Uber is draining its cash-burning Pool

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This week: Uber is draining its cash-burning Pool

Dara driving

After what seems like an eternity, I’ve recently started using ride-hailing services again and venturing beyond the 5-block radius around my house. The Uber app worked just as it did when I last opened it – except that the UberPool option was no longer available.

Uber and Lyft both halted shared rides during the pandemic. And as Tom Dotan reports, the famous option allowing you to travel alongside garrulous and (often) drunken strangers in exchange for rock-bottom fares, may not be coming back to Uber – at least not in the way it used to be.

  • Say goodbye to those 50% discounts. The low rates were a good way to grab market share, but not sustainable given that UberPool was burning close to $1 billion a year.
  • Uber may also limit the pool feature to certain routes or certain times of day.

It’s all in keeping with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s ruthless focus on the bottom line.

Read the full story here:

Uber insiders say the company is quietly killing off UberPool as we know it and a new more expensive version of the service will replace it.

Hey boomer, wanna look cool to your kids?

The hot new app for Gen Z launched this week and rocketed to the top of the download charts. The photo-sharing app is called Poparazzi and it’s gaining buzz by taking a sledgehammer to ossified social media norms.

A decade ago, Snapchat stole a generation of young users from Facebook by making photos disappear. For Poparazzi, the social media shackle to liberate users from is the selfie. As Insider’s Margaux MacColl writes:

The app, created by Alex Ma and his brother Austen, encourages you to become “your friend’s poparazzi” instead posting pictures of yourself.

Rather than a perfectly curated Instagram grid, a user’s profile consists of unedited photos that others have taken. Poparazzi also eschews traditional social-media metrics: There’s no follower count or likes, only total “views” on a user’s photos and the number of emoji reactions to their posts.

So if your kids have made you feel like an out-of-touch dinosaur, now you can flip the script on them and turn them on to the hot new app – if they’re not already using it.

Snapshot: Amazon’s decompression chamber

There are phone booths, trade show booths, restaurant booths, and now, there are Amazon “zen” booths.

The compact cubicle pictured below is a “mindful practice room” designed to provide Amazon warehouse workers with a private place to relax and meditate during breaks.

Amazon AmaZen booth

The meditation booths are part of an initiative rolled out by Amazon to provide physical and mental wellness resources for warehouse workers – a key pillar of departing CEO Jeff Bezos’ vow to make Amazon “Earth’s safest place to work.”

The introduction of the zen booths has been anything but peaceful though. Ever since they were spotted by Vice, the booths have been lampooned as”dystopian” coffin-sized “despair closets,” by various critics and publications that have noted the famously grueling conditions Amazon warehouse workers endure on the job.

Quote of the week:

Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College and former member of Microsoft's board of directors.

“I felt like I was being silenced. I was just disappointed Satya Nadella would let that happen.”

– Harvey Mudd College President and former Microsoft director Maria Klawe, in an exclusive interview with Insider’s Ashley Stewart, said she was forced off the software maker’s board after an awkward on-stage interview with CEO Satya Nadella, in which Nadella famously said women employees should rely on “faith”in the system for pay raises.

Recommended readings:

Europe’s most valuable startup, Klarna, is raising fresh cash from mega-investor SoftBank at a valuation above $40 billion

Colonial Pipeline’s $4.4 million ransom payment caught the government crime fighters beating the hackers by surprise. They thought they were winning.

Startup valuations have reached a record high. The average late-stage company is now a $1 billion unicorn, PitchBook says.

We identified the 181 most powerful people at Intel as new CEO Pat Gelsinger tries to turn around slowing growth at the chip giant. Here’s our exclusive org chart.

The world’s billionaires, CEOs, and politicians didn’t get to schmooze at Davos this year. Does the elite confab still make sense after the pandemic?

He took his boss’ money and then his head, police say. The disturbing story of the assistant accused of murdering and decapitating a tech CEO in New York.

Not necessarily in tech:

An economic theory called ‘reallocation friction’ may explain why employers are having a hard time finding workers – and why a full recovery could be years away

Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

– Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider

Tech CEOs are savagely mocking WeWork’s chief exec for saying the ‘least engaged’ employees enjoy working from home

GettyImages 1211910015
A WeWork office in Beijing.

  • WeWork’s Sandeep Mathrani said that only the “least engaged” workers want to stay at home.
  • It’s inspired taunting from Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi and Box’s Aaron Levie.
  • As a commercial real estate firm, WeWork has a vested interest in workers returning to the office.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tech CEOs are piling on online following the WeWork chief exec’s assertion that only the “least engaged” employees want to keep working from home.

