Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘uber’ Category

Uber’s Loss of Autonomy

leave a comment »

The Verge is reporting that Arizona has suspended Uber’s testing of autonomous vehicles following last week’s fatal crash in the city of Tempe.

That accident occurred at night and coincided with autonomous test driver Rafaela Vasquez looking down just prior to the moment of impact, leaving pedestrian 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg dead.

The Verge reports this was likely the first death caused by a self-driving vehicle, and the aftermath has been “severe” for Uber. The company voluntarily suspended self-driving operations in the state amid an NTSB investigation, and is currently under investigation by the Tempe Police Department.

In his formal letter to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi (dated yesterday, March 26, 2018), Arizona governor Doug Ducey, a Republic who had initially been quite welcoming of Uber’s using Arizona public roads as its autonomous vehicle proving grounds, wrote the following:

As governor, my top priority is public safety. Improving public safety has always been the emphasis of Arizona’s approach to autonomous vehicle testing, and my expectation is that public safety is also the top priority for all who operate this technology in the state of Arizona.

The incident that took place on March 18 is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation. While the incident is currently under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Arizona must take action now. In the best interest of the people of my state, I have directed the Arizona Department of Transportation to suspend Uber’s ability to test and operate autonomous vehicles on Arizona’s public roadways.

The Verge reminds us that Uber had been testing self-driving cars in Arizona since late 2016, thanks to Arizona’s loose regulatory stance on the technology.

So what does this portend for the future of autonomous vehicles? The future of Uber’s self-driving program?

Their cause certainly wasn’t assisted by a report from The New York Times last week that Uber had been struggling to meet a target of just 13 miles per “intervention” in Arizona, compared to Waymo’s 5,600 miles. 

And the Time’s report suggested Uber was cutting other corners, so to speak, putting more of its test drivers out on solo runs as opposed to working in pairs.

Uber has since halted autonomous car tests in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto as well, and the Time’s indicated “it is not clear when the company will revive them.”

How about when they can prove they can stop running over pedestrians?

Written by turbotodd

March 27, 2018 at 10:08 am

Chinese Expansion

leave a comment »

While everybody freaks out about the Meltdown and Spectre microprocessor exposures, life goes on in much of the tech world.

Well, sort of.

TechCrunch reported yesterday that the U.S. Government has blocked the proposed acquisition of global payment service MoneyGram by Alibaba’s Ant Financial.

This is the second China-led acquisition of a U.S. tech company that has “failed” during U.S. President Trump’s tenure. The first was last September when a private equity group was blocked from purchasing Lattice Semiconductor due to “potential security risks.”

Here’s the background from TechCrunch:

Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate which controls Alipay — China’s top mobile wallet — and other financial services, announced a deal to buy Nasdaq-listed MoneyGram in April 2017 after it beat off a rival bid from Euronet. Ant initially bid for MoneyGram in January 2017 as a means to develop its cross-border payment network into the U.S., and major corridors including India and the Philippines, but instead it will “explore and develop initiatives” to collaborate with MoneyGram’s business.
– via TechCrunch

The article goes on to suggest that “the collapse of the deal is a huge blow to Ant, which spent much of 2017 developing its mobile payment network beyond China and into Southeast Asia, India, Korea, Japan and other parts of Asia with a series of partnerships and investments.”

As Confucius said, “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” That includes Uncle Sam.

On the other hand, nothing’s stopping the Chinese in Brazil!

SiliconANGLE reported that the Chinese ride-hailing firm, Didi Chuxing, bought Brazilian car booking service 99 Corp. yesterday for some $600M.

99 is Brazil’s version of Uber, writes SiliconANGLE, and has some 300,000 drivers and 14 million users in 400 cities across Brazil.

The deal is notable not only as a major acquisition in a large marketplace but also because it marks the beginning of Didi Chuxing’s international expansion. The Chinese giant was first reported to be expanding into Mexico in December with a ground-up strategy as opposed to an acquisition. Its global ambitions were finally laid bare when it said Dec. 21 that its latest round would in part be dedicated to its international expansion. The other takeaway from the deal is that Didi Chuxing is willing to acquire companies it has previously invested in, meaning there’s a swath of companies on Didi’s radar. To date, Didi is a large investor in Southeast Asia’s GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. and India’s Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd.), with smaller investments in Eastern Europe-focused Taxify OU, the Middle East’s Careem and last but certainly not least Lyft Inc., Uber’s largest rival in the United States.
– via SiliconANGLE

Et tu, Uber?

Written by turbotodd

January 4, 2018 at 12:04 pm

Posted in 2018, acquisitions, china, uber

Hacking Black Friday

leave a comment »

Uber’s back in the sheit again. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bloomberg reports that hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber, a breach that the company concealed for more than a year.

As a results, Uber fired its chief security officer and one of his deputies for hiding the breach, including a $100,000 ransom payment. Uber has hired cybersecurity firm Mandiant to investigate the hack.

Back at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, CEO Meg Whitman has announced she’ll step down as CEO early next year, and President Antonio Neri will take her place.

