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Kalanick Forced Out as CEO of Uber

Embattled founder resigns as turmoil wracks ride-sharing giant.

by on Jun.21, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has been forced to resign in the wake of lawsuits, sexual harassment charges and other complaints about the company.

With his company facing an array of problems, including lawsuits, complaints about sexual harassment, and the exodus of key senior executives, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has been forced to resign.

The news was announced early Wednesday, barely a week after the embattled Kalanick said he would take an indefinite leave of absence motivated, at least in part, by the death of his mother in a boating accident. The ride-sharing giant said Kalanick will remain on its board of directors.

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For his part, the 40-year-old Kalanick appeared to recognize he had become not a leader but a polarizing distraction for Uber Technologies, Inc., in a statement noting that “rather than be distracted with another fight,” his departure will let Uber focus on building its business. (more…)

Jaguar Land Rover Teaming Up With Lyft

British automaker to provide cash, cars for ride-sharing service.

by on Jun.12, 2017

JLR's deal with Lyft could see vehicles like the Jaguar F-Pace show up in the ride-sharing fleet.

Customers of ride-sharing service Lyft could be in for a pleasant surprise in the months to come: instead of the typical mainstream vehicle, they could find a more luxurious sedan or SUV pull up when they call for a ride.

British automaker Jaguar Land Rover will become the latest automaker to team up with Lyft, announcing Monday a $25 million cash investment and plans to provide a fleet of its vehicles to the ride-sharing service. JLR’s move comes a little more than a year after General Motors agreed to invest $500 million in Lyft and create a special lease program for the service’s drivers.

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The partnership with Jaguar Land Rover comes at a time when Lyft is making an aggressive push to catch up to key rival Uber, taking advantage of a series of problems that have hammered the bigger ride-sharing service in recent months.

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Uber CEO May Take Leave as Board OK’s Holder Probe Recommendations

Findings of sex harassment probe to be made public on Tuesday.

by on Jun.12, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick may take a leave of absence or cut back his role at the company.

Embattled Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick is widely expected to take a leave of absence or, at the least, step back from his current role in the wake of a series of scandals and setbacks that have hammered the ride-sharing giant in recent months.

That includes allegations of sexual harassment that led Uber to commission an independent study led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The findings were presented to Uber’s board of directors during a special meeting and members voted unanimously to accept all of the report’s recommendations.

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That is expected to help rein in what critics have described as a frat house culture at a company that also happens to be the world’s most valuable venture capital-backed firm. Among other things, it is expected to place greater controls over senior operations at Uber, including spending and human resources.

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Judge Calls for Criminal Probe in Waymo/Uber Trade Secrets Case

A dangerous turn for Uber and key employee.

by on May.12, 2017

Uber could face the possibility of having its autonomous vehicle program shut down or slowed.

A trade secrets lawsuit filed by autonomous vehicle company Waymo may be taking a dangerous turn for ride-sharing service Uber.

The self-driving spin-off of Google has alleged that a former employee stole thousands of pages of confidential documents before leaving to set up his own company that, in turn, was sold to Uber. The case has, until now, been handled as a civil matter in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, but it could now turn into a criminal matter.

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While U.S. Judge William Alsup said he would take “no position,” he did declare that there is “ample evidence” that Anthony Levandowski breached his contract when leaving Waymo several years ago, something Judge Alsup said needed to be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Justice for possible prosecution.

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Criminal Probe Adds to Uber’s Legal Headaches

Court reportedly issues subpoena for information on “Greyball” app.

by on May.05, 2017

Uber reportedly used its Greyball software to not only bar disruptive customers but to keep hostile regulators at bay.

A federal district court in Northern California reportedly has issued a subpoena demanding information about the controversial Greyball app used by ride-sharing service Uber.

The existence of the app was revealed two months ago by the New York Times which reported that, among other things, Greyball was used to track and avoid regulators who might try to monitor Uber’s services. The company subsequently confirmed the existence of the app, but said it was used “exceedingly sparingly” to protect drivers from dangerous riders.

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A new criminal probe – which is today being reported by Reuters, the Washington Post and others – would add to the legal headaches Uber already faces. Among other things, it is battling a civil suit filed by Google spin-off Waymo alleging Uber stole its proprietary autonomous vehicle technology. Uber also is in the midst of an internal probe examining alleged sexual discrimination within the company.

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Uber Exec Could Face Injunction – or Possible Criminal Charges in Waymo Lawsuit

Lawsuit could shut down Uber’s autonomous vehicle program.

by on Mar.31, 2017

An Uber autonomous prototype rolled on its side following a crash in Tempe, Arizona.

A lawsuit filed by Waymo is taking a potentially nasty turn for Anthony Levandowski, a former Google employee who founded one of Uber’s self-driving vehicle units.

Waymo, the autonomous vehicle spin-off of Google, has gone to court claiming Uber stole some of its intellectual property, and the spotlight has fallen on Levandowski. He was a senior employee at Waymo before leaving to start his own self-driving enterprise, Otto, which focuses on autonomous trucking.

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Called to testify, Levandowski invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify, one of his attorneys saying that move was made because of “the potential for criminal action.” That appears to mean the potential Levandowski could be charged with stealing intellectual property.

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More Headaches for Uber as Autonomous Vehicle Crashes

Ride-share service suspends program; sexual harassment concerns escalate.

by on Mar.27, 2017

An Uber autonomous prototype rolled on its side following a crash in Tempe, Arizona.

(Update: Uber has since resumed its autonomous pilot program and police have issued a ticket to the human driver who they believe caused the Arizona crash.)

Ride-sharing giant Uber has suspended its autonomous vehicle pilot program in the wake of a crash involving one of its modified Volvo XC90 SUVs.

It comes as the latest setback for Uber, which has begun a search for a new management team to help address a series of embarrassments including numerous claims of sexual harassment, as well as a video showing its founder and CEO Travis Kalanick berating one of the company’s drivers over pay concerns.

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“We are continuing to look into this incident,” an Uber spokesperson said of the Saturday multi-vehicle crash in Tempe, Arizona that resulted in the Uber SUV rolling onto its side. “There were no serious injuries,” according to Uber, though two Uber “safety” operators were in the front seats.

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Uber Autonomous Vehicles Running into Big Problems

Human “operators” have to take over at least once per mile.

by on Mar.22, 2017

Uber pulled these autonomous XC90s out of San Francisco in December, but they've since returned.

As if Uber doesn’t have enough trouble with its management shake-ups, sex harassment investigations and financial issues, the ride-sharing giants autonomous vehicle program has been running into a series of serious issues.

After resolving a dispute with California regulators, Uber this month relaunched its self-driving test program in San Francisco. It also has autonomous prototypes operating in Pennsylvania and Arizona. But those vehicles can barely go a mile, it seems, without having to have their human “operators” take over control, according to Uber data.

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That’s in sharp contrast to the experience reported by Google’s Waymo autonomous vehicle unit, which recently reported a sharp decline in the number of instances where humans had to snatch control away from the onboard autopilot system.

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Uber’s Autonomous Cars Heading Back to California

Chastened ride-sharing service stops “greyballing.”

by on Mar.09, 2017

After facing legal threats, Uber removed its San Francisco test fleet last December.

Hammered for months over a variety of ethical and legal slips – as well as its poor financial numbers – ride-sharing giant Uber appears to be taking steps to soften its macho corporate image while also being more cooperative with regulators.

Forced out of San Francisco last December after refusing to get the requisite state permit for its autonomous vehicle test drive program, Uber is now ready to return to California after having filed the necessary paperwork. Meanwhile, the company now says it will stop “greyballing,” a process it developed to make it more difficult for regulators in cities ranging from Boston to Paris.

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But Uber still faces a variety of other challenges. It has hired former U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder, for one thing, to handle a probe of sexual harassment within the mostly male company. And Uber CEO has said he plans to seek “leadership help,” after being caught on a dashboard cam raging at one of the company’s drivers who had questioned corporate payment policies. Such issues have been playing into the hands of critics and competitors – including Lyft, which last week announced a new $500 million fundraising bid.

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Uber CEO Seeking “Leadership Help” After Tantrum

“I must fundamentally change…and grow up,” says Kalanick.

by on Mar.01, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is apologizing after an angry spat with one of his drivers.

In the latest crisis to hammer the giant ride-sharing service, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says he need “leadership help” in the wake of a confrontation with one of the company’s drivers.

Uber has seen a wave of customer defections in recent weeks, as a result of a series of issues, including sexual harassment claims. Kalanick, who has often feuded with critics, touched off a new storm this week as a dashboard video surfaced showing him engaged in a heated argument with an Uber driver who had complained about a cut in the fees he was receiving.

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“Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own (problems),” Kalanick says in the video, which was published by the Bloomberg news service. “They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!” he shouted as he slammed the vehicle’s door.

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