Uber Being Probed by FBI Over ‘Hell’ Software to Interfere With Rivals

Uber Being Probed by FBI Over 'Hell' Software to Interfere With Rivals

HIGHLIGHTS

  • FBI is looking into Uber’s illegal competition intefering software
  • Uber’s software was being used to track the Lyft drivers
  • The investigation is being led by the FBI’s New York office

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing to see if Uber Technologies had used software to illegally interfere with its competitors, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The investigation is focusing on Uber’s program that could track drivers working for rival service Lyft, the WSJ said, citing people familiar with the investigation.

The investigation is being led by the FBI’s New York office and the Manhattan US attorney’s office, the Journal said.

Separately, Uber will cease using diesel cars in London by the end of 2019 and the vast majority of rides will be in electric or hybrid vehicles by then, the taxi app said on Friday.

At the moment the company says around half of all the journey miles completed in the British capital are undertaken with greener vehicles on the firm’s standard low-cost UberX service, which lets customers book journeys on their smartphone.

Several carmakers have announced plans in recent months to electrify a large proportion of their new cars, with Volvo becoming the first major carmaker to set a date for phasing out vehicles powered solely by the internal combustion engine.

Britain will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040, replicating plans by France and cities such as Madrid, Mexico City and Athens.

Uber, which has about 40,000 London drivers, will only offer electric or hybrid models on UberX by the turn of the decade and plans to do the same by 2022 nationwide.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Former Uber CEO Says Investor Lawsuit a ‘Public and Personal Attack’

Former Uber CEO Says Investor Lawsuit a 'Public and Personal Attack'

The ousted chief executive of Uber Technologies called a lawsuit filed against him by one of the company’s top investors a “public and personal attack” without merit, according to court documents filed late on Thursday.

Venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, which says it owns 13 percent of Uber and controls 20 percent of the voting power, sued former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick last week to force him off the board, where he still has a seat, and rescind his remaining power there, citing fraud and deception.

Kalanick, in the first court filing in response to the lawsuit, said Benchmark’s legal action is part of a larger scheme to oust him from the company he helped found and take away his power. He also argued that the legal quarrel should take place in arbitration.

ALSO SEEUber Investor Benchmark Capital Says Gave Former CEO Kalanick a Month Before Suing

Benchmark’s lawsuit marks a rare instance of a well-regarded Silicon Valley investor suing the central figure at one of its own, highly successful startups. The case has stunned Silicon Valley’s venture capital community and created a divided Uber board and infighting among shareholders, many of whom have criticised Benchmark for suing.

At issue is a change to the board structure in 2016 to expand the number of voting directors by three, with Kalanick having the sole right to fill those seats.

In its lawsuit, Benchmark argues that Kalanick hid from the board a number of misdeeds, including allegations of trade-secret theft involving autonomous car technology and misconduct by Kalanick and other executives in handling a rape committed by an Uber driver in India, when he asked Uber’s board to give him those extra seats.

Benchmark says it was “fraudulently induced” to agree to the change and wants Kalanick to give up control of those seats.

Kalanick’s court filing rejects that allegation, saying that at the time of the board change “Benchmark was fully aware of all of the allegations involving Kalanick”, yet the firm “made no mention of having been ‘fraudulently induced’ to enter” into the agreement. Through May, the venture firm continued to support him. Then in June, Benchmark was part of a group of five investors who demanded Kalanick’s resignation as Uber’s CEO.

“The Benchmark principals also handed Kalanick a draft resignation letter, and told him he had hours to sign it, or else Benchmark would start a public campaign against him,” the court filing said.

Benchmark first backed Uber in 2011 with an investment of $12 million, according to court filings. With 13 percent ownership at the $68 billion valuation that Uber achieved last year, Benchmark’s stake would be worth almost $9 billion.

“Resorting to litigation was an extremely difficult step for Benchmark,” the firm said in a statement through a spokeswoman. “Failing to act now would mean endorsing behavior that is utterly unacceptable in any company, let alone a company of Uber’s size and importance.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Uber Can Be Banned by EU States, Notes Top EU Lawyer

Uber Can Be Banned by EU States, Notes Top EU Lawyer

HIGHLIGHTS
EU member states can ban Uber without informing the European Commission
Uber insists it is a service and not a transport provider
Critics and competitors say this allows it to dodge costly regulation
EU member states can ban ride-hailing pioneer Uber without informing the European Commission because at heart it is an ordinary transport company under their jurisdiction, a top EU lawyer said Tuesday.

