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Your Judge keeps Lyfting me higher : Ruling goes against the Uber and Lyft operating in NYC

Lyft me up, Lyft me down.

Lyft me up, Lyft me down.

So the legal situation of Lyft, Uber et al, evolves.  The New York Post reports that Lyft has agreed to submit to TLC regulations.

The ride-sharing app Lyft caved to demands by the city to submit to TLC regulations after a Manhattan judge threatened to bar the company from launching in the outer boroughs.

“Lyft agreed they would not launch until they have come into compliance with the law, the TLC requirements,” said Justice Kathryn Freed Friday.

Specifically the start-up, which already operates in 65 other cities including San Francisco and Chicago, has to register with base stations and submit its mobile phone app technology to the TLC for approval.

“If these things aren’t done I’m prepared to issue a temporary restraining order” preventing Lyft vehicles from driving in the city until the conclusion of a lawsuit brought by the attorney general challenging the business model, Freed said.

This is pretty big news in that these start up companies have claimed such regulation don’t apply so this could be setting legal precedence. If they do have to comply with such Taxi regulations as laid down by local authorities, their new internet business model gets broken pretty quick.  Just look at Aereo to see what happens when it goes in front of a judge:Virtual reality meets real reality. Continue reading..

Cab Call Away : European taxis day of protest against Uber

And so it goes. Actually it was more getting stuck in a massive hold up. We refer to thhe counter revolution against the Uber with the taxi drivers in many European cities protesting.

Transport in major European cities has been disrupted by strikes affecting taxis and rail services.

Taxi drivers blocked roads in Paris, Madrid, London, Milan, Berlin and other cities in protest against the rise of services booked using smartphone apps.

They say there has been a lack of regulation concerning rival mobile service Uber.

[Source bbc news 11th June 2014]

You’ve not heard the last of this. Expect to hear more push back from entrenched interests.

Question we will continue to ask is: Will Uber end up as a Napster or a Google?

A job for the Ubermensch

While walking his 2 Roam’n war dogs, Trajan listened into the local NPR station where Marketplace was playing. Generally we consider Marketplace to be rather lightweight when it comes to economic news but there was an section on there about “Uber”. It apparently has been valued at $18 Billion.

The latest venture-capital investment in Uber, a mobile app that allows users to hail a ride in a town car or taxi, pegs the company’s value at more than $18 billion. That’s more than United Airlines or Sony, just shy of what car-rental Avis and Hertz are worth together. That may seem high for a company with direct competition like LyftSidecar and the entire taxi industry.

For Uber to be worth what investors are betting, the company might need to capture half of the worldwide market for taxis, says Andy Brennan, author of a recent report on that industry from IBIS World Research.  “I can’t see that ever happening,” he says. “Generally taxi customers are quite price-conscious.”

A ride in one of Uber’s town cars costs more than a cab. “The average person who gets a taxi is not necessarily going to use Uber on a regular basis,” Brennan says.

However, competing with taxis isn’t Uber’s goal. The company’s CEO has identified a much bigger competitor: The personal automobile.

$18B for an app that allows you to book a car at a higher price than a Taxi ? If the Venture capitalists are telling you this, then it is likely an example of “the Greater fool” theory. They need to stoke up the hype to get you to buy it from them during the yet to be determined IPO.

Not only that but the Uber model itself faces an uphill struggle for acceptance. In San Antonio, the police chief is threatening users of Uber’s sister app – Lyft  – with jail on the grounds that they do not conform to Taxi restrictions. Afterall, police have the protection of the cities revenue stream public safety  to consider. Continue reading..

End of the road for Travis

It was a sad to hear about Travis Kalanick’s mom passing away in an accident but we thought Uber’s statement was that he was taking a leave of absence a cop out. We nevertheless gave an Emperor thumbs up when they later upgraded that to a full firing along with a few others of his cronies.

We thought Travis was a prize dickhead and wrong person to lead a company.

However, we’ve wondered if his firing was not because because of social justice pressure with him being a dick, but was it the fact that Uber was loosing a ton of money and the Venture capitalists wanting some fiscal discipline. Uber is loosing a ton of money.

