GM electric foldable bike

Acquihire Makes Instacart Mighty, GM Bikes, And Lime Electrifies…Cars?

This Week In On Demand – Nov. 9, 2018

You better take a seat because this week has been incredibly busy in the on demand industries. From impending grocery delivery showdowns to tiny cars flooding the streets of the Emerald City, here is what’s happening in the gig economy.

Instacart Nabs Google Hires and MightySignal Team

On Monday, Instacart announced two new members of the team. Varouj Chitilian, who spent the last 12 years at Google, is the first VP of engineering while Dave Sobota becomes the first VP of corporate development after 13 years at the tech powerhouse. The addition of Chitilian and Sobota comes just days after the delivery company announced the acquisition of the MightySignal team — a six-member group of app analytics engineers.

The acqui-hire and VP appointments are all part of the company’s preparations for the impending market battle with Amazon. A few weeks ago, Instacart scored a $600 million investment from D1 Capital Partners, which brought their 2018 funding total to $950 million. While they may be set in investments for the year, more team changes and expansions are expected as the stakes in on-demand grocery delivery rise.

Deliv Scores $40 Million Investment While Amazon Creates an In-House Delivery Team

Amazon Flex’s biggest rival, Deliv, has landed $40 million in funding. Some of the big players in the Series C round included General Catalyst, UPS, and RPM Ventures — all of whom are already invested in the last-mile delivery company. Yet, this round also saw a new lead investor in the game: Google. Deliv has now reached a total of $80.4 million, with the latest round valuing the company at just shy of half a billion dollars.

As Deliv expands, Amazon has announced it’s building its own seasonal in-house delivery team for the holidays. In the past, mail services like USPS and FedEx were the go-between for last-mile deliveries between the warehouse and the final destination. Now, the company is looking to reduce costs by cutting out the middleman. Unlike its Flex service, all of the seasonal staff operates as full-fledged Amazon employees instead of contractors. As a result, each hire is privy to temporary company benefits.

With the goal of cost reduction, it’s a wonder why they didn’t utilize Amazon Flex drivers to fill the gap. The contractors already assist with Amazon Prime and Prime Now orders. While a full-service team does ensure consistent deliveries because of guaranteed driver availability, the inclusion of benefits with the in-house operation raises costs. Plus, the switch-up may reduce the workload options for Flex drivers. As a result, we may see a wave of Flex contractors jumping ship for Deliv’s ever-expanding operation areas.

GM Sets Its Sights On Electric Bikes

Easily accessible, electric transportation is the future, and now, automotive power player General Motors is ready to make the leap. However, this time, the automaker isn’t interested in cars; instead, they’re setting their sites on electric bicycles. The company offered a sneak peek at it’s two new e-bikes, which are set to hit the market in 2019. One option is designed to fold up for easy movement, while the second version offers an incredibly compact design.

Currently unnamed, GM is keeping mum on their goals of their two bike models. The company may choose to sell them to the public or use them to launch a bike-sharing service. In both instances, it’s likely to affect the leaders of the bike-sharing industry — Lime and Jump. Lime’s bike fleet isn’t as large as their scooter fleet, but GM’s bike offering could reduce scooter demands. Jump, on the other hand, now has the financial power of Uber behind it, making it a more challenging opposition. Either way, GM is likely to offer more details early next year, so keep your eyes on this space for more information.

In the meantime, if you want to suggest a name for GM’s new bike, head over to, GM is running a contest. The person who suggests the winning name will win $10,000, and nine runner up will each get $1,000.

Lime Shifts Focus to Small Electric Car Rentals In Seattle

While GM moves to e-bikes, Lime is moving in the opposite direction. Known for their growing fleet of electric scooters and bicycles, the company is reportedly making the leap to rideshare services. However, unlike Uber and Lyft, Lime’s variation of rideshare involves their own fleet of incredibly small electric cars in which renters will drive themselves. The company has recently applied for permission to launch their car sharing pilot program in Seattle with a fleet of 500 vehicles. If approved, it could be their first step towards shaking up the rideshare industry.

