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A brief history of Uber’s bumpy road to an IPO

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Alphabet, Anthony Levandowski, Arizona, California, carsharing, Colorado, Commuting, driver, Emil Michael, equal employment opportunity commission, executive, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission, Google, Lyft, pandodaily, Sarah Lacy, self-driving car, TC, transport, Travis Kalanick, Uber, Uber Startup, waymo | 0 comments

It’s been nine years since UberCab made its first appearance on the WordPress pages of this website. In the ensuing years, the startup has grown from an upstart looking to upend the taxi cab cartels, to a juggernaut that has its hands in every form of transportation and logistics service it can think of.

In the process, Uber has done some things that might give (and in fact has given) some shareholders pause.

From its first pitch deck to this historic public offering, TechCrunch has covered the über startup that has defined the post-financial-crisis era of consumer venture investing.

Here are some of the things that shouldn’t get swept into the dustbin of Uber’s history as the company makes its debut as a public company.

  • In 2014 Uber used a tool called “God View” to track the movements of passengers and shared those details publicly.At the time, the company was worth a cool $18.2 billion, and was already on the road to success (an almost pre-ordained journey given the company’s investors and capitalization), but even then, it could not get out of the way of its darker impulses.
  • A former executive of the company, Emil Michael, suggested that Uber should investigate journalists who were critical of the company and its business practices (including PandoDaily editor Sarah Lacy).
  • As it expanded internationally, Uber came under fire for lax hiring practices for its drivers. In India, the company was banned in New Delhi, after a convicted sex offender was arrested on suspicion of raping a female passenger.
  • Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission opened an investigation into the company for gender discrimination around hiring and salaries for women at the company. Uber’s problems with harassment were famously documented by former employee Susan Fowler in a blog post that helped spur a reckoning for the tech sector.
  • Uber has been forced to pay fines for its inability to keep passenger and driver information private. The company has agreed to 20 years of privacy audits and has paid a fine to settle a case that was opened by the Federal Trade Commission dating back to 2017.
  • While Uber was not found to be criminally liable in the death of an Arizona pedestrian that was struck and killed by a self-driving car from the company’s fleet, it remains the only company with an autonomous vehicle involved in the death of a pedestrian.
  • Beyond its problems with federal regulators, Uber has also had problems adhering to local laws. In Colorado, Uber was fined nearly $10 million for not adhering to the state’s requirements regarding background checks of its drivers.
  • Uber was also sued by other companies. Notably, it was involved in a lengthy and messy trade secret dispute with Alphabet’s onetime self-driving car unit, Waymo. That was for picking up former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski and some know-how that the former Alphabet exec allegedly acquired improperly before heading out the door.
  • Uber even had dueling lawsuits going between and among its executives and major shareholders. When Travis Kalanick was ousted by the Uber board, the decision reverberated through its boardroom. As part of that battle for control, Benchmark, an early investor in Uber sued the company’s founder and former chief executive,  Travis Kalanick for fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Uber’s chief people officer, Liane Hornsey was forced to resign following a previously unreported investigation into her alleged systematic dismissals of racial discrimination complaints within Uber.
  • Lawsuits against the company not only dealt with its treatment of gender and race issues, but also for accessibility problems with the ride-hailing service. The company was sued for allegedly violating Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Disabled Persons Act.
  • The ride-hailing service also isn’t free from legal woes in international markets. Earlier this year, the company paid around $3 million to settle charges that Uber had violated local laws by operating in the country illegally.
  • Finally, the company’s lax driver screening policies have led to multiple reports of assault by drivers of Uber passengers. Uber recently ended the policy of forcing those women to engage in mandatory arbitration proceedings to adjudicate those claims.
  • Not even the drivers who form the core of Uber’s service are happy with the company. On the eve of its public offering, a strike in cities across the country brought their complaints squarely in front of the company’s executive team right before the public offering, which was set to make them millions.

Source: The Tech Crunch

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Without federal help, local governments are trying to save coal

Posted by on Mar 12, 2019 in Arizona, Coal, electricity, Energy, Policy, Science, wyoming | 0 comments

Coal truck at a mine.

Enlarge / A truck loaded with coal is viewed at the Eagle Butte Coal Mine, which is operated by Alpha Coal, on Monday May 08, 2017 in Gillette, Wyoming. (credit: Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

As the Trump administration’s attempts to save coal have stalled, a record number of coal plants were shut down or scheduled for shut down in 2018.

The federal government has floated extra compensation for coal and nuclear plants, it has tried to use federal wartime powers to mandate that coal plants stay open, and it has rolled back the Clean Power Plan in the hopes that fewer regulations would help coal power plants stay solvent. Still, though, coal plants close and threaten to close largely because coal is more expensive than natural gas and renewable energy, and it’s more cost-effective for utilities and energy companies to retire old plants than to refurbish them.