However, the gossip about getting Melissa Meyer in from Yahoo is in our opinion, a mistake. Just because someone had lucked up in riding the coat tails of success with google, doesn’t mean it means you are any good as a leader. Sometimes people are just lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

On the other hand, an ex-google person may help to de-escalate the lawsuits on Uber for stealing Google IP on driverless cars. [see Waymo scandal]. We don’t think Travis is crying too much either as he has a lot of controlling stock and maybe his replacement can actually take it to a successful IPO now.

Btw, we also noticed that you can finally tip inside the Uber app. This was a ridiculous shortcoming and a source of discontentment from the riders and passengers alike.


Roachella Festival: Plenty of Smoke with no Fyre

Dahlings, the Fyre Festival is  the perfect example of why you should NOT believe everything you read over the internet.

In an attempt to capitalize on Coachella, Fyre billed itself as “The best in Food, Art, Music and Adventure” where it positioned itself as a Luxury Music festival is a Bahamas for the young, beautiful and rich. It was promoted by the likes of Nobel prize winner Bella Hadid, Poet Laurette Emily Ratajkowski, Rocket Scientist Alessandra Ambrosio, Inventor of the cold Fusion Hailey Baldwin and last but not least, Mother Terressa II, Joan Smalls. Oh wait, I got that wrong. They are not role models but the more mundane type of model so prized by modern society.

With VIP treatment running into the $10K’s, Fyre Festival turned out to be an outright VIP disaster! The whole event looks like one big scam with nothing and I mean nothing, going to plan. In the end it was cancelled leaving some folks stranded at the airport in Miami and perhaps, they were the lucky ones.

Let’s say you had spent $13,000 for a package that apparently included flights, ocean views and gourmet food what did you get? Continue reading..

Brexit : We did it first !

roam boudicca

The original Teresa May?

In case you’ve been asleep for the past month, the people of Britannia voted to leave the European Union by a slim majority. All the polls predicted they would stay but nope, Plebs being Plebs didn’t listen and voted out.

The person who agreed to allow the vote and managed a poor campaign, David Cameron, has resigned. Since then some of the pro-leave advocates Farage, Boris and Gove have all left the political stage.

A new dawn beckons where Teresa May is going to be the new Prime Minister. She will be the second female PM after Thatcher.

It is not looking good to the Opposition either, where there is a Labour party backlash against the Uber-Lefty leader, Corbyn who may not survive.

It is now up in the air about what happens next : trade, work visas and others as there is no transition plan.

Also, ‘Leave’ means uncertainty about the long term survival of Great Britain as an political union with the Scots making noises about wanting a second referendum on independence. Scotland voted majority to stay and claim that the 2014 referendum was based around Britain being a member of the EU. Since Britain is now Brexiting, they are saying not so fast we want to stay in. This is not easy in the Spain, for example, doesn’t want to allow countries to split up like this as Catalonia may have similar ideas.

Over Wine, we emperors of Roam were tittering where we thought it funny to think that around 1600 years ago, it was Romans who had the original Brexit around 410 AD. Back then Emperor Honorius wore the purple.

The situation had parallel to today’s Brexit but in reverse. Back then we had:

  • Troubles on the continent– Rome was having a bit of bother with the Vigioths. So much so, it led to the sacking of Rome by the barbarian, Alaric.
  • Political Divorce with no plan– Our Brexit was the Romans moving our troops to the Continent. Adios Brits and thanks for the tin !
  • Immigration – Saxons, Angles and Jutes coming across without visas and taking the jobs Romans wouldn’t do like defend the country.
  • Troubles with Indiginent Celts – This is when Picts invaded England and Irish tribes invaded Wales. Now we have it the other way around.

Anyhow, back to today. We at Roam have no idea how this is going to turn out.

For the Traveler, this period of uncertainty has led to pound dropping from ~1.50 to the dollar to around 1.30 and probably going lower. This may put the great in Great Britain if you going there but it may also lead to price increases for items that are imported. Go visit soon while the Union Jack T-shirt means something.

Some official tourism links for you should you want to visit:  Great Britain Tourism Board   |  England  | Scotland  |  Wales | Northern Ireland

An Indian take away

Karma suit Ya?

