California Court Changes Test to Determine Status of Workers

The California Supreme Court replaced the existing test for determining whether employees are independent contractors with another, simpler one used in Massachusetts and New Jersey. The former test relied on 10 factors, including the amount of supervision, to assess the company’s control over the worker. The new “ABC” test deems the worker an employee if he does a job that is part of the “usual course” of the company’s business. The ruling could have a profound impact on Uber and others in the so-called gig economy. Continue reading California Court Changes Test to Determine Status of Workers

Uber, Waymo Settle Lawsuit for $245 Million, 4 Days into Trial

Uber Technologies has settled a year-old lawsuit brought by Alphabet’s self-driving vehicle unit Waymo, which claimed that Uber stole and used trade secrets. In the agreement, Uber said it would not use Waymo technology in its autonomous vehicles and make certain that no such Waymo components were already in use. The ride-hailing firm also agreed to give Waymo 0.34 percent of its equity, equal to about $245 million, based on a valuation of $72 billion. The companies settled four days after the trial started. Continue reading Uber, Waymo Settle Lawsuit for $245 Million, 4 Days into Trial

MoviePass Sells $128M in Tickets for Oscar-Nominated Films

Startup MoviePass, which charges subscribers $10 per month for the option to watch one film per day in a participating theater, said it has passed 2 million subscribers. The company also reported that it was responsible for $128.7 million of the domestic box office for this year’s Oscar nominated films. MoviePass chief executive Mitch Lowe has described the math behind the company’s claim. He also has an explanation for how the company will survive its biggest economic challenge: that it loses money on any customers who sees at least two movies a month. Continue reading MoviePass Sells $128M in Tickets for Oscar-Nominated Films

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Sprint plans to launch a 5G network by early 2019, joining its competitors in rolling out the new technology and spending $5 billion to $6 billion annually on its network. Verizon and AT&T plan to roll out their 5G networks later this year. Although today’s smartphones can already stream HD video with the current 4G networks, 5G networks will enable other devices and technologies, including autonomous vehicles. Sprint’s parent company, SoftBank Group, also has a significant investment in Uber Technologies. Continue reading AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Further Plans to Roll Out 5G Networks

Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

In October 2017, Alphabet debuted a partnership with Toronto to further the goals of a smart city. Dubbed Sidewalk Labs, Alphabet plans to observe and measure how people live, to optimize city streets. To that end, Alphabet just launched another venture under the Sidewalk Labs rubric, Coord, intended to utilize the company’s cloud-based platform to streamline transportation networks. Separately, ride-sharing competitors Uber and Lyft, with 13 other companies, signed a shared “mobility pledge” to enable more livable cities. Continue reading Alphabet, Uber and Lyft Take Actions to Promote Smart Cities

At CES 2018, Attendees Can Hail a Lyft/Aptiv Autonomous Car

At CES 2018, Lyft and Aptiv, a self-driving software company, will offer rides to show attendees in its automated ride hailing service (with a safety driver in the front seat). The goal, say the two companies, is to “accelerate the availability of automated driving platforms for commercial applications,” by operating in a complex environment such as the Las Vegas metro area. Aptiv is a subsidiary of Delphi Automotive, which split into two companies to emphasize its capabilities in self-driving technologies. Continue reading At CES 2018, Attendees Can Hail a Lyft/Aptiv Autonomous Car

New Uber CEO Faces the Impact of Undisclosed Data Breach

Uber Technologies acknowledged that one year ago it paid hackers $100,000 to hide a data breach that impacted 47 million accounts. The company fired then-chief security officer Joe Sullivan and deputy Craig Clark for both the breach itself and concealing it. The hackers got the names, emails and phone numbers of millions of riders as well as 600,000 drivers’ license numbers, although apparently Social Security numbers and credit card numbers were not accessed. Uber says it will inform those impacted by the breach in “coming days.” Continue reading New Uber CEO Faces the Impact of Undisclosed Data Breach

Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick and major investor Benchmark reached an agreement over board seats, paving the way for a multi-billion dollar investment led by SoftBank Group. This investment will give Uber resources to fend off its global rivals. Until recently, Kalanick and Benchmark were in a stalemate; the new agreement will add six directors and change voting in a way that will limit Kalanick’s power on the board. These changes are the aftermath of scandals that led the board to force Kalanick out. Meanwhile, Uber is facing setbacks in the U.K. regarding the status of its drivers. Continue reading Uber Reaches Deal With Benchmark, Loses Ruling in London

Waymo’s Autonomous Cars Drive With Humans in Backseat

Waymo began testing its first autonomous vehicles on public roads on October 19 in the Phoenix area. The Chrysler Pacifica minivans still had employees in the car, but in the backseat, where they could push a button to pull over the vehicle. Waymo, whose vision is to deploy its self-driving vehicles via a taxi service, plans to let passengers ride in the back, possibly without an employee, in the coming months. It began its work eight years ago, followed by similar efforts by General Motors, Ford Motor, Apple and Uber. Continue reading Waymo’s Autonomous Cars Drive With Humans in Backseat

SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son Reveals His Plan for Vision Fund

SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son invested $164 million in startup Mapbox, which is used by Lyft drivers, Snap and Mastercard, and in the process revealed his plans for his nearly $100 billion Vision Fund. The Fund, which includes money from Saudi Arabia and others, is aimed at preparing for new paradigms in work, medicine and so on that will occur due to artificial intelligence. Son believes in Singularity, the idea that robots will change the work force and machines will become smarter than people. Continue reading SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son Reveals His Plan for Vision Fund

Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

Snapchat debuted “context cards” this week, a new feature that helps its users easily make a restaurant reservation or book an Uber ride without having to exit the app. The new feature is designed to keep users engaged with the app and its contextual location-based search. By swiping up from geotagged images while viewing certain stories, users will get related data such as contact info, directions and reviews. Early partners include Bookatable, Foursquare, Michelin, OpenTable and TripAdvisor. Ultimately, more time on Snapchat could mean more advertising revenue for the popular messaging app. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

Waymo, Intel Launch Public Push to Promote Driverless Cars

Alphabet’s Waymo, once a Google unit, has begun a campaign assisted by Intel to educate the public, even as it prepares to debut its first commercial ride-hailing service with Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Dubbed “Let’s Talk Self-Driving,” the campaign includes safety and disability advocacy groups, promotes its self-driving car pilot program in Arizona and seeks to educate the public about the technology behind autonomous vehicles. Intel will run an ad with LeBron James about self-driving cars. Continue reading Waymo, Intel Launch Public Push to Promote Driverless Cars

Former Uber CEO Tries to Thwart Effort to Reduce His Power

In the latest drama at the troubled Uber, former chief executive Travis Kalanick appointed two new directors — former Xerox chief executive Ursula Burns and former Merrill Lynch chief John Thain — to the board, without informing new chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi or current board members. The likely trigger for Kalanick’s action was a proposal that included reducing his voting power and increasing Khosrowshahi’s. By adding two members to the nine-member board, Kalanick attempted to gain new allies. Continue reading Former Uber CEO Tries to Thwart Effort to Reduce His Power

Facebook Messenger Debuts In-App Fandango Ticket Sales

In the U.S., Facebook Messenger now automatically launches Fandango information and ticketing, along with suggestions for GIF-sharing and so-called quick replies, within the app. The feature is based on M, Facebook’s AI-powered virtual assistant technology. The M assistants have thus far offered a variety of actions in Messenger, including sending stickers, launching Uber or Lyft, beginning a poll and sharing a location. Facebook Messenger users can change their settings in order to mute these suggestions. Continue reading Facebook Messenger Debuts In-App Fandango Ticket Sales

London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

London cut Uber’s license to operate, which will expire September 30. London said that Uber lacked corporate responsibility and was not fit and proper to hold a private vehicle hire licenses. Uber has 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million users in London. Transport for London (TfL), the agency that oversees the city’s cabs, buses and subways, said it would allow Uber to operate until the conclusion of the appeals process. TfL also cited Uber’s background checks on drivers, its approach to reporting serious criminal offenses and Greyball, a software that could block regulators from accessing the app. Continue reading London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

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