Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘uber

Looker, Scooter, Uber

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It’s an M&A kind of Thursday.

First on the auction block: Looker, a data analytics startup that Google has purchased for $2.6B in cash. This is the company’s first major acquisition since ex-Oracler Thomas Kurian joined the team (and replaced Diane Greene).

The value prop, as surmised by CNBC: 

The purchase of Looker will add a new analytics tool for Google Cloud’s customers. Google said the technology will help its customers analyze their data in a consistent way across different sources and help Google provide industry-specific analytics for its targeted verticals. Google said in its press release that it already shared over 350 customers through an existing partnership, including BuzzFeed, Yahoo and Hearst.

Bird is in talks to acquire scooter startup Scott, last valued at $71M. TechCrunch reports Bird scooping up Scoot would be the company’s first full acquisition. (And as an Austinite who frequents LadyBird Lake trail frequently, I’ll just say this: “Enough with the scooters, already.”)

And Step, a mobile-based banking service aimed at teenagers in the U.S., raised $22.5M in a round led by Stripe.

“Schools don’t teach kids about money,” CJ MacDonald, the CEO and co-founder, said in an interview. “We want to be their first bank accounts with spending cards, but we also want to teach financial literacy and responsibility. Banks don’t tailor to this, and we want to be a solution teaching the next generation of adults to be more responsible with money in the cashless era. It was easy with cash to go to the mall but now everyone is using their phone for Uber and more.”

And speaking of Uber, if UberX doesn’t quite cut it for you in terms of prestige, you’ll soon be able to take Uber Copter for an 8-minute helicopter ride between Lower Manhattan and JFK for roughly $200-225/person. 

Be sure to wave at all those folks parked on the Van Wyck!

Written by turbotodd

June 6, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Posted in 2019

Tagged with , ,

Bing Me An Uber

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A headline in today’s Wall Street Journal: Toyota investing $500 million in Uber in driverless-car pact.

Toyota’s investment values Uber at roughly $72 billion, slightly higher than where SoftBank Group Corp. valued the company earlier this year with its funding.

Through the deal, Uber will integrate self-driving technology into Toyota Sienna minivans for use in Uber’s ride hailing network.

And as the Journal story observes:

For ride-sharing concerns like Uber and Lyft Inc., autonomous vehicles could cut their biggest expense: paying human drivers. For auto makers such as Toyota, the potential of self-driving cars to power car-sharing services represents a major challenge to an industry dominated by individual car ownership.

The Journal also reminds us that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is looking to take the company public next year and has been selling off unprofitable operations while “putting new focus on rentable bikes and scooters.”

Could a Lime or Bird acquisition be in the offing? 

Also on today’s AI frontiers, Search Engine Land is reporting that Bing is introducing a new “Spotlight” news feature which showcases a timeline of how a story has evolved, differing perspectives from news sources, and related social media posts on a topic.

Uh, can we see the full timeline in Spotlight for the Mueller investigation?

Yeah, there’s probably not enough AI on the planet to fully grok that timeline yet.

Lest you worry that the “Spotlight” will render human editors irrelevant, the Search Engine Land story indicates Bing explained that the perspectives and stories “are compiled using a combination of both AI and experienced human editors.”

Bing monitors millions of queries and news articles every day and identifies impactful stories that evolve over a period of weeks or months. We look at various user signals such as queries and browser logs, and document signals from publishers such as how many publishers cover a story, their angles, and how prominently they feature the story on their site.  For controversial topics, in the Perspectives module, we show different viewpoints from high-quality sources. For a source to be considered high quality, it must meet the Bing News PubHub Guidelines, which is a set of criteria that favors originality, readability, newsworthiness, and transparency. Top caliber news providers identify sources and authors, give attribution and demonstrate sound journalistic practices such as accurate labeling of opinion and commentary. Behind the scenes, we leverage our deep learning algorithms and web graphs of hundreds of millions of web sites in the Bing index to identify top sources for national news, per category, query, or article. Our goal is to provide broader context for impactful stories, from politics to business to major disasters, and much more.

All the news that’s fit to algo.

Written by turbotodd

August 28, 2018 at 9:21 am

Posted in 2018, AI, algorithms, microsoft, news

Tagged with , ,

Uber’s Loss of Autonomy

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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

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