Latest Uber news and announcements | Startups

The taxi-hailing app is considered both brilliant and controversial, depending on who you ask. Here we’ve documented the company’s journey to a $70 billion valuation.

Disclaimer: it’s been a bit of a bumpy one…


Uber launches new safety features for UK passengers and drivers 

17th October 2018

Uber has announced a new Safety Toolkit for both riders and drivers in the UK as part of the company’s efforts to build trust with customers. 

Features include an emergency button thats connect directly to private emergency services and security response through a third party private security supplier, a list of trusted contacts that can get the rider’s information in a single tap, a safety centre containing information of safety tools in the app, and speed alerts that reminds drivers to maintain a safe speed within the posted speed limits.

The new features are already used in the United States and will now be rolled out in phases across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Uber pays $148 million over data breach cover up

27th September 2018

Uber has yet again found itself at the centre of a storm of allegations of foul play, as it comes to light that the firm suffered a staggering data breach involving the information of 57 million customers and drivers in 2016, yet failed to disclose information about the event. Instead the company quietly paid the hackers in question a paltry $100,000 (come on lads, you do know they’re valued at $50 billion?) to wipe the information gleaned from the company’s cloud servers. Afterwards, they sought to hide the mess from regulators. 

They are now paying a far heftier $148m (£113m) to settle charges brought by the US government and 50 states over the cover-up. 

The company revealed some information about the attack in November 2017, with Uber’s boss Dara Khosrowshahi, saying weakly: “None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it.”

Legal action brought by individual customers, drivers and cities continue. Going forward, the company will have to submit reports on all security incidents to regulators. They have also pledged to change how they operate, although the flagrant disregard for the law and pointed lack of respect towards their customers and workers will again underline for many the firm’s toxic reputation.  

Toyota invests $500 million into Uber for autonomous vehicles

28 August 2018

Car manufacturer Toyota has committed an enormous $500 million in Uber (£387 million) to promote the development of autonomous vehicles, with plans for testing in the wild by 2021.

The first fleet of autonomous vehicles will be based on the automaker’s Sienna Minivan, and will combine Uber’s autonomous driving system with Toyota’s automated safety support system and core connected vehicle infrastructure, the Mobility Services Platform (MSPF).

In a statement, executive VP at Toyota Shigeki Tomoyama said: “Combining efforts with Uber, one of the predominant global ride-sharing and automated driving R&D companies, could further advance future mobility.

“This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company as we help provide a path for safe and secure expansion of mobility services like ride-sharing that includes Toyota vehicles and technologies.”

Uber shuts down self-driving car operations in Arizona 

24 May 2018

Uber has announced it will be shutting down its self-driving car operations in Arizona, following a fatal crash involving one of its vehicles two months ago.

Its entire self-driving car programme was suspended after the fatality where a woman was hit on a road in Arizona – marking the first fatality involving an autonomous vehicle.

However, it will continue its wider self-driving car programme, limited to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and two cities in California this summer. It will focus on smaller routes and fewer cars.

“We’re committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future,” said a spokesperson for the company.

Uber CEO predicts flying taxi service

20 February 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said that he can picture the ride-hailing app taking to the skies in the next five to ten years with a flying taxi service.

Speaking at an investor forum in Tokyo, Japan – his first visit to Asia as Uber CEO, according to Reuters – Khosrowshahi stated that the company believes flying vehicles will feasibly become an affordable form of mass transport.

Morocco service canned 

19 February 2018

As of 23 February 2018 Uber will stop serving any cities in Morocco while it seeks clarification from local regulators.

The business said in its country blog that since its launch in the territory three years ago, it hasn’t had enough information from regulators about how it should integrate into the existing transport model. It added that it wants to be present in Morocco and will return when new rules are in place.

So it is suspending its activity for now, which includes 300 drivers and almost 19,000 regular users, according to the firm.

Uber acquiesces to TfL English language test proposal

19 February 2018

Uber, which is currently in talks with Transport for London over its survival in the British capital, has dropped an appeal against the High Court that ruled drivers would be subject to English language exams, according to CityAM.

However, TfL has told drivers that the exams will now be catered to the role, including material that is relevant to private hire drivers.

A TfL spokesperson told CityAM: “We believe the ability to communicate in English at an appropriate level is a crucial element of the high standards of passenger safety and service Londoners and visitors to the city deserve.

“We are pleased that the appeal has been withdrawn and will work to introduce a new test that is more relevant to the role of a private hire driver. It would require applicants to demonstrate the appropriate level of English at the same level as the existing test but would include language and vocabulary that directly relates to a private hire driver’s role and responsibilities.”

But the IWGB union that is organising gig economy workers for companies like Deliveroo and Uber has slammed the proposals.

Speaking with Techworld, a spokesperson said that the test is the flagship proposal from Tfl’s “failed 2015 review of private hire regulations” to address the challenges of new business models in the transport sector.

See also: Greens pledge support to gig economy workers as Uber appeal gets underway

“Back then, a TfL-commissioned independent impact assessment report said: ‘there is no evidence to suggest that the drivers’ lack of English is currently a widespread issue with regard to current levels of passenger safety’,” the spokesperson pointed out.

“Perhaps if TfL had instead focused on the regulatory challenges posed by Uber, on driver worker rights and passenger safeguarding some of the recent regulatory chaos could have been avoided.”

Uber settles with Google subsidiary Waymo

9 February 2018

Uber and Google self-driving car subsidiary Waymo have at last reached a settlement in court, where Uber will pay out $245 million in equity to Waymo.

