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VW Will Make Its Own Batteries to Power an Electric Future

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Transportation, Transportation / Electric Cars | 0 comments

The German automaker plans 70 electric models by 2028. So it’s building a gigafactory to ensure it has enough batteries.
Source: Wired

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Tesla issues battery software update after Hong Kong vehicle fire

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Automotive, Cars, electric vehicles, lithium-ion battery, Tesla Model S, Transportation | 0 comments

Tesla has started pushing out a software update that will change battery charge and thermal management settings in Model S sedans and Model X SUVs following a fire in a parked vehicle in Hong Kong earlier this week.

The software update, which Tesla says is being done out of “an abundance of caution,” is supposed to “protect the battery and improve its longevity.” The over-the-air software update will not be made to Model 3 vehicles.

Tesla has not yet identified the cause of the fire or found any issues with the battery pack. But the company said it will act if it discovers a problem.

“The safety of our customers is our top priority, and if we do identify an issue, we will do whatever is necessary to address it,” Tesla said in a statement.

Here is the company’s statement in its entirety on the software update:

We currently have well over half a million vehicles on the road, which is more than double the number that we had at the beginning of last year, and Tesla’s team of battery experts uses that data to thoroughly investigate incidents that occur and understand the root cause. Although fire incidents involving Tesla vehicles are already extremely rare and our cars are 10 times less likely to experience a fire than a gas car, we believe the right number of incidents to aspire to is zero.

As we continue our investigation of the root cause, out of an abundance of caution, we are revising charge and thermal management settings on Model S and Model X vehicles via an over-the-air software update that will begin rolling out today, to help further protect the battery and improve battery longevity.

A Tesla Model S caught fire March 14 while parked near a Hong Kong shopping mall. The vehicle was sitting for about a half an hour before it burst into flames. Three explosions were seen on CCTV footage, Reuters and the Apple Daily newspaper reported at the time.

“Tesla was onsite to offer support to our customer and establish the facts of this incident,” a Tesla spokesperson said. The investigation is ongoing.

Only a few battery modules were affected on the Model S that caught fire, and the majority of the battery pack is undamaged, according to Tesla.

The company noted that the battery packs are designed so that if “in the very rare instance” a fire does occur, it will spread slowly and vent heat away from the cabin. The aim is to give occupants time to exit the vehicle.

The Hong Kong fire followed video footage posted in April that appears to show a Tesla Model S smoking and then exploding while parked in a garage in Shanghai.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Demo your tech onstage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2019

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Alisyn Malek, California, Events, General Motors, LinkedIn, Populus.ai, Regina Clewlow, san jose, Smithsonian, stanford, TC, TC Sessions: Mobility 2019, Transportation, uc-berkeley | 0 comments

Moving anything or anyone from point A to point B will never be the same, thanks to the rapid evolution taking place in mobility technology. And if you’re ready to demo your mobile-focused early-stage startup tech to this community’s top influencers, there’s no better place to do it than onstage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2019.

More than 1,000 of mobility’s top tech makers, founders, investors, engineers and researchers and will descend on San Jose, Calif. on July 10 to learn, teach, share and connect. This is your chance to show the community what you’ve got — submit your application to demo today.

We’re preparing a day-long intensive event that features world-class speakers, interviews, panel discussions, workshops, demos and, of course, networking. We’re not kidding around when we say world-class. Here are just two of the incredible speakers that will step onstage to share their vision, their journey and the lessons they learned along the way:

  • Alisyn Malek, COO and co-founder of May Mobility, an autonomous vehicle company, comes with serious bona fides. The former head of the innovation pipeline at General Motors, Malek also spent time as an investment manager at GM Ventures. Among other notable achievements, she’s been recognized as a top 10 female innovator to watch by Smithsonian in 2018 and named a top automotive professional under 35 to watch by LinkedIn in 2015.
  • Regina Clewlow is the CEO and co-founder of Populus AI, a data platform that helps cities manage the future of mobility. She brings more than a decade of transportation experience, during which she served as a research scientist and lecturer at Stanford, UC Berkeley and UC Davis. Before founding Populus, Clewlow was the director of business development and strategy at RideScout, and she was named a 40 Under 40 by Mass Transit magazine and the San Francisco Business Times.