The federal government is still working to boost coal. In yesterday’s budget proposal, the Trump administration proposed extensive cuts to a variety of renewable and efficiency programs run by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, but it said it wanted to increase the Bureau of Land Management’s coal management program funding by $7.89 million. In addition, the Office of Fossil Energy Research and Development saw a proposed increase in funds by $60 million.

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Source: Ars Technica

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Ohio becomes the first state to accept bitcoin for tax payments

Posted by on Nov 25, 2018 in Arizona, Bitcoin, bitpay, blockchain, Cleveland, Columbus, cryptocurrencies, digital currencies, Drive Capital, economy, Finance, illinois, money, Netherlands, Ohio, the wall street journal, venture capital funds | 0 comments

Starting Monday, businesses in Ohio will be able to pay their taxes in bitcoin — making the state that’s high in the middle and round on both ends the first in the nation to accept cryptocurrency officially.

Companies who want to take part in the program simply need to go to and register to pay whatever taxes their corporate hearts desire in crypto. It could be anything from cigarette sales taxes to employee withholding taxes, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, which first noted the initiative.

The brain child of current Ohio state treasurer, Josh Mandel, the bitcoin program is intended to be a signal of the state’s broader ambitions to remake itself in a more tech-friendly image.

Already, Ohio has something of a technology hub forming in Columbus, Ohio, home to one of the largest venture capital funds in the midwest, Drive Capital . And Cleveland (the city once called “the mistake on the lake”) is trying to remake itself in cryptocurrency’s image with a new drive to rebrand the city as “Blockland”.

Whether anyone will look to take advantage of Ohio’s newfound embrace of digital currencies is debatable.

The cryptocurrency market is currently in the kind of free-fall (or collapse, or implosion, or conflagration, or all-consuming dumpster fire) that’s usually reserved for tulips in Holland in February 1637.

Other states around the country in the southeast, southwest and midwest also considered accepting bitcoin for taxes, but those initiatives in places like Arizona, Georgia, and Illinois never got past state legislatures.

The state is working with the cryptocurrency payment startup BitPay to handle its payments, which will convert the bitcoin to dollars.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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McCain Family Mourns in Arizona

Posted by on Aug 29, 2018 in Arizona, Cindy McCain, Funerals and Memorials, McCain, John, McCain, Meghan | 0 comments

Senator John S. McCain’s wife, Cindy, and his daughter, Meghan, paid their respects at a ceremony in the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix.
Source: New York Times

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Another Strong Night for Democrats

Posted by on Aug 29, 2018 in Arizona, Democratic Party, Elections, Governors, Elections, House of Representatives, Florida, Gillum, Andrew, Midterm Elections (2018), Primaries and Caucuses, Trump, Donald J, United States Politics and Government | 0 comments

Primary season is almost over. It’s been a good one for people who want to hold Trump accountable.
Source: New York Times

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4 Takeaways from Tuesday’s Primaries

Posted by on Aug 29, 2018 in Arizona, Democratic Party, DeSantis, Ron, Elections, Governors, Elections, Senate, Florida, Gillum, Andrew, Governors (US), Graham, Gwen, McSally, Martha, Midterm Elections (2018), Oklahoma, Politics and Government, Primaries and Caucuses, Republican Party | 0 comments

Races for governor have often yielded centrist candidates. Voters in Florida, Oklahoma and Arizona chose a different route. And women, once again, made a strong showing in House races.
Source: New York Times

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A Black Progressive and a Trump Acolyte Win Florida Governor Primaries

Posted by on Aug 29, 2018 in Arizona, Arpaio, Joseph M, DeSantis, Ron, Florida, McSally, Martha, Midterm Elections (2018), Trump, Donald J, Ward, Kelli (1969- ) | 0 comments

With Mr. Gillum’s upset victory, the governor’s race will feature two young, hard-charging politicians who represent the beating heart of their parties.
Source: New York Times

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Editorial Observer: Well, at Least Sheriff Joe Isn’t Going to Congress

Posted by on Aug 29, 2018 in Arizona, Arpaio, Joseph M, Illegal Immigration, Immigration and Emigration, Maricopa County (Ariz), Trump, Donald J, United States Politics and Government | 0 comments

Arpaio’s loss in Arizona’s Senate Republican primary is a fitting end to the public life of a truly sadistic man.
Source: New York Times

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‘As a Democrat in Arizona, I Voted for McCain’

Posted by on Aug 28, 2018 in Arizona, Brain Cancer, Elections, Senate, McCain, John, Presidential Election of 2008, Republican Party, Senate, United States, United States Politics and Government | 0 comments

Readers who reached across party lines to vote for Senator John McCain during his Senate and presidential runs pay tribute to him.
Source: New York Times

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Arizona Governor Faces a Tough Choice: A Senator Cut From McCain’s Mold or Trump’s

Posted by on Aug 26, 2018 in Appointments and Executive Changes, Arizona, McCain, John, Midterm Elections (2018), Republican Party, Trump, Donald J, United States Politics and Government | 0 comments

The vacant Senate seat of the late John McCain has exposed the rift between his followers and the party’s Trumpian base.
Source: New York Times

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