“Today, Hewlett Packard moves forward as four industry-leading companies that are each well positioned to win in their respective markets,” Whitman said in a statement. “Now is the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins of HPE. I have tremendous confidence that they will continue to build a great company that will thrive well into the future.”
– via CNBC

Okay, so there’s the relevant tech news for the day…let’s now get down to the important matters at hand, hacking Black Friday.

If you’re getting ready to mix it up either online or at the brick ’n’ mortars looking for the best deals, I’ve been in search of some tips ’n’ tricks to hopefully help you make your travails just a little more painless.

Katie Jackson from Today had some choice bits:

1) Review Amazon price histories on camelcamelcamel.com to get a sense of recent pricing.

2) Always use a new pricing (remembering dynamic pricing can be impacted by browsing patterns based on existing cookies). In fact, Jackson suggests going into “incognito” mode for your holiday shopping.

3) Use today to start scouting stores. That way you know where the stuff you’re looking for is located as you trample your fellow humans bright and early Friday morning so you can be FIRST to get that gold-plated Tickle Me Elmo (KIDDING! Be KIND to your fellow shoppers!)

C:NET suggests starting early (Amazon’s already started discounting items like the Kindle Fire 7 Kids Edition and the Kindle Paperwhite)

And yes, visit TheBlackFriday.com to see scans of the Black Friday ads that will help you scout the best deals.

Good luck, and for those of you in the U.S., have a very Happy Thanksgiving and a most fruitful Black Friday!

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2017 at 9:34 am

Hacking Black Friday

leave a comment »

Uber’s back in the sheit again. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bloomberg reports that hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber, a breach that the company concealed for more than a year.

As a results, Uber fired its chief security officer and one of his deputies for hiding the breach, including a $100,000 ransom payment. Uber has hired cybersecurity firm Mandiant to investigate the hack.

Back at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, CEO Meg Whitman has announced she’ll step down as CEO early next year, and President Antonio Neri will take her place.

“Today, Hewlett Packard moves forward as four industry-leading companies that are each well positioned to win in their respective markets,” Whitman said in a statement. “Now is the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins of HPE. I have tremendous confidence that they will continue to build a great company that will thrive well into the future.”
– via CNBC

Okay, so there’s the relevant tech news for the day…let’s now get down to the important matters at hand, hacking Black Friday.

If you’re getting ready to mix it up either online or at the brick ’n’ mortars looking for the best deals, I’ve been in search of some tips ’n’ tricks to hopefully help you make your travails just a little more painless.

Katie Jackson from Today had some choice bits:

1) Review Amazon price histories on camelcamelcamel.com to get a sense of recent pricing.

2) Always use a new pricing (remembering dynamic pricing can be impacted by browsing patterns based on existing cookies). In fact, Jackson suggests going into “incognito” mode for your holiday shopping.

3) Use today to start scouting stores. That way you know where the stuff you’re looking for is located as you trample your fellow humans bright and early Friday morning so you can be FIRST to get that gold-plated Tickle Me Elmo (KIDDING! Be KIND to your fellow shoppers!)

C:NET suggests starting early (Amazon’s already started discounting items like the Kindle Fire 7 Kids Edition and the Kindle Paperwhite)

And yes, visit TheBlackFriday.com to see scans of the Black Friday ads that will help you scout the best deals.

Good luck, and for those of you in the U.S., have a very Happy Thanksgiving and a most fruitful Black Friday!

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2017 at 9:34 am

Posted in 2017, black friday, retail, uber

Let the Chips Fall…

leave a comment »

Some big deals brewing early on a Monday morning.

Reuters reported that chipmaker Marvell Technology Group Ltd. would buy smaller rival Cavium Inc. in a $6 billion deal “as it seeks to expand its wireless connectivity business in a fast consolidating semiconductor industry.”

Hamilton, Bermuda-based Marvell makes chips for storage devices while San Jose, California-based Cavium builds network equipment.
– via U.S.

 

China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba, will buy a big stake in China Wal-Mart rival, Sun Art Retail Group Ltd, for $2.88 billion, which would give it a 36 percent stake in the company.

Alibaba, which runs the world’s largest online shopping operation, sees traditional retail venues as a way to expand its reach into fresh foods while also creating new demand for its Alipay mobile-payment business and its logistics services. “Physical stores serve an indispensable role during the consumer journey, and should be enhanced through data-driven technology and personalized services in the digital economy,” Alibaba chief executive officer Daniel Zhang said in a statement.
– via WSJ

This follows on the heels of Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of U.S. grocer Whole Foods.

But China’s not done. One of its leading phone and appliances makers, Xiaomi Corp., has also indicated it would invest as much as $1 billion in 100 startups in India over the next five years. The move is apparently an effort to build an ecosystem of apps around its smartphone brand.

And if you’re still waiting for your Uber, you may not have to wait much longer. Just don’t look for the driver.

Reuters is reporting that Uber plans to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo, building on a three-year relationship between the two companies.

