Now he admits he didn’t quite know what he was getting into.

    Days after the scooter startups dropped their vehicles on an unsuspecting San Francisco, SF Wheels became so crammed with broken scooters that it was hard to walk through the small, tidy shop. Scooters lined the sidewalk outside, filled the doorway and crowded the mechanic’s workspace. The backyard had a heap of scooters nearly six-feet tall, Ghadieh told me.

    His bike techs were so busy that Ghadieh had to hire three more mechanics. SF Wheels was fixing 75 to 100 scooters per day. Ghadieh didn’t say how much the shop was making per scooter fix.

    “The repairs were fast and easy on some and longer on others,” Ghadieh said. “It’d depend on whether it was wear-and-tear or whether it was physically damaged by someone out there, some madman.”

    Some of the scooters, which cost around $500 off the shelf, came in completely vandalized — everything from chopped wires for the controller (aka the brain) to detached handlebars to bent forks. Several even showed up with clipped brake cables.

    I asked Ghadieh if the scooters still work without brakes.

    “It will work, yes,” he said. “It will go forward, but you just cannot stop. Whoever is causing that is making the situation dangerous for some riders.”

    Especially in a city with lots of hills.

    Ghadieh said his crew worked diligently for about six weeks, repairing an estimated 1,000 scooters. But then, about three weeks ago, work dried up. Ghadieh had to lay off the mechanics he’d hired and his shop is back to focusing on electric bicycles.

    “Now, there’s literally nothing,” he said. “There’s a change of face with the company. I’m not exactly sure what happened. … They decided to do it differently.”

    The likely change? The electric scooter company probably decided to outsource repairs to gig workers, rather than rely on agreements with shops.

    That’s gig as in freelancers looking to pick up part-time work, like Uber and Lyft drivers. And like Nick Abouzeid. By day, Abouzeid works in marketing for the startup AngelList. A few weeks ago, he got an email from Bird inviting him to be a scooter mechanic. The message told Abouzeid he could earn $20 for each scooter repair, once he’d completed an online training. He signed up, took the classes and is ready to start.

    “These scooters aren’t complicated. They’re cheap scooters from China,” Abouzeid said. “The repairs are anything from adjusting a brake to fixing a flat tire to adding stickers that have fallen off a Bird.”

    Bird declined to comment specifically on its maintenance program, but its spokesman Kenneth Baer did say, “Bird has a network of trained chargers and mechanics who operate as independent contractors.”

    All of Lime’s mechanics, on the other hand, are part of the company’s operations and maintenance team that repairs the scooters and ensures they’re safe for riders. Spin uses a mix of gig workers and contract mechanics, like what Ghadieh was doing.
    Gaming the system

    Electric scooters are, well, electric. That means they need to be plugged into an outlet for four to five hours before they can transport people, who rent them for $1 plus 15 cents for every minute of riding time.

    Bird, Spin and Lime all partially rely on gig workers to keep their fleets juiced up.

    Each company has a different app that shows scooters with low or dead batteries. Anyone with a driver’s license and car can sign up for the app and become a charger. These drivers roam the streets, picking up scooters and taking them home to be charged.
    img-7477

    “It creates this amazing kind of gig economy,” Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden, who is a former Uber and Lyft executive, told me in April. “It’s kind of like a game of Pokemon Go for them, where they go around and try to find and gobble up as many Birds as they can.”

    Theoretically, all scooters are supposed to be off city streets by nightfall when it’s illegal to ride them. That’s when the chargers are unleashed. To get paid, they have to get the vehicles back out on the street in specified locations before 7 a.m. the next day. Bird supplies the charging cables — only three at a time, but those who’ve been in the business longer can get more cables.

    “I don’t know the fascination with all of these companies using gig workers to charge and repair,” said Harry Campbell, who runs a popular gig worker blog called The Rideshare Guy. “But they’re all in, they’re all doing it.”

    One of the reasons some companies use gig workers is to avoid costs like extra labor, gasoline and electricity. Bird, Spin and Lime have managed to convince investors they’re onto something. Between the three of them they’ve raised $255 million in funding. Bird is rumored to be raising another $150 million from one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms, Sequoia, which could put the company’s value at $1 billion. That’s a lot for an electric scooter disruptor.

    Lime pays $12 to charge each scooter and Spin pays $5; both companies also deploy their own operations teams for charging. Bird has a somewhat different system. It pays anywhere from $5 to $25 to charge its scooters, depending on the city and the location of the dead scooter. The harder the vehicle is to find and the longer it’s been off the radar, the higher the “bounty.”

    Abouzeid, who’s moonlighted as a Bird charger for the past two months, said he’s only found a $25 scooter once.

    “With the $25 ones, they’re like, ’Hey, we think it’s in this location, it’s got 0 percent battery, good luck,’” he said.

    But some chargers have devised a way to game the system. They call it hoarding.

    “They’ll literally go around picking up Birds and putting them in the back of their car,” Campbell said. “And then they wait until the bounties on them go up and up and up.”

    Bird has gotten wise to these tactics. It sent an email to all chargers last week warning them that if it sniffs out this kind of activity, those hoarders will be barred from the app.

    “We feel like this is a big step forward in fixing some of the most painful issues we’ve been hearing,” Bird wrote in the email, which was seen by CNET.

    Tweaker chop shops

    Hoarding and vandalism aren’t the only problems for electric scooter companies. There’s also theft. While the vehicles have GPS tracking, once the battery fully dies they go off the app’s map.

    “Every homeless person has like three scooters now,” Ghadieh said. “They take the brains out, the logos off and they literally hotwire it.”
    img-1134

    I’ve seen scooters stashed at tent cities around San Francisco. Photos of people extracting the batteries have been posted on Twitter and Reddit. Rumor has it the batteries have a resale price of about $50 on the street, but there doesn’t appear to be a huge market for them on eBay or Craigslist, according to my quick survey.

    Bird, Lime and Spin all said trashed and stolen scooters aren’t as big a problem as you’d think. When the companies launch in a new city, they said they tend to see higher theft and vandalism rates but then that calms down.

    “We have received a few reports of theft and vandalism, but that’s the nature of the business,” said Spin co-founder and President Euwyn Poon. “When you have a product that’s available for public consumption, you account for that.”

    Dockless, rentable scooters are now taking over cities across the US — from Denver to Atlanta to Washington, DC. Bird’s scooters are available in at least 10 cities with Scottsdale, Arizona, being the site of its most recent launch.

    Meanwhile, in San Francisco, regulators have been working to get rules in place to make sure riders drive safely and the companies abide by the law.

    New regulations to limit the number of scooters are set to go into effect in the city on June 4. To comply, scooter companies have to clear the streets of all their vehicles while the authorities process their permits. That’s expected to take about a month.

    And just like that, scooters will go out the way they came in — appearing and disappearing from one day to the next — leaving in their wake the chargers, mechanics, vandals and people hotwiring the things to get a free ride around town.

    #USA #transport #disruption #SDF


  • The impact of ride-hailing on vehicle miles traveled | SpringerLink
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11116-018-9923-2

    Ride-haling such as #Uber and #Lyft are changing the ways people travel. Despite widespread claims that these services help reduce driving, there is little research on this topic. This research paper uses a quasi-natural experiment in the Denver, Colorado, region to analyze basic impacts of ride-hailing on transportation efficiency in terms of deadheading, vehicle occupancy, mode replacement, and vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Realizing the difficulty in obtaining data directly from Uber and Lyft, we designed a quasi-natural experiment—by one of the authors driving for both companies—to collect primary data. This experiment uses an ethnographic and survey-based approach that allows the authors to gain access to exclusive data and real-time passenger feedback. The dataset includes actual travel attributes from 416 ride-hailing rides—Lyft, UberX, LyftLine, and UberPool—and travel behavior and socio-demographics from 311 passenger surveys. For this study, the conservative (lower end) percentage of deadheading miles from ride-hailing is 40.8%. The average vehicle occupancy is 1.4 passengers per ride, while the distance weighted vehicle occupancy is 1.3 without accounting for deadheading and 0.8 when accounting deadheading. When accounting for mode replacement and issues such as driver deadheading, we estimate that ride-hailing leads to approximately 83.5% more VMT than would have been driven had ride-hailing not existed. Although our data collection focused on the Denver region, these results provide insight into the impacts of ride-hailing.

    En résumé : un chercheur se fait chauffeur de VTC pour établir un jeu de données sur les trajets. Ces données montrent que le nombre total de miles est très largement supérieur à celui qui aurait eu lieu sans ces services, car il faut compter la distance parcourue par le chauffeur tout seul quand il part travailler, tourne en ville ou rejoint le point de rendez-vous. Et comme la plupart des voyageurs sont seuls et sur des trajectoires courtes, ils auraient pu aller à pied, en vélo ou en transports en commun.

    (article dispo sur sci-hub si vous voulez éviter de payer 45$)

    #urban_matter #transport #taxi #voiture


  • Lyft and Uber Won’t Be Happy Until They’re Your One-Stop Transit Guide - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/03/business/dealbook/lyft-uber-bike-sharing.html

    Uber will nicht nur den Taximarkt. Uber will den ÖPNV. Uber will alle Verkehrsarten. Neuere Äußerungen seiner Verantwortlichen und seines Konkrurrenten Lyft belegen diese Ambitionen. Die letzten Übernahmen von Fahrrad- und Motorrollerverleihfirmen sind weitere Schritte auf dem Weg zur totalen Verkehrskontrolle. Niemand soll mehr einen Zentimeter zurückegen, ohne dabei von den Megakonzernen unterstützt und überwacht zu werden.

    Betreiber und Kontrolleure öffentlicher Angebote für Personenbeförderung, städtische, nationale und internationale Einrichtungen sollen zugunsten privater Konzerne entmachtet werden.