The news of Lime’s transition to electric car sharing services came out the same day the company launched a $3 million scooter safety campaign. The initiative is designed to educate riders on safety procedures as well as offer free helmets to signers of their Respect the Ride pledge. Another 250,000 helmets are set to be sent to markets worldwide.

This move comes in midst of a California-based class-action lawsuit regarding scooter safety issues. As we reported last week, the company was also forced to pull many of its e-scooters off the road for faulty, fire-prone batteries. While it may be more a move to save face than inspiring change, the campaign serves to counteract any negative attention Lime’s received in the past month.

Now that you’re caught up on this week’s side hustle news, it’s time to make some predictions. With GM and Lime reportedly moving into each others territory, do you think there’ll be an acquisition in the future? Check back next week to see if your forecast is accurate!


Gig Economy News October 12, 2018

Lyft Hires, Uber Elects, and Microsoft Grabs – This Week In On Demand

This Week In On Demand — Oct. 12, 2018

It’s been a busy week for on-demand industries. From employee switch-ups to new partnerships, here’s what you need to know about your favorite side-hustle companies.

Lyft Hires New CMO & Policy Chief

On Monday, Lyft announced Joy Howard is joining their C-suite as CMO. Howard, who previously worked with Sonos and Patagonia, is replacing Melissa Waters. However, Howard’s introduction wasn’t the only team change this week, as it was announced on Tuesday that Anthony Foxx is also joining the company. Does that name sound familiar? The new Chief Policy Officer was once mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, and more recently, the U.S. Transporation Secretary under former President Barack Obama.

These changes come a few weeks after Lyft hit one billion rides. The rideshare company also began building its IPO team over the past few months as they plan to hit the market next year. With such monumental changes on the horizon, it’s possible we’ll see a few more C-suite hires over the upcoming months.

Uber Is Hitting the Election Polls

Uber has decided that it’s ready to take part in the mid-term elections this November. The rideshare company announced the past week that they’re partnering with Vote Together and Democracy Works to provide free rides across the country on Election Day, November 6th. They’re also working with When We All Vote to help both drivers and passengers register to vote in the run-up to the election.

The decision comes more than a month after Lyft announced their own Election Day program. However, the competitor is only offering free rides through partners in underprivileged areas of the country, and the rest of the locations can apply a 50% off promo code. Uber’s choice to offer free rides and not just reduced rates ensures they win the PR award for this round, which is much needed after the last few years of poor publicity.

Grab Scores Microsoft Investment

Southeast Asian rideshare powerhouse, Grab, has snagged a new investor in Microsoft. The five year deal, for an undisclosed amount, will have Grab implement Microsoft Azure, the company’s cloud offering. Together, the two businesses hope to use machine learning and AI technologies to improve and enhance the on demand transportation experience.

Microsoft joins a long-list of Grab investors. In June 2018, Toyota — who’s also invested in Uber — pumped $1 billion into Grab. Grab is also backed by Vertex Venture Holdings, Tiger Global, and SoftBank. The Singapore-based company’s worth is currently estimated to be over $10 billion. While they’re only currently serving Southeast Asia markets, the backing of such large international companies means the on-demand company is likely to move into other markets in the near future.

Airbnb Hits a Roadblock in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is the city where just about anything goes, except for (apparently) peer-to-peer property rentals. The Las Vegas planning commission voted on Tuesday to take the first step towards banning services, like Airbnb, from the city. Now, the issue must be decided by the city council before the new regulations go into effect.

Clark County, Nevada — where Las Vegas is located — already has regulations in place for Airbnb hosts, which includes requiring property owners to get a permit. However, until now, Las Vegas allowed homeowners to rent out their spaces without any sort of registration or licensing. If the new law is passed, only property owners who already have the correct permits will be allowed to host short-term renters.

DoorDash Announces New Partnership With Bringg

DoorDash and Bringg announced a new partnership on Wednesday. While DoorDash is known for its on-demand food delivery options, Bringg specialty is in-house delivery ordering. The new collaboration allows Bringg’s current customers to access DoorDash drivers for customer deliveries in the area.