TC Sessions: Mobility 2019 focuses on one of the most exciting and rapidly evolving tech categories on the planet, and this is your opportunity to place your early-stage startup smack dab in front of the people with the potential to take you and your business to the next level. Apply to demo your tech and join us onstage on July 10 in San Jose, Calif.

Startup Demo packages are also on sale. Demo packages include three (3) tickets and a table space in the exhibition hall for just $1,575. Book your Startup Demo Package here.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Mobility? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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India’s most popular services are becoming super apps

Posted by on May 11, 2019 in Apps, Asia, China, Cloud, Developer, Facebook, Finance, Flipkart, Food, Foodpanda, Gaana, Gaming, grab, haptik, hike, India, MakeMyTrip, Media, Microsoft, microsoft garage, Mobile, Mukesh Ambani, mx player, payments, Paytm, paytm mall, reliance jio, saavn, SnapDeal, Social, Startups, Tapzo, Tencent, Times Internet, Transportation, Truecaller, Uber, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, WeChat | 0 comments

Truecaller, an app that helps users screen strangers and robocallers, will soon allow users in India, its largest market, to borrow up to a few hundred dollars.

The crediting option will be the fourth feature the nine-year-old app adds to its service in the last two years. So far it has added to the service the ability to text, record phone calls and mobile payment features, some of which are only available to users in India. Of the 140 million daily active users of Truecaller, 100 million live in India.

The story of the ever-growing ambition of Truecaller illustrates an interesting phase in India’s internet market that is seeing a number of companies mold their single-functioning app into multi-functioning so-called super apps.

Inspired by China

This may sound familiar. Truecaller and others are trying to replicate Tencent’s playbook. The Chinese tech giant’s WeChat, an app that began life as a messaging service, has become a one-stop solution for a range of features — gaming, payments, social commerce and publishing platform — in recent years.

WeChat has become such a dominant player in the Chinese internet ecosystem that it is effectively serving as an operating system and getting away with it. The service maintains its own app store that hosts mini apps and lets users tip authors. This has put it at odds with Apple, though the iPhone-maker has little choice but to make peace with it.

For all its dominance in China, WeChat has struggled to gain traction in India and elsewhere. But its model today is prominently on display in other markets. Grab and Go-Jek in Southeast Asian markets are best known for their ride-hailing services, but have begun to offer a range of other features, including food delivery, entertainment, digital payments, financial services and healthcare.

The proliferation of low-cost smartphones and mobile data in India, thanks in part to Google and Facebook, has helped tens of millions of Indians come online in recent years, with mobile the dominant platform. The number of internet users has already exceeded 500 million in India, up from some 350 million in mid-2015. According to some estimates, India may have north of 625 million users by year-end.

This has fueled the global image of India, which is both the fastest growing internet and smartphone market. Naturally, local apps in India, and those from international firms that operate here, are beginning to replicate WeChat’s model.

Founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Paytm Vijay Shekhar Sharma speaks during the launch of Paytm payments Bank at a function in New Delhi on November 28, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / SAJJAD HUSSAIN)

Leading that pack is Paytm, the popular homegrown mobile wallet service that’s valued at $18 billion and has been heavily backed by Alibaba, the e-commerce giant that rivals Tencent and crucially missed the mobile messaging wave in China.

Commanding attention

In recent years, the Paytm app has taken a leaf from China with additions that include the ability to text merchants; book movie, flight and train tickets; and buy shoes, books and just about anything from its e-commerce arm Paytm Mall . It also has added a number of mini games to the app. The company said earlier this month that more than 30 million users are engaging with its games.

Why bother with diversifying your app’s offering? Well, for Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder and CEO of Paytm, the question is why shouldn’t you? If your app serves a certain number of transactions (or engagements) in a day, you have a good shot at disrupting many businesses that generate fewer transactions, he told TechCrunch in an interview.

At the end of the day, companies want to garner as much attention of a user as they can, said Jayanth Kolla, founder and partner of research and advisory firm Convergence Catalyst.

“This is similar to how cable networks such as Fox and Star have built various channels with a wide range of programming to create enough hooks for users to stick around,” Kolla said.

“The agenda for these apps is to hold people’s attention and monopolize a user’s activities on their mobile devices,” he added, explaining that higher engagement in an app translates to higher revenue from advertising.

Paytm’s Sharma agrees. “Payment is the moat. You can offer a range of things including content, entertainment, lifestyle, commerce and financial services around it,” he told TechCrunch. “Now that’s a business model… payment itself can’t make you money.”

Big companies follow suit

Other businesses have taken note. Flipkart -owned payment app PhonePe, which claims to have 150 million active users, today hosts a number of mini apps. Some of those include services for ride-hailing service Ola, hotel booking service Oyo and travel booking service MakeMyTrip.

Paytm (the first two images from left) and PhonePe offer a range of services that are integrated into their payments apps

What works for PhonePe is that its core business — payments — has amassed enough users, Himanshu Gupta, former associate director of marketing and growth for WeChat in India, told TechCrunch. He added that unlike e-commerce giant Snapdeal, which attempted to offer similar offerings back in the day, PhonePe has tighter integration with other services, and is built using modern architecture that gives users almost native app experiences inside mini apps.

When you talk about strategy for Flipkart, the homegrown e-commerce giant acquired by Walmart last year for a cool $16 billion, chances are arch rival Amazon is also hatching similar plans, and that’s indeed the case for super apps.

In India, Amazon offers its customers a range of payment features such as the ability to pay phone bills and cable subscription through its Amazon Pay service. The company last year acquired Indian startup Tapzo, an app that offers integration with popular services such as Uber, Ola, Swiggy and Zomato, to boost Pay’s business in the nation.

Another U.S. giant, Microsoft, is also aboard the super train. The Redmond-based company has added a slew of new features to SMS Organizer, an app born out of its Microsoft Garage initiative in India. What began as a texting app that can screen spam messages and help users keep track of important SMSs recently partnered with education board CBSE in India to deliver exam results of 10th and 12th grade students.

This year, the SMS Organizer app added an option to track live train schedules through a partnership with Indian Railways, and there’s support for speech-to-text. It also offers personalized discount coupons from a range of companies, giving users an incentive to check the app more often.

Like in other markets, Google and Facebook hold a dominant position in India. More than 95% of smartphones sold in India run the Android operating system. There is no viable local — or otherwise — alternative to Search, Gmail and YouTube, which counts India as its fastest growing market. But Google hasn’t necessarily made any push to significantly expand the scope of any of its offerings in India.

India is the biggest market for WhatsApp, and Facebook’s marquee app too has more than 250 million users in the nation. WhatsApp launched a pilot payments program in India in early 2018, but is yet to get clearance from the government for a nationwide rollout. (It isn’t happening for at least another two months, a person familiar with the matter said.) In the meanwhile, Facebook appears to be hatching a WeChatization of Messenger, albeit that app is not so big in India.

Ride-hailing service Ola too, like Grab and Go-Jek, plans to add financial services such as credit to the platform this year, a source familiar with the company’s plans told TechCrunch.

“We have an abundance of data about our users. We know how much money they spend on rides, how often they frequent the city and how often they order from restaurants. It makes perfect sense to give them these valued-added features,” the person said. Ola has already branched out of transport after it acquired food delivery startup Foodpanda in late 2017, but it hasn’t yet made major waves in financial services despite giving its Ola Money service its own dedicated app.

The company positioned Ola Money as a super app, expanded its features through acquisition and tie ups with other players and offered discounts and cashbacks. But it remains behind Paytm, PhonePe and Google Pay, all of which are also offering discounts to customers.

Integrated entertainment

Super apps indeed come in all shapes and sizes, beyond core services like payment and transportation — the strategy is showing up in apps and services that entertain India’s internet population.

MX Player, a video playback app with more than 175 million users in India that was acquired by Times Internet for some $140 million last year, has big ambitions. Last year, it introduced a video streaming service to bolster its app to grow beyond merely being a repository. It has already commissioned the production of several original shows.

In recent months, it has also integrated Gaana, the largest local music streaming app that is also owned by Times Internet. Now its parent company, which rivals Google and Facebook on some fronts, is planning to add mini games to MX Player, a person familiar with the matter said, to give it additional reach and appeal.