It was alleged in a lawsuit in 2017 that former Waymo engineer Anthony Levandowski had stolen thousands of confidential documents before founding OttoMotto, an autonomous vehicle company that was later bought by Uber. The complaint alleges these documents ultimately found their way to Uber, where the former Waymo engineer became head of the ride-sharing app’s autonomous vehicles division.

And late in 2017 a letter from ex-Uber security manager Richard Jacobs alleged that Uber’s ‘Strategic Services Group’ was engaged in “unethical” intelligence operations – and had been allegedly involved in stealing trade secrets as well as spying on the competition and politicians. 

The settlement will include 0.34 percent of Uber equity tied to its valuation of $72 billion, reports Business Insider. 

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi – whose appointment had been seen as a manoeuvre to clean up the company’s tattered reputation– said in a statement issued before the fifth day of testimony: “To be clear, while we do not believe that any trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber, nor do we believe that Uber has used any of Waymo’s proprietary information in its self-driving technology, we are taking steps with Waymo to ensure our Lidar and software represents just our good work. 

“While I cannot erase the past, I can commit, on behalf of every Uber employee, that we will learn from it, and it will inform our actions going forward.”

But controversial ex-CEO Travis Kalanick issued his own statement that claimed Uber would have won the case had it stuck it out.

“As Uber’s statement indicates, no trade secrets ever came to Uber,” Kalanick said in a statement. “Our sole objective was to hire the most talented scientists and engineers to help lead the company and our cities to a driverless future. The evidence at trial overwhelmingly proved that, and had the trial proceeded to its conclusion, it is clear Uber would have prevailed.”

Although Uber gained prominence as a ride-sharing app (with controversy after controversy, detailed below), it is thought to be pinning its hopes on having a major stake in the roads when self-driving cars become commonplace.

Uber is ruled a technology company by the European Court of Justice

20 December 2017

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has judged that Uber is officially a transport company and not a digital service, severely limiting the ride-hailing company’s ability to grow in Europe.

As a transportation company, Uber will now have to comply with existing local taxi rules, which could halt its ability to offer peer-to-peer services which allow non-licensed drivers to make money by picking up passengers via the company’s smartphone app.

An Uber spokesperson said: “This ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law.

“However, millions of Europeans are still prevented from using apps like ours. As our new CEO has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber and so we will continue the dialogue with cities across Europe. This is the approach we’ll take to ensure everyone can get a reliable ride at the tap of a button.”

Uber had previously argued that it was a technology company helping people to make contact with each other electronically, and not a taxi firm.

Uber admits to ICO that 2.7 million UK users affected by massive data breach – NCSC warns drivers and passengers to be ‘vigilant’

In merely the most recent incident that could tarnish Uber’s reputation in the UK, the ride-sharing company has just admitted 2.7 million people in Britain were affected by the recent 57 million-strong data breach.

An ICO statement revealed that Uber confirmed 2.7 million user accounts were impacted in the UK, including names, mobile numbers, and email addresses.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said that the stolen information does “not pose a direct threat to people or allow direct financial crime” but concerned drivers or passengers should follow the NCSC’s advice, which, among other things, suggests changing passwords and being vigilant to the possibility of scam phone calls or email phishing attempts. 

The ICO said: “On its own this information is unlikely to pose a direct threat to citizens. However, its use may make other scams, such as bogus emails or calls appear more credible. People should continue to be vigilant and follow the advice from the NCSC.”

The Information Commissioner added that it is still waiting for technical reports that should detail more precise figures, including the type of data that was compromised.

“We would expect Uber to alert all those affected in the UK as soon as possible,” the statement continued. “We are continuing to work with the NCSC plus other relevant authorities in the UK and overseas to ensure the data protection interests of UK citizens are upheld.”

Uber was stripped of its licence to operate in London and then lost an appeal over drivers’ rights – see below for a litany of controversies.

Uber concealed data breach exposing personal information of 57 million drivers and users

22 November 2017

Uber concealed a global data breach impacting 57 million drivers and users, the taxi-hailing firm confirmed. 

The breach – which took place in October 2016 – was hidden from its users and drivers, and resulted in the firm paying $100,000 (£75,000) to hackers to delete the data.

The breach left 57 million names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers vulnerable, Uber said. Within that, 600,000 of drivers had their names and licence details exposed.

According to Bloomberg, Uber’s former chief executive Travis Kalanick did have knowledge of the hack over a year ago. The firm’s chief security officer Joe Sullivan has left the company.

“While we have not seen evidence of fraud or misuse tied to the incident, we are monitoring the affected accounts and have flagged them for additional fraud protection,” Uber’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said in a statement.

“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” he added.

Khosrowshahi said that affected Uber drivers will receive free credit monitoring and identity theft protection, but Uber didn’t offer anything to affected customers. 

Uber to buy tens of thousands of cars from Volvo

20 November 2017

Uber is set to buy “tens of thousands” of self-driving cars from Volvo in a deal estimated at £1.1 billion following an agreement last year to develop autonomous vehicles as a joint venture with the carmaker.

The framework agreement lays out plans for Uber to buy the “autonomous driving compatible base vehicles” between 2019 and 2021. Uber and Volvo previously struck a $300 million (£226 million) partnership last year to develop a self-driving taxi fleet to go on trial in Pittsburgh.

Volvo said the non-exclusive agreement marks a “new chapter” in the “convergence of car makers and Silicon Valley-based technology companies” but that it will continue to develop its own autonomous vehicle strategy, which should result in the company’s first fully autonomous car by 2021.

In a statement, Volvo chief executive Håkan Samuelsson said the company’s aim is to “be the supplier of choice for ride-sharing service providers globally.”

“Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.”

