Uber allegedly used secret program to spy on Grab

Judith Balea, writing for Tech in Asia;

A secret Uber program supposedly spied on Southeast Asian rival Grab and stole data on its drivers, according to a Bloomberg report.

Called Surfcam, the program developed by an Uber staff out of its Sydney office scraped data published by competitors to figure out how many drivers were on their systems in real-time and where they were, the report said quoting anonymous sources. It started in 2015 while Travis Kalanick was CEO.

The tool, said to have been mainly used on Grab, raised concerns with a member of Uber’s legal team “who questioned whether it could be legally operated in Singapore because it may run afoul of Grab’s terms of service or the country’s strict computer-crime laws,” the report added.

It’s one of the invasive and possible illicit schemes that US authorities are looking into as they launched “at least five criminal probes” against the embattled ride-hailing company.

This is bad and its a Herculean task for Uber’s CEO to clean up the mess made by its previous CEO.

India’s Ola Raises $2 Billion From SoftBank, Tencent

Saritha Rai, writing for Bloomberg;

Ola scored $2 billion in new funding from a group of investors including SoftBank Group Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., a person familiar with the matter said, helping bankroll Uber Technologies Inc.’s fiercest rival in India.

Other backers in the ride-hailing startup’s latest financing round included a venture capital fund jointly run by Indian industrialist Ratan Tata and the University of California’s investment arm, as well as several U.S. institutional investors, people familiar with the deal said, asking not to be identified talking about a private deal. The company’s valuation after the financing wasn’t immediately clear.

Money fund their way against Uber!

GrabCar and Uber will no longer accept bookings to deliver a package without the rider

Makes sense, if you factor in the safety of the driver and liability that will fall on the driver if the items that they’ll deliver are contraband.

However, this makes a great concept for a startup, an on-demand delivery no questions asks, a legal version of “Transporter”.

Uber will be available in 7 cities in Saudi Arabia

Uber;

We are thrilled to announce that Uber is now available in new cities around Saudi Arabia: Qatif, Tarut, Jubail, Tabuk, Aseer (Abha, Khamis Mushait, Ahad Rufaidah), Jazan (Jazan, Sabya, Abo Arish) AlBaha, connecting more Saudi cities to safe, reliable and affordable rides.

To celebrate our newest cities, you can enjoy a 50% discount (from Monday Sept. 25, until 11:59pm Sunday, Oct 1st). Just open your Uber app and enter the promo code KSACITIES17 to enjoy 50% off two rides up to SAR50 each in Qatif, Tarut, Jubail, Tabuk, Aseer (Abha, Khamis Mushait, Ahad Rufaidah), Jazan (Jazan, Sabya, Abo Arish) and AlBaha.

Uber Faces Widespread Asia Bribery Allegations Amid U.S. Criminal Probe

Eric Newcomer, reporting for Bloomberg;

Uber Technologies Inc., facing a federal probe into whether it broke laws against overseas bribery, has embarked on a review of its Asia operations and notified U.S. officials about payments made by staff in Indonesia, people with knowledge of the matter said.

As the Justice Department looks into a possible criminal case, Uber is working with law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP to examine records of foreign payments and interview employees, raising questions about why some potentially problematic business dealings weren’t disclosed sooner, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details are private.

Philippines?!

I’m not sure but I’ll just link these here;

LTFRB wants taxi fares at par with Uber rates

Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez, reporting for GMA News;

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has “unanimously agreed” to increase taxi fares, making it “at par” with the rates of transport network company Uber, Chairman Martin Delgra III said Wednedsay.

It appears that LTFRB totally miss the point as to why commuters are favoring Uber and TNVS (transport network vehicle services), taxi in Metro Manila obviously lower than the rate of Uber but people still prefer Uber over taxis, heck I prefer Uber over taxis.

It more about the overall service that TNVS provides to its riders, the friendly drivers, convenience in booking and most of all they don’t refuse any commuters/riders.

Chairman Martin Delgra III added, an increase in taxi fares would hopefully solve the problem of “underutilization” of cabs.

Good luck with that!