During The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything festival on Wednesday, Sandeep Mathrani, who took the helm of WeWork in 2020, discussed the future of the office, saying that he’s seeing employees who want to work at the office a few days every week and work remotely on other days.

But he added that the number of days workers want to stay at home is directly correlated to how engaged they are with their work.

“It’s also pretty obvious that those who are overly engaged with the company want to go to the office two-thirds of the time at least. Those who are least engaged are very comfortable working from home,” Mathrani said.

Since the interview, Mathrani’s fellow CEOs haven’t hesitated to point out that, as the the CEO of a commercial real estate company, he has a vested interest in employees returning to the office.

Aaron Levie, CEO of cloud content management firm Box, pointed out the absurdity of viewing your most engaged employees as the ones who use your product the most.

Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of Uber, chimed in with his own version.

Read more: WeWork released an investor deck outlining ambitious occupancy projections ahead of a proposed SPAC deal. Here are 4 big takeaways.

As a coworking startup, WeWork relies on people returning to the office to boost its business. Though the company’s current occupancy rate is below 50%, WeWork recently told investors it expects occupancy to soar to 75% by the fourth quarter of this year.

Marcelo Claure – WeWork’s executive chairman and the CEO of WeWork’s largest financial backer, SoftBank Group International – told Insider in a statement earlier this year that “WeWork is incredibly well positioned to springboard into a future” thanks to its technology and “a new appreciation of the value of flexible workspace.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

An Uber shareholder is demanding more transparency about the impact of the company’s lobbying efforts

Dara Khosrowshahi
  • The Teamsters General Fund, an Uber investor, wants the company to reveal more about its lobbying.
  • The fund urged Uber shareholders to vote for its proposal requiring an annual report from Uber.
  • It said Uber’s “highly innovative” but “controversial” lobbying could hurt its brand and business.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters General Fund, an investor in Uber, sent a letter to other Uber shareholders Thursday urging them to vote for a proposal that would force the company to disclose more details each year about its lobbying efforts.

“Uber’s lobbying is not only substantial, geographically extensive and highly innovative, but is profoundly controversial and raises critical questions over the sustainability of the company’s business model,” Ken Hall, the fund’s general secretary-treasurer, wrote in the letter.

“It may be tempting to view Uber’s current disclosures as a good-faith effort to address concerns over the transparency of its lobbying activities; but this would be a mistake,” Hall added.

Uber investors will vote on the proposal – which would require Uber to publish an annual report disclosing its lobbying policies, how much it spent on direct, indirect, and grassroots lobbying, and which groups the money went to – during the company’s annual shareholder meeting on May 11.

Uber has urged investors to vote against the proposal, citing its “existing risk management practices and current high level of transparency and accountability around political and lobbying activities and expenditures.”

The ride-hailing company did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Uber and other companies that depend heavily on cheap contract labor have ramped up their lobbying efforts over the past few years as federal and state regulators look to crack down on “gig” economy businesses that have for years operated in a regulatory gray area.

Uber spent a record $2.6 million lobbying the federal government in 2020, according to OpenSecrets. The company also contributed $30 million to a $200 million campaign to persuade California voters to pass Proposition 22, exempting it from a major state labor law, AB-5, and making Prop 22 the most heavily lobbied ballot measure in the state’s history.

A key aspect of that campaign was Uber’s indirect and “grassroots” lobbying through groups that helped the company broadcast its message to voters without telling them who the messenger was. In one case, an Uber-funded group sent mailers to California residents designed to trick them into believing progressive groups were supportive of Prop 22 (many prominent progressives actually opposed the measure).

In December, the Teamsters Union filed shareholder proposals at both Uber and Lyft, arguing both companies have failed to provide investors with sufficient information about the money they spend on lobbying – particularly grassroots lobbying, which is subject to less stringent disclosure requirements and often requires investors to dig through complicated and incomplete disclosures for each individual state.

The fund argued in its letter Thursday that Uber investors should push for more transparency so they can understand how much the company’s business model depends on its lobbying efforts being successful, and whether its reputation could suffer because of the positions it’s taking.

“Transparency is vital to understanding how Uber is navigating the acute reputational risks that come with lobbying around matters as emotive as wage theft and workers’ rights,” it wrote, adding: “But perhaps most crucially, disclosure is key to any evaluation of the long-term sustainability of a business model built around the heavy and controversial use of independent contractors.”

Read the original article on Business Insider