Uber and Lyft Attempt to Protect Gig Worker Business Model

Ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft, which have been branching out into areas such as food delivery and scooter rentals, spent about $200 million to pass a ballot initiative that countered California’s 2019 legislation giving gig workers the status of employees. The two companies are now focused on avoiding the same battle in other states by pushing for legislation classifying their drivers as contractors. In New York state, for example, Uber and Lyft offered bargaining rights and other benefits to their workers, but not full classification of employees, which could raise their prices 20 to 30 percent. Continue reading Uber and Lyft Attempt to Protect Gig Worker Business Model

Labor Department Reverses Trump-Era Rule for Gig Workers

On May 6, the Biden administration rescinded the “Independent Contractor Rule,” created during the Trump administration, that made it easier to classify gig workers as independent contractors. The Department of Labor stated that withdrawing the rule would “maintain workers’ rights to the minimum wage and overtime compensation protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act.” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh added that the move will “stop the erosion of worker protections that would have occurred had the rule gone into effect.” Continue reading Labor Department Reverses Trump-Era Rule for Gig Workers

UK Supreme Court Rules 70,000 Uber Drivers Are Employees

Uber has battled for years around the world against reclassifying its drivers as employees, which would force it to pay higher wages and benefits. In the United Kingdom, however, it just announced that it would reclassify its 70,000+ drivers as workers and provide them a minimum wage, vacation pay and access to a pension plan. Uber’s move comes in the wake of a unanimous British Supreme Court ruling that found Uber drivers deserved more protections. UK labor laws, however, offer a middle ground between freelancers and employees. Continue reading UK Supreme Court Rules 70,000 Uber Drivers Are Employees

Bitcoin Tops $51,000 in Value as Major Firms Support Crypto

Bitcoin’s price surged above $50,000 for the first time yesterday as companies including Tesla, Mastercard, PayPal and BNY Mellon showed support for the cryptocurrency. Tesla bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin and plans to accept it as payment for its cars, while Mastercard added that it too would accept Bitcoin as payment for “some of its products.” Coin Metrics reported that Bitcoin broke the $50,000 metric by rising 3 percent on Tuesday to $50,487, and hitting a fresh record high of $51,715 earlier today. Meanwhile, SEC commissioner Hester Peirce has called for crypto regulation. Continue reading Bitcoin Tops $51,000 in Value as Major Firms Support Crypto

World Economic Forum Introduces Global AI Action Alliance

The World Economic Forum (WEF), in partnership with 100+ organizations, debuted its Global AI Action Alliance with the mission to “harness the transformative potential of artificial intelligence by accelerating the adoption of trusted, transparent and inclusive AI systems globally.” Its steering committee includes IBM chief executive Arvind Krishna and International Trade Union Confederation general secretary Sharan Burrow, with multinational organizations OECD and UNESCO. The Alliance is the recipient of $500,000 from a Patrick J. McGovern Foundation $40 million grant to support AI and data projects. According to PwC, AI could contribute $15+ trillion to the world economy by 2030. Continue reading World Economic Forum Introduces Global AI Action Alliance

Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 22, which will allow gig workers for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and others to remain independent contractors. These three companies created the proposition to exempt them from a state labor law that would require them to treat drivers as employees and pay for healthcare, unemployment insurance and other benefits. Proposition 22 does include a wage floor and some benefits for drivers. San Francisco, headquarters for Uber and Lyft, presented the strongest opposition. Continue reading Passage of California Prop 22 Is Big Victory for Gig Economy

Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

DoorDash, Lyft and Uber executives had already pledged $90 million to back California Proposition 22, exempting them from a new state labor law requiring gig workers to be reclassified as employees. But, said sources, political strategists told them they needed to spend even more to have a chance of passing the measure. Now, as we get closer to the November 3 election, backers have spent almost $200 million. A UC Berkeley poll found only 39 percent of likely voters support the measure and 36 percent are opposed. Continue reading Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