    Uns alle wollen die Kapitalmaschinen um erschwingliche, demokratisch kontrollierte Verkehrsmittel bringen und die Preise diktieren. Politiker und Verwaltungen haben leider noch nicht begriffen: Die Konzerne wollen ihnen an den Kragen.

    Uber and Lyft came to prominence with their ride-hailing services. But increasingly they’re betting on other modes of transportation — with the aim of becoming the only service people need to get around cities.

    Lyft on Monday struck a deal to buy the core parts of Motivate, the parent company of CitiBike in New York and seven other bike-sharing programs around the United States. At first, that acquisition may seem puzzling — why would a ride-hailing giant want to get into the far smaller market for bicycles? — but there’s a bigger idea at work here.

    While Uber and Lyft have raised tens of billions of dollars to change the way people travel in cars, the future of urban transport doesn’t revolve just around automobiles. Bike-share programs have been popular in cities around the world for years. Shared electric scooters have become huge business, as providers like Bird and Lime have gained in popularity. And millions of people still take buses or trains. (Some even still walk.)

    Lyft and Uber are well aware that one doesn’t need to summon a driver to travel 10 blocks. Lyft’s deal for Motivate follows Uber’s takeover of Jump, a company that rents dockless electric bikes in six American cities, including San Francisco and Chicago. And both companies are experimenting with their own scooter-sharing programs.

    But they have bigger ambitions than just filling in gaps in their transportation networks. They want people to use their apps for navigating around cities, period. Uber’s C.E.O., Dara Khosrowshahi, explicitly spelled this idea out earlier this year:

    “Whether it’s taking a car, whether it’s taking a pooled car, whether it’s taking a bike, whether you should walk or even now we want to build out the capability for you to take a bus or subway. We want to be the A-to-B platform for transportation.”

    There are already apps like Citymapper that help commuters figure out the best way to navigate between two points in a city. But Lyft and Uber have the advantage of actually running some of the transport networks that can be used to make those trips happen, and would like users to never leave their platforms.

    One of the keys to making that dream a reality is linking their privately run businesses to public transit — something that both companies are working on.

    Uber struck a partnership with the start-up Masabi earlier this year to let users buy public-transit tickets through its app. That means that if the fastest way across town involves a car and a train, Uber could earn money from both parts of the trip.

    It isn’t clear what Lyft’s plans with Motivate are yet. But the acquisition buys it relationships with eight U.S. cities that could prove helpful. And while many in Silicon Valley tout the benefits of the dockless bikes and scooters that Jump and Bird offer, Motivate’s bike docks are also useful real estate, providing central locations for bikes or scooters that tend to be around public transit hubs. That could make it easier for users to take public transportation and then switch over to a bike, all while staying in the Lyft system.

    Of course, both companies face plenty of barriers. For one, while Lyft says that it expects Motivate’s contracts with cities to roll over, that may not be guaranteed. And while Uber has worked to recast itself as a friendly partner to local governments, many may remain wary because of the past frictions with municipal regulators.

    But becoming what Mr. Khosrowshahi has called the “Amazon for transportation” could be incredibly lucrative. That could keep a fight between Uber and Lyft going for years

    #Verkehr #Uber #Lyft #ÖPNV #Politik #Disruption


  • San Francisco to Uber, Lyft : Tell us what drivers earn
    https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/San-Francisco-to-Uber-Lyft-Tell-us-what-drivers-12951396.php

    Do Uber and Lyft stiff their drivers on wages ? A legal push by the ride-hailing companies’ hometown of San Francisco could lead to the drivers becoming employees rather than independent contractors. City Attorney Dennis Herrera subpoenaed the companies on Tuesday for records of driver pay and benefits, as well as their classification as independent contractors, rather than employees. The move follows a groundbreaking California Supreme Court decision that makes it harder for companies to (...)

    #Lyft #Uber #travail


  • The next local control fight? Like Uber before, city regulations for AirBnB and HomeAway are in the crosshairs | The Texas Tribune
    https://www.texastribune.org/2018/04/19/unresolved-legislature-short-term-rentals-become-local-control-fight-c

    This time, the fight is happening in the courts after attempts to overturn short-term rental ordinances failed in the Legislature.

    by Emma Platoff April 19, 2018 12 AM

    When the Zaataris moved to Texas from Lebanon, part of the draw was the American Dream. In Austin, they’re working toward that dream in the real estate business.

    The young couple wants to grow their family — “I’m negotiating for three,” Ahmad Zaatari joked — but they rely on the income from their short-term rental property to support the one child they already have. But with overburdensome regulation, some argue, “the City of Austin wants to shut them down.”

    That claim appears in glossy detail in a promotional video compiled recently by one of Texas’ most influential conservative think tanks. The video closes: “The Zaatari family believed in the American Dream. The Center for the American Future is fighting to keep it alive.”

    The Zataaris are two in a small group of plaintiffs represented by the Center for the American Future, a legal arm of the Texas Public Policy Foundation that filed a suit against the city of Austin in 2016 calling the city’s short-term rental ordinance unconstitutional. That case, which is now winding its way through state appeals courts, has emerged as a likely candidate for review at the state’s highest civil court. And it’s been bolstered by Attorney General Ken Paxton, Texas’ top lawyer, who has sided several times with the homeowners, most recently in a 102-page brief.

    Short-term rentals, a longtime local reality especially widespread in vacation destinations like Austin and Galveston, have become astronomically more popular in the last decade with the rise of web platforms like AirBnB and Austin-based HomeAway. That ubiquity has ripened them for regulation — and for litigation, including more than one case pending before the Texas Supreme Court. In Texas, it’s a new frontier for the simmering state-city fight over local control. Left unresolved last session by the Legislature, short-term rental ordinances have become an issue for the courts.
    From the state house to the courthouse

    More than a dozen Texas cities have some sort of ordinance regulating short-term rental policies, according to a list compiled by the Texas Municipal League. Among the most prominent are Galveston and Fort Worth; San Antonio is bickering over its own. They range widely in scope and severity: Some regulate the number of people who can stay in a short-term rental and what activities they may do while there, while others require little more than a licensing permit.

    The rental services allow people to offer up houses or apartments to travelers for short-term stays. Some landlords are city residents just hoping to make some money off their spare bedrooms. But investors are also known to buy homes for the sole purpose of renting them on AirBnB or HomeAway.

    As short-term rentals grew more popular, cities began to worry that their quiet residential neighborhoods would be overrun with thrill-seeking vacationers or that the investment properties would drive up the cost of housing. Local officials say that short-term renters too often create disruptive party environments that agitate nearby families. But critics of the local regulations say there are already laws in place to regulate that kind of public nuisance.

    Austin’s ordinance, which aims to phase out certain types of short-term rentals entirely and limits how many can exist in any particular area, is one of the state’s oldest and strictest — and it’s situated, of course, in a red state’s blue capital city, making it the perfect backdrop for a familiar fight.

    Rob Henneke, the TPPF lawyer representing the Zaataris, says Austin’s ordinance violates fundamental rights like equal protection — why should short-term renters be treated any different from long-term renters? — and property rights — why should owners be kept from leasing their homes however they choose?

    “It is a fundamental right to lease your property,” Henneke said. “It makes no sense — and is inconsistent with that — to try to bracket that right in some way.”

    The city counters that it has the right to regulate commercial activity within its boundaries and that its ordinance is important for city planning purposes. The ordinance addresses critical issues in the city like rising real estate prices and noise complaints from obnoxious “party houses,” said Austin City Council member Kathie Tovo.

    Beyond the question of whether short-term rentals should be regulated is the question of who should regulate them. For Tovo, it recalls the recent fight over Uber and Lyft, which ended when the Legislature overturned Austin’s safety regulations for the ride-hailing apps. City officials sit closer to their constituents, she said, so they are better positioned to write rules that benefit their communities.

    “It is an example of what we regard as state overreach," she said. “And those of us on the ground who represent our communities are in the best position to know what ordinance and regulations are responses to their needs.”

    Henneke, meanwhile, advocates for uniformity statewide — if there are to be restrictions at all.

    “If short-term rentals are going to be regulated, it should be at the state level to ensure statewide consistency and to protect property owners from a patchwork quilt of overly burdensome regulations at the local level,” Henneke said.

    The current fight, said Texas Municipal League Executive Director Bennett Sandlin, fits into a disturbing pattern of state lawmakers trying to consolidate power at the Capitol by taking it away from the cities.

    “It’s absolutely a recent … concerted effort to say that — the allegation that cities are against liberty, and you should have the liberty to do anything you want to do with your house including turn it into a party barn,” he said. “We support liberty but we also support liberty of the neighbors to keep their property values up and keep their yards free of beer cans.”

    The Legislature did try to tackle the short-term issue last year. The effort that went furthest was a bill by state Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, that passed the upper chamber but died in the House in the waning days of the regular session. A similar bill championed by state Rep. Tan Parker, R-Flower Mound, never even got a committee vote. Neither Hancock nor Parker returned requests for comment.

    Those measures struggled to find sufficient support even in a session rife with local control issues. All told, by the end of August, the 85th Legislature had passed state laws overriding city rule on issues ranging from tree maintenance to ride-hailing regulations. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, even expressed support for a “broad-based law” to pre-empt local regulations, but no such bill passed.

    Short-term rental ordinances, some say, share all the hallmarks of the memorable fight over ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft. A new technology platform makes an age-old practice simpler; a liberal-leaning city council moves to regulate it. Eventually, the state steps in and opposes that local ordinance to protect “freedom and free enterprise.”