LTFRB do not have any legal basis for those fines against Uber and Grab

Written by Atty. Peter Michael Dizon;

The only legal bases for LTRFB penalties will show you a range between P5,000.00 for the first offense, P10,000.00 for a second offense, and P15,000.00 for a third offense. There are also other penalties in the amounts of P50,000.00, P75,000.00, P100,000.00, and P200,000.00 for various offenses.

The link was originally shared by James Deakin, if you’re following the Uber-LTFRB drama, this is a very good read.

I strongly encourage you to read the article, since it tackles the legal matters of Uber’s suspension and fines.

Uber reportedly picks Expedia CEO as its new CEO

Anisa Menur A. Maulani, writing for e27;

Ride-hailing giant Uber has appointed Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as the company’s new CEO, according to a Reuters report.

Newly appointed Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, on his first day, will have a lot on its plate. Fixing first the sexism culture in the company and second the problem in the Philippines, hopefully!

When the LTFRB Chairman Sees 10 Taxis Turn Down Passengers

Carlo Ople, writing for Unbox Ph;

Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chair Atty. Martin Delgra III guested on Daniel Razon’s morning show to talk about the on-going Uber-LTFRB drama-rama saga. He was shown a social experiment video where a reporter tried to book a Taxi without having to give additional money on top of the meter fare. All 10 tries were a failure with the cabs either asking for more money or downright refusing the passenger.

His response to the “social experiment”? Chairman Delgra said that passengers should assert their rights. If the drivers refuse, then people should file a complaint at the LTFRB and show up during the hearing so that the drivers can be properly penalized. Suffice to say that’s a lot of inconvenience on the side of the passenger especially since they’re the aggravated party.

So when was the last time LTFRB penalize a taxi operator for Php 5 million?

This is the kind of mindset that makes people think that LTFRB is protecting taxi operators and only after the money of Uber, Grab and other TNVS, which are considered well funded “multi-billlion” companies.

Win for ride-hailing apps as Indonesia overthrows key transportation rules

Nadine Freischlad, writing for Tech in Asia;

  • Indonesia’s supreme court, the country’s highest judiciary institution, has overthrown key parts of the regulatory framework that affect ride-hailing companies like Uber, Grab, and Go-Jek.
  • 18 paragraphs were ruled to be in conflict (PDF link) with existing laws regulating SMEs and the transportation sector and declared ineffective.

LTFRB could learn a thing or two from Indonesia’s experience. There’s a reason why Uber, Grab and other transport network vehicle services (TNVS) are thriving and that’s where LTFRB is failing the commuting public.

You can read the translated version of the original article here.

Uber announces new chief business officer for APAC

Leighton Cosseboom, writing for Tech in Asia;

Uber announced today that it has hired Brooks Entwistle as its new chief business officer for Asia-Pacific.

With the challenges that Uber is facing in the region, the only thing that I can say to Brooks is.. “Best of Luck!”

LTFRB suspends Uber Philippines for 1 month

From LTFRB’s FB Page;


From their twitter account;

I agree with James Deakin’s argument that activated does not necessarily mean that all accredited drivers/vehicle are on the road picking up riders. We need to understand that not all Uber driver are full-time drivers, since they have a day job that they need to maintain but that does not mean that they need the extra income.

LTFRB posted the details of the suspension on their facebook page, I’m not sure why.

Uber rolls out Driver Profiles

Alyza Angeles, writing for Yugatech;

Basically, the new feature works just by simply tapping the photo of your driver to view his/her profile. From there, you can scroll down to see his/her achievements as well thank you notes from other riders. You can even chat your driver up and leave a thank you note after your ride.

When was the last time you saw the profile of a taxi driver?

This is just a small feature but it has a big effect on the service, which is what taxi operator needs to do. I expect Grab to follow suit or roll-out similar feature, if its not already available.

Grab and Uber render LTFRB irrelevant

Joel Ruiz Butuyan, writing for Inquirer.net;

With Grab and Uber, we have private companies that accredit vehicles which follow the responsibilities expected from licensed public transporters, even if most of them don’t have LTFRB franchises.

The LTFRB has become an outright failure in the performance of its government mandate because its licensing scheme amounts to a useless system in protecting the commuting public. Now come two private companies with new systems that have demonstrated rousing success in performing responsibilities which the LTFRB has completely abdicated.

