Passengers loved Uber’s convenience and embraced it in cities such as San Francisco, New York and London. Uber now operates in more than 600 cities across 63 countries, providing more than 15 million trips a day.
Venture capitalists and other investors, seizing on Uber’s rapid growth, shoveled billions of dollars into the company to help it dominate. The company’s investors include the venture capital firm Benchmark, First Round Capital, TPG, SoftBank, Toyota and Fidelity Investments. Many of them are set to reap big returns from an I.P.O.
“Uber’s stock is widely distributed, and it will transform the lives of many thousands of families who have worked hard for this outcome,” said Matt Ocko, a venture capitalist who invested in Uber when it was a young company. Many Uber employees will go on to start other companies, he said. “This ‘virtuous cycle’ is still a big part of what makes the Valley great,” he added.
Over time, Uber branched out into different areas, like food and retail delivery, e-bike and scooter rentals, trucking and freight management and autonomous vehicles — even trying to build flying automobiles. Some of these efforts have run into difficulties, including earlier this year when an Uber driverless car killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz.
Uber underwent a rocky 2017 when its workplace culture faced scrutiny for sexual harassment and for putting growth above all other considerations. Mr. Kalanick was ousted in June 2017 after shareholders staged a revolt against him.
Mr. Khosrowshahi was appointed Uber’s chief executive a few months later. He has vowed to improve the company’s culture and mend broken relationships with regulators, lawmakers and others.
Uber’s backers are eager to put last year’s troubles behind them. “I know Dara has the full trust of investors and employees, and we are confident he knows what he’s doing,” said Chris Sacca, an early investor in the company.
“We’re not done by any means, but if you look at where we were one year ago, we were dealing with fundamental issues of governance, of board alignment, of these continuing battles amongst power-brokers on our board and whether or not we were going to have SoftBank with us or against us,” Mr. Khosrowshahi said in an interview with The New York Times earlier this year. “Those were very important issues to deal with and to resolve, and I think we resolved them quite effectively in a positive way.”
Romaine lettuce enthusiasts, I am deeply sorry to have to inform you that your forbidden fruit still isn’t safe—at least not completely.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday that nine more cases of sickened individuals have been tied to the ongoing E. coli outbreak since its last update roughly two weeks ago. All told, 52 cases of people falling ill have been reported across 15 states since October, according to the agency. Canada has also reported dozens of cases linked to the E. coli strain.
The outbreak stems from romaine lettuce grown in northern and central parts of California, and the CDC said that unless you can be 100 percent certain that your romaine isn’t from that region, don’t even think about eating it. That goes for both store-bought romaine as well as anything served at restaurants. When shopping for romaine lettuce of any kind—if you must—look out for the harvest location.
“Some romaine lettuce products are now labeled with a harvest location by region,” the CDC said. “Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should check bags or boxes of romaine lettuce for a label indicating where the lettuce was harvested.” Basically, if you can’t tell where it came from because it’s not clearly labeled, just toss it!
The strain behind the outbreak, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7, has been linked to 19 hospitalizations and two cases of kidney failure thus far. People who ingest the germ generally report feeling ill about two to eight days later, the CDC said. Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli can be pretty unpleasant and include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and severe stomach pain.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Friday that the agency’s ongoing traceback investigation into the outbreak “has implicated 10 different distributors, 12 different growers and 11 different farms as potential sources of the contaminated lettuce.” He added that “indicates that the outbreak cannot be explained by a single farm, grower, harvester, or distributor.”
If you must eat it, be careful. But honestly, at least for the time being, it’s probably not a bad idea to just defer to other, less problematic roughage.
Tesla’s stance on how to charge its vehicles overnight continues to evolve as it processes volumes of real-world data from its fleet of Model 3s and their 2170 cells. Kim, from the Like Tesla YouTube channel, had been charging her Model 3 up to 70% for the 11,000 miles she had owned it. She found that in that time, the stated range of the car with a full charge had dropped from 310 miles to 260 miles.
That is a staggering loss of capacity and far beyond what we have come to expect from hundreds of thousands of miles on individual Model S and X vehicles. Even more shocking, Kim’s Tesla had been babied from a charging standpoint, only being charged up to 70% every night, per Tesla guidance. Kim used her platform to make a video about her findings and took the car in to Tesla to figure out what was going on. Tesla shared some instructions, which Kim summarized in her video.
Charge to 90% nightly. Leave vehicle plugged in after reaching 90%. Range should increase within several weeks.
If unsuccessful, charge to 100%. Leave plugged in until charging stops.
Drive down to under 10% and repeat 100% charge 2–3 times until full recalibration occurs.
What she learned was that the gauge that displays the mileage of the car essentially gets trained and that the new recommendation is to charge the car up to 90% overnight and to leave it plugged in after it is charged. This starts what is essentially a re-training process that reminds the car how much battery pack it has, resulting in the displayed range increasing over a few weeks.