Silicon Valley Firms Remain Flexible with Remote Workforce

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S., companies sent their employees home to work. Since then, the return-to-work date changed from “a few weeks” to September, and then January. Now, with the virus still problematic in many parts of the country, Google became the first to tell employees they’ll be back July 2021, followed by Airbnb, Slack and Uber and, more recently, Ford Motor Company. Microsoft, Target and The New York Times also plan to return in summer 2021, while Dropbox has made remote working the default for employees. Continue reading Silicon Valley Firms Remain Flexible with Remote Workforce

FAA Greenlights Amazon’s Plan to Develop a Fleet of Drones

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just approved Amazon’s plan to create a fleet of drones. The e-commerce company will still need to jump through some hoops before beginning limited tests of package delivery to U.S. customers. Amazon also has testing sites in Austria, Canada, the United Kingdom and other international locations but can only perform tests in the UK and U.S. Before drone delivery becomes widespread, the FAA must complete rules for remote identification and for letting drones fly above populated areas. Continue reading FAA Greenlights Amazon’s Plan to Develop a Fleet of Drones

Appeals Court Gives Lyft, Uber Greenlight to Operate for Now

Hours before Lyft and Uber planned to suspend their services to protest the ruling to reclassify their drivers as employees, an appeals court allowed them to continue operating during the appeals process. Uber spokesperson Matt Kallman noted that the company is glad “that access to these critical services won’t be cut off while we continue to advocate for drivers’ ability to work with the freedom they want.” The companies must still submit plans for hiring employees by early September, in case their appeal is denied. Continue reading Appeals Court Gives Lyft, Uber Greenlight to Operate for Now

China & U.S. Both Stand to Lose in Current Technology Battle

The current U.S.-China tensions over technology may result in both countries being impeded from achieving their targets: China’s aim to build a modern technocratic state and the U.S.’s efforts to continue to build lucrative businesses with China’s huge market. U.S. Internet companies are already barred by China’s Great Firewall, and now the U.S. is targeting Huawei Technologies, ByteDance’s TikTok and Tencent Holdings’ WeChat. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proposed a “Clean Network” free of Chinese apps and other technology. Continue reading China & U.S. Both Stand to Lose in Current Technology Battle

SoftBank Is Considering the Sale of ARM Holdings to Nvidia

SoftBank, which spent $32 billion to buy ARM Holdings in 2016, is now actively considering ARM’s sale to Nvidia, according to SoftBank founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son. The company has also invested in Slack, WeWork, and Uber, which have experienced high-profile problems. The U.K.-based ARM Holdings, originally founded by Acorn, Apple and VLSI, designs low-power RISC chips that have become ubiquitous for mobile phones. Last month, SoftBank reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to explore options for a sale or going public.

Continue reading SoftBank Is Considering the Sale of ARM Holdings to Nvidia

California Judge Rules Uber and Lyft Are Violating State Law

In California, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman confirmed Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s decision that Lyft and Uber are violating California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). Schulman paused the injunction for 10 days to allow those companies to appeal his decision. AB5 requires that the two ride-hailing companies reclassify their California drivers as employees, making them eligible for healthcare and overtime among other perks. Due to COVID-19, Uber suffered a 67 percent decline in the June quarter. Continue reading California Judge Rules Uber and Lyft Are Violating State Law

India Hails Google’s New Fund but Plans to Regulate Big Tech

About half of India’s 1.3 billion people are not yet online, and Google hopes to improve its profile there with a new $10 billion Google for India Digitization Fund. The tech tech giant plans to invest in the country over the next five to seven years via equity investments and partnerships. But a recent government-ordered report urged India to create a data regulator position to oversee “the sharing, monetization and privacy of information collected online.” The report names Google (among other companies) as “squeezing new entrants and startups.” Continue reading India Hails Google’s New Fund but Plans to Regulate Big Tech

Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups

According to a Treasury Department report, a number of tech startups have received funds from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, forgivable loans intended to pay workers’ salaries. Cloud software company C3.ai, for example, valued at $3.3 billion, got a $5 million Paycheck Protection Program loan. Other startups have been denied loans, however, when the federal authorities deemed their venture capital partners an “affiliated business.” Meanwhile, almost 70,000 employees of tech startups recently lost their jobs. Continue reading Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups

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