A great read, specially if you are following the Gra, Uber and LTFRB drama.

To summarize, Grab, Uber and other transportation network company (TNC), brought out the shortcomings of both LTFRB and tax operators, which is the lack of infrastructure to moderate/penalize unscrupulous drivers.

We have to remember that Grab, Uber and other transportation network company (TNC) are already self-regulating and penalizes its driver, and reporting a unscrupulous Uber driver, is as easy as sending an email or text message.

LTFRB fines Grab, Uber P5M each for permit violations

Rambo Talabong, reporting for Rappler;

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) imposed a fine of P5 million each on Uber and Grab on Tuesday, July 11, for letting some of their drivers operate without permits.

Not a good news for Grab and Uber drivers.

The LTFRB says the ride-hailing companies should have been closed down because of the violations, but the public interest ‘overrides’ this penalty.

How convenient for taxi operators!

Unless taxi change their attitude and stop being selective, Grab and Uber users will just continue to increase. When getting a taxi, I received at least 3 taxi refusal. Their reason(s) too traffic, too far and asking for a bigger flag-down rate.

LTFRB labels UberMOTO and UberXL as “colorum”

Daniel Morial, writing for Yugatech;

The LTFRB warns the public about the upcoming UberMOTO in Cebu and the new UberXL in Manila. The new services from Uber Philippines are not recognized by the regulating agency. UberMOTO is an online booking service for habal-habal while UberXL is a more spacious option of the existing UberX service that seats up to 6 people.
Read more at http://www.yugatech.com/news/ltfrb-labels-ubermoto-and-uberxl-as-colorum/#8kXqQSlPkHSvutqs.99

Here’s LTFRB’s official statement.

LTFRB rejects 15,000 Uber, Grab applications

Rappler.com;

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Thursday, January 5, said it dismissed nearly half of franchise applications – over 15,000 out of some 32,000 – for ride-hailing services Grab and Uber.

The article continued that the reason the applicants were rejected because they have incomplete requirements or they did not appear at hearings. Which is valid!

Introducing Uber Movement

Here’s the official announcement of Uber Movement.

Uber;

Every hour of every day, people use Uber to get around the more than 450 cities we serve. From Sydney to Summit, we’ve been working hard to get to know these cities, with the goal of making them cleaner, more efficient and less crowded. Along the way, we’ve found that local leaders, urban planners, and civic communities are all working to crack their city’s commute and figure out how best to invest in new infrastructure.

That’s why we’re introducing Movement: a website that uses Uber’s data to help urban planners make informed decisions about our cities.

Uber trips occur all over cities, so by analyzing a lot of trips over time, we can reliably estimate how long it takes to get from one area to another. Since Uber is available 24/7, we can compare travel conditions across different times of day, days of the week, or months of the year—and how travel times are impacted by big events, road closures or other things happening in a city.

This data is anonymized and aggregated into the same types of geographic zones that transportation planners use to evaluate which parts of cities need expanded infrastructure, like Census Tracts and Traffic Analysis Zones (TAZs). In the weeks ahead, we’ll be inviting planning agencies and researchers to access our data and explore zone-to-zone travel times, and will soon make the website freely available to the public.

This is only the first step. City planners face a myriad of challenges, and we hope to help tackle more of them over time. We’re excited to partner with city officials, urban planners and research organizations to continue building features that today’s transportation planners need. While it’s early days for this product, we’re committed to serving cities from Manila to Melbourne to Washington, DC.

Over the past six and a half years, we’ve learned a lot about the future of urban mobility— and what it means for cities and the people who live in them. We’ve seen how more access to transportation and the use of private cars for public good can change both where and how we live for the better. We hope Uber Movement can play a role in helping our cities grow in a way that works for everyone.

If you’re interested in working with us on a partnership or research opportunity using Movement data, please contact research@uber.com.

Uber PH voices dissent on surge cap, urges drivers to petition gov’t

Newsbytes.PH;

Although it has agreed to reduce its surge pricing as requested by the government, ride-sharing app operator Uber Philippines has asked its partner drivers to write the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to make known of their opposition to the price cap.

With the pending approval of HB 4669, I don’t think LTFRB will change their minds on the price cap for transport network service providers (TNS) like Uber and Grab.