In other words, the car’s battery didn’t actually lose a dramatic amount of energy storage capacity. Rather, because Kim kept the charge at 70% or lower, some portion of the car’s software became convinced the car had less range than it really had.
To raise awareness of the issue, Kim tweeted it out to Elon, asking the same question. In typical Elon fashion, he shared that it’s not worth it to keep the car’s charge below 80% each night, and that even 90% is fine.
Not worth going below 80% imo. Even 90% is still fine. Also, no issue going to 5% or lower SoC.
Check out the video below for a more thorough unpacking of the whole experience with the Like Tesla Model 3, but be warned: It starts off with a healthy dose of “family business” as Like Tesla just launched its official website and store, so the video opens with a few minutes of that.
Kyle Field I’m a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. TSLA investor. Tesla referral code: http://ts.la/kyle623
The FCC is planning to hand out more than $4.5 billion over the next decade to help carriers bring coverage to rural areas. Many of those areas would otherwise be considered too cost prohibitive for service providers to build out their networks. Carriers get to pitch the government on how cheaply they can extend coverage to those areas, and the government provides them with the subsidies from the fund to do it.
The investigation comes after an initial review of more than 20 million speed tests filed with the FCC that showed network capabilities in 37 states. Carriers were required to submit the information so the agency could determine what areas required expansion.
Through the mapping process, there have been accusations that the service providers lied about coverage to prevent competing companies from scoring a subsidy and expanding networks in their regions. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia challenged the maps last month and claimed carriers are trying to avoid building networks in areas that won’t provide a big return on investment. No company was named in the current investigation, though Verizon (which owns Oath, Engadget’s parent company) was previously accused of misleading the FCC regarding its LTE coverage.
A few months ago, several companies started deploying electric scooters on the sidewalks of cities around the United States. These scooters were standard, off-the-shelf electric scooters made in China, loaded up with battery packs, motors, and a ‘brain box’ that has a GPS unit, a cellular modem, and a few more electronics that turn this dumb electric scooter into something you can ride via an app. Dropping electronic waste on cities around the country was not looked upon kindly by these municipalities, and right now there are hundreds of Bird and Lime scooters in towing yards, just waiting to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
This is a remarkable opportunity for anyone who can turn a screwdriver and handle a soldering iron. For mere pennies on the dollar you can buy dozens of these scooters, and you can own thousands of dollars in batteries and electronics if you show up to the right auction. [humanbeing21] over on the scootertalk forums is preparing for the Bird apocalypse, and he’s already converted a few of these scooters to be his personal transportation device.
The subject of this conversion are scooters deployed by Bird, which are in actuality Xiaomi MIJIA M365 scooters with a few added electronics to connect to the Internet. The ‘conversion kit’ for a Bird scooter comes directly from China, costs $30, and is apparently a plug-and-play sort of deal. The hardest part is finding a screwdriver with the right security bits, but that again is a problem eBay is more than willing to solve.
Right now, [humanbeing21] is in contact with a towing company that has well over a hundred Bird scooters on their lot, each accruing daily storage fees. Since these scooters only cost about $400 new, we’re probably well past the time when it makes sense for Bird to pay to get them out of storage. This means they’ll probably be heading for an auction where anyone can pick them up — all of them — for a hundred bucks or so.
Right now, scooter hacking is becoming one of the most interesting adventures in modern-day hacking. You’ve got batteries and electronics and motors just sitting there, ready for the taking (and yes, through these auctions you can do this legally). We’re looking at a future filled with 18650-based Powerwalls from discarded electric scooters and quadcopters built around scooter motors filling the skies. This is cyberpunk, and we can’t wait to see the other builds these scooters will become.
The U.S. Geological Survey has revised the technically recoverable reserves in the Wolfcamp Basin, in the Permian shale play, to 46.3 billion barrels of crude and 281 trillion cu ft of natural gas. That’s up from 20 billion barrels of crude and 16 trillion cu ft of gas in recoverable reserves in late 2016.
It’s worth noting, however, the new estimate also includes the Bone Spring formation that makes up part of the Delaware Basin in the Permian. This is the first time this formation is included in the USGS oil and gas reserves assessment.
Recoverable reserves are calculated based not just on exploration results and geology but also on the price level that makes the oil and gas commercially viable for extraction. The USGS carried out its revision earlier this year, so it must have reflected the improvement in oil prices, notably West Texas Intermediate that has now largely disappeared, sparking worry about the sustainability of production growth, which has been steady throughout the year.
The national total hit 11.7 million bpd last month, an all-time high and also the highest in the world and the Permian was the major driver behind this growth. It is the shale play that produces the most oil and also boasts the fastest rate of production growth: in November the Permian yielded 3.63 million bpd of crude and the Energy Information Administration expects this to rise further to 3.695 million bpd this month.