Karma suit Ya? The company doing the dirty to Uber

Uber is in court again. This time they are not the defender where in this World War on Taxis (WW T), they are taking their rival Ola to court in India.

From Reuters:

A flurry of complaints from Uber drivers about an unusually high number of canceled bookings was the spark that ignited a bitter legal fight with Ola, Uber’s rival for dominance of India’s $12 billion taxi market, according to court documents and a source with direct knowledge of Uber’s case.  

Uber is suing Ola for $7.5 million to compensate for lost revenue and goodwill, alleging the Indian market leader created about 94,000 fake user accounts with the ride-hailing service and used them to make more than 405,000 false bookings.

The broad outlines of the lawsuit were reported when it was filed last month, but a Reuters review of court filings and interviews with sources close to both sides have uncovered new details about how Uber says it was able to trace fake bookings and calls to Ola employees, and Ola’s response to the allegations.

I am shocked—shocked—to find that there dirty tricks going on here!

Before you all jump to Uber’s defence, I’d like to remind our Roaman audience of a prior instance where Uber was accused by Lyft of doing the very same thing in the US. – see ” NOW, PLAY NICE AND SHARE : UBER DIRTY TRICKS ON IT’S COMPETITOR, LYFT“.

Oh I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

France strikes. Again

Anti-Uber taxi drivers block Paris road : Source BBC news

Anti-Uber taxi drivers block Paris road : Source BBC news

The workers of France are at it again : yep, they are on strike where millions of teachers, health workers and air traffic controllers are protesting against reforms.

This taxi drivers are also joining in and protesting against Uber.

This sucks if you are traveling where not only are roads blocked but a fifth of flights at Paris airports were cancelled.

We’ve warned you before but you must factor in the strong possibility of some strike or protest if you are visiting or flying over France. It could completely screw up your plans. I’ll bet money this happens again when the weather warms up.

The Mistaken Ride

Can you take me to Hades?

Excuse me, can you take me to Hades?

This is a story posted on Facebook by one of my friends. August 15th

This happened last Monday.
There’s still plenty of time before the games in our Monday Dart League at Clover Leaf starts when I arrived so I parked and waited inside the car. I was busy with my phone oblivious of what’s going around the place when suddenly two Arab-looking guys, probably in their 40s approached me.

Without a word, each opened the back seat doors and slumped themselves inside. I sat still feeling cold and terrified not knowing what to do. I waited for the worst thing to happen… a gun or a knife at the back of my head, demand for something. But they just sat there calmly looking at me. I slowly turned my head back to them cleared my throat and asked them, “What do you want from me?”, trying to sound as nice as I could.

I heard an answer but I was too frantic to understand what they’re saying so I apologized and asked again politely, “I can’t understand, can you please say it clearly?” The guy on the left leaned forward and to my ear he said, “Are you Uber?”. With a big sigh of relief I answered back, “No, I’m not! I’m not an Uber driver!”. The two guys looked at each other and said, “Sorry, we thought you are.” And both got out of my car laughing… and I was laughing, too!


The Medallion Millionaire Heist: Behind the curtain of the Big Taxi cab racket

Boston Globe's Excellent investigation into the problems with Boston's $1B Taxi industry.

Screen capture of Boston Globe‘s Excellent investigation into the problems with Boston’s $1B Taxi industry. A MUST READ.

I wanted to understand a bit more about Taxis and the medallion system. Boston Globe has one of the best pieces of investigative journalism that I have seen. Please take the time out to read it.

Driven to the Edge :

The Globe Spotlight Team spent nine months examining Boston’s $1 billion taxi industry.

My jaw dropped when I read how the Medallion system works in Boston.I have no reason to think it is different for the other large cities in the US.

The owner of Boston Cab – Edward Tutunjian- owns  20% of the 1825 medallions. Boston cab, then leases each cab out on a daily basis where it costs that driver, $120 per day. It is up to that driver to make over $120 or take a loss. The owner of the Medallion gets a steady stream of income regardless and doesn’t even drive the cab.

Continue reading..