Geely-owned Volvo said in a statement on Monday it would provide Uber with its flagship XC90 SUVs equipped with autonomous technology as part of a non-exclusive deal from 2019 to 2021. A Volvo spokesman said it covered up to 24,000 cars. The self-driving system that would be used in the Volvo cars — which have yet to be built — is under development by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group.
– via U.S.

That would be the single largest purchase for Volvo, and the broader autonomous vehicle industry, and would give Uber its first commercial fleet of cars.

No financial details were disclosed for the purchase, which would be a massive new investment for Uber and mark a change from Uber’s long-standing business model where contractor drivers buy or lease and maintain their own cars.
– via U.S.

Written by turbotodd

November 20, 2017 at 9:39 am

The Knowledge

leave a comment »

Happy Friday. Or better put, TGIF.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week. Hurricane Maria had her way with Puerto Rico and parts beyond. The earthquake in Mexico City shook the metropolis to its core. The United Nations General Assembly was filled with bombast and bluster, and now “Rocket Man” is threatening to explode a hydrogen bomb somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

It may be time for a cocktail. Okay, not now, at 9:00-something in the morning, but very soon.

There could be plenty of time for cocktails soon for Uber drivers in London. Big news today on that front: Uber has lost its license to operate in London.

No, not because the drivers (or Uber’s AI) couldn’t pass “The Knowledge,” London’s infamous taxi driver test. No, it was said to be because of the firm’s approach to reporting serious driver offenses, its approach to driver medical and safety checks, and the users of its secret “Greyball” software to dodge transport officials.

The firm has 21 days to appeal the decision.

In the meantime, 40,000 Uber drivers and 3.5M Londoners using the app will need to make other arrangements. And you just thought the London Underground is crowded now!

Back across this side of the pond, some exciting news from Facebook that they needed like a hole in the head. They “announced” two weeks ago they had discovered more than 3,000 ads addressing “social and political issues that ran in the US between 2015 and 2017 and that appear to have come from accounts associated with a Russian entity know as the Internet Research Agency.”

Facebook will now “share these ads with congressional investigators,” according to a post by its general counsel, Colin Stretch. Here’s more of Stretch’s comment:

We believe it is vitally important that government authorities have the information they need to deliver to the public a full assessment of what happened in the 2016 election. That is an assessment that can be made only by investigators with access to classified intelligence and information from all relevant companies and industries — and we want to do our part. Congress is best placed to use the information we and others provide to inform the public comprehensively and completely.
– via newsroom.fb.com

My Take: The whole Russian Facebook advertising situation puts Zuckerberg and company between a rock and a hard place.

If they admit any culpability, then hey, Facebook Ads are AWESOME, they work really, really well, as they helped Russia elect an American president. Raise the CPM and let’s party like it’s 1999 on the Facebook Ad exchange!!

If they suggest, on the other hand, that they had no role whatsoever in helping Vlad and his cronies with their mission to bring the Trump Organization into the White House, then wait a minute, those ads are worthless, I want my rubles back!

Like a Facebook relationship status, “it’s complicated.”

Now where’s my Moscow Mule!

Written by turbotodd

September 22, 2017 at 9:38 am

Posted in 2017, facebook, russia, uber

No More Nano

leave a comment »

Happy Friday.

Here in Austin, weekend highs of 107 F are expected — another nice, cool Austin summer weekend!

Austin’s not the only thing heating up. The U.S. Commerce Department just announced earlier today that U.S. GDP quickened to 2.6 percent in 2Q, a pace over twice that of 1Q’s 1.2 percent.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, “both consumers and businesses helped propel growth in the second quarter.”

If the economy keeps heating up like this, competition for top talent could follow. But don’t expect HPE CEO Meg Whitman to take that top job at Uber. According to a report from TechCrunch “she’s not going anywhere.”

However, General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt is apparently on a shortlist for the Uber CEO job, a list that Bloomberg suggests is less than six names.

Immelt was already set to step down as chairman and CEO of GEO next month, so, yeah, he might have some time to take the Uber gig.

While that’s still a developing story, there’s a story about developers also unfolding.

Microsoft just announced that it has opened up Windows 10 S to developers and education customers, but not for testing to consumers.

According to a report from Thurrott, “The Home for Tech Enthusiasts: News, Reviews & Analysis”:

“We’re releasing [Windows 10 S] today to developers because we want to be sure they are testing Windows 10 S,” a Microsoft statement notes. “We especially want EDU-focused developers to continue to innovate and make apps that teachers and students would use from the Windows Store…This is very much meant only for developers and IT pros, not consumers to broadly download/switch to Windows 10 S.”
– via Thurrott.com

And finally, in the “We don’t sell that anymore” category, Apple confimed yesterday it has discontinued the iPod Nano and the iPod Shuffle. 

What happened, you ask?

In short, first the iPhone, and later the Apple Watch, killed the iPod Nano and Shuffle radio star.

I loved me some iPod Shuffle, but at some point we all just gonna have to move on…

Written by turbotodd

July 28, 2017 at 9:53 am

Posted in 2017, apple, GDP, ipod, uber

%d bloggers like this: