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Uber CEO Kalanick Taking Indefinite Leave

Grieving mother's recent death, he'll work on improving leadership skills during time away.

by on Jun.13, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is taking a leave of absence from the company to grieve his mother's recent death and work on his leadership skills.

As had been widely expected, Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick has told employees that he will take an indefinite leave of absence to “grieve” for his mother, killed in a recent boating accident, while also taking time to work on the leadership skills that he admits need to be improved.

The move comes as Uber faces a mounting series of problems, from a lawsuit alleging it stole technical secrets from autonomous vehicle company Waymo to indications the ride-sharing giant has been losing momentum and market share as customers become increasingly disenchanted with Uber. On the same day Kalanick announced his temporary leave, the company publicly released the results of an investigation led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder into allegations of widespread sexual harassment.

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“I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team,” Kalanick wrote to employees, adding that, “If we are going to work on Uber 2.0, I also need to work on Travis 2.0 to become the leader that this company needs and that you deserve.” (more…)

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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Uber Fires 20 Employees in Wake of Investigation

Ride-sharing company still reviewing former AG Holder's report.

by on Jun.06, 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is beginning to get the change in corporate culture he said was coming: Uber fired 20 employees today.

Uber fired 20 employees after the conclusion of an internal probe of harassment charges leveled against the company by a former senior engineer.

The firings were announced at a company meeting, according to multiple media reports, as a result of an investigation by the law firm Perkins Cole into specific charges by a former employees.

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The company didn’t name the employees who were let go. Some of the people fired were senior executives, according to the person. (more…)

Uber Fires Autonomous Vehicle Chief Levandowski

Latest twist in ongoing battle with Waymo.

by on May.31, 2017

Anthony Levandowski is seen here discussing autonomous vehicles while still with Google in 2011. Photo courtesy Shinygogo.

The ongoing battle between Uber and Waymo over allegedly stolen autonomous vehicle trade secrets took a new turn as the car-sharing giant fired the one-time head of its self-driving vehicle operations, Anthony Levandowski.

The 37-year-old engineer rose to prominence as head of autonomous operations at Waymo’s parent Google. He then went off to form his own company which, in turn, was purchased by Uber. Levandowski was subsequently accused of taking thousands of proprietary documents with him, material he has refused to turn over to the California court hearing the lawsuit filed by Waymo.

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Levandowski was sidetracked by Uber as a result of the ongoing lawsuit. The ride-sharing service told the court on Tuesday it has now fired the executive because he refused to comply with orders to turn over the documents. Levandowski’s attorney previously told the court he was refusing the order for fear it could lead to him facing criminal prosecution.

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Uber Expands With Addition of Uber Freight

After months of testing, new app ready for truck drivers.

by on May.19, 2017

One of Uber Freight's big appeals to drivers is the ability to get paid for jobs in seven days, rather than three months.

Uber is no longer just about hauling people from the airport to their hotel or from the bar to their homes — it’s hauling freight.

The company unveiled Uber Freight, a cloud-based, on-demand, full truckload brokerage after the company tested concept in the “Texas Triangle,” Dallas, Houston and San Antonio for several months. And it basically operates the same way the ride-sharing service does.

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Uber Freight features an app just like the regular Uber app. However, it’s aimed at approved driers, who can search for available loads, see destination info, distance required and payment before they agree. Once they find a gig they like, the driver taps and it’s booked. (more…)

Lyft Inks Autonomous Development Deal with Waymo

Judge issues ruling in Uber/Waymo court battle.

by on May.15, 2017

Waymo and Left are partnering up to help the ride-share company accelerate its goals autonomous vehicle goals.

The intensity of the driverless ride-share competition just ratcheted up a bit more with the new partnership between Lyft and Waymo.

Lyft officials believe the deal will accelerate its vision for transportation while Waymo sadi in a statement said a deal to launch self-driving pilots would accelerate its vision for transportation and said the partnership would let its technology reach “more people, in more places.”

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Neither offered many details of the agreement. Lyft is the second-largest ride-share service in the U.S. behind Uber, which has been developing its own self-driving vehicles while in the midst of a battle over industrial secrets with Waymo. (more…)

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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Uber Moves Autonomous Testing North

University of Toronto Professor joins ride-sharing group.

by on May.08, 2017

Uber's driverless Volvo's will soon be seen piloting around Toronto as the ride-sharing company has established an office there.

Uber’s autonomous vehicle testing group is feeling the heat from Waymo’s trip hammer of allegations about stolen corporate secrets and the attempts by the company to get an injunction forcing Uber to suspend its testing operations in the U.S.

The key component being “in the U.S.”

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No problem. Uber expanded its Advanced Technologies Group by opening an office in Toronto and placing a soon-to-be-growing team of researchers under the guidance of University of Toronto professor Raquel Urtasun. (more…)

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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Are Privately Owned Cars Set to Vanish?

“Historic revolution” could see 95% of motorists turn to driverless, shared EVs.

by on May.04, 2017

Waymo is now offering to let the public check out its autonomous vehicles in Phoenix.

When Waymo, the autonomous vehicle spin-off of Google began offering to let Phoenix-area families try out its vehicle service last month it touched off what a new study is calling “a historic revolution in transportation.”

While the number of Americans using all forms of ride-sharing – autonomous or otherwise – is currently quite small, RethinkX, an independent think tank that looks at the impact of new technology says it will grow rapidly. By 2030, it predicts in its new report, 95% of the miles traveled in the U.S. will be in self-driving, shared electric vehicles.

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That’s a far more rapid transition than others have been predicting. A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group delivered a shock to many by forecasting 25% of U.S. miles would be driven in shared, driverless, electric vehicles by 2030. But “it’s time to adjust our thinking,” said Tony Seba, a co-author of the RethinkX study, “Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030: The Disruption of Transportation and the Collapse of the ICE Vehicle and Oil Industries.”

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