The Albuquerque Journal quoted the head of the state’s Oil and Gas Association as saying “Even for someone who understands the resources and potential of the Permian Basin, I can’t help but be surprised by the sheer enormity of what the USGS has reported. Ryan Flynn added “The Permian resources shared by New Mexico and Texas make this area one of the most important places in the world in terms of oil production.”
While this is true, this rush to the Permian, aptly dubbed Permania, has led to some problems, namely price discounts as there are not enough pipelines to get the product to refiners and export markets. However, these problems are being addressed already and the Permania looks like it will only intensify unless prices slump below US$50 a barrel for WTI.
The Federal Reserve could cause “panic” on Wall Street if it reneges on its widely anticipated December interest rate hike, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Friday.
stocks fell on weaker-than-expected jobs results and trade worries. “Investors will start presuming that something must be wrong, very wrong, that things are worse than they thought.”
But even if the central bank decides that it’s worth taking a more data-dependent approach after the weaker jobs data, its chief has put himself in a difficult position with his recent statements, Cramer said.
“No one wants the Fed to tighten going into a slowdown, especially when we might be in a tariff war around the globe. People want the Fed to be flexible. Thanks to his previous comments, though, Powell’s in a lose-lose situation,” he said, pointing to Powell’s remarksthat interest rates were “just below” where they should be.
“It would be wrong to tighten, but if he doesn’t give us a full quarter-point rate hike, it will cause a panic,” the “Mad Money” host said. “I hate to say it, Mr. Powell, but, here goes: I told you so.”
In fairness, Cramer said he “totally” understood why the Fed would raise interest rates this month, citing still-strong Purchasing Managers’ Index reports, healthy retail sales and close-to-full employment.
“The fact is, though, the economy’s slowing and the stock market sure shows it. […] That’s why it’s so skittish,” he explained. The major averages have endured drastic intraday swings this week as investors fretted about a host of economic pressures, including but not limited to the U.S.-China trade dispute.
“Maybe a creative Fed chief could square that circle by holding off on a rate hike, but maybe selling some of the long-term bonds that they’ve been sitting on since the financial crisis — a different kind of tightening that would fix the inverted yield curve situation,” Cramer said. “Although, … ideally, you don’t want any tightening and the Fed would simply sit tight.”
All things considered — including the S&P 500 index turning negative for the year — investors should prepare for more market swings in the coming weeks, the “Mad Money” host warned.
“I think we’re going to have to slog through these volatility sessions for a bit, as there are all sorts of difficult crosscurrents here” including U.S.-China trade relations and the weakness in shares of stock market bellwether Apple, he said.
“And, of course, an errant Federal Reserve that’s backed itself into a corner when it comes to the next rate hike,” he added. “Get used to these crosscurrents, because this is the new normal, at least for now.”
Moderna Inc. on Friday lodged one of the worst-performing opening days for a company going public this year, as investors sold the risky biotechnology firm amid broad market declines.
The stock, trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol MRNA, dropped 19% to $18.60, well below its initial-public-offering price of $23. That makes it the fifth-worst performer on its first day among all U.S.-listed IPOs this year, according to Dealogic. Its drop was the biggest among companies worth more than $1 billion at the time…
On Friday, both sides in the Six4Three v. Facebook lawsuit, which alleges breach of contract, appeared before a San Mateo County judge for the second time in a week in a hearing that dragged on for over three hours.
However, Six4Three’s recent court filings show that its lawyers are also involved in a second lawsuit brought by a different company—one that promoted breast cancer awareness, among other apps—that levies very similar allegations against Facebook.
This new case, Styleform IT v. Facebook, which was filed last month in San Francisco County Superior Court, makes sweeping claims that for years Facebook engaged in “fraudulent and anti-competitive schemes designed and effectuated by Defendant Facebook Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, with the intention of deliberately misleading tens of thousands of software companies.”
The case alleges breach of contract, concealment, and intentional misrepresentation, among other claims brought under California state law.
Styleform IT appears to be the second case brought under the “Facebook’s App Economy” banner—a comprehensive effort to sue Facebook by app developers who feel duped. This website, which dates back only a few months, does not list the names of any person or company behind it but invites readers to “Tell Zuckerberg we will no longer be his patsy!”
Filings in a related Six4Three case dating back to 2016 strongly suggest that this site was created by Six4Three itself, seemingly as a way to recruit more developers to its cause. Facebook attempted to shut it down at the time, alleging a trademark violation, which appears to not have been successful. It is not clear why Six4Three would want to keep its affiliation to this site a secret if it and its lawyers want to draw fellow disgruntled app developers.
The new plaintiff, Styleform IT, is a seemingly defunct one-person Swedish company, which, according to the lawsuit, made just a few Facebook apps, beginning over a decade ago.
Facebook has denied any wrongdoing.