Volvo has changed hands several times over the last two decades, first acquired by Ford in 1999 and then bought by Chinese car and auto parts manufacturer Geely in December 2009.

Beleaguered ex-CEO for Uber Travis Kalanick told the FT last year that Uber’s mission was to “provide transportation as reliable as running water” and that doing so would be impossible without moving into developing their own technology.

By contrast, European Uber rival MyTaxi – which recently purchased popular taxi hailing app Hailo – is owned by Daimler AG, the thirteenth-largest car manufacturer in the world that owns the Mercedes line of vehicles.

Uber loses court appeal over drivers’ rights

11 November 2017

Uber has lost its appeal against a ruling ordering it to treat its drivers as workers rather than self-employed.

Uber’s appeal argued that its drivers were self-employed as they were under no obligation to use its booking app, claiming that 80 percent of its drivers would rather be classed as self-employed, according to The BBC.

Last year two drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, argued that their actions were ultimately controlled by Uber, which meant they were employees of the firm. 

A tribunal ruled that the drivers were employees of Uber and should receive holiday pay, paid breaks and the minimum wage.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal’s (EAT) ruling is a landmark decision that could trigger a major shift in the whole of Britain’s growing gig economy. 

Uber UK’s acting general manager, Tom Elvidge, said: “Almost all taxi and private hire drivers have been self-employed for decades, long before our app existed. The main reason why drivers use Uber is because they value the freedom to choose if, when and where they drive and so we intend to appeal.”

Uber board agrees to push ahead with SoftBank investment, and a 2019 IPO

3 October 2017

Uber’s board has manoeuvred to further limit the power of beleaguered former chief exec Travis Kalanick and decided to go ahead with proposed investment from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, plus an initial public offering (IPO) by the end of 2019.

Investor Benchmark – which had previously attempted to push Kalanick from the board (see below) – said it would drop its lawsuit as long as the SoftBank deal goes ahead.

In a statement seen by Reuters the board agreed to bolster corporate governance within the company following a wave of scandals and lawsuits.

Uber said: “The board voted unanimously to move forward with the proposed investment by SoftBank and with governance changes that would strengthen its independence and ensure equality among all shareholders.”

SoftBank Vision Fund and investment outfit Dragoneer are tipped to lead a consortium that would invest as much as $1.25 billion at Uber’s $68 billion valuation, with an additional investment round planned that would see the group buy secondary shares, Reuters reports.

It’s believed that new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was brought in to lessen tensions at the director level and throughout the board, as well as reshape Uber’s reputation.

Transport for London agrees to further meetings with Uber

3 October 2017

Khosrowshahi met with regulators from Transport for London this week. Reports suggest that while the talks didn’t resolve the city’s decision to strip the ride-sharing company of its licence, there could be some headway.

A TfL spokesperson describing the meeting as constructive: “Today’s constructive meeting centred on what needs to happen to ensure a thriving taxi and private hire market in London where everyone operates to the same high standards. Further steps in this process will take place over the coming weeks.”

Uber CEO to meet with Transport for London this week

2 October 2017

New Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is set to meet Transport for London’s transport commissioner Mike Brown on 3 October, after the ride-sharing app lost its licence to operate in the city.

Last week, London mayor Sadiq Khan said that TfL’s doors will be open for discussion with Uber. A spokesperson for TfL said: “Following an approach from Uber, and at the mayor’s request, London’s transport commissioner will meet with Uber’s global CEO in London.”

Khosrowshahi had previously apologised for “mistakes” that the company had made when it was announced Uber was to be stripped of its licence.

A spokesperson for Uber said that the new CEO is “looking forward” to meeting with the transport commissioner.

Khosrowshahi’s appointment as CEO marks a shift in Uber’s historically belligerent corporate approach, with the company currently awash with controversy over various sexism scandals, including a lawsuit.

Uber will not be issued a new private hire license

22 September 2017

Uber will not be issued a new private hire license, Transport for London has said in a statement today.

According to TFL, Uber is not fit to hold a private hire operator licence and will not be issued a new one after the expiry of its current one, as of 30 September 2017.

TFL claimed that the taxi-hailing firm’s ‘approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility’ including its approach to criminal offences, medical certificates and its use of ‘Greyball’ – a piece of software that blocks regulators from accessing the full application and performing law enforcement duties.

Uber has 21 days to appeal this decision and can continue to operate in London until that process expires.

Uber chooses Expedia boss Dara Khosrowshahi as new CEO

29 August 2017

The Uber board has made its pick for a new CEO, choosing the current Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi for the role. And while Khosrowshahi is yet to confirm that he has accepted the role, it is widely expected to happen this week.

Khosrowshahi will replace founder Travis Kalanick after he started an undefined leave of absence after a list of controversies, including a sexual harassment scandal.

With names like HP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt being thrown around, the decision to appoint the Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi may have come as a bit of a surprise to some.

FTC orders Uber privacy audit every two years for two decades

16 August 2017

America’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ruled Uber must face a privacy audit every two years for the next 20 years, partly as a response to the ride-sharing company’s “God View” program, but also due to a 2014 data breach.

God View was an internal program that let employees monitor the locations of customers who had used the app to request a car. Later, the company’s former forensic investigator claimed that Uber staff used the app to spy on politicians, celebrities, friends, and spouses. There was even talk from senior employees at Uber that the company tracked reporters.

The business claimed that access to the tool was limited and since those revelations has introduced a chief security officer along with a sizeable team of employees “dedicated to protecting user information”.

The FTC ruling states that Uber will have to implement a privacy programme to address the complaints.

Each audit will have to explain the privacy controls that Uber implemented, as well as detail how these are appropriate to the size and complexity of the company. They will also require that the privacy controls “are operating with sufficient effectiveness to provide reasonable assurance to protect the privacy of personal information”.

Security researcher Lee Munson said that with GDPR coming into effect next May, Uber could benefit from the ruling.

“While such an agreement with the FTC may sound incredibly arduous, Uber will probably benefit from a necessary change in approach, which will stand it in good stead for the incoming GDPR,” he said.

Uber introduces in-app tipping ahead of tribunal appeal

14 August 2017

Uber has announced a raft of new features for the ride-sharing service in the UK that it promises will provide drivers with “more control” and to “make the most of their time” on the app – but it has been dismissed by the lead claimant from last year’s tribunal for improved working conditions as a ‘cynical’ move ahead of Uber’s upcoming appeal in the courts.

The update includes in-app tipping and revisions to the cancellation policy, and it has also promised fairer ratings for drivers.

The company claims that the changes were prompted by a 12-month consultation with its drivers. In-app tipping will launch across the UK tomorrow and will also apply to UberEATS, Uber’s equivalent to gig-economy takeout delivery service Deliveroo.

Uber’s rating system – which has courted controversy for unfairly punishing drivers – has been tweaked so that issues that are not the fault of the driver, such as problems with the app, will no longer affect ratings.

Uber will also introduce paid waiting time for drivers – for every two minutes that the driver waits for a passenger, the passenger will pay 20p. This will come into effect on 22 August.

Passengers will now pay a cancellation fee if they cancel their trip within two minutes of having their driver confirmed rather than the previous five minutes.

Uber is also introducing a ‘no thanks’ button so drivers can immediately turn down a trip rather than having to wait for the request to time out, which is currently between 10 and 20 seconds. If trips are declined three times in a row, the app will mark them as unavailable. And UberXL or Exec drivers can now opt out of seeing UberX trips altogether.

The destination feature, which pairs drivers with passengers heading in the same direction drivers want to go, will be available six times a day rather than twice a day, and now includes an ‘arrival time’ feature so drivers can set the time they need to get to their destination.

But the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has said that the new features are a ‘cynical’ ploy ahead of an upcoming appeal from Uber against a ruling that it will have to grant its drivers employment status.

The IWGB, with the support of the GMB general union last year, won a major tribunal ruling that would see Uber drivers treated as employed workers.

James Farrar, who chairs the United Private Hire Drivers section of the IWGB, said: “This is a cynical PR move ahead of Uber’s appeal next month against last year’s employment tribunal ruling in favour of drivers.

“Despite its claims, Uber remains completely deaf to the most serious issue facing drivers – excessively long hours earning on average between £5 and £6 per hour. If Uber was more concerned about driver welfare than it is with propping up its own dreadful reputation, it would have abided by the tribunal’s decision and guaranteed drivers a minimum wage and holiday pay.

“Instead, we are talking about ‘innovations’ such as a ‘fairer’ rating system and a ‘no thanks’ button. We say, thanks Uber but ‘no thanks’.”

Uber founder Travis Kalanick resigns

21 June 2017

After months of turmoil, Travis Kalanick has resigned after reported pressure from Uber’s shareholders. 

This news comes after a review of the firm’s practices and a sting of scandals including sexual harassment claims.

And most recently, Kalanick said he was taking an indefinite leave of absence following his mother’s death.

According to The New York Times, five major investors demanded Kalanick’s resignation with immediate effect.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world,” Kalanick reportedly said “And at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.”

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to take a leave of absence

15 June 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has taken an indefinite leave of absence as the company contends with increased internal turmoil and staff losses. It is unclear who will lead the ride-hailing company at this stage. Kalanick is also dealing with personal issues following the sudden death of his mother in a boating accident which has left his father hospitalised.

Listen: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick takes leave of absence amidst internal turmoil

The under-fire CEO has been under increasing pressure to step away from the company amidst a series of crises, mostly stemming from accusations of pervasive sexual harassment and other corporate misbehaviour since former engineer Susan Fowler published a damning blog post back in February.

Since then one quarter of Uber’s traditional C-suite jobs have been vacated and many of Kalanick’s closest advisors — internally called the ‘A-Team’ — have left the company.

The company has announced it will implement a set of sweeping changes to the organisation following the recommendations of an investigation by the former US attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and his law firm, Covington & Burling.

However, at the all-hands meeting intended to run through these 13 recommendations, there was yet another example of the pervasive sexism at the company.

It is reported that during the meeting, board member Arianna Huffington talked about how having one female director typically leads to more female directors. Fellow board member and founding partner at the private equity firm TPG, David Bonderman apparently silenced the room by saying that adding more women to the board would result in “more talking.” He quickly apologised and resigned from his position on the board.

Uber reportedly tracked Lyft drivers using a secret programme called ‘Hell’

13 April 2017

Using a software programme called ‘Hell’, Uber has been secretly tracking Lyft drivers, The Information reports.

Uber used ‘Hell’ to create fake Lyft accounts which meant it could monitor how many drivers were available for new rides and what their location was.

This comes a few months after Uber staff were caught spying on celebrities and former partners using a tool called ‘God’s View’, now called Heaven. Read more on this below.

Italy bans Uber for unfair competition

10 April 2017

Uber has been ordered to stop all activities across the entirety of Italy, Reuters reports.

The ban comes after courts ruled that Uber represents unfair competition for taxi drivers, claiming that Uber doesn’t respect transportation laws.

Uber has been granted 10 days to stop all its activities including any advertising and marketing campaigns. After that, the company must pay €10,000 (£8,533) per day if it continues to operate.

Uber president Jeff Jones steps down 

20 March 2016

After joining the company less than six months ago, Uber president Jeff Jones is stepping down, in a move that was “completely unexpected” by colleagues.

The BBC reports that Jones grew frustrated that a new COO was being appointed and he was not being considered for the position. However, according to Recode, Jones’s departure is due to Uber’s ongoing controversies surrounding sexism and sexual harassment.

In a statement on Sunday Uber said: “We want to thank Jeff for his six months at the company and wish him all the best.”

Read more here.

Uber shuts down UberTAXI in London

13 March 2017

Uber announced last week that it’s shutting down its UberTAXI service in London, as of the 31 March 2017. 

Launched in 2014, UberTAXI lets Uber customers hail black cabs through its mobile app, rather than a normal Uber car.

“Since we first launched UberTAXI, hundreds of black cab drivers have taken tens of thousands of trips through the Uber app. However, in recent months, those numbers have tailed off,” said Uber in a blog post published Friday afternoon.

“At Uber we always want our riders to be able to get a car whenever they want and wherever they are – no matter which option on our app they choose. That hasn’t been the case recently with UberTAXI, which is why we will be ending this option on 31 March,” it added.

In the statement, Uber said that it would be focusing on car-sharing options and even fully electric cars.

Uber CEO apologises after being caught on video arguing with driver about fares

1 March 2017

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has apologised after a video obtained by Bloomberg showed him in a heated exchange with Uber driver Fawzi Kamel.

Kamel expressed his distress at the way Uber treats its drivers, even telling the CEO: “I’m bankrupt because of you”.

“You’re raising the standards, and you’re dropping the prices,” said Kamel. “People are not trusting you anymore. I lost $97,000 because of you. I’m bankrupt because of you.” Kamel then added: “You keep changing every day.”

In response, Kalanick said: “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck!” Then he proceeded to slam the car door.

Google’s self-driving firm Waymo is suing Uber

24 February 2017

Waymo is taking legal action against Otto, a self-driving vehicle company bought by Uber last year for $700m. Uber is being sued for stealing trade secrets and technology, according to the BBC.

The lawsuit alleges that Anthony Levandowski, a former Waymo employee, took information from Waymo by ‘downloading 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files’ before moving on to cofound Otto.

“Our parent company Alphabet has long worked with Uber in many areas, and we didn’t make this decision lightly,” said Waymo in a blog post.

Uber CEO steps down from Trump’s advisory council

3 February 2017

Following heavy criticism of Uber’s practices during recent anti-Trump protests, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has stepped down from Donald Trump’s economic advisory council.

Kalanick said that his participation was ‘misinterpreted’ as an endorsement of Trump’s agenda.

“Earlier today I spoke briefly with the president about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community.

“I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council. Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that,” said Kalanick in an email to Uber employees obtained by the Guardian.

#DeleteUber leads to more than 200,000 people to delete their Uber accounts

2 February 2017

After the protests against Trump’s executive order banning refugees and nationals of seven Muslim countries last week, Uber was accused of trying to profit from the protest.

This has led to over 200,000 people deleting their Uber accounts following the #DeleteUber boycott, according to a report from The New York Times.

Uber’s self-driving cars pick up passengers in San Francisco

14 December 2016

Uber’s self-driving cars will pick up passengers in the San Francisco area today. This expansion of Uber’s Pittsburg trial earlier this year involves each enabled Volvo SUV housing a safety driver and an Uber test engineer to take start manually driving the car when needed and monitor the smart technology.

All passengers need to do is request an uberX using the standard consumer-facing mobile app.

Uber employees reportedly caught spying on celebrities and former partners

13 December 2016

According to reports, Uber employees have been spying on celebrities and former partners. Uber staff used its ‘God’s View’ feature to monitor the movements of “high-profile politicians, celebrities and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses”, wrote Samuel Ward Spangenberg’s, Uber’s former forensic investigator. Earlier this year Spangenberg was fired from Uber over age discrimination.

Uber told Reveal in a statement: “we have hundreds of security and privacy experts working around the clock to protect our data. This includes enforcing to authorised employees solely for purposes of their job responsibilities, and all potential violations are quickly and thoroughly investigated.” Uber also said that its “God View” tool no longer existed, instead opting for an internal tool called “Heaven View”.

Uber’s self-driving truck Otto makes its first delivery

26 October 2016

Uber has joined forces with AB InBev to transport 50,000 bottles of Budweiser, in what is thought to be the world’s first self-driving commercial delivery. 

The truck transported the beer more than 120 miles with police vehicles in tow, with reports suggesting the truck driver was relaxing in the back sleeping cab. 

Uber starts mapping UK city streets

16 September 2016

From today Uber will be collecting images of UK city streets, starting with London. According to the BBC, these images will be used to determine the best pick-up and drop-off points around the city with plans to expand mapping activities to Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. This image data will most likely aid Uber’s driverless cars ambitions.

Uber to launches self-driving car pickups in Pittsburgh

14 September 2016

During an interview with Bloomberg last month, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick revealed that it will deploy around 100 ‘driverless cars’ in Pittsburgh. 

Each vehicle will be fitted with self-driving capabilities and be staffed by one engineer, designed to take control of the car if needed and a co-pilot to note its progress, with the addition of a computer to record trips and map their data.

This move comes after Uber acquired Otto, a startup aiming to deliver autonomy to lorries and trucks. Numerous reports have suggested Uber may use these capabilities in its own driverless car plan, or potentially its own driverless lorry business.

Uber takes legal action over TfL’s plan to force drivers to take written English test

18 August 2016

Uber is taking legal action against London’s transport authority TFL over its plans to force Uber drivers to pass a written exam in English. 

The legal battle centres on TFL’s new rules for private hire drivers that require people from non-English speaking countries to take (and pass) a mandatory written English test costing £200.

In addition to this, Uber has taken issue with TfL’s rule that drivers must be covered by commercial insurance during out-of-work hours.

Uber celebrates four years of service in London 

29 June 2016

Uber has been operating in London since 2012 when it launched 90 cars in the capital. In the same year Uber rolled out services to Toronto and Sydney with a soft launch in Singapore taking place in early 2013. 

Uber introduces business profiles 

19 November 2015

Uber has introduced a new feature which allows all of its users to switch between their personal and business profiles, so that business trips are charged straight back to the company.

This will cut down on the need to keep receipts and file expense forms, but could also lead to some red faces if users forget to switch between accounts. 

Read more here.

Uber chief jumps ship 

The man in charge of Uber’s international expansion is leaving the taxi-app company, following regulatory challenges in Europe.

Neil Wass, the senior vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific will leave Uber at the end of the year, according to the Financial Times.

Uber reportedly bids $3bn for Nokia’s Here mapping business

8 May 2015

Taxi-app Uber has bid for Nokia’s Here mapping business in a bid to reduce its dependence on Google, reports suggest. 

Read more here.  

Uber and Lyft drivers could soon be subject to stricter background checks

27 April 2015

A US court is mulling over a bill that would subject Massachusetts-based drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to criminal background checks. 

That safety provision is just one outlined in a bill that is designed to regulate ride-sharing companies without stifling them.

Read more here. 

Uber under attack for alleged discrimination against blind passengers

21 April 2015

A court case that alleges Uber discriminates against blind passengers will be allowed to proceed despite an attempt by Uber to have it thrown out, a California judge ruled. 

The lawsuit, which concerns several alleged incidents in which Uber drivers refused service to blind passengers with service animals, represents another battle over whether Uber should be governed by the sale rules that cover taxis, buses and other public transportation companies.

Read more here. 

Uber in “sharing economy” standoff with UK government

20 March 2015 

Uber is in a standoff with the government over whether or not it is part of the sharing economy in the UK, Techworld can reveal. 

The San Francisco-headquartered company has expressed an interest in joining the newly-created, government-backed Sharing Economy UK (SEUK) trade body but there are a number of obstacles that need to be overcome beforehand.

Read more here.

Uber back in court after Californian taxi firms accuse it of false advertising

19 March 2015

Taxi companies in California have sued Uber Technologies in a federal court, charging the ride-hailing smartphone app company with misleading advertising regarding the safety of its rides.

Uber has made false and misleading advertisements regarding the safety of rides on its UberX platform, and criticised the safety of taxi rides offered by the taxi companies, the 19 firms said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco division.

Read more here. 

Uber and Lyft business model faces challenge over driver status

11 March 2015

The two companies want to classify their drivers as contractors rather than employees, which means they are not subject to employment protection law.

In separate cases, two federal judges said the status of the companies’ drivers will need to be decided by juries. If the drivers are considered employees, they could be entitled to minimum wages and any tips that customers pay, as well as other benefits. In that sense, the case is seen as a legal test that could affect other companies in the “sharing economy.”

Read more here. 

Uber seeks direction with deCarta mapping purchase

4 March 2015

Uber has bought mapping and location company deCarta in a bid to both improve its driver performance and develop new services.

California-based DeCarta  holds a variety of data pertaining to mapping, local search and turn-by-turn navigation. Its global location based services were used by Google Maps (2005-2008) and are used today by GM OnStar, Ford Sync, Samsung, Inrix, Blackberry and over 25 mobile operators worldwide.

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Uber founders make it into Forbes billionaire list

3 March 2015

Uber founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp are new arrivals in the Forbes annual ranking of the world’s billionaires, with a net worth each of $5.3bn. Ryan Graves, who five years ago reputedly replied “hire me :)” to a tweet about a job with an unknown startup, is now worth $1.4bn. Nice money if you can get it, but old new technology money dominates the rankings….

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Personal data on 50,000 Uber drivers exposed in breach

2 March 2015

The names and license plate numbers of about 50,000 Uber drivers were compromised in a security breach last year, the company revealed Friday.

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Uber hopes to attract customers worldwide through Starwood Hotels partnership

25 February 2015

Uber is set to start rewarding its customers each time they stay in a particular hotel. 

The ride-hailing service is teaming up with Starwood Hotels & Resorts to boost the use of its app among the well-traveled crowd. Through the partnership, members of Starwood’s guest loyalty program can link their accounts with Uber accounts and earn Starwood credits whenever they take an Uber ride. They’ll earn more credits if they take the ride while staying in one of the hotel company’s 1,200 properties in 100 countries.

Read more here. 

Uber raises an extra $1bn to meet investor demand

20 February 2015

Uber released more stocks in a bid to raise an extra $1 billion and meet investor demand. 

The latest expansion brings the total amount of money Uber raised from the funding round to $2.8 billion. The extra cash injection doesn’t increase Uber’s valuation, which is still $40 billion.

Read more here. 

Buying Uber might give Google a ride into the future

3 February 2015

Google has already invested at least $258 million into Uber but there are a few reasons why a complete buyout makes perfect sense.

The companies are heading in some of the same directions. Both Uber and Google are now working on driverless car technology and transportation and delivery services. Uber announced the creation of the “Uber Advanced Technologies Centre” in Pittsburgh through a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, which will focus on long-term technology in the areas of mapping, vehicle safety and “autonomy technology.”

Were Google to acquire Uber, it might head off a possible confrontation between the companies as both push deeper into developing similar services.

Read more here.  

Uber backs driverless car research with new technology centre

3 February 2015

Uber will open a technology centre near the Carnegie Mellon University to help put driverless cars on the road.

The research team, based near the Carnegie Mellon campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, will focus on mapping, car safety technology and driverless robotics.

Read more here. 

Uber passenger who alleged Delhi rape sues in US

29 January 2015

A passenger who says she was raped and sexually assaulted by an Uber driver in New Delhi sues Uber in a US court, alleging that the company was negligent and that its commitment to passenger safety comes second to profits.

Read more here.  

Uber woos European cities with the promise of 50,000 new jobs in 2015

19 Janurary 2015

Uber promises 50,000 new jobs in Europe in 2015 alone, in an bid to get more cities on the continent to approve its ride-hailing service.

Read more here.  

Can Uber still be classed as a startup?

19 January 2015

Can Uber still be classed as a startup if CEO Travis Kalanick successfully creates 50,000 jobs across Europe this year? The company believes it can, but others aren’t so sure. 

Many of the world’s largest technology companies, including Google and Facebook, still consider themselves to be startups in one sense or another. Indeed, they see being a startup as more of a state of mentality as opposed to how old the company is, how large its revenues are or how many staff it employs. 

When asked if Uber is still a startup, a spokesperson for the company said: “I have not heard otherwise.”

Read more here. 

Uber gives Boston the gift of data

13 January 2015 

Boston city officials will be the first to dip their fingers into Uber’s pot of data, under new plans laid out by the mobile car-summoning service.

The effort, Uber says, is geared toward city planning in areas that include managing urban growth as well as improving traffic flows and congestion. By seeing how residents travel across a city, for instance, municipalities might have better information for creating or reducing parking zones, Uber says. Uber’s data would add to the trip records from traditional taxi and other car service providers that local regulators already receive.

Read more here. 

Uber controversies and conflicts around the world mapped by data analysis firm Silk

8 January 2015

Troublesome Uber is encountering opposition from courts and taxi drivers in nearly every city it operates in. The extent of the controversies has made it difficult for some people to keep up, but data analysts at Silk have now created a number of visualisations depicting each of Uber’s regulatory conflicts around the world.

Read more here

Uber expands Momentum Rewards programme to UK drivers

7 January 2015

Uber has expanded its driver perks programme from the US to the UK as part of an effort to sign up more taxi drivers to its service.

Read more here. 

Uber looks to hire hundreds of people globally but just 13 in UK

6 January 2015

Uber is expanding aggressively worldwide but it is clearly chasing some markets more than others. Data released at the end of last year by data analysis firm Silk suggests that Uber is particularly keen on growing its operations in Asia.

Uber wants to recruit 144 non-drivers in Asia, 81 in Europe, 29 in South America, 28 in Oceania, 17 in Africa and six in the Middle East, according to data sent to Techworld at the end of December.

In the UK, Uber is recruiting for 13 positions, with seven of those falling under operations, two under local marketing and support and two under public policy and communication. There are no engineering positions being advertised in the UK, despite the well-established engineering communities around clusters like London’s Silicon Roundabout and Cambridge.

Read more here.  

Uber makes U-turn after upping fares near Sydney hostage crisis

15 December 2014

Uber is offering the public free journeys after it was criticised for upping the price of journeys around the area where hostages are being held in Sydney, Australia.

Uber increased fares by four times due to high demand in Sydney’s central business district (CBD) following a hostage crisis in a cafe.

Read more here.  

More trouble brewing for Uber in Brussels

15 December 2014


There is more trouble brewing for ride-hailing service Uber in Brussels where the minister for mobility announced he will file a complaint with the police to take the company’s site offline in Belgium.

Read more here. 

Uber hit with consumer protection lawsuits in San Francisco and LA

10 December 2014

Uber has been hit with a lawsuit by the district attorneys for Los Angeles and San Francisco that accuses it of misleading consumers over its background checks on drivers and could lead to millions of dollars in fines.

Read more here.  

‘Arrogant’ Uber needs to mature before going public, says VC

9 December 2014

Uber will need to change its tactics if it is going to become a public company, a US venture capitalist warned. 

Fred Wilson, managing partner at New York-headquartered Union Square Ventures, said Uber needs to ditch its “arrogant” and “ruthless” approach if it wants to go public and realise its $40 billion valuation.

Describing Uber’s business model at the Le Web conference in Paris, the seasoned investor said: “Its ruthless execution combined with a swagger and an arrogance that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The ability to execute comes from that arrogance and swagger.

“But to become a public company they need to figure out how to become more mature.”

Read more here. 

Uber founder Travis Kalanick confirms billion dollar funding round

3 December 2014


Uber confirmed today that it has successfully raised over a billion dollars (£600 million) in its latest funding round.

The announcement, revealed in a blog post by company founder Travis Kalanick, means that Uber could be valued at up to $40 billion (£25 billion), outstripping the likes of Twitter which has a market cap of $25 billion.

Read more here.  

Silicon Valley startups discover power of political lobbying

3 December 2014

They might be masters of innovation in some areas, but startups like Airbnb, Uber, Sidecar and Fitbit are finding that when it comes to Washington DC, the old ways are the best.

In the last few months, several young tech companies have put their faith in the power of money to influence government policy and regulation. Some lobbied the federal government for the first time, while others expanded lobbying efforts by opening dedicated offices in the US capital.

Read more here. 

Uber to overtake Twitter in market cap stakes as it looks to raise $1bn

26 November 2014


Controversial taxi hire app Uber is on the verge of raising $1 billion (£633 million) in a move that could see the firm valued at up to $40 billion (£25 billion). 

Read more here. 

Spotify and Uber team up to allow passengers to stream playlists

17 November 2014

European music streaming service Spotify is teaming up with Silicon Valley car sharing giant Uber in a move that will allow passengers to stream their playlists directly through the cab’s stereo.

Read more here.   

Rated or Hated? The secret to getting a good score from your Uber driver

6 November 2014

While you were busy rating your last Uber driver, your last Uber driver was busy rating you.

Not everyone realises it, but riders who use Uber, Lyft and other services are given a rating by their drivers, and those scores can affect how quickly you get picked up — or whether you get picked up at all. 

Read more here.  

Hailo CTO: ‘I’ve never used Uber and nor will I’

28 October 2014

A Hailo boss has revealed that he’s never used rival car-sharing service Uber, and nor does he plan to. 

Rorie Devine, chief technology officer (CTO) of London taxi-hailing service Hailo, told Techworld this week: “I’ve never taken an Uber ride in my life.”

Read more here. 

TfL refers Uber’s controversial tax affairs to HMRC

16 October 2014

Transport for London (TfL) has asked British tax officials at Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to investigate San Francisco car-sharing service Uber.

Uber’s operating arm, Uber BV, is based in the Netherlands, meaning the company does not pay tax on profits it makes through its UK business. 

Read more here. 

Government to carry out review of UK sharing economy

29 September 2014

©iStock/Chris Schmidt

The UK government today launched a review of the “sharing economy” in a bid to understand the economic potential and social issues that are generated when people share products and services over the internet.

The review, initiated by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, will look at the impacts of fast-growing companies like Airbnb, which allows people to rent out other people’s rooms or homes, and Uber, which allows car-owners to give others a life via an app.

Read more here. 

Uber banned across Germany by Frankfurt court

2 September 2014

Uber has been banned across Germany following a court ruling in Frankfurt.

The temporary injunction was issued after the German taxi industry pointed out that the San Francisco-headquartered firm, which has a valuation of $17 billion (£10.25 billion), did not possess the official taxi permits that are required to operate under Germany’s Passenger Transport Act.

Read more here. 

Uber taxi app banned in Berlin on safety grounds

14 August 2014

Uber has been banned in Berlin by the city’s State Department of Civil and Regulatory Affairs.

The authority issued a statement revealing it had banned the app, set up in Berlin last February, on passenger safety grounds and threatened the firm with a 25,000 euro (£20,000) fine for ignoring the order.

Read more here.  

Rivalry between Uber and Lyft gets ugly

13 August 2014

Uber and Lyft are slogging it out in the nascent market for on-demand transportation. Competition between the two was already fierce, but now they each claim the other is trying to sabotage their business.

Lyft said that roughly 180 employees at Uber had ordered and then cancelled thousands of Lyft rides since October, slowing its service and causing lost fares. “It’s unfortunate for affected community members that they have used these tactics,” a Lyft spokeswoman said at the time.

Read more here. 


London's black cab drivers protested against the smartphone app last year ©iStock/Johnny Grieg

London’s black cab drivers protested against the smartphone app last year ©iStock/Johnny Grieg

In pictures: London’s black cab drivers go on strike against Uber

12 June 2014

London’s roads were brought to a standstill yesterday as thousands of black cab drivers protested against US taxi firm Uber.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), which helped to organise the protest, claims Uber’s drivers are using smartphone apps to work out fares, despite it being illegal for private vehicles to be fitted with taximeters.

Read more here.  

London’s black cabs to cause ‘severe chaos’ in protest against Uber

9 May 2014


London’s black cab drivers are planning to bring “chaos, congestion and confusion” to the capital’s streets as part of a protest against Silicon Valley smartphone taxi service Uber.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) said that Uber’s drivers are using smartphone apps to work out fares, despite it being illegal for private vehicles to be fitted with taximeters.

Read more here.   

Google Maps app now links up with Uber

6 May 2014

An intriguing feature that lets people find out how long they’d have to wait for an Uber ride is one of the new navigation tools in Google Maps’ mobile app.

A card for Uber will appear in the options for any destination, along with transit and walking directions, so the user can compare his options in the updated Android and iOS versions of the app.

Read more here.  

EU Commission VP Neelie Kroes “outraged” as Belgium bans Uber

14 April 2014

European Commission VP Neelie Kroes has hit out against a court ruling today that banned Uber’s ride-sharing app from being used in Belgium.

The ruling means that Uber will be fined €10,000 for each violation.

Read more here. 

Uber ride-sharing service hit by Brussels court ban

15 April 2014

A Brussels court has banned Uber from operating its ride hailing service in the city because its drivers don’t have a taxi license, local media reported Tuesday. If it flouts the ban, Uber must pay a penalty of €10,000 (US$13,800) per violation.

Uber launched its ride sharing service UberPop in Brussels in February, allowing users to book a ride from their smartphone for a fare of €0.35 per minute and €0.80 per kilometer, with a minimum fare of €4, according to Uber’s site. 

The fares are about a fifth less than typical Brussels taxi fares. The drivers are independent individuals that have held a valid drivers license for at least three years and that were vetted by the company.

Read more here. 

Uber now delivers packages with Rush courier service

7 April 2014

Uber rolled out a new service in 2014 called Rush, which lets people order pickup and delivery of packages using the Uber app. It’s initially available only south of 110th Street in Manhattan, but Uber says it will expand that coverage quickly. If the service is successful, presumably it will bring it to other cities as well.

Read more here.


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