DoorDash already offers an impressively large North American market with operations in over 1,000 cities. Partnering with Bringg is a step in the right direction to further grow their coverage areas. The move also allows DoorDash to expand earnings in their current markets as they’ll have the opportunity to work with customers who would otherwise forgo the on-demand delivery platform and go straight to the restaurant.

Waymo Hits the 10-Million-Mile Mark

This past Wednesday, Waymo announced it hit 10 million miles of testing their self-driving vehicles on public roads nationwide. After continued success in public testing trials, Waymo expects to have more self-driving minivans available for public use before the end of the year.

Right now approximately 400 riders are using auto vehicle services in the Pheonix metropolitan area. While Waymo’s robotaxi debut will be limited to the Pheonix area at first, this puts them at the forefront of the autonomous vehicle game.

Now, you’re all caught up! What do you think about Lyft’s evolving team? How about the Vegas pushback against Airbnb? Let us know in the comments!

judge uber waymo trial

Uber May Have Withheld Bombshell Evidence In Lawsuit! (Google v. Uber Update)

Waymo (Google) v. Uber Lawsuit Update

Well, it’s been quite a week in the multi billion dollar Uber – Waymo lawsuit!

On Tuesday, Judge Alsup, who’s presiding over the Waymo v. Google case, accused Uber of withholding evidence, and delayed the start of the trial. The trial was supposed to begin next week, but now it won’t start until next year.

For those who haven’t been following, Waymo (a Google subsidiary) is suing Uber, accusing them of conspiring with a former Google employee to steal self-driving car technology. For more details, read our brief primer on the case.

Case Primer: What is the Uber Google lawsuit all about?

The Big Deal: Uber Withheld What Could Be A Crucial Piece Of Evidence

Last week, the U.S. attorney’s office forwarded a piece of evidence from their own Uber criminal investigation, to Judge Alsup. It’s pretty unusual for a U.S. attorney to send evidence to a judge in an unrelated civil case, a week before the trial is supposed to begin.

The evidence is a 37 page letter written to Uber by the lawyer of former Uber employee Richard Jacobs, during an employment dispute. The contents of the letter are nothing short of explosive.

In short, the letter alleges that Uber trained employees to steal trade secrets and hide their tracks. It says Uber actually had a special intelligence unit dedicated to stealing trade secrets. Members of the unit communicated using disappearing messaging apps, which would shield or destroy evidence from any potential lawsuits. There is an ongoing criminal investigation into the allegations made in the letter.

[su_box title=”Columbo may have more questions for Uber.” style=”soft” box_color=”#d1a927″ title_color=”#d1274f”]

columbo investigates Uber
Photo By Prawny[/su_box]

Uber said the letter was extortionate. However, this seems highly unlikely.


Uber did fire Jacobs in April. However, after receiving the 37 page letter, Uber, in August, settled with Jacobs and paid him $4.5 million (his lawyer also got $3 million). They also hired him as a consultant for the next year.

If that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out Travis Kalanick, and some Uber board members knew about the letter.

Understandably, Judge Alsup was very unhappy. He wanted to know why Uber didn’t hand over the letter to Waymo months ago. He also wanted to know why they paid Jacobs $7.5 million and hired him as a consultant if he was extorting them. Overall, it has not been a fun week for Uber’s lawyers in Judge Alsup’s courtroom. Here’s some of the things he told Angela Padilla, Uber’s deputy general counsel, this week.

“That is a lot of money. And people don’t pay that kind of money for BS. And you certainly don’t hire them as consultants if you think everything they’ve got to contribute is BS.”

“We had to continue an entire trial because of your decision… You wanted this case to go to trial so that they [Waymo] didn’t have the benefit of this document. That’s how it looks.”

“…on the surface, it looks like you covered this up.”

“I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case,”

“If even half of what is in that letter is true, it would be an injustice for Waymo to go to trial (next week).”

Wow, did I say unhappy? I think Judge Alsup might actually have been really pissed off.

Overall, this was a really bad week in court for Uber. During previous settlement talks, Google requested damages of $1.5 Billion. Uber really can’t afford that given their ongoing massive losses. The Jacobs letter could significantly bolster Google’s case.