“This case is as meritless as the Six4Three case,” Sally Aldous, a Facebook spokeswoman, told Ars in a statement.
Straight outta Stockholm
Styleform IT does not appear to have a Web presence of any sort. It was first registered with the Swedish Companies Registration Office back in January 2005 to a man named “Frans Olof Mikael Belmondo Rosén,” who lived in Enskede, a suburb of Stockholm.
The lawsuit states that Styleform’s “principal place of business” is a residence in Enskede, just 2.5 kilometers from the previously registered home address.
There is a somewhat well-known Swedish information security researcher named Frans Rosén, who says he lives in Stockholm, but it is not clear if this is the same person. This Rosén did not respond to Ars’ requests for comment.
The attorneys, Stuart Gross and Benjamin Klein, who are based in San Francisco, along with David Godki and James Kruzer, of Boston, did not respond to Ars’ requests for comment.
The Styleform lawsuit goes through an expansive narrative that largely mirrors the one brought in the Six4Three complaint, in many instances using very similar if not identical language.
Styleform’s lawyers claim that Facebook swindled numerous developers when it pulled the rug out from under them in 2015. That was when Facebook finally yanked access to its more permissive first version (“v1.0”) of its Graph API, the primary means to get data into and out of Facebook.
“Facebook’s Graph API was a revolution in large-scale data provision,” Jonathan Albright, the research director at the Columbia University Tow Center for Digital Journalism, wrote in March 2018.
“It converted people and their likes, connections, locations, updates, networks, histories, and extended social networks into — quite literally — ’objects.’ It made the company’s offerings and the data its users generated more economically viable.“
Or, put another way, despite a user marking updates as “private,” making them unreadable to other Facebook friends, that data continued to be machine-readable.
“The API was not restricted based on the users’ privacy settings—it was deceptive,” Ashkan Soltani, an independent privacy researcher who recently testified about Facebook before the British Parliament, told Ars.
“API developers were treated with the same level of access as Facebook itself. They were given almost superuser access.”
The Styleform lawsuit, like the Six4Three case, claims that Facebook initially said it would give all developers equal access to the Graph API, when in fact it was giving “special access” to high-profile players, including Nissan and the Royal Bank of Canada.
Indeed, new documents that have emerged as a result of the Six4Three case bear that out. They show that Facebook gave extended access to a number of large companies and even pondered charging access to its vast trove of data.
Facebook has said that these revelations are “misleading,” but it has not fully explained why or provided additional context.
Styleform’s civil complaint tells a story of an inflection point in 2012, when Facebook’s stock had dropped precipitously and the company needed to reevaluate its business model.
“In order to save Facebook’s business, Sheryl Sandberg, Dan Rose, Samuel Lessin, and others convinced Zuckerberg to weaponize user data and Graph API in an extortion scheme that had devastating impacts across the entire consumer software industry and caused 35,000 small-to-medium businesses to shut down or pivot at a substantial loss, wreaking havoc on their investors, employees, and the families that depended on them,” the document states.
The power to move markets
So what did Styleform IT actually do?
The company was a contractor for a Swedish advertising company and claimed to create the first Swedish Facebook app—”Rosa Bandet” (“Pink Ribbon”), designed to raise breast cancer awareness. The app apparently raised more than €200,000 to support research of the disease.
Styleform went on to create another application, Klimatsmart (“Climate Smart”), again to use the “full friends list API and other Graph API endpoints” to operate, reaching more than 17,000 Facebook users. Another app, “Nyarsloften” (“New Year Resolutions”), suggested resolutions to friends and helped to track their progress.
Through these three apps, Styleform claims it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop and maintain these apps and lost out on a contract worth millions as a result of Facebook’s actions.
“In short, Zuckerberg weaponized the data of one-third of the planet’s population in order to cover up his failure to transition Facebook’s business from desktop computers to mobile ads before the market became aware that Facebook’s 2012 and 2013 financial projections were false, due to Facebook having not accurately represented how quickly users were transitioning their time on the Internet from desktop computers to mobile phones,” the lawsuit continues.
Meanwhile, Soltani, who formerly worked at the Federal Trade Commission and helped start its Office of Technology Research and Investigation, added that the UK parliamentary hearing was the first time he’d seen any policymaker “connecting the dots between competition and privacy” and was hopeful that other regulators would take notice.
“Companies use personal information as a competitive tool and it seems like it’s finally in the public discourse that it’s not just about the control of information, but also the control of the information has strategic market advantages of who you share data with,” he said, adding that growth at any cost is Silicon Valley’s “dirty secret.”
“You can be a kingmaker of the app economy by allowing somebody to leverage personal information for the purpose of improved advertising but also virality and improved growth. Whether or not you have access to a friends list can make or break a company.”
Facebook has not formally responded to the lawsuit and no court hearings have been set.