The emergence of app-based ride-sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft transformed the way people in cities get around — and not always for the better. It nearly decimated the taxi industry while offering riders a more seamless way to travel. But it also choked many cities with car traffic and disrupted labor with the popularization of gig work. The Verge covers all the news and analysis related to ride-sharing as well as what the future holds for this mode of transportation.
Uber is listing more and more taxi drivers in its app, most recently in Los Angeles. How did the two sides come together? In short, money.
As spotted by Bloomberg, code in the Uber Eats app suggests the service is working on an AI chatbot to provide recommendations to customers.
It’s not the only app thinking about AI and food delivery, either. Bloomberg reported last month that DoorDash is working on an AI chatbot as well. DoorDash also announced today that it’s rolling out an AI-powered voice ordering service.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Uber is increasing its minimum driver age in California from 19 to 25 years old — a move it blames on rising insurance costs in the state:
Personal injury attorneys have created a cottage industry specializing in suing rideshare platforms like ours, pushing Uber’s California state-mandated commercial insurance costs to rise by more than 65% in just two years.
Californians under the age of 25 who signed up to the platform before Wednesday will get to keep driving for Uber.
So much so that it wants to get rid of it, CEO David Risher said during Lyft’s earnings call on Tuesday. As reported by TechCrunch:
“[Primetime pricing] is a bad form of price raising,” said Risher. “It’s particularly bad because riders hate it with a fiery passion. And so we’re really trying to get rid of it, and because we’ve got such a good driver supply…it’s decreased significantly.”
Uber’s latest financial results include an honest to goodness operating profit, “for the first time in Uber’s history,” according to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
Pre-tax earnings stood at $326 million, a huge change compared to the $713 million operating loss it reported the same time last year, The Financial Times notes.
Wendy’s is permanently closing its ghost kitchen business. Butler Hospitality, a ghost kitchen company, shut down entirely. Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchens lost a bunch of restaurant partners. Uber Eats is trimming its menu.
I guess you could say these kitchens got... ghosted.
Here’s a great essay from Oversharing’s Ali Griswold, reflecting on the origins — and demise — of the so-called “sharing economy” to describe companies like Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and others. Lyft ditching shared rides seems to be a nail in the coffin for these particular companies.
It’s been a long time since “sharing” meant sharing. Silicon Valley redefined sharing to mean something like “using a technology platform to get more use out of something you already have.” By the same logic, you could call restaurants shared dining rooms, gyms shared fitness spaces, libraries shared bookstores (jk, libraries are real sharing! Support your local library!).
That translates into 1,072 workers that will be out of a job after the company said it would undertake a “restructuring” to reduce operating costs. These layoffs come after the beleaguered ridehail company laid off 13 percent of staff last November. Lyft’s May 4th first quarter earnings call are sure to be brutal. The company’s share price fell off a cliff earlier this year and has yet to really recover.
On Friday, new Lyft CEO David Risher emailed staff to inform them of layoffs happening on Thursday, April 27th. The company shared his email on its blog. Lyft plans to cut 1,200 or more jobs, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company laid of 13 percent of its staff in November.
Grubhub has been ordered to pay $65.11 in minimum wage violations to a former driver after a federal court ruling in Los Angeles recognized him as an employee, and not an independent contractor.
The ruling could cost the gig economy industry a lot more than that if it impacts whether other ride-hailing and food delivery drivers qualify for employment benefits like overtime and minimum wage under California law.
Just months after Lyft laid off 13 percent of its workforce, the company’s two co-founders — CEO Logan Green and president John Zimmer — have announced that they’re leaving their posts on April 17th. The pair will remain on the company’s board, while former Amazon head of product David Risher takes over as CEO.
The company is working with automakers to design its own custom-built electric vehicles for ridehailing and delivery, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told The Wall Street Journal. That means lower top speeds and bench seats for passengers to face each other for ridehailing, and smaller footprint two- and three-wheelers with cargo space for delivery. Which automakers though? Khosrowshahi wouldn’t say.
An investigation from The Markup found that Uber is slow to respond to law enforcement requests, leaving drivers vulnerable to repeated attacks.