    But while local control battles have raged in Texas since Abbott took office decrying a “patchwork of local regulations,” they have mostly been fought on the floors of the Legislature. (One notable exception is an ongoing legal fight over the city of Laredo’s ban on plastic bags, a case the Texas Supreme Court is expected to resolve in the next few months.) This court fight is a comparatively new playbook for opponents of local control.

    “Opponents of local government are happy to challenge these ordinances either in the state House or in the courthouse,” Sandlin said. “They will absolutely take any avenue they can to go after it.”
    “Business” or “residential”?

    The Zaatari case isn’t the only lawsuit that has challenged a local short-term rental ordinance, but it is the most prominent. A Houston appeals court ruled in 2015 that in certain circumstances short-term rental ordinances can violate property rights; in Travis County, another pending case asks whether Austin’s ordinance is unconstitutionally vague.

    “Part of it seems to be that local government takes unusual positions when suddenly the internet becomes involved. ... Here in Austin, it’s been documented that short-term rentals have been an encouraged practice for over 100 years, and yet suddenly when the internet provides a way of efficiently connecting buyer and seller, everybody just has to go crazy and adopt a bunch of rules,” Henneke said. “I think it’s a need for control and a need for regulation for the sake of regulation.”

    In the meantime, the issue is being litigated on other fronts.

    A Texas Supreme Court case argued in February asks whether, for the purposes of homeowners’ associations’ hyperlocal deed restrictions, short-term rentals should be considered primarily “business” or “residential.” That case won’t have direct legal bearing on local ordinances, but the fact that it’s ascended to the state’s highest civil court signals that the issue is set for a legal reckoning.

    About a decade after the industry grew popular, “a lot of issues are coming to a head,” said Patrick Sutton, a lawyer arguing that Texas Supreme Court case and many other short-term rental lawsuits.

    Short-term rental companies like HomeAway say they agree that their industry should be regulated — they say they’re eager, in fact, to collaborate on regulations. But many involved in the issue think those restrictions are best established democratically.

    “Sharing presents a new set of public policy challenges,” Sutton said. “What upsets me is that these issues should be worked out politically. They should be worked out in the state house, and they should be worked out in the voting hall at subdivisions… But that didn’t happen.”

    Disclosure: The Texas Public Policy Foundation, HomeAway, the Texas Municipal League, Uber and Lyft have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism.

    #Airbnb #tourisme #logement #USA #Texas #Austin


  • #ridesharing means Flying Cars are Here to Stay
    https://hackernoon.com/ridesharing-means-flying-cars-are-here-to-stay-8983f1396e29?source=rss--

    RideSharing is the economic powerhouse driving autonomous vehicles to take flight.Lyft’s self driving car and Lilium JetThe RideSharing model changed everything we knew about mobility. Packed metro rides and graffiti covered busses transformed for many into hailing a cab. As the driver begins to become less important, and billions of dollars go into autonomous systems, the car itself is evolving. Many people today talk about how the end goal is self driving cars, but the technology will quickly surpass self driving and take flight.Lulium JetI sat at the Launch of Ola Play in Bangalore, India. I was the only foreigner, half crazed and sleep deprived. Ola had just announced the first in-car computing platform custom designed for RideSharing. With only an hours sleep, I watched history (...)

    #urban-planning #vtol #urbanization #self-driving-cars


  • Uber State Interference: How Transportation Network Companies Buy, Bully, and Bamboozle Their Way To Deregulation | The Partnership For Working Families
    http://www.forworkingfamilies.org/resources/publications/uber-state-interference-how-transportation-network-companies-buy

    Author:
    The Partnership for Working Families
    Over the past four years, transportation network companies (TNCs), primarily Uber and Lyft, have convinced legislators in the vast majority of states to overrule and preempt local regulations and strip drivers of rights. The speed and sweeping effectiveness of the industry’s use of this strategy, known as state interference (or preemption), is unprecedented. 

     

    http://www.forworkingfamilies.org/sites/pwf/files/publications/Uber%20State%20Interference%20Jan%202018.pdf
    http://www.forworkingfamilies.org/sites/pwf/files/publications/Uber%20State%20Interference%20Jan%202018%20Exec.%20Summary.pdf
    Campaign: State Interference
    http://www.forworkingfamilies.org/campaigns/state-interference

    #Uber #USA


  • Reputation inflation explains why Uber’s five-star driver ratings system became useless — Quartz
    https://qz.com/1244155/good-luck-leaving-your-uber-driver-less-than-five-stars


    Das Bewertungssystem von Uber und anderen Internet-Plattformen funktioniert nicht. Technisch betrachtet ist alles O.K. aber weder "gute"noch „schlechte“ oder „durchschnittliche“ Bewertung haben die nahe liegende Bedeutung. Auf der einen Seite vergeben Kunden systematisch ein Maximum an Punkten, weil sie auch miesen Fahrern nichts Böses antun wollen, auf der anderen Seit wird manipuliert und betrogen, was das Zeug hält, wie die bekannte Geschichte mit dem „besten Restaurant Londons“ zeigt, das in Wirklichkeit nicht existierte.

    In der Praxis ist es wie in einer Schule, wo nur Einsen vergeben werden und jede Zwei zum Nichtbestehen führt.

    Dieser Artikel und die unten verlinkte Studie zeigen genauer, was dahinter steckt und was man für Schlüssen aus den Beobachtungen ziehen kann.

    Have you ever given an Uber driver five stars who didn’t deserve it? If you’ve ever taken any ride-hailing service, the answer is probably yes.

    Uber asks riders to give their drivers a rating of one to five stars at the end of each trip. But very few people make use of this full scale. That’s because it’s common knowledge among Uber’s users that drivers need to maintain a certain minimum rating to work, and that leaving anything less than five stars could jeopardize their status.

    Drivers are so concerned about their ratings that one Lyft driver in California last year posted a translation of the five-star system in his car, to educate less savvy passengers. Next to four stars he wrote: “This driver sucks, fire him slowly; it does not mean ‘average’ or above ‘average.’” In a tacit acknowledgement of this, Uber said in July that it would make riders add an explanation when they awarded a driver less than five stars.

    How did Uber’s ratings become more inflated than grades at Harvard? That’s the topic of a new paper, “Reputation Inflation,” from NYU’s John Horton and Apostolos Filippas, and Collage.com CEO Joseph Golden. The paper argues that online platforms, especially peer-to-peer ones like Uber and Airbnb, are highly susceptible to ratings inflation because, well, it’s uncomfortable for one person to leave another a bad review.

    The somewhat more technical way to say this is that there’s a “cost” to leaving negative feedback. That cost can take different forms: It might be that the reviewer fears retaliation, or that he feels guilty doing something that might harm the underperforming worker. If this “cost” increases over time—i.e., the fear or guilt associated with leaving a bad review increases—then the platform is likely to experience ratings inflation.

    The paper focuses on an unnamed gig economy platform where people (“employers”) can hire other people (“workers”) to do specific tasks. After a job is completed, employers can leave two different kinds of feedback: “public” feedback that the worker sees, and “private” reviews and ratings that aren’t shown to the worker or other people on the platform. Over the history of the platform, 82% of people have chosen to leave reviews, including a numerical rating on a scale from one to five stars.

    In the early days of the platform in 2007, the average worker score was pretty, well, average at 3.74 stars. Over time that changed. The average score rose by 0.53 stars over the course 2007. By May 2016, it had climbed to 4.85 stars.

    People were more candid in private. The platform introduced its option to leave private feedback in April 2013. From June 2014 to May 2016, the period studied in the paper, about 15% of employers left “unambiguously bad private feedback” but only 4% gave a public rating of three stars or less. They were also more candid in written comments, possibly because written comments are less directly harmful to the worker than a low numerical score.

    Then, in March 2015, the platform decided to release private ratings in batches to workers. In other words, a private review wasn’t totally private anymore, and leaving a negative one could cause harm. The result was immediate: Bad feedback became scarce and imperfect scores were reserved for truly poor experiences. If the trend continued, the authors estimated that the average private rating would be the highest possible score in seven years.

    This, again, is similar to what has happened on Uber and other ride-hailing platforms. In the early days, riders left a range of reviews, but it didn’t take long for the default to become five stars, with anything else reserved for extreme cases of hostile conduct or reckless driving. “I took a ride in a car as grimy and musty-smelling as a typical yellow cab,” Jeff Bercovici recalled for Forbes in August 2014. “I only gave the driver three out of five stars. Just kidding. I gave him five stars, of course. What do you think I am, a psychopath?”

    Services are different from products. Someone who feels guilty leaving a bad review for another person probably won’t share those concerns about posting a negative review of a toaster. It’s the personal element that gives us pause. A separate, forthcoming study on online reputations found that the number of users leaving negative feedback on a travel review website decreased after hotels started replying to the critiques, despite no change in hotel quality.

    The problem is particularly acute on “sharing” economy platforms because companies like Uber, which regard their workers as independent contractors instead of employees, use ratings riders provide to manage their workforces at arm’s length. These ratings systems ask customers to make tough decisions about whether workers are fit to be on the platform, and live with the guilt if they’re not. Put another way: On-demand platforms are offloading their guilt onto you. Five stars for all!

    Hintergrund und Details
    http://john-joseph-horton.com/papers/longrun.pdf

    #Uber #ranking #gig_economy #Arbeit


  • Envoy Proxy open source communication bus in modern C++ 11
    http://isocpp.org/feeder/?FeederAction=clicked&feed=All+Posts&seed=http%3A%2F%2Fisocpp.org%2Fblog%2F2

    This product initially developed by Lyft is now an open source project in the Cloud Native Computing Foundation

    Envoy Proxy’s website

    From the docs:

    The network should be transparent to applications. When network and application problems do occur it should be easy to determine the source of the problem.

    #Product_News,


  • Fare Choices Survey of Ride-Hailing Passengers in Metro Boston – MAPC
    https://www.mapc.org/farechoices


    Annual household income of surveyed riders who substituted transit use, walking, or cycling.