Some of these apps, especially those that have amassed tens of millions of users, have a real shot at diversifying their offerings, analyst Kolla said. There is a bar of entry, though. A huge user base that engages with a product on a daily basis is a must for any company if it is to explore chasing the super app status, he added.

Indeed, there are examples of companies that had the vision to see the benefits of super apps but simply couldn’t muster the requisite user base. As mentioned, Snapdeal tried and failed at expanding its app’s offerings. Messaging service Hike, which was valued at more than $1 billion two years ago and includes WeChat parent Tencent among its investors, added games and other features to its app, but ultimately saw poor engagement. Its new strategy is the reverse: to break its app into multiple pieces.

“In 2019, we continue to double down on both social and content but we’re going to do it with an evolved approach. We’re going to do it across multiple apps. That means, in 2019 we’re going to go from building a super app that encompasses everything, to Multiple Apps solving one thing really well. Yes, we’re unbundling Hike,” Kavin Mittal, founder and CEO of Hike, wrote in an update published earlier this year.

And Reliance Jio, of course

For the rest, the race is still on, but there are big horses waiting to enter to add further competition.

Reliance Jio, a subsidiary of conglomerate Reliance Industry that is owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is planning to introduce a super app that will host more than 100 features, according to a person familiar with the matter. Local media first reported the development.

It will be fascinating to see how that works out. Reliance Jio, which almost single-handedly disrupted the telecom industry in India with its low-cost data plans and free voice calls, has amassed tens of millions of users on the bouquet of apps that it offers at no additional cost to Jio subscribers.

Beyond that diverse selection of homespun apps, Reliance has also taken an M&A-based approach to assemble the pieces of its super app strategy.

It bought music streaming service Saavn last year and quickly integrated it with its own music app JioMusic. Last month, it acquired Haptik, a startup that develops “conversational” platforms and virtual assistants, in a deal worth more than $100 million. It already has the user bases required. JioTV, an app that offers access to over 500 TV channels; and JioNews, an app that additionally offers hundreds of magazines and newspapers, routinely appear among the top apps in Google Play Store.

India’s super app revolution is in its early days, but the trend is surely one to keep an eye on as the country moves into its next chapter of internet usage.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Virgin Galactic is ‘coming home’ to Spaceport America in New Mexico

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in richard branson, sir richard branson, Space, TC, Transportation, Virgin Galactic | 0 comments

Aspiring space tourism outfit Virgin Galactic has just announced its readiness to shift its operations to New Mexico’s Spaceport America, from which the company’s first commercial flights will take off. “Virgin Galactic is coming home to New Mexico where together we will open space to change the world for good,” said Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson at a press event.

The plan isn’t exactly a surprise, since Virgin Galactic and New Mexico collaborated on the creation of the spaceport, which at present is the only thing of its kind in the world. But moving from a testing and R&D hangar to a place where actual customers will board the spaceships is a major milestone.

I talked with George Whitesides, VG’s CEO, about what the move really means and, of course, when it will actually happen.

“We’re fulfilling the commitment that we made years ago to bring an operational spaceline to the world’s first purpose-built spaceport,” he told me. “So what does that mean? One, the vehicles are moving, and all the stuff that goes along with operating those vehicles. And all the people that operate the vehicles, and the staff that are so-called customer-facing. And you’ll have all the relevant supply chain folks and core infrastructure folks who are associated with running a spaceline.”

Right now, that rather complicated list really only adds up to about a hundred employees — a large part of the workforce will remain in Mojave, where R&D and new vehicle engineering will continue to be based in the form of The Spaceship Company.

“As we move towards commercial services, we’re thinking more about what comes next, like hypersonic and point to point spaceflight,” Whitesides said.

That said, VG isn’t finished with its existing craft just yet. You can expect a couple more, depending on what the engineers think is necessary. But it’s not a “huge number.”

Moving to Spaceport America from its Mojave facilities is being undertaken now for several reasons, Whitesides explained. In the first place, the craft is pretty much ready to go.

