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07.20.17 | 5:44 am

Here are the 3 things the next Uber CEO needs, according to its SVP of strategy

The beleaguered ride sharer's senior vice president of leadership and strategy, Frances Frei, told Recode (via the Verge) that the person who steps in to pick up the reins as CEO after Travis Kalanick's abrupt departure last month needs to possess:

1. "Reverence" for the international nature of Uber's business. "Silicon Valley is its own thing. And then there's the U.S. And then there's everywhere else."

2. The ability to understand that Uber is not just a tech company but an operations company, too.

3. The ability to understand and appreciate that Uber is an "organization of 15,000 people that has been through a lot."

07.14.17 | 11:20 am

Uber’s Southeast Asia rival Grab gets a big cash infusion

Singapore-based Grab, a taxi startup giving Uber a run for its money in Southeast Asia, is raising as much as $2 billion, reports the Wall Street Journal. The cash infusion comes from both SoftBank and Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing company that ultimately beat Uber in China. Citing unnamed sources, the Journal says the deal may close next week and could value the company at something north of $5 billion. This could end up being another headache for Uber, which is trying to actively expand while facing increased scrutiny, working to rebuilt its company culture, and finding a new CEO. Yesterday, Uber said that it was merging its Russia operations with Russia-based Yandex rather than compete separately as the two companies had been doing. 

[Photo: Grab]

07.13.17 | 6:17 am

Uber and Yandex are merging their ride-hailing businesses in Russia

The two ride-hailing companies will form a new company called, appropriately, "NewCo" in Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, and Georgia, the companies announced in a press release. NewCo will combine the regional search, maps, and navigation strengths of Yandex with the operational ability and scale of Uber. As part of the deal, Uber will invest $225 million in Yandex, and Yandex will invest $100 million in NewCo, with Uber owning 36.6% of the new company, estimated to be valued at $3.7 billion. In a statement, Tigran Khudaverdyan, CEO of Yandex, said:

"This combination greatly enhances Yandex's ability to offer better-quality service to our riders and drivers, to quickly expand our services to new regions, and to build a sustainable business. The combined companies currently perform over 35 million rides a month while growing over 400% year-over-year. Since founding Yandex. Taxi in 2011, we have connected tens of millions of riders and drivers to become the largest and most trusted ride-sharing business in Russia and neighboring countries. We are excited to expand on this foundation in collaboration with Uber."

07.06.17 | 4:00 pm

Now you can use Lyft to donate to the ACLU

Earlier this year, after President Trump unveiled his controversial travel ban, Lyft said it would donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). (This could be considered a great example of the company showing that it is definitely not Uber.) Now Lyft is offering a way for its customers to also donate to the ACLU. With its Round Up & Donate function, Lyft made it possible for riders to round up their bill and donate the difference to organizations like the USO and the Human Rights Campaign. Today, the ACLU is being added to the roster of charities to which riders can donate. The ACLU could certainly use the funds, given how busy it's been in the Trump era. For more on what it's been up to, check out our May feature story here.

07.06.17 | 6:41 am

Uber is pulling a large part of its service out of Finland . . . for now

The company is suspending its UberPop service in the nation's capital, reports the Guardian. UberPop allows anyone to sign up to offer unlicensed taxi trips. However, current regulations make it illegal for anyone to operate a taxi service without a valid taxi permit. Those permits currently require drivers to meet annual quotas—something hard to do if you're only an Uber driver in your spare time. However, in 2018 Finnish law will change, allowing drivers to obtain permits without the need to meet quotas. Once that happens, Uber says UberPop will relaunch in Finland in the summer of 2018.

07.05.17 | 5:50 am

Lyft is closing the gap against Uber in app downloads

In the first five months of this year, the Uber app was downloaded 70% more often than Lyft, according to data from app analytic company App Annie, reports Recode. While that may seem like good news for Uber, it isn't. That's because Uber had a 165% lead in downloads against Lyft in 2016 and a 255% lead in downloads in 2015. More bad news for Uber: The average rating of its app this year is only 1.8 out of 5. The average rating for Lyft's app is 4.4 out of 5.

06.29.17 | 5:07 pm

Uber is exploring the idea of giving equity to drivers

The ride-hailing giant has met with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) multiple times to discuss the issue of giving equity to drivers, reports Dan Primack at Axios. The conflict, of course, is that Uber's drivers are contractors, not employees, and the SEC doesn't currently allow for such an arrangement. 

Competitor Juno used to offer drivers equity when it first launched, but killed its restricted stock unit program after being acquired by Gett. If Uber offers stock to drivers, it could greatly help rebuild its relationship with drivers. Juno's stock program and better commissions helped the company accrue 20,000 drivers over roughly a year of service. 

06.28.17 | 5:59 am

Uber now lets you book rides for loved ones

The ride-sharing app now allows users to request rides for other people, such as elderly parents, by setting their pickup and drop-off points. Once you've selected who the ride is for, Uber will text them with the information so they know when the ride is on its way and has shown up. Your loved one will also be texted the phone number of the driver so they can call them if they wish. In a blog post, Uber says they unveiled the new feature to address mobility challenges of an aging population:

Seniors are concerned about losing their mobility as they age, and their loved ones can feel overwhelmed when managing the senior's transportation needs. Furthermore, today nearly 10% of the global population consists of people aged 65 and over, and that number is only expected to increase. Keeping these insights top of mind, we've been thinking about ways to make our app more accessible to everyone in the family.

[Image: Uber]

06.22.17 | 1:21 pm

Baby come back: Uber employees are passing around a petition to keep Travis Kalanick

Some employees want to bring back ousted CEO Travis Kalanick. An email is reportedly circulating among Uber staff, asking them to sign a petition calling for Kalanick's return. According to Axios, more than 1,000 current employees have signed. It appears there is a disconnect between employees who see Kalanick as an important driver of Uber's business and the board members who feel he has become a liability. The internal turmoil over how to revamp Uber's corporate culture and goals indicates a long and difficult road ahead for the ride-hailing company as it attempts to refashion its image. 

06.21.17 | 1:36 am

Travis Kalanick is no longer Uber’s CEO

The New York Times reports that Travis Kalanick has stepped down from his role as CEO of Uber. The Times reports that the Uber founder's resignation came after big-league investors sent him a letter demanding he step down.

Read the full story at the Times

06.20.17 | 2:22 pm

Scandal-ridden Uber finally adds tipping for drivers

It took a little nudging, but Uber is ready to make nice with drivers. On Monday the company announced 180 days of improvements and started it off by adding tipping for drivers in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Houston. Uber will roll out tipping to all cities by the end of July. It will also give drivers fees for rides that have canceled more than two minutes after being placed (down from five), access to injury protection insurance, less unpaid wait time, and more money for teen fares. The changes come as Uber is vying to retain its fleet of contingent drivers and overhaul its internal corporate culture after a slew of scandals. 

06.15.17 | 2:04 pm

Rape victim is suing Uber over alleged handling of her medical records

In a scathing complaint, a woman raped by an Uber driver in India says the company violated her right to privacy and defamed her. The lawsuit, which names CEO Travis Kalanick, former SVP of business Emil Michael, and former head of business in Asia Eric Alexander, alleges that Alexander went to the New Delhi police to obtain a private medical record of the victim following her rape. Alexander then used the document to support his idea that the victim had colluded with one of Uber's main competitors in order to create a false rape claim, according to the complaint. The suit comes as an investigation into Uber's corporate culture is prompting a number of changes at the company. Last week reports surfaced that Alexander had allegedly been carrying around the victim's medical record for months. Alexander has since been dismissed.