    Wie de privaten Fahrtenvermittlern dem öffentlichen Nahverkehr schaden
    cf. https://seenthis.net/messages/673637

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
    The ride-hailing industry, led by Uber and Lyft, has seen explosive growth in recent years. As more and more travelers choose these on-demand mobility services, they have the potential to transform regional travel patterns. These transformations may become even more profound if widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles makes on-demand mobility even less expensive and more efficient. Either way, it is likely that the use of ride-hailing today is but the tip of the iceberg, with an even greater expansion of these services to come.

    This transformation in personal mobility is likely to bring a host of changes: some positive, others less so. For public agencies, planning for that transformation is made difficult by the paucity of information about ride-hailing trips. Conventional transportation surveys have been slow to measure the change in behavior; and transportation network companies see their data as a valuable commodity and are unwilling to provide it to transportation planners.

    Public sector access to these data is essential. Only with a better understanding of this new mode of transportation can analysts develop better forecasts of travel behavior and infrastructure needs, measure the region’s progress toward a more sustainable future, and establish more efficient operations and management practices for existing roadways.

    In an effort to begin filling those gaps in our understanding of the ride-hailing industry and its users, MAPC surveyed nearly 1,000 ride-hailing passengers in late 2017 and asked about their demographics, the nature of their trip, and why they chose ride-hailing over other modes of transportation.

    Photo via Lyft
    The results confirmed many common assumptions about ride-hailing users; they also provided striking new insight into the ways that the services are changing travel behavior and affecting our existing transportation system. Not surprisingly, the survey found that most ride-hailing users are under the age of 35, that most of them use the service on a weekly basis, and that most don’t own a car. Less predictably, we found that reported rider incomes are similar to the region overall, and a substantial number of trips are made by people from households earning less than $38,000 per year. (And no, they’re not all students; most of those lower-income riders are in the workforce.)

    The survey results also provide some hard data about the types of trips made via ride-hailing. Most trips start or end at home, but nearly one-third (31%) are from one non-home location to another. Ride-hailing usage is distributed throughout the day; the evening hours from 7:00 P.M. to midnight see the greatest frequency of trips, but about 40% of weekday trips take place during the morning or afternoon commute periods. People also like to travel by themselves: only one-fifth of customers opt for a truly shared ride (e.g., UberPOOL), and the majority of travel is for a single passenger. Riders are willing to pay a substantial premium for the convenience and predictability of ride-hailing. Nearly two thirds of trips cost more than $10, and one in five costs more than $20.

    While the services are justifiably popular, their growing use may result in negative outcomes for traffic congestion, transit use, and active transportation. When asked how they would have made their current trip if ride-hailing hadn’t been an option, 12% said they would have walked or biked, and over two-fifths (42%) of respondents said they would have otherwise taken transit. Some of this “transit substitution” takes place during rush hours. Indeed, we estimate that 12% of all ride-hailing trips are substituting for a transit trip during the morning or afternoon commute periods; an additional 3% of riders during these times would have otherwise walked or biked. Overall, 15% of ride-hailing trips are adding cars to the region’s roadways during the morning or afternoon rush hours.

    Notably, we found that this “transit substitution” is more frequent among riders with a weekly or monthly transit pass. Those who ride transit more often are more likely to drop it for ride hailing, even while doing so at a huge cost differential, and even when they have already paid for the transit.

    Riders without a transit pass opting for ride-hailing, on the other hand, means less fare revenue for the MBTA. After accounting for transit pass availability and substitution options, we estimate that the average ride-hailing trip represents 35 cents of lost fare revenue for the MBTA. This lost revenue exceeds the amount of the legislatively mandated 20 cent surcharge on each ride. That surcharge itself represents a remarkably small fraction of trip costs. When compared to reported fares, the surcharge amounts to less than 2% of the cost for most rides. Because it is a fixed fee, long and expensive rides that may have the greatest impact on traffic congestion and air quality pay 1% or less.

    Photo by Anty Diluvian
    These findings begin to provide a better understanding of this evolving mobility option that will undoubtedly continue to change the way people travel around the region. Our results raise concerns about how users are becoming accustomed to on-demand mobility, and what that means for the future of the region’s transportation system. Even if future ride-hailing vehicles were fully electric and autonomous, the region’s roadways could not accommodate unchecked growth in single-occupant vehicle travel. It is essential to ensure that the region has a reliable and effective transit system that—from the rider’s perspective—is competitive with and complementary to on-demand mobility services. For transit to thrive, it must change, perhaps by incorporating the types of on-demand response and real-time information that riders value.

    Meanwhile, there is a great need to understand the effects of ride hailing and to ensure a balance of benefits and costs resulting from these commercial services. Ride hailing is already having substantial impacts on congestion and transit revenue, the costs of which are not recouped by the small surcharge. A higher fee would provide more resources to mitigate the negative effects of ride hailing without substantially affecting rider costs. Even more preferable would be a fee structure proportional to the impacts of each ride on the transportation system. To the extent possible, such fees should also be structured to incentivize shared trips, thereby reducing overall impacts on the transportation system while also accommodating ride-hailing preferences. Of course, effective policy requires better data about when, where, and why ride-hailing trips are taking place. Only by understanding the current adoption of ride-hailing and on-demand mobility can we plan for its successful and sustainable future.

    #Uber #ÖPNV


  • CEEPR Site
    http://ceepr.mit.edu/publications/working-papers/681

    We perform a detailed analysis of #Uber and Lyft ride-hailing driver economics by pairing results from a survey of over 1100 drivers with detailed vehicle cost information. Results show that per hour worked, median profit from driving is $3.37/hour before taxes, and 74% of drivers earn less than the minimum wage in their state. 30% of drivers are actually losing money once vehicle expenses are included. On a per-mile basis, median gross driver revenue is $0.59/mile but vehicle operating expenses reduce real driver profit to a median of $0.29/mile. For tax purposes the $0.54/mile standard mileage deduction in 2016 means that nearly half of drivers can declare a loss on their taxes. If drivers are fully able to capitalize on these losses for tax purposes, 73.5% of an estimated U.S. market $4.8B in annual ride-hailing driver profit is untaxed.

    #gig_economy #pauvreté


  • Douglas Schifter blamed politicians for ruining life | Daily Mail Online
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5359349/NYC-cab-driver-shot-railing-politicians.html

    Livery cab driver who shot himself dead in front of New York’s City Hall blamed politicians and ride-sharing services like Uber for ’financially ruining’ his life

    A livery driver shot himself dead in his car in front of New York’s City Hall on Monday morning after venting on Facebook about the transportation industry
    Douglas Schifter, 61, wrote a lengthy post about two hours before his death blaming ride-sharing services as well as politicians for financially ruining his life
    Schifter, a driver since the ’80s, also ranted about issues in the transportation industry in columns he wrote for the for-hire publication Black Car News
    Neil Weiss, owner of Black Car News, said his friend had been struggling to pay his bills recently and had to move in with extended family in Pennsylvania

    By Minyvonne Burke For Dailymail.com and Associated Press

    Published: 18:47 GMT, 6 February 2018 | Updated: 00:06 GMT, 7 February 2018

    A livery cab driver in New York vented on Facebook that politicians and ride-sharing services like Uber had ’financially ruined’ his life hours before he shot himself dead on Monday in front of New York’s City Hall.

    Douglas Schifter drove up to the east gate of City Hall around 7.10am and shot himself in the head while sitting in his car, the New York Police Department said. The 61-year-old driver was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured.

    Around 5:30am, less than two hours before his suicide, Schifter posted an ominous message on Facebook blaming Uber as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Michael Bloomberg for destroying his livelihood.

    ’I have been financially ruined because three politicians destroyed my industry and livelihood and Corporate NY stole my services at rates far below fair levels,’ Schifter wrote in a lengthy post.
    Douglas Schifter, a livery can driver in New York, killed himself on Monday morning
    +4

    Douglas Schifter, a livery can driver in New York, killed himself on Monday morning
    Police said Schifter drove to the east gate of New York’s City Hall and shot himself in the head

    Police said Schifter drove to the east gate of New York’s City Hall and shot himself in the head
    About two hours before his death, Schifter vented on Facebook that ride-sharing services like Uber as well as politicians had ’financially ruined’ his life
    +4

    About two hours before his death, Schifter vented on Facebook that ride-sharing services like Uber as well as politicians had ’financially ruined’ his life

    ’I worked 100-120 consecutive hours almost every week for the past fourteen years. When the industry started in 1981, I averaged 40-50 hours. I cannot survive any longer with working 120 hours! I am not a Slave and I refuse to be one.’

    Schifter accused companies of not paying their drivers ’fair rates’ which in turn caused drivers desperate to make ends meet to ’squeeze rates to below operating costs and force professionals like me out of the business’.

    ’They count their money and we are driven down into the streets we drive becoming homeless and hungry. I will not be a slave working for chump change. I would rather be dead,’ he fumed.

    Later in the post, Schifter slammed Uber as a company ’that is a known liar, cheat and thief’.

    Schifter expressed similar frustrations in columns he wrote for Black Car News, a publication for the for-hire vehicle industry.

    While venting about congestion pricing, Schifter wrote: ’The government is continuing its strong drive to enslave us with low wages and extreme fines. It’s a nightmare.’

    Neil Weiss, a friend of Schifter’s and the owner of Black Car News, said Schifter had been struggling to pay bills and moved in with extended family in Pennsylvania. He said his pal had texted him about 90 minutes before he killed himself that he was ’making it count’.