Judge Alsup has asked U.S. prosecutors to investigate Uber’s actions. He has delayed the start of trial until February, 2018.

Uber driver signup bonus - $2000!

Uber fires engineer at the center of Google case.

Yesterday, Uber fired Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer who allegedly stole 14,000 documents before leaving their self driving car subsidiary Waymo.

Source: The New York Times

Uber loses another high level executive.

Sherif Marakby, Uber’s vice president of global vehicle programs, leaves after a year.

Uber executives quitting at a rapid pace.

Mr. Marakby was a key player in Uber’s autonomous vehicle program. He had worked at Ford, a leader in autonomous vehicle technology, for 13 years before coming to Uber last year. According to Uber, his departure is unrelated to the lawsuit Google subsidiary Waymo, filed against Uber earlier this year.

If you’re keeping count, that’s three high level executive who have left Uber in roughly a month. Rachel Whetstone, Uber’s communication head, left last week, while its president, Jeff Jones, quit in March. And that’s on top of other executives in the engineering, business growth, and mapping areas, who have left or been asked to resign in recent months.

Given Uber’s continuous run of bad PR and $2.8 billion 2016 loss (not including the $1 billion they lost in China), the executive departures do not bode well for the company. Don’t get me wrong, Uber’s not going anywhere. But any IPO plans are probably shelved for the foreseeable future, and they may find it difficult to close another round of funding above the level of their last round. They still probably have a substantial amount of cash on hand, but they can’t keep losing close to $3 billion a year.

Google v. Uber – Injunctions, Judge Alsup, FBI, oh my!

Well, this case is not going well for Uber so far, but it’s early. To recap, Anthony Levandowski, Uber’s head of self-driving cars, used to be Google’s head of self-driving cars. Google says he stole 14,000 documents, started his own company, and sold it to Uber. Also, it’s possible Uber may have colluded with Mr. Levandowski. Google is understandably pissed and is suing the crap out of Uber. They want the court to force Uber to stop using it’s technology. This would seriously hinder Uber’s self-driving car program. Google also wants damages. Basically, the case could potentially devastate Uber.

What happened this week in the Google v. Uber case?

The latest is that Google is accusing Uber of violating a court order to produce documents. Previously, the court ordered Uber to produce any and all documents in its possession that so much as mentioned information from the 14,000 confidential files allegedly stolen by Levandowski. Uber says they don’t have the documents.

The bigger news, however, is that Mr. Levandowski refused to testify in the case. At a hearing last week, his lawyers said he was taking the fifth, to avoid potential criminal charges.

See, what Google is accusing Mr. Levandowski and Uber of, may be the subject of an FBI or U.S. Attorney investigation at some point. In fact, it may be already. So, if you’re Mr. Levandowski, you don’t want to testify in a civil trial. Then you’re on record, and anything he says at the civil trial can be used against him in a criminal proceeding. So, he took the fifth to protect himself. As the judge in the case pointed out, Uber could tell him to testify or be fired. So far, Uber has not done that.

Also during the hearing, Uber’s attorney tried to get the judge to keep the hearing confidential. He was concerned that people might be prejudiced against Uber if they knew Uber’s head of self-driving cars took the fifth amendment, in a suit about stealing self-driving car technology. Unfortunately for Uber, the judge in this case is the esteemed Judge Alsup. He is generally thought of as a judicial badass who takes little crap and suffers no fools. He presided over the Google v. Oracle case and learned the Java programing language that was at the heart of the case. Not a judge to screw around with.

Here’s Judge Alsup shutting Uber’s attorney down, courtesy of Mike Isaac of The New York Times.

Skeptical Judge Google Uber Trial

What comes next in the Google v. Uber trial?

The first thing Google is asking for is a preliminary injunction forcing Uber to stop using the stolen technology. The hearing on that injunction is May 3. If the judge grants the injunction, Uber may have to stop its self-driving car tests in Pennsylvania, California, and Arizona. In fact, it may have to shut down significant parts of its self-driving car program. If that happens, the effect of Uber’s valuation would be substantial.

The New York Times
USA Today