“The last flight we did, we basically demonstrated a full commercial profile, including the interior of the vehicle,” he said. “Not only did we, you know, go up to space and come down, but because Beth was in the back — Beth Moses, our flight instructor — she was sort of our mock passenger. She got up a couple times and moved around, she was able to verify our cabin conditions. So we started thinking, maybe we’re at a place where we could move.”

The paperwork from the FAA and other authorities is in order. The spaceport has been ready for some time, too, at least the difficult parts like the runway, fuel infrastructure, communications equipment and so on. Right now it’s more like they need to pick the color for the carpet and buy the flatscreens and fridges for inside.

“But the people perspective is a key part of this,” Whitesides continued. “These people have families, they have kids. We always thought, wouldn’t it be nice to move over the summer, so they don’t have to leave in the middle of a school year? If we start now, our employees can more easily integrate into the community in New Mexico. So we said, actually let’s just do this right now. It’s a bold choice and a big deal but it’s the right thing to do.”

And what about the vehicles, VMS Eve and VSS Unity? How will they get there?

“That’s the great thing about an air launch system,” said Whitesides. “It’s the easiest part, in a way. Once all the other stuff is down there we’ll look deep into each other’s eyes, and say ‘are we ready?’ And then we put together the spaceship and go. It’s built to fly longer distances than that — so we’ll start the day with our base of operations in Mojave, and end the day with our base of operations in New Mexico.”

And a lovely base it will be. The spaceport, designed by Foster & Partners in the U.K., is a striking shape that rises out of the desert and should have all the facilities necessary to run a commercial spaceline — it’s probably the only place in the world that would work for that purpose, which makes sense as it was built for it.

“Because we’re horizontal take-off and landing, operationally on the ground side, it basically looks like an airport. The coolest-looking airport ever, but an airport,” Whitesides said. “It’s got a big beautiful runway — but you’ll notice that it’s got Earth to space comms links, this special antenna, and instead of a tower we have a mission control, and of course there’s the special ground tankage — oxidizer tanks and that kind of propulsion related infrastructure.”

The airspace surrounding the spaceport is also restricted all the way from the surface up to infinity, which helps when your flights span multiple air traffic levels. “And it’s already a mile up, so that’s an asset,” Whitesides observed. A mile closer to space — more a convenience than a necessity, but it’s a good start.

The actual moving operations should take place over the summer. The remaining test flights aren’t yet scheduled, but I’m sure that will soon change — and you’ll definitely hear about it when the first commercial flights are put on the books.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Uber’s first day as a public company didn’t go so well

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in carsharing, Commuting, economy, Finance, Fundings & Exits, initial public offering, money, Transportation, Uber, Uber IPO, Venture Capital | 0 comments

Ouch. Yikes. Oof. Sigh.

Those are some of the friendlier phrases I imagine came out of the mouths of bankers, investors, executives and really anyone who has been paying close attention to Uber’s road to the stock markets today when the company debuted on the New York Stock Exchange below its initial public offering price.

The ride-hailing business (NYSE: UBER), previously valued at $72 billion by venture capitalists, priced its stock at $45 apiece for a valuation of $82.4 billion on Thursday. It began trading this morning at $42 apiece, only to close even lower at $41.57, or down 7.6% from its IPO price.

Still, the IPO was successful enough for Uber. The business now has $8.1 billion on its balance sheet to invest in growth and, ideally, transform into a profitable business.

Anyone who expected Uber to climb past $100 billion at its IPO is surely disappointed. And those who projected a valuation of some $120 billion, well, they’re probably feeling pretty dumb. Nonetheless, Uber’s new market cap makes its exit one of the most valuable in history, and represents a landmark event for tech, mobility and the gig economy at large.

Where the stock will go from here, who knows. Lyft, as we’ve observed, has taken quite a hit since it completed an IPO in March. The Uber competitor is currently trading at a higher price than Uber: $51 per share with a market cap of about $14.6 billion. Its stock has fallen all week long, however, after the company posted losses of more than $1 billion in the first quarter of 2019.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Uber’s trading debut: who was (and wasn’t) at the opening bell

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Apps, Automotive, carsharing, Dara Khosrowshahi, Exit, Expedia, Garrett Camp, Rachel Holt, Startups, thuan pham, Transportation, Travis Kalanick, Uber, Uber IPO, vmware | 0 comments

Uber finally made its debut Friday on the New York Stock Exchange, ending its decade-long journey from startup to publicly traded company.