    ’I worked 100-120 consecutive hours almost every week for the past fourteen years. I am not a Slave and I refuse to be one’, the 61-year-old driver wrote on his Facebook page

    According to taxi and limousine records, Schifter had driver livery cabs, black cars and limousines since the early 1980s

    Weiss told the New York Post that he assumed Schifter’s cryptic message was in reference to the Facebook post his friend shared earlier on Monday.

    ’Obviously, that’s not what he meant,’ he said.

    ’He was a really sweet guy. His life had just gotten destroyed by the way the transportation industry had been going in New York City. There’s been some very significant adjustments in the past few years.’

    According to Weiss, Schifter complained for years that the change in their industry - which saw an increase in drivers and the introduction of ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber - was ’hurting a lot of people’.

    ’There’s been a lot of changes in the transportation industry in New York City over the past bunch of years and not for the better,’ Weiss said. ’I was hoping he was getting things together.’

    Taxi and limousine records show that Schifter had driven livery cabs, black cars and limousines since the early 1980s.

    #USA #travail #disruption #suicide #Uber #taxi


  • How Automation Could Worsen Racial Inequality
    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/01/black-workers-and-the-driverless-bus/550535

    Self-driving buses would knock out crucial jobs in black communities across the country. All across the world, small projects demonstrating driverless buses and shuttles are cropping up : Las Vegas, Minnesota, Austin, Bavaria, Henan Province in China, Victoria in Australia. City governments are studying their implementation, too, from Toronto to Orlando to Ohio. And last week, the Federal Transit Administration of the Department of Transportation issued a “request for comments” on the topic (...)

    #Lyft #Uber #voiture #discrimination #travail


  • Former employees say Lyft staffers spied on passengers
    https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/25/lyft-god-view

    Similar to Uber’s “God View” scandal, Lyft staffers have been abusing customer insight software to view the personal contact info and ride history of the startup’s passengers. One source that formerly worked with Lyft tells TechCrunch that widespread access to the company’s backend let staffers “see pretty much everything including feedback, and yes, pick up and drop off coordinates.” When asked if staffers, ranging from core team members to customer service reps, abused this privilege, the (...)

    #Lyft #données #consommation


  • TaxiFareFinder Didi Kuaidi Standard - Chengdu , China - Estimate Your Taxi Cab Fare, Cost & Rates
    https://www.taxifarefinder.com/main.php?city=Didi-Kuaidi-Standard-Chengdu&lang=en


    Da behauptet einer, sich besonders gut auszukennen.

    Welcome to the Didi Kuaidi Standard - Chengdu Taxi Fare Finder. This page will calculate your cab fare using Didi Kuaidi Standard - Chengdu taxi rates. To begin, enter your travel information in the fields below the map.

    All results are estimates and may vary depending on external factors such as traffic and weather.

    TaxiFareFinder’s fare estimates are known to be the most accurate of any taxi website.

    Ach nee ...

    https://www.taxifarefinder.com/faq.php

    TaxiFareFinder is for reference only. The estimates can vary from your actual fare, depending on unforeseen factors, such as inclement weather, unusual traffic congestion, road constructions, and even your driver’s driving habits.

    Ach so.

    Und dann das :

    Berlin, Germany
    https://www.taxifarefinder.com/main.php?city=Berlin-Germany

    404 Error: Couldn’t find page
    Oops! TaxiFareFinder can’t find the page you are looking for.
    Go to home page

    Und wenn die nicht weiterwissen, wird man hierher geschickt:

    RideGuru - Fare Estimates, Uber, Lyft, Taxis, Limos, and more
    https://ride.guru

    Your search engine for rideshares, taxis, and limos
    How much does Uber cost? How do I order a Lyft car? Which is cheaper, Uber or Taxi?

    RideGuru is the trusted resource, tool, and community for everyone engaged in rideshares, ridehails, taxis, and limos. Its price comparison tool gives accurate fare estimates and ride-hailing information to help you get where you want to go. RideGuru is capable of calculating estimated fares for a wide variety of ridehail (also known as rideshare) services worldwide, such as Uber, Lyft, Curb, Ola, Didi Kauidi. Traveling across the globe? Need an Uber estimate? RideGuru will find the best solution for you to get around cheaply and safely. Then, hail your ride right from RideGuru.

    Still have questions? Ask the experts in Ask a Ride Guru.

    #WWW #Taxi #Taxitarif #China #wtf


  • Before Self-Driving Cars Become Real, They Face These Challenges | WIRED
    https://www.wired.com/story/self-driving-cars-challenges

    OH, THE UNTAINTED optimism of 2014. In the spring of that year, the good Swedes at Volvo introduced Drive Me, a program to get regular Josefs, Frejas, Joeys, and Fayes into autonomous vehicles. By 2017, Volvo executives promised, the company would distribute 100 self-driving SUVs to families in Gothenburg, Sweden. The cars would be able to ferry their passengers through at least 30 miles of local roads, in everyday driving conditions—all on their own. “The technology, which will be called Autopilot, enables the driver to hand over the driving to the vehicle, which takes care of all driving functions,” said Erik Coelingh, a technical lead at Volvo.

    Now, in the waning weeks of 2017, Volvo has pushed back its plans. By four years. Automotive News reports the company now plans to put 100 people in self-driving cars by 2021, and “self-driving” might be a stretch. The guinea pigs will start off testing the sort of semi-autonomous features available to anyone willing to pony up for a new Volvo (or Tesla, Cadillac, Nissan, or Mercedes).

    “On the journey, some of the questions that we thought were really difficult to answer have been answered much faster than we expected,” Marcus Rothoff, the carmaker’s autonomous driving program director, told the publication. “And in some areas, we are finding that there were more issues to dig into and solve than we expected.” Namely, price. Rothoff said the company was loath to nail down the cost of its sensor set before it knew how it would work, so Volvo couldn’t quite determine what people would pay for the privilege in riding in or owning one. CEO Hakan Samuelsson has said self-driving functionality could add about $10,000 to the sticker price.

    Volvo’s retreat is just the latest example of a company cooling on optimistic self-driving car predictions. In 2012, Google CEO Sergey Brin said even normies would have access to autonomous vehicles in fewer than five years—nope. Those who shelled out an extra $3,000 for Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot are no doubt disappointed by its non-appearance, nearly six months after its due date. New Ford CEO Jim Hackett recently moderated expectations for the automaker’s self-driving service, which his predecessor said in 2016 would be deployed at scale by 2021. “We are going to be in the market with products in that time frame,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But the nature of the romanticism by everybody in the media about how this robot works is overextended right now.”

    The scale-backs haven’t dampened the enthusiasm for money-throwing. Venture capital firm CB Insights estimates self-driving car startups—ones building autonomous driving software, driver safety tools, and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and stockpiling and crunching data while doing it—have sucked in more than $3 billion in funding this year.

    To track the evolution of any major technology, research firm Gartner’s “hype cycle” methodology is a handy guide. You start with an “innovation trigger,” the breakthrough, and soon hit the “peak of inflated expectations,” when the money flows and headlines blare.

    And then there’s the trough of disillusionment, when things start failing, falling short of expectations, and hoovering up less money than before. This is where the practical challenges and hard realities separate the vaporware from the world-changers. Self-driving, it seems, is entering the trough. Welcome to the hard part.

    Technical Difficulties
    “Autonomous technology is where computing was in the 60s, meaning that the technology is nascent, it’s not modular, and it is yet to be determined how the different parts will fit together,” says Shahin Farshchi, a partner at the venture capital firm Lux Capital, who once built hybrid electric vehicles for General Motors, and has invested in self-driving startup Zoox, as well as sensor-builder Aeva.)

    Turns out building a self-driving car takes more than strapping sensors and software onto a set of wheels. In an almost startlingly frank Medium post, Bryan Salesky, who heads up Ford-backed autonomous vehicle outfit Argo AI, laid out the hurdles facing his team.

    First, he says, came the sensor snags. Self-driving cars need at least three kinds to function—lidar, which can see clearly in 3-D; cameras, for color and detail; and radar, with can detect objects and their velocities at long distances. Lidar, in particular, doesn’t come cheap: A setup for one car can cost $75,000. Then the vehicles need to take the info from those pricey sensors and fuse it together, extracting what they need to operate in the world and discarding what they doesn’t.

    “Developing a system that can be manufactured and deployed at scale with cost-effective, maintainable hardware is… challenging,” Salesky writes. (Argo AI bought a lidar company called Princeton Lightwave in October.)

    Salesky cites other problems, minor technological quandaries that could prove disastrous once these cars are actually moving through 3-D space. Vehicles need to be able to see, interpret, and predict the behavior of human drivers, human cyclists, and human pedestrians—perhaps even communicate with them. The cars must understand when they’re in another vehicle’s blind spot and drive extra carefully. They have to know (and see, and hear) when a zooming ambulance needs more room.

    “Those who think fully self-driving vehicles will be ubiquitous on city streets months from now or even in a few years are not well connected to the state of the art or committed to the safe deployment of the technology,” Salesky writes.

    He’s not the only killjoy. “Technology developers are coming to appreciate that the last 1 percent is harder than the first 99 percent,” says Karl Iagnemma, CEO of Nutonomy, a Boston-based self-driving car company acquired by automotive supplier Delphi this fall. “Compared to last 1 percent, the first 99 percent is a walk in the park.”

    The smart companies, Iagnemma says, are coming up with comprehensive ways to deal with tricky edge cases, not patching them over with the software equivalent of tape and chewing gum. But that takes time.

    Money Worries
    Intel estimates self-driving cars could add $7 trillion to the economy by 2050, $2 trillion in the US alone—and that’s not counting the impact the tech could have on trucking or other fields. So it’s curious that no one seems quite sure how to make money off this stuff yet. “The emphasis has shifted as much to the product and the business model as pure technology development,” says Iagnemma.

    Those building the things have long insisted you’ll first interact with a self-driving car through a taxi-like service. The tech is too expensive, and will at first be too dependent on weather conditions, topography, and high-quality mapping, to sell straight to consumers. But they haven’t sorted out the user experience part of this equation. Waymo is set to launch a limited, actually driver-free service in Phoenix, Arizona, next year, and says it has come up with a way for passengers to communicate they want to pull over. But the company didn’t let reporters test the functionality during a test drive at its test facility this fall, so you’ll have to take its word for it.

    Other questions loom: How do you find your vehicle? Ensure that you’re in the right one? Tell it that you’re having an emergency, or that you’ve had a little accident inside and need a cleanup ASAP? Bigger picture: How does a company even start to recoup its huge research and development budget? How much does it charge per ride? What happens when there’s a crash? Who’s liable, and how much do they have to pay in insurance?

    One path forward, money-wise, seems to be shaking hands with enemies. Companies including Waymo, GM, Lyft, Uber, and Intel, and even seemingly extinction-bound players like the car rental firm Avis, have formed partnerships with potential rivals, sharing data and services in the quest to build a real autonomous vehicle, and the infrastructure that will support it.

    Still, if you ask an autonomous car developer whether it should be going at it alone—trying to build out sensors, mapping, perception, testing capabilities, plus the car itself—expect a shrug. While a few big carmakers like General Motors clearly seem to think vertical integration is the path to a win (it bought the self-driving outfit Cruise Automation last year, and lidar company Strobe in October), startups providing à la carte services continue to believe they are part of the future. “There are plenty of people quietly making money supplying to automakers,” says Forrest Iandola, the CEO of the perception company DeepScale, citing the success of more traditional automotive suppliers like Bridgestone.

    Other companies seize upon niche markets in the self-driving space, betting specific demographics will help them make cash. The self-driving shuttle company Voyage has targeted retirement communities. Optimus Ride, an MIT spinoff, recently announced a pilot project in a new developed community just outside of Boston, and says it’s focused on building software with riders with disabilities in mind.

    “We think that kind off approach, providing mobility to those who are not able-bodied, is actually going to create a product that’s much more robust in the end,” says CEO Ryan Chin. Those companies are raising money. (Optimus Ride just came off an $18 million Series A funding round, bringing its cash pull to $23.25 million.) But are theirs viable strategies to survive in the increasingly crowded self-driving space?

    The Climb
    OK, so you won’t get a fully autonomous car in your driveway anytime soon. Here’s what you can expect, in the next decade or so: Self-driving cars probably won’t operate where you live, unless you’re the denizen of a very particular neighborhood in a big city like San Francisco, New York, or Phoenix. These cars will stick to specific, meticulously mapped areas. If, by luck, you stumble on an autonomous taxi, it will probably force you to meet it somewhere it can safely and legally pull over, instead of working to track you down and assuming hazard lights grant it immunity wherever it stops. You might share that ride with another person or three, à la UberPool.

    The cars will be impressive, but not infallible. They won’t know how to deal with all road situations and weather conditions. And you might get some human help. Nissan, for example, is among the companies working on a stopgap called teleoperations, using remote human operators to guide AVs when they get stuck or stumped.

    And if you’re not lucky enough to catch a ride, you may well forget about self-driving cars for a few years. You might joke with your friends about how silly you were to believe the hype. But the work will go on quietly, in the background. The news will quiet down as developers dedicate themselves to precise problems, tackling the demons in the details.

    The good news is that there seems to be enough momentum to carry this new industry out of the trough and onto what Gartner calls the plateau of productivity. Not everyone who started the journey will make the climb. But those who do, battered and a bit bloody, may just find the cash up there is green, the robots good, and the view stupendous.

    #Uber #disruption


  • Uber fined $8.9 million by Colorado for allowing drivers with felony convictions, other drivers license issues
    http://www.denverpost.com/2017/11/20/uber-colorado-fine

    Colorado regulators slapped Uber with an $8.9 million penalty for allowing 57 people with past criminal or motor vehicle offenses to drive for the company, the state’s Public Utilities Commission announced Monday.

    The PUC said the drivers should have been disqualified. They had issues ranging from felony convictions to driving under the influence and reckless driving. In some cases, drivers were working with revoked, suspended or canceled licenses, the state said. A similar investigation of smaller competitor Lyft found no violations.

    “We have determined that Uber had background-check information that should have disqualified these drivers under the law, but they were allowed to drive anyway,” PUC director Doug Dean said in a statement. “These actions put the safety of passengers in extreme jeopardy.”

    Uber spokeswoman Stephanie Sedlak provided this statement on Monday:

    “We recently discovered a process error that was inconsistent with Colorado’s ridesharing regulations and proactively notified the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). This error affected a small number of drivers and we immediately took corrective action. Per Uber safety policies and Colorado state regulations, drivers with access to the Uber app must undergo a nationally accredited third-party background screening. We will continue to work closely with the CPUC to enable access to safe, reliable transportation options for all Coloradans.”

    The PUC’s investigation began after Vail police referred a case to the agency. In that case, which occurred in March, an Uber driver dragged a passenger out of the car and kicked him in the face, according the Vail police report.

    In August, the PUC asked Uber and Lyft for records of all drivers who were accused, arrested or convicted of crimes that would disqualify them from driving for a transportation network company, the term given to ridesharing services under state law.

    “Lyft gave us 15 to 20 (records), but we didn’t find any problems with Lyft,” Dean said.

    Uber handed over 107 records and told the PUC that it had removed those people from its system.

    The PUC cross-checked the Uber drivers with state crime and court databases, finding that many had aliases and other violations. While 63 were found to have issues with their driver’s licenses, the PUC focused on 57 who had additional violations, because of the impact on public safety.

    “What they (Uber) calls proactively reaching out to us was after we had to threaten them with daily civil penalties to get them to provide us with the (records),” said Dean, adding that his prime investigator just told him that some penalized drivers were still on the Uber system. “This is not a data processing error. This is a public safety issue.”

    Uber was welcomed to Colorado in June 2014, when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 125 to authorize ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft. The PUC was then charged with creating rules to regulate the services, which went into effect on Jan. 30, 2016.

    The rules gave the companies the choice of either fingerprinting drivers or running a private background check on the potential driver’s criminal history and driving history. Drivers also must have a valid driver’s license.

    Drivers are disqualified if they’ve been convicted of a felony in the past five years. But they can never be a driver if they’ve been convicted of serious felonies including felony assault, fraud, unlawful sexual behavior and violent crimes, according to the statute.

    Taxi drivers, by comparison, are subject to fingerprint background checks by the FBI and Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

    Elsewhere in the U.S., Uber and Lyft have threatened to leave places that force them to fingerprint drivers — including in Chicago, Maryland and Houston.

    Both companies pulled out of Austin last year after the city added rules to fingerprint drivers. But the Texas house passed a bill in April removing such requirements, and Uber and Lyft returned to the city.

    While Maryland caved in its requirements after Uber threatened to leave, the state banned 4,000 ridesharing drivers in April who did not meet state screening requirements despite passing Uber or Lyft’s background checks.That also happened in Massachusetts, which kicked out 8,200 drivers who had passed company checks. Among them were 51 registered sex offenders.

    Uber and Lyft have pushed for private background checks because they say that fingerprints don’t provide the complete source of criminal history that some expect. In a post about its security process, Uber said that when it comes to fingerprints, there are gaps between FBI and state arrest records, which can result in an incomplete background check. Uber, instead, uses state and local criminal history checks plus court records and the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s National Sex Offender site.

    Last month, California regulators nixed any fingerprinting requirement as long as Uber and Lyft conduct their own background checks.

    But the Colorado PUC says that by fingerprinting drivers, the ride service would be able to identify drivers with aliases and other identities with felony convictions. The lack of fingerprinting never sat well with Dean, who mentioned his concern in 2014 before Colorado passed the law.

    “They said their private background checks were superior to anything out there,” Dean said. “We can tell you their private background checks were not superior. In some cases, we could not say they even provided a background check.”

    Vail police said that altercations between passengers and drivers are not uncommon. They’re not limited to Uber drivers but include taxi and limo drivers and passengers, said Vail police Detective Sgt. Luke Causey.

    “We’ve had more than one,” Causey said. “Unfortunately, in our winter environment with guests and around bar closing times, we’ve had the driver go after passengers who don’t pay their tab. Sometimes it can go both ways.”

    Uber drivers have made local headlines for bad behavior. In July, a Denver Uber driver pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace after rolling his car on the leg of a city parking attendant at Denver International Airport. Two years ago, a Denver UberX driver was arrested for trying to break into the home of a passenger he’d just dropped off at the airport.

    Monday’s fine is a civil penalty assessment and based on a citation of $2,500 per day for each disqualified driver found to have worked. Among the findings, 12 drivers had felony convictions, 17 had major moving violations, 63 had driver’s license issues and three had interlock driver’s licenses, which is required after a recent drunken driving conviction.

    Uber has 10 days to pay 50 percent of the $8.9 million penalty or request a hearing to contest the violation before an administrative law judge. Afterwards, the PUC will continue making audits to check for compliance. If more violations are found, Uber’s penalty could rise.

    “Uber can fix this tomorrow. The law allows them to have fingerprint background checks. We had found a number of a.k.a.’s and aliases that these drivers were using. That’s the problem with name-based background checks,” Dean said. “We’re very concerned and we hope the company will take steps to correct this.”

    #Uber #USA #Recht


  • Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-10-11/uber-pushed-the-limits-of-the-law-now-comes-the-reckoning

    The ride-hailing company faces at least five U.S. probes, two more than previously reported, and the new CEO will need to dig the company out of trouble.

    Illustration: Maria Nguyen
    By Eric Newcomer
    October 11, 2017, 10:11 AM GMT+2

    Shortly after taking over Uber Technologies Inc. in September, Dara Khosrowshahi told employees to brace for a painful six months. U.S. officials are looking into possible bribes, illicit software, questionable pricing schemes and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property. The very attributes that, for years, set the company on a rocket-ship trajectory—a tendency to ignore rules, to compete with a mix of ferocity and paranoia—have unleashed forces that are now dragging Uber back down to earth.

    Uber faces at least five criminal probes from the Justice Department—two more than previously reported. Bloomberg has learned that authorities are asking questions about whether Uber violated price-transparency laws, and officials are separately looking into the company’s role in the alleged theft of schematics and other documents outlining Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous-driving technology. Uber is also defending itself against dozens of civil suits, including one brought by Alphabet that’s scheduled to go to trial in December.

    “There are real political risks for playing the bad guy”
    Some governments, sensing weakness, are moving toward possible bans of the ride-hailing app. London, one of Uber’s most profitable cities, took steps to outlaw the service, citing “a lack of corporate responsibility” and specifically, company software known as Greyball, which is the subject of yet another U.S. probe. (Uber said it didn’t use the program to target officials in London, as it had elsewhere, and will continue to operate there while it appeals a ban.) Brazil is weighing legislation that could make the service illegal—or at least treat it more like a taxi company, which is nearly as offensive in the eyes of Uber.

    Interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees, including several senior executives, describe a widely held view inside the company of the law as something to be tested. Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and former CEO, set up a legal department with that mandate early in his tenure. The approach created a spirit of rule-breaking that has now swamped the company in litigation and federal inquisition, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters.

    Kalanick took pride in his skills as a micromanager. When he was dissatisfied with performance in one of the hundreds of cities where Uber operates, Kalanick would dive in by texting local managers to up their game, set extraordinary growth targets or attack the competition. His interventions sometimes put the company at greater legal risk, a group of major investors claimed when they ousted him as CEO in June. Khosrowshahi has been on an apology tour on behalf of his predecessor since starting. Spokespeople for Kalanick, Uber and the Justice Department declined to comment.

    Kalanick also defined Uber’s culture by hiring deputies who were, in many instances, either willing to push legal boundaries or look the other way. Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan, who previously held the same title at Facebook, runs a unit where Uber devised some of the most controversial weapons in its arsenal. Uber’s own board is now looking at Sullivan’s team, with the help of an outside law firm.

    Salle Yoo, the longtime legal chief who will soon leave the company, encouraged her staff to embrace Kalanick’s unique corporate temperament. “I tell my team, ‘We’re not here to solve legal problems. We’re here to solve business problems. Legal is our tool,’” Yoo said on a podcast early this year. “I am going to be supportive of innovation.”

    From Uber’s inception, the app drew the ire of officials. After a couple years of constant sparring with authorities, Kalanick recognized he needed help and hired Yoo as the first general counsel in 2012. Yoo, an avid tennis player, had spent 13 years at the corporate law firm Davis Wright Tremaine and rose to become partner. One of her first tasks at Uber, according to colleagues, was to help Kalanick answer a crucial question: Should the company ignore taxi regulations?

    Around that time, a pair of upstarts in San Francisco, Lyft Inc. and Sidecar, had begun allowing regular people to make money by driving strangers in their cars, but Uber was still exclusively for professionally licensed drivers, primarily behind the wheel of black cars. Kalanick railed against the model publicly, arguing that these new hometown rivals were breaking the law. But no one was shutting them down. Kalanick, a fiercely competitive entrepreneur, asked Yoo to help draft a legal framework to get on the road.

    By January 2013, Kalanick’s view of the law changed. “Uber will roll out ridesharing on its existing platform in any market where the regulators have tacitly approved doing so,” Kalanick wrote in a since-deleted blog post outlining the company’s position. Uber faced some regulatory blowback but was able to expand rapidly, armed with the CEO’s permission to operate where rules weren’t being actively enforced. Venture capitalists rewarded Uber with a $17 billion valuation in 2014. Meanwhile, other ride-hailing startups at home and around the world were raising hundreds of millions apiece. Kalanick was determined to clobber them.

    One way to get more drivers working for Uber was to have employees “slog.” This was corporate speak for booking a car on a competitor’s app and trying to convince the driver to switch to Uber. It became common practice all over the world, five people familiar with the process said.

    Staff eventually found a more efficient way to undermine its competitors: software. A breakthrough came in 2015 from Uber’s office in Sydney. A program called Surfcam, two people familiar with the project said, scraped data published online by competitors to figure out how many drivers were on their systems in real-time and where they were. The tool was primarily used on Grab, the main competitor in Southeast Asia. Surfcam, which hasn’t been previously reported, was named after the popular webcams in Australia and elsewhere that are pointed at beaches to help surfers monitor swells and identify the best times to ride them.

    Surfcam raised alarms with at least one member of Uber’s legal team, who questioned whether it could be legally operated in Singapore because it may run afoul of Grab’s terms of service or the country’s strict computer-crime laws, a person familiar with the matter said. Its creator, who had been working out of Singapore after leaving Sydney, eventually moved to Uber’s European headquarters in Amsterdam. He’s still employed by the company.

    “This is the first time as a lawyer that I’ve been asked to be innovative.”
    Staff at home base in San Francisco had created a similar piece of software called Hell. It was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Heaven program, which allows employees to see where Uber drivers are in a city at a given moment. With Hell, Uber scraped Lyft data for a view of where its rival’s drivers were. The legal team decided the law was unclear on such tactics and approved Hell in the U.S., a program first reported by technology website the Information.

    Now as federal authorities investigate the program, they may need to get creative in how to prosecute the company. “You look at what categories of law you can work with,” said Yochai Benkler, co-director of Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. “None of this fits comfortably into any explicit prohibitions.”

    Uber’s lawyers had a hard time keeping track of all the programs in use around the world that, in hindsight, carried significant risks. They signed off on Greyball, a tool that could tag select customers and show them a different version of the app. Workers used Greyball to obscure the actual locations of Uber drivers from customers who might inflict harm on them. They also aimed the software at Lyft employees to thwart any slog attempts.

    The company realized it could apply the same approach with law enforcement to help Uber drivers avoid tickets. Greyball, which was first covered by the New York Times, was deployed widely in and outside the U.S. without much legal oversight. Katherine Tassi, a former attorney at Uber, was listed as Greyball supervisor on an internal document early this year, months after decamping for Snap Inc. in 2016. Greyball is under review by the Justice Department. In another case, Uber settled with the Federal Trade Commission in August over privacy concerns with a tool called God View.

    Uber is the world’s most valuable technology startup, but it hardly fits the conventional definition of a tech company. Thousands of employees are scattered around the world helping tailor Uber’s service for each city. The company tries to apply a Silicon Valley touch to the old-fashioned business of taxis and black cars, while inserting itself firmly into gray areas of the law, said Benkler.

    “There are real political risks for playing the bad guy, and it looks like they overplayed their hand in ways that were stupid or ultimately counterproductive,” he said. “Maybe they’ll bounce back and survive it, but they’ve given competitors an opening.”

    Kalanick indicated from the beginning that what he wanted to achieve with Yoo was legally ambitious. In her first performance review, Kalanick told her that she needed to be more “innovative.” She stewed over the feedback and unloaded on her husband that night over a game of tennis, she recalled in the podcast on Legal Talk Network. “I was fuming. I said to my husband, who is also a lawyer: ‘Look, I have such a myriad of legal issues that have not been dealt with. I have constant regulatory pressures, and I’m trying to grow a team at the rate of growth of this company.’”

    By the end of the match, Yoo said she felt liberated. “This is the first time as a lawyer that I’ve been asked to be innovative. What I’m hearing from this is I actually don’t have to do things like any other legal department. I don’t have to go to best practices. I have to go to what is best for my company, what is best for my legal department. And I should view this as, actually, freedom to do things the way I think things should be done, rather than the way other people do it.”

    Prosecutors may not agree with Yoo’s assumptions about how things should be done. Even when Yoo had differences of opinion with Kalanick, she at times failed to challenge him or his deputies, or to raise objections to the board.

    After a woman in Delhi was raped by an Uber driver, the woman sued the company. Yoo was doing her best to try to manage the fallout by asking law firm Khaitan & Co. to help assess a settlement. Meanwhile, Kalanick stepped in to help craft the company’s response, privately entertaining bizarre conspiracy theories that the incident had been staged by Indian rival Ola, people familiar with the interactions have said. Eric Alexander, an Uber executive in Asia, somehow got a copy of the victim’s medical report in 2015. Kalanick and Yoo were aware but didn’t take action against him, the people said. Yoo didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    The mishandling of the medical document led to a second lawsuit from the woman this year. The Justice Department is now carrying out a criminal bribery probe at Uber, which includes questions about how Alexander obtained the report, two people said. Alexander declined to comment through a spokesman.

    In 2015, Kalanick hired Sullivan, the former chief security officer at Facebook. Sullivan started his career as a federal prosecutor in computer hacking and intellectual property law. He’s been a quiet fixture of Silicon Valley for more than a decade, with stints at PayPal and EBay Inc. before joining Facebook in 2008.

    It appears Sullivan was the keeper of some of Uber’s darkest secrets. He oversees a team formerly known as Competitive Intelligence. COIN, as it was referred to internally, was the caretaker of Hell and other opposition research, a sort of corporate spy agency. A few months after joining Uber, Sullivan shut down Hell, though other data-scraping programs continued. Another Sullivan division was called the Strategic Services Group. The SSG has hired contractors to surveil competitors and conducts extensive vetting on potential hires, two people said.

    Last year, Uber hired private investigators to monitor at least one employee, three people said. They watched China strategy chief Liu Zhen, whose cousin Jean Liu is president of local ride-hailing startup Didi Chuxing, as the companies were negotiating a sale. Liu Zhen couldn’t be reached for comment.

    Sullivan wasn’t just security chief at Uber. Unknown to the outside world, he also took the title of deputy general counsel, four people said. The designation could allow him to assert attorney-client privilege on his communications with colleagues and make his e-mails more difficult for a prosecutor to subpoena.

    Sullivan’s work is largely a mystery to the company’s board. Bloomberg learned the board recently hired a law firm to question security staff and investigate activities under Sullivan’s watch, including COIN. Sullivan declined to comment. COIN now goes by a different but similarly obscure name: Marketplace Analytics.

    As Uber became a global powerhouse, the balance between innovation and compliance took on more importance. An Uber attorney asked Kalanick during a company-wide meeting in late 2015 whether employees always needed to follow local ride-hailing laws, according to three people who attended the meeting. Kalanick repeated an old mantra, saying it depended on whether the law was being enforced.

    A few hours later, Yoo sent Kalanick an email recommending “a stronger, clearer message of compliance,” according to two people who saw the message. The company needed to adhere to the law no matter what, because Uber would need to demonstrate a culture of legal compliance if it ever had to defend itself in a criminal investigation, she argued in the email.

    Kalanick continued to encourage experimentation. In June 2016, Uber changed the way it calculated fares. It told customers it would estimate prices before booking but provided few details.

    Using one tool, called Cascade, the company set fares for drivers using a longstanding formula of mileage, time and demand. Another tool called Firehouse let Uber charge passengers a fixed, upfront rate, relying partly on computer-generated assumptions of what people traveling on a particular route would be willing to pay.

    Drivers began to notice a discrepancy, and Uber was slow to fully explain what was going on. In the background, employees were using Firehouse to run large-scale experiments offering discounts to some passengers but not to others.

    “Lawyers don’t realize that once they let the client cross that line, they are prisoners of each other from that point on”
    While Uber’s lawyers eventually looked at the pricing software, many of the early experiments were run without direct supervision. As with Greyball and other programs, attorneys failed to ensure Firehouse was used within the parameters approved in legal review. Some cities require commercial fares to be calculated based on time and distance, and federal law prohibits price discrimination. Uber was sued in New York over pricing inconsistencies in May, and the case is seeking class-action status. The Justice Department has also opened a criminal probe into questions about pricing, two people familiar with the inquiry said.

    As the summer of 2016 dragged on, Yoo became more critical of Kalanick, said three former employees. Kalanick wanted to purchase a startup called Otto to accelerate the company’s ambitions in self-driving cars. In the process, Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski told the company he had files from his former employer, Alphabet, the people said. Yoo expressed reservations about the deal, although accounts vary on whether those were conveyed to Kalanick. He wanted to move forward anyway. Yoo and her team then determined that Uber should hire cyber-forensics firm Stroz Friedberg in an attempt to wall off any potentially misbegotten information.

    Alphabet’s Waymo sued Uber this February, claiming it benefited from stolen trade secrets. Uber’s board wasn’t aware of the Stroz report’s findings or that Levandowski allegedly had Alphabet files before the acquisition, according to testimony from Bill Gurley, a venture capitalist and former board member, as part of the Waymo litigation. The judge in that case referred the matter to U.S. Attorneys. The Justice Department is now looking into Uber’s role as part of a criminal probe, two people said.

    As scandal swirled, Kalanick started preaching the virtues of following the law. Uber distributed a video to employees on March 31 in which Kalanick discussed the importance of compliance. A few weeks later, Kalanick spoke about the same topic at an all-hands meeting.

    Despite their quarrels and mounting legal pressure, Kalanick told employees in May that he was promoting Yoo to chief legal officer. Kalanick’s true intention was to sideline her from daily decisions overseen by a general counsel, two employees who worked closely with them said. Kalanick wrote in a staff email that he planned to bring in Yoo’s replacement to “lead day to day direction and operation of the legal and regulatory teams.” This would leave Yoo to focus on equal-pay, workforce-diversity and culture initiatives, he wrote.

    Before Kalanick could find a new general counsel, he resigned under pressure from investors. Yoo told colleagues last month that she would leave, too, after helping Khosrowshahi find her replacement. He’s currently interviewing candidates. Yoo said she welcomed a break from the constant pressures of the job. “The idea of having dinner without my phone on the table or a day that stays unplugged certainly sounded appealing,” she wrote in an email to her team.

    The next legal chief won’t be able to easily shed the weight of Uber’s past. “Lawyers don’t realize that once they let the client cross that line, they are prisoners of each other from that point on,” said Marianne Jennings, professor of legal and ethical studies in business at Arizona State University. “It’s like chalk. There’s a chalk line: It’s white; it’s bright; you can see it. But once you cross over it a few times, it gets dusted up and spread around. So it’s not clear anymore, and it just keeps moving. By the time you realize what’s happening, if you say anything, you’re complicit. So the questions start coming to you: ‘How did you let this go?’”

    #Uber #USA #Recht


  • Nuber – The End of Uber and Central Authority - Shelly Palmer
    https://www.shellypalmer.com/2017/08/nuber-end-uber-central-authority


    Da ist er wieder, der (inzwischen) alte Traum vom Internet als dem großen Gleichmacher. Jeder verbindet sich mit jedem und jeder und schon agiert die unsichtbare Hand perfekt dank gegen null gesunkener Transaktionskosten.

    Dieses Mal soll es die Blockchain bringen. Das Ende vom Lied erwähnt der Autor auch: Das neue egalitäre Nuber wird vom Mega-Uber weggeklagt und ausgemerzt wie die kleinen Siedler durch die Landbarone im wilden Westen.

    So wird das nix, kein Weg führt daran vorbei, den Megamonopolisten und ihren Spießgesellen solide Fesseln anzulegen, oder sie ganz aus dem Rennen zu werfen. Wer das kann, ist die eigentliche Frage.

    At Nuber, a licensed ride-sharing service driver (an individual with a local business license, a commercial driver’s license, and the required insurance) could be summoned through a meta-ride-sharing app and paid directly with no central authority such as Uber, Lyft, or Didi Chuxing. There would be no middleman, just you and a licensed, customer-reviewed driver. Nuber would work exactly like Uber, but all the value captured by Uber would be recaptured by the drivers. Great for the drivers, not so great for the central authority, Uber.
    ...
    imagine if you had software on your smartphone that would do some quick math (optimal stopping or multi-armed bandit calculations) to determine which offer was best for you at the moment you were in the market. How different would the sharing economy be if everything you wanted to share was offered in a giant real-time auction with no middleman, no central authority, just a free market based on supply and demand?
    ...
    Blockchain is about to transition from a potentially valuable technology to a revenue-generating technology. This will occur as the hundreds of startups working with blockchain and smart contracts (contracts that digitally report whether or not their conditions have been met) start to bring their solutions to market this year.

    The only things standing in the way of the new Nuber are a few motivated individuals, a GitHub account, and enough chocolate-covered coffee beans to keep the teams awake while they work on it. Which is the whole point. There’s basically nothing standing in the way of this new approach to economic equality. Is this really the end of Uber? Probably not. Nuber is just an idea (and a trademark infringement lawsuit waiting to happen). But it will be exciting to see how trusted, decentralized network technologies change the world.

    #Uber #disruption #P2P #blockchain


  • How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons - by Noam Scheiber ; graphics by Jon Huang -
    The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/04/02/technology/uber-drivers-psychological-tricks.html

    Employing hundreds of social scientists and data scientists, Uber has experimented with video game techniques, graphics and noncash rewards of little value that can prod drivers into working longer and harder — and sometimes at hours and locations that are less lucrative for them.

    (…) To keep drivers on the road, the company has exploited some people’s tendency to set earnings goals — alerting them that they are ever so close to hitting a precious target when they try to log off. It has even concocted an algorithm similar to a Netflix feature that automatically loads the next program, which many experts believe encourages binge-watching. In Uber’s case, this means sending drivers their next fare opportunity before their current ride is even over.

    (…) pulling psychological levers may eventually become the reigning approach to managing the American worker [Nota: pourquoi American, on sait pas]

    (…) other “gig economy” platforms are also involved. Uber’s main competitor, Lyft, and popular delivery services like Postmates rely on similar approaches. So do companies and individuals posting assignments on crowdsourcing sites like Amazon Mechanical Turk (…)

    Of course, many companies try to nudge consumers into buying their products and services using psychological tricks. But extending these efforts to the work force is potentially transformative.

    (…) Some local managers who were men went so far as to adopt a female persona for texting drivers, having found that the uptake was higher when they did.

    (…) whether they enjoy it is separate from the question of #agency — whether they have it, or whether the company does.

    (…) Kelly Peters, chief executive of BEworks, a management consulting firm specializing in behavioral science, argued that the same data that makes it easier for Uber to nudge drivers into working an additional 30 or 60 minutes also makes it hard to escape the obligation to look after them.

    (…) It is … not too hard to imagine a future in which massive digital platforms like Uber have an appetite for tens of millions of workers

    #gamification #manipulation #psychologie #disruption #travail #exploitation @taxi
    l’article est aussi intéressant pour sa #simulation #visualisation




  • Uber to pay $20m over claims it misled drivers over how much they would earn
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/19/uber-settlement-ftc-driver-earnings-car-leases

    Agreement with Federal Trade Commission covers statements Uber made while trying to recruit more drivers to expand its service and remain ahead of Lyft Uber is paying $20m to settle allegations that it duped people into driving for its ride-hailing service with false promises about how much they would earn and how much they would have to pay to finance a car. The agreement announced on Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission covers statements Uber made from late 2013 until 2015 while (...)

    #Uber #travail #procès #FTC