San Francisco-based Uber insists it is a service, not a transport provider, connecting riders with freelance drivers directly and much more cheaply than traditional cab companies.

But critics and competitors say this allows it to dodge costly regulation and several countries, led by France, have banned its low-cost UberPOP service as a result.

Uber France challenged the ban, saying it amounted to regulation of an information company which Paris should have first lodged with the Commission, the European Union’s administrative arm.

However, Maciej Szpunar, an advocate general with the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice, said Uber was in fact an ordinary transport company and so member states could go ahead and regulate its activities without notifying the Commission in advance.

He recalled that in a May 11 opinion on a related case concerning Uber Spain, he had concluded that UberPOP “does not constitute an information society service.”

Szpunar also argued that even if the ECJ, the EU’s highest court, should at some stage determine UberPOP was indeed an information service provider, a ban in response to “the illegal exercise of a transport activity does not constitute a technical regulation within the meaning of the directive.”
“Notification of the draft law to the Commission would not be necessary in that situation either,” he said.

He argued that member states only had a duty to notify the Commission if they took a specific, targeted action against information service providers.

“Rules which affect those services only in an implicit or incidental manner are excluded from the notification obligation,” he said.

The ECJ’s advocate generals – its top lawyers – are regularly called on to provide initial guidance to the court which in most instances follows their advice in its final rulings.

The French authorities banned Uber after violent protests by traditional taxi drivers.

Uber in turn filed complaint with the EU against France and other states, arguing that national policies hostile to its operations violate European law.

[“Source-gadgets”]

Uber Says No Change in Growth, Investment Plans for India Amid Global Turmoil

Uber Says No Change in Growth, Investment Plans for India Amid Global Turmoil

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Uber is going ahead with its India operations without hurdles
  • Recent times have been tumultous for Uber as its CEO stepped down
  • A number of lawsuits against Uber including Waymo are also going on

Cab aggregator Uber on Thursday said there is no change in its growth and investment plans in India, even as it continues to battle against allegations of mismanagement and harassment at its headquarters in the US.

The ride-hailing firm further said it is “thinking hard” about how the company can foster a culture of inclusion and diversity in India and is bolstering existing practices.

India is the largest market for Uber, outside of its home-ground. There were concerns that the global developments could have a damaging effect on the company’s operations in India.

“There is no change in our plan for growth and investment. Our business is stronger than ever – we have continued to grow exponentially every week since we started in journey in India almost 4 years back,” Uber President India and South Asia Amit Jain told PTI.

He added that the management, both global and in the country, is committed to the operations in India.

The comments assume significance as Uber, the world’s most valued startup, has come under fire after a former employee wrote a blog post alleging sexual harassment and sexism at the firm.

Troubles mounted further after reports emerged that a top Uber executive had allegedly obtained medical records of a 26-year-old woman raped by an Uber driver in India in 2014.

Responding to an email, Jain said Uber’s commitment to India is “absolute”.

The company has also seen a slew of top-level exits, including the forced resignation of its co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick.

“At times like this, communication is important, and I have made myself available to all members of staff. The team understands that the mission remains the same and that in that respect, nothing has changed,” Jain said.

Besides, the company has also connected to its driver partner ecosystem to reiterate its commitment to the Indian market.

Jain said Uber is “a few days away from touching a milestone of 500 millionth trip in India”.

Uber, which competes with SoftBank-backed Ola, has operations in 29 cities in India. India accounted for about 12 percent of all Uber trips globally, as of last year.

The company has two engineering centres in India – Bengaluru and Hyderabad with nearly 100 people. The teams work on areas like safety, payments, driver growth, maps, vehicle telematics and rider experience, among others.

Jain said the company is further strengthening existing practices and bringing in newer ones as well.

“We are thinking hard about the things that need to change for Uber to not just be a successful company but also a company that is loved and respected. Change starts with action,” he said.

Globally, Uber’s board has adopted recommendations following an investigation led by the law firm of former US attorney general Eric Holder, who was retained to look into Uber’s culture and practices.

The recommendations exhorted Uber to exercise more control over HR and the overall culture at the workplace. Uber has now rolled out a plan for 180 days, under which it plans to make “meaningful changes” for enhancing the experience of its driver partners.

[“Source-ndtv”]