Morning Ed: Transportation {2017.03.01.W}

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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35 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordan
    Ignored
    says:

    I can appreciate the method of protest, but if the purpose is obscured, it strikes me as outrage for its own sake, which isn’t very useful.Report

  2. Avatar Oscar Gordan
    Ignored
    says:

    Uber screwed up by poaching the Google engineer & going straight to a parallel project. They might prevail in the lawsuit, but the legal costs & PR hit is going to hurt.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Oscar Gordan
      Ignored
      says:

      Oscar,
      Uber is a bit like Trump — good at playing the villain. Their sexual harassment issues are self-inflicted, and hurt PR way more than poaching google employees.Report

    • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to Oscar Gordan
      Ignored
      says:

      The hiring itself was probably legal. The copying of the entire petabyte of source code and data from Google was not. It might be that the hires also disclosed trade secrets.

      The thing about Kalanick is that before Uber, he ran two different file sharing companies. The first one went bankrupt when sued by the RIAA. He currently runs a company that could be described as an illegal taxi service. He’s kind of a Darth Vader wannabe, so I will call him a Kylo Ren.

      Google was an investor in Uber, and until last Friday owned a big chunk of them. They are pulling all that investment, and the prospective value of that investment is included in damages, as well as the prospective value of, you know, robot cars. Should Google prevail, Uber is dead.

      I’m a bit sad, though, because there’s a thing there in the Uber-Lyft space that seems worthwhile. I’ve kinda been screwed over by taxi companies, as I’ve mentioned before in this space.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Doctor Jay
        Ignored
        says:

        I agree that poaching the engineer wasn’t illegal, but the data dump certainly violates an employment contract at the very least, and exposes Uber to trade secret violations. My point about the lidar system is that, if nothing else, it was a big flare to Google that their former employee was sharing data.

        As for Kalanick, he’s not having a good year.Report

        • Avatar Mo in reply to Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          Also, the price paid for a company with no product or working prototype that is less than a year old, that you had contact with while still employed at Google indicates to me that Uber was, at best, only technically ignorant about the source of the information because they did zero due diligence on the source (because they already knew but wanted plausible deniability in the most technical sense).Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Oscar Gordan
      Ignored
      says:

      A lot of dumping on Uber in that article, but the main thing that stood out to me was: “rider fares only cover roughly 40 percent of a ride, with the remainder subsidized by venture capitalists.” It looks like Uber is trying to overcome this with volume.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to PD Shaw
        Ignored
        says:

        The article had a really difficult time distinguishing between:

        1) Reasons I think Uber is bad, and
        2) Reasons that the Uber business model is not financially viable.Report

        • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Will Truman
          Ignored
          says:

          Yeah, and I guess the other point is that even if Uber’s business model is not financially viable, I could still see the business purchased out of bankruptcy with the bad debt wiped-out and a new business model. Deadspin is still with us.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to PD Shaw
        Ignored
        says:

        I don’t know what “rider fares only cover roughly 40 percent of a ride, with the remainder subsidized by venture capitalists,” Uber takes a percentage of each fare; if there’s a loss, it’s borne by the driver, not Uber.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to PD Shaw
        Ignored
        says:

        PD,
        Writing from Pittsburgh, Uber is trying to overcome this with automation.
        Marketshare, then money — leave the drivers behind.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay in reply to PD Shaw
        Ignored
        says:

        My understanding of Uber’s strategic business plan is

        1. Drive traditional taxi businesses out of the market.
        2. Raise prices.

        There’s this other thing they do, which I think might have a place in the economy. Which is to utilize slack resources (vehicles and drivers) during peak demand times, which will result in more rides for riders and extra cash for people who already have cars which they use for other reasons.

        I kind of don’t have a problem with that, actually.Report

  3. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    No gondola paid for by the Arlington County government. If the Georgetown BID wants to foot the entire bill, (and/or go in with the private real estate honcos that own & lease the Rosslyn office towers) the government of Arlington won’t object, as far as I can tell.

    (eta – I’ll admit, this is a thing that I would like, but I don’t want to pay for it at all)Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe
    Ignored
    says:

    McEachern says it is illegal to tow a couch through a drive-thru,

    The province of New Brunswick has some oddly specific criminal codes.Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      but the two men were wearing helmets.

      I mean, c’mon… they are complying with the spirit of the law. This is how you get Trudeau.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      Given how these things generally work in reality, I’d guess that the law just says you’re not allowed to tow anything through a drive-through. Designed for people pulling trailers, for the most part.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      IIRC at the time the cops were saying, essentially “we’re for sure going to charge them with something – we just have to figure out what. I mean, this has to be illegal somehow. It’s not like it’s come up before.”Report

    • Avatar Brent F in reply to Kolohe
      Ignored
      says:

      Putting on my pendant hat: As a point of law, New Brunswick is absolutely forbidden to have any kind of criminal codes, let alone specific ones.

      An American who can tell me why gets one imaginary internet Nanimao bar.Report

      • Avatar Francis in reply to Brent F
        Ignored
        says:

        A. Just what is your hat hanging from? /pedant.

        B. As a guess, because it is a sub-part of a larger jurisdiction that has the sole authority to promulgate criminal codes.Report

  5. Avatar Michael Cain
    Ignored
    says:

    From the story about the men on the couch in the McDonald’s drive-through, the sentence “Two local men, aged 28 and 39, will face yet-to-be-determined charges” carries a pronounced flavor of “We know it ought to be illegal, but we’re not sure exactly which laws were violated.”Report

  6. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    Oh if only you’d waited one day to post these links…

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/technology/uber-greyball-program-evade-authorities.html

    Uber has for years engaged in a worldwide program to deceive the authorities in markets where its low-cost ride-hailing service was being resisted by law enforcement or, in some instances, had been outright banned.

    The program, involving a tool called Greyball, uses data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and circumvent officials. Uber used these methods to evade the authorities in cities such as Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China, Italy and South Korea.

    Greyball was part of a broader program called VTOS, short for “violation of terms of service,” which Uber created to root out people it thought were using or targeting its service improperly. The VTOS program, including the Greyball tool, began as early as 2014 and remains in use, predominantly outside the United States. Greyball was approved by Uber’s legal team.

    Greyball and the broader VTOS program were described to The New York Times by four current and former Uber employees, who also provided documents. The four spoke on the condition of anonymity because the tools and their use are confidential and because of fear of retaliation by the company…

    So I guess this is confirmation, as though it were really needed, that the sharing economy is mostly based on ignoring the laws that stop other people already doing the thing you want to do.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      DD,
      Tech Libertarian Iconoclasts.
      Pretty much uber in a nutshell.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      If your regulation(s) result in a thriving black market, or widespread skirting/disobedience, you might be doing regulation wrong.

      Or not, depending on what your true desired result is (see also: The Drug War).Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        “If your regulation(s) result in a thriving black market, or widespread skirting/disobedience, you might be doing regulation wrong.”

        Thing is, we don’t look at black-market operators and say “wow, they have come up with an amazing new economic model which will totally result in a better world for everyone and we shouldn’t restrict what they’re doing”. We look at black-market operators and say “they’re breaking the law”.

        The existence of a black market suggests that we should relax regulations, but I wouldn’t think that even the hardest of hardcore market-orthodoxists would suggest that a black market means we should allow people to flout the laws that exist.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DensityDuck
          Ignored
          says:

          but I wouldn’t think that even the hardest of hardcore market-orthodoxists would suggest that a black market means we should allow people to flout the laws that exist.

          Yeah, that isn’t what I am saying.Report

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