So far, it’s been a ho-hum beginning, with shares opening at $42, down from the IPO price. The share price is hovering just under $44.

Thirteen people, including executives, early employees, drivers and customers, were on the balcony for the historic bell ringing that opened the markets Friday. Noticeable absentees were co-founder Garrett Camp and former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick, who was ousted from the company in June 2017 after a string of scandals around Uber’s business practices.

Kalanick, who still sits on the board and has an 8.6% stake in Uber, wasn’t part of the opening bell ceremony. However, Kalanick and Camp were both at the NYSE for the event.

Here is who participated in the opening bell ceremony.

The bell ringer

Austin Geidt, who rang the bell, was employee No. 4 when she started as an intern in 2010, and is one of Uber’s earliest employees.

Geidt joined Uber in 2010 and has since worked in numerous positions at the company. She led Uber’s expansion in hundreds of new cities and dozens of new countries. Geidt now heads up strategy for Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, the unit working on autonomous vehicles.

Executives

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi stood next to Geidt at the opening of the market Friday. Khosrowshahi joined Uber in 2017 after Kalanick resigned and the board launched an extensive search for an executive who could change the culture at the company and prepare it for an eventual IPO.

Khosrowshahi was the CEO of Expedia before joining Uber. Khosrowshahi gave a one-year update on his time at Uber during TechCrunch Disrupt in September 2018.

Uber CTO Thuan Pham has been with the company since 2013. Prior to coming to Uber, Pham was vice president of engineering at VMware.

Rachel Holt, vice president and head of New Mobility, was also on hand. Holt has worked at Uber since October 2011, when the company was live in just three cities. In May 2016, she became VP and regional general manager of Uber’s operations in the U.S. and Canada.

She was promoted to head up new mobility in June 2018. She’s responsible for the ramp-up and onboarding of additional mobility services, including public transit integration, scooters, car rentals and bikes.

Rachel Holt (Getty Images)

Other executives included Pierre-Dimitry Gore-Coty and Andrew MacDonald, both vice presidents and regional general managers at Uber, as well as Jason Droege, a vice president who heads up Uber Eats.

Droege, who joined Uber in 2014, has the official title of head of UberEverything. This is the team that created the food delivery service Uber Eats, which now operates in 35 countries.

Drivers

Uber had five drivers on hand for the opening bell, who represented different services and geographies.

Among the drivers were:

  • Jerry Bruner, a Los Angeles-based driver who is a military veteran and former professional golfer. Bruner has completed more than 30,000 Uber trips.
  • Tiffany Hanna, a military veteran, is based out of Springfield, Missouri. Hanna is a truck driver who uses the Uber Freight carrier app. 
  • Jonelle Bain, a New York-based driver. Uber, which shared the bios of the drivers, said Bain is taking coding classes and plans to become a software engineer.
  • Onur Kerey is a driver based out of London. Kerey is deaf. According to his bio, “He doesn’t let his disability get in the way of his passion for driving or connecting with others.”
  • J. Alexander Palacio Sanchez is based in Australia and has been driving with Uber since 2015. His true passion is acting, according to Uber, and at the urging of his riders, he auditioned for the role of Kevin in “The Heights” — and landed it.

Customers

One customer, Elise Wu, also participated in the opening bell. Wu owns Kampai, a family of restaurants in France that serves affordable cuisine made available for delivery through Uber Eats.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Delta is testing free Wi-Fi on flights this month

Posted by on May 9, 2019 in Delta Airlines, Transportation, wifi | 0 comments

Delta says it plans to eventually offer free Wi-Fi on flights. The first step to achieving that goal, however, involves testing it on a handful of planes, beginning later this month. Starting May 13, the carrier will begin offering free service on 55 domestic flights per day.

The idea here is to test the strain on the system. Currently, the number of passengers who actually use the in-flight service is fairly low. Delta’s current provider Gogo says it’s around 12% of passengers across its various airline partners. Obviously that figure is going to jump pretty significantly if service is offered up for free.

