Tuesday, June 20, 2017

UBER NEWS: Hell May Be Freezing Over

From a June 20, 2017 article by CNBC 

Uber will now let riders tip drivers.

It's part of a 180-day plan to make driving "more flexible and less stressful."

The decision comes as Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who has objected to tipping, is on leave

Uber will now let riders tip drivers, addressing one of the most contentious features of its app amid turmoil within the company.

The ride-hailing start-up said Tuesday it would email drivers a 180-day plan to make driving "more flexible and less stressful." One of those features is tipping.

Riders in Seattle, Minneapolis and Houston will have the option as of Tuesday, the rest of the country will follow by the end of July, Uber said.

Other changes include paying drivers if their rider cancels after two minutes or more, and paying drivers who have to wait more than two minutes for their rider.

The decision comes as Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is on leave from the company.

Uber's former president, Jeff Jones, had been a proponent of tipping, which is already used by rival Lyft, Bloomberg News reported earlier this year. But Kalanick had a "principled" opposition to tipping, Bloomberg News said, arguing the practice tamps down wages. Jones has since left the company, citing in part the "approach to leadership."

 Imagine there's no Uber: Here's what experts think would happen next Imagine there's no Uber: Here's what experts think would happen next  

Kalanick, who is grieving the loss of his mother, also has said he is working on a new style of leadership during his absence. Uber has suffered a series of recent scandals, including an internal workplace culture investigation that ended in the dismissal of more than 20 employees.

Uber is also fighting legal battles over whether drivers should be classified as employees or independent contractors. Three New York Uber drivers were recently granted employee benefits by a judge, a ruling that could extend to "others similarly situated," according to Law360.

That's why it's important for Uber to revamp its image when it comes to how it treats workers, lawyers told CNBC last week.

While Uber headquarters might be undergoing a cultural makeover, the same protections won't necessarily extend to drivers if they are independent contractors, Brooke Schneider, an associate in the employment practice at Withers Bergman, told CNBC. That could stoke even more contention between executives and drivers, she said.

"I look at Uber as a workplace culture that has failed. So now we know, working at Uber is not always pleasant," said Kate Bischoff of tHRive Law & Consulting. "It's difficult, it seems to have this bro' culture. Each one of these individual cases now looks more credible. So yeah, if they are treating drivers poorly, there's a natural human response to take that seriously."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lyft takes on Uber's black luxury car services by launching Lyft Lux

From a May 24, 2017 article by LA Times:

Five years ago when Uber was known for its luxury black cars, Lyft launched its peer-to-peer ride-hailing service, turning regular vehicles into taxis.

Now, Uber is synonymous with peer-to-peer ride-hailing, and Lyft is launching its own luxury black car service, Lyft Lux and Lux SUV.

The service, available Thursday in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, New York and Chicago, is a step up from the “Premier” offering Lyft debuted last year that allowed passengers to book rides from drivers with vehicles from higher-end makers such as BMW and Audi. Using Lyft Lux, passengers will be able to book a black car or luxury black SUV from the Lyft app.

Pricing will vary by market, but drivers can expect to earn around three to five times the fare of ordinary Lyft rides, and nearly double the fare of Lyft Premier rides, according to Lyft. 
To drive for Lyft Lux or Lux SUV, drivers have to have one of several dozen vehicles that qualify for the service, such as a Tesla Model X, a Porsche Cayenne, a Rolls Royce Ghost or a number of models from Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac and BMW.

While it may seem counterintuitive to launch a high-end service at a time when rides are getting cheaper, business experts said it makes sense for Lyft to diversify its offerings.

Having a higher-end service gives Lyft another front on which to compete, according to Evan Rawley, an associate professor at Columbia Business School who studies Uber and Lyft.

In the cutthroat ride-hailing business, where both Uber and Lyft have spent millions of dollars in driver and passenger subsidies to undercut each other, if Uber lowers the fares for its UberX service, Lyft can fight back by lowering the fares on its Premier and Lux services, Rawley said.

The other reason for Lyft to diversify its business is simply that it can.

“They’ve already got the network out there, so the more rides they can get for their drivers, the more drivers will be willing to work for them,” Rawley said. “It hasn’t been a huge part of the market by revenue, but it’s a profitable part of the market. It’s a niche product with high margins.”

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A committee of 14 execs will run Uber during CEO Travis Kalanick's leave of absence

From a June 15, 2017 article by Business Insider:

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is taking a leave of absence from the company, and in his place Uber will be run by a committee of 14 execs, Uber confirmed to Yahoo Finance.

Kalanick will take a leave of absence to "work on myself" and to deal with a recent family tragedy, according to an email he sent to the company. When Kalanick comes back, he will be stripped of some duties, and Uber's board will appoint an independent chair to "limit his influence," Bloomberg reported. There is no return date set for Kalanick, however.

Kalanick's leave of absence comes after the conclusion of an investigation by former Attorney General Eric Holder into Uber's toxic workplace culture. The report didn't recommend that Kalanick step away from the company, but Uber's board discussed it with Kalanick during an emergency board meeting on Sunday. The report, however, did recommend that Kalanick's responsibilities be reviewed and reallocated.

During Kalanick's leave of absence, Uber will be run by 14 of his direct reports, excluding his right-hand man Emil Michael, who resigned from Uber on Monday. The committee includes several execs who some observers thought might face discipline following the Holder report, including Ryan Graves, Uber's first CEO and a board member, who oversaw the HR department, and CTO Thuan Pham, who former engineer Susan Fowler said she reported incidents of sexual harassment to.

Still, they are on the list, along will 12 others.

Here are the people who will run Uber, according to Yahoo Finance:

Andrew Macdonald, Regional GM, Latin America and Asia-Pacific
Pierre Dimitri Gore-Coty, Regional GM
Rachel Holt, Regional GM, US and Canada
Daniel Graf, VP of Product Management
David Richter, SVP of Business
Eric Meyhofer, Head of Advanced Technologies Group
Frances Frei, SVP of Leadership & Strategy
Jeff Holden, Chief Product Officer
Jill Hazelbaker, SVP of Policy & Communications
Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer
Liane Hornsey, Chief Human Resources Officer
Ryan Graves, SVP of Operations
Salle Yoo, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary
Thuan Pham, Chief Technology Officer