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Tag Archives: uber

Uber’s unrelenting desire to be everything

Welcome back to CTRL+T, the TechCrunch podcast where Megan Rose Dickey and I talk about stories from the week that we either found interesting or hated and had more to say about. This week we talked about Uber . Uber, Uber, Uber. This company wants everything. The rideshare market! Autonomous vehicles! Flying vehicles! And now? Scooters. And to be able to detect inebriation in passengers! This week, we found out that Uber filed for a patent for tech to be able to tell whether a potential passenger is drunk. And regular listeners know how we at CTRL+T feel about scooters, but we have to keep talking about them because the companies that facilitate that mode of transportation keep getting funded. Thanks, funders. And Uber is taking its place in the scooter racket . I mean, market. Click play on the little player below or, better yet, subscribe on  Apple Podcasts ,  Stitcher ,  Overcast ,  CastBox  or whatever other podcast platform you can find.

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China’s Didi Chuxing continues its international expansion with Australia launch

Didi Chuxing, China’s dominant ride-hailing company, is continuing its international expansion after it announced plans to launch in Australia this month. The company — which bought Uber’s China business in 2016 — said it will begin serving customers in Melbourne from June 25 following a month-long trial period in Geelong, a neighboring city that’s 75km away. The business will be run by a Didi subsidiary in Australia and it plans to offer “a series of welcome packages to both drivers and riders” — aka discounts and promotions, no doubt. It began signing up drivers on June 1, the company added. The Australia launch will again put Didi in direct competition with Uber, but that is becoming increasingly common, and also Ola and Didi which both count Didi as an investor — more on that below. This move follows forays into Taiwan, Mexico and Brazil this year as Didi has finally expanded beyond its China-based empire. Didi raised $4 billion in December to develop AI, general technology and to fund international expansion and it has taken a variety of routes to doing the latter. This Australia launch is organic, with Didi developing its own team, while in Taiwan it has used a franchise model and it went into Brazil via acquisition, snapping up local Uber-rival 99 at a valuation of $1 billion . It is also set to enter Japan where it has teamed up with investor SoftBank on a joint-venture . “In 2018, Didi will continue to cultivate markets in Latin America, Australia and Japan. We are confident a combination of world-class transportation AI technology and deep local expertise will bring a better experience to overseas markets,” the company added in a statement. This international expansion has also brought a new level of confusion since Didi has cultivated relationships with other ride-hailing companies across the world while also expanding its own presence internationally. The Uber deal brought with it a stock swap — turning Didi and Uber from competitors into stakeholders — and the Chinese company has also backed Grab in Southeast Asia, Lyft in the U.S., Ola in India, Careem in the Middle East and — more recently — Taxify, which is primarily focused on Europe and Africa. In the case of Australia, Didi will come up against Uber, Ola — present in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney via an expansion made earlier this year  — and Taxify, too.

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Uber brings on Facebook product director to lead driver product

Uber has brought on Daniel Danker to serve as a senior director and head of driver product. Prior to joining Uber, he was a product director at Facebook responsible for video and Facebook Live. “Drivers are the heart of the Uber experience, and Daniel’s passion for our mission and deep product knowledge will ensure we continue to improve and innovate on their behalf,” Uber Head of Product Manik Gupta said in a statement to TechCrunch. Uber has been without a head of driver product since December, when Aaron Schildkrout left shortly after Uber wrapped up its 180 days of change driver campaign. As head of driver product, Danker will be responsible for planning, strategy and execution. Danker has had a long history in Silicon Valley. Between 2000 and 2010, Danker worked in a couple of roles at Microsoft, where he ended his stint as director of development and operations. He eventually left Microsoft for BBC in 2010 and then made his way to Shazam, where he served as chief product officer for nearly three years. Danker’s addition to the team comes in lockstep with Uber Chief Brand Officer Bozoma Saint John’s impending departure . This hire also comes a couple of months after Uber unveiled its revamped driver app. The new app was designed to make it easier for drivers to access pertinent information, while ensuring they wouldn’t be distracted behind the wheel. One key added feature was the ability for drivers to recognize where surge, boost and incentivized areas are located.

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Southeast Asia’s Grab lands $1B from Toyota at a $10B valuation

Grab, the ride-hailing firm that acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia business earlier this year, is raising a new round of funding and it just announced that it will be led by Toyota, which is committing $1 billion in capital. The deal values Grab at over $10 billion, a source close to the company told TechCrunch. In return for its capital, Toyota will also get a board seat and the opportunity to place an executive within Grab’s team. Grab said it plans to work with its new investor “to create a more efficient transport network that will ease traffic congestion in Southeast Asia’s megacities” and help its drivers increase their income. In particular, that will involve close collaboration with the Toyota Mobility Service Platform (MSPF), which is working on areas such as user-based insurance, new types of financial packages and predictive car maintenance. “Going forward, together with Grab, we will develop services that are more attractive, safe and secure for our customers in Southeast Asia,” said Toyota executive vice president Shigeki Tomoyama in a statement. Toyota put money into Grab via its Next Technology Fund last year , but this time around the capital comes directly from the parent company. Hyundai is another automotive firm that has backed Grab . The new round follows a $2.5 billion investment that was jointly led by SoftBank and China’s Didi, two long-time investors put an initial $2 billion up for the round  last year. That round quietly closed at the start of 2018, Grab has confirmed but so far it hasn’t said who put up the additional money. The company’s valuation had been $6 billion but, unsurprisingly since the Uber deal, it has jumped by a further $4 billion based on Toyota’s investment

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Uber is looking to buy the bike-share company behind Citi Bike and Ford GoBike

Uber is reportedly looking into buying Motivate , the company that makes Ford GoBike’s in the San Francisco Bay Area and Citi Bike over on the East Coast. This comes following reports of Lyft getting close to purchasing Motivate in a $250 million deal . Uber bought bike-share startup JUMP , a dockless, electric bike-share service, earlier this year, for about $250 million. In April,  Motivate deployed electric bikes in San Francisco . Once JUMP’s 18-month pilot program with the city is up next June, we can expect to see companies like Motivate, Lime and others apply to deploy their own dockless bikes in the city. I’ve reached out to Uber and will update this story if I hear back. Just this week, both Uber and Lyft applied to deploy electric scooters in San Francisco. You can read more about that here. Silicon Valley scooter wars

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Uber and Lyft apply for electric scooter permits in SF

Uber and Lyft have officially put their respective names into the electric scooter competition. Uber and Lyft are among the 11 companies that applied to operate an electric scooter-sharing service within San Francisco city limits. The city, however, will only offer up to five companies permits to operate as part of a one-year test program. Uber declined to comment, but confirmed that it has applied for a permit via JUMP, the bike-share startup Uber acquired for about $200 million in April . Once Uber is cleared to operate electric scooters, the plan is to integrate them into the Uber app and continue fleshing out Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s vision for a full-fledged multi-modal transportation platform . Lyft also confirmed to TechCrunch that the company applied for a permit, but declined to share any further details. Here’s the full list of companies that applied, via the SFMTA: Bird CycleHop JUMP via Uber Lime Lyft ofo Razor (yes, *that* Razor ) Ridecell Scoot . Skip  Spin  USSCooter San Francisco’s permit process came as a result of Bird, Lime and Spin deploying their electric scooters without permission in the city in March. As part of a new city law, which went into effect June 4, scooter companies are not able to operate their services in San Francisco without a permit. The SFMTA said it’s aiming to notify companies of their permit status by the end of June. For more information about electric scooter regulation in San Francisco, be sure to check out my previous coverage. Here’s how SF wants to regulate electric scooters The electric scooter saga in San Francisco

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Lyft redesigns rider app to encourage shared rides

Lyft has revamped its rider app in an attempt to help people get where they’re going faster. Instead of first asking for pickup information, the app will now ask where you’re going, which Uber first started asking in 2016. The app is also designed to encourage more shared rides. Oh, and Lyft is now no longer calling its carpool feature Line. Instead, they’re simply shared rides. “We’re updating Line to shared and you’re going to see a suite of options for shared as we evolve over time,” Lyft VP of Design Katie Dill told TechCrunch. “There are multiple different ways of sharing a ride. By calling it shared, we’re a lot more clear with our passengers.” This new app will roll out to everyone over the next month. Currently, 35 percent of Lyft rides are shared, but the goal is to reach 50 percent shared rides by 2020, Lyft VP of Government Relations Joseph Okpaku told TechCrunch. Through some early testing of the new design, Lyft says it has already seen a 5 percent increase in shared rides. This is not a direct apples to apples comparison, but in San Francisco, people share rides up to 50 percent of the time with Uber Pool. “One of our focuses has been the idea of shared rides,” Okpaku said. “Getting people to share a ride with a stranger.” Lyft has also made it easier to compare prices of its solo versus shared rides. The screen above, Dill said, is where Lyft has seen the five percent increase in choosing a shared ride. To further promote shared rides, Lyft will notify those who opt to ride solo if there’s an available shared ride heading their way that doesn’t include any detours. The ultimate goal, Okpaku said, is to get more people in a smaller number of cars

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Uber is bringing its Jump e-bikes to Europe

Dockless bike sharing startups — such as Ofo, Mobike and LimeBike — have flooded European cities with rides that can be hired at the tap of an app in recent years. But fierce competition in the urban mobility space is not deterring Uber from peddling into the region, and attempting to put some shine back on a brand that’s still divisive — charged with all sorts of problematic effects from rising congestion and air pollution to having a damaging impact on workers’ rights. It’s certainly true that the hangover from Uber’s legacy operational style of brash expansionism and thumbing its nose at regulators continues to cause the company problems in Europe. Many cities have banned its p2p service, and last year — in a major upset — London’s transport regulator withdrew its license to operate. Though under new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi Uber has also been expanding in some European markets — where regulatory requirements allow. Uber’s new chief executive has taken a strikingly different tone vs founder Travis Kalanick, saying he wants to work with cities and local authorities, rather than fight them. Today at the NOAH conference in Berlin that emollient tone was on show again, with Khosrowshahi announcing that Uber’s Jump electric bike sharing service will launch in the city this summer. “Here in Germany, I am determined to have a better dialogue with cities and various German stakeholders to discuss how we can shape the future of urban mobility together. Uber stands ready to help address some of the biggest challenges facing German cities: tackling air pollution, reducing congestion and increasing access to cleaner transportation solutions,” he said. Other unnamed European cities are also slated to launch in the coming months. And bikes can’t be accused of exacerbating air pollution or road-based congestion. Khosrowshahi also said Uber will also launch its all electric vehicle Uber Green service in Berlin by the end of the year, following a recent launch in Munch — saying that was Uber “playing our part in tackling air pollution”. “I’m thrilled to announce two new products for Berlin that are an important first step in developing our long term partnership with Germany — our Jump pedal-assist electric bikes and the introduction of a fully electric Uber Green service,” he added

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