“Testing will be key to getting this highly complex program right—this takes a lot more creativity, investment and planning to bring to life than a simple flip of a switch,” Delta’s director of Onboard Product told The Wall Street Journal.

But while installing and maintaining that service on planes certainly isn’t cheap, exorbitant prices stand out in a world where many businesses offer up access for free. Like luggage-check prices, Wi-Fi has become another indication of airlines looking to squeeze every last penny out of travelers.

In fact, JetBlue is currently the only major U.S. airline that offers free internet access to all passengers, but it relies on corporate sponsorships to offer the service. Delta hasn’t given a firm date on when its own passengers might gain free access on a larger scale.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Uber prices IPO at $45 per share, raises $8.1B

Posted by on May 9, 2019 in Finance, Fundings & Exits, IPO, TC, Transportation, Uber, Uber IPO | 0 comments

Uber has set its initial public offering at $45 per share, per reports, raising $8.1 billion in the process.

The price, which falls at the low end of Uber’s planned range, values Uber at $82.4 billion. Uber confirmed the price in a press release Thursday afternoon.

The pricing comes one day after drivers all over the world went on strike, with drivers in San Francisco protesting right outside the company’s headquarters.

Uber filed for its IPO last month, reporting 2018 revenues of $11.27 billion, net income of $997 million and adjusted EBITDA losses of $1.85 billion. Though, we knew this thanks to Uber’s previous disclosures of its financials.

But this is not the first time we’ve seen Uber’s financials. Over the last couple of years, Uber has willingly disclosed many of these numbers. Its last report as a private company came in February when Uber disclosed $3 billion in Q4 2018 revenue, with rising operating losses.

From ridesharing specifically, Uber’s revenues increased from $3.5 billion in 2016 to $9.2 billion in 2018, with gross bookings hitting $41.5 billion last year from ridesharing products.

Competitor Lyft filed its S-1 documents in March, showing nearly $1 billion in 2018 losses and revenues of $2.1 billion. It reported $8.1 billion in booking, covering 30.7 million riders and 1.9 million drivers. About a week later, Lyft set a range of $62 to $68 for its IPO, seeking to raise up to $2.1 billion. Since its debut on the Nasdaq, Lyft’s stock has suffered after skyrocketing nearly 10% on day one. Lyft is currently trading about 20% below its IPO.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Tesla plans to launch an insurance product ‘in about a month’

Posted by on Apr 24, 2019 in Automotive, Transportation | 0 comments

Tesla is developing an insurance product, which could be launched in about a month, CEO Elon Musk said during a call with analysts Wednesday following its first-quarter earnings report.

“It will be much more compelling than anything else out there,” he said.

Musk didn’t provide further details on what the insurance product might look like, but it will most certainly place value on its Autopilot system, an advanced driver assistance system that is considered one of the most robust and at times, most controversial, in the industry.

Musk later added that Tesla already shares information with insurance companies about Autopilot. The information is meant to help reduce insurance rates.

“As we launch our own insurance product next month, we will certainly incorporate that information into the insurance rates,” Musk said.

Tesla has an “information arbitrage opportunity,” Musk said. The is able to capture driving data, giving the company direct knowledge of the risk profile of the driver and car. If customers want to buy Tesla insurance they might have to agree to “not drive the car in a crazy way,” said Musk, who added they can they’ll just have a higher insurance rate.

Companies like insurance startup Root have introduced programs that give Tesla owners a discount if their electric vehicles are equipped with Autopilot.

Tesla reported Wednesday wider-than-expected loss of $702 million, or $4.10 a share, in the first quarter after disappointing delivery numbers, costs and pricing adjustments to its vehicles threw the automaker off of its profitability track.

The loss included $188 million of non-recurring charges. When adjusted for one-time losses, Tesla lost $494 million, or $2.90 a share, compared with a loss of $3.35 a share a year ago. Tesla reported that it also incurred $67 million due to a combination of restructuring and other non-recurring charges.

Tesla’s first-quarter revenues were $4.5 billion, compared to $7.2 billion in the fourth quarter. The company’s operating cash flow less capital expenditures dropped to a loss to $920 million, compared to a positive $910 million in the fourth quarter.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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