Uber’s Terrible 2017 in Review | Business Markets and Stocks News

Uber has had one heck of a year, in all of the worst ways. The company is in the midst of trade secret lawsuits, consumer protection lawsuits, and bans from cities. It’s trying to fix its culture of sexism, had to apologize for covering up a massive customer data breach, and is still transitioning after investors forced out its founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick.

Here’s how the tumultuous year played out for Uber.

Image source: Getty Images.

Winter of discontent: Sexual harassment, trade secrets, CEO outbursts

Uber kicked off its horrible year with a $20 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over claims that it exaggerated its earnings potential when recruiting new drivers. For example, the FTC said Uber claimed on its website that UberX drivers in New York City earned an annual median income of more than $90,000 when in actuality it was more like $61,000.

The company agreed to pay the fine and started to move on with 2017 when a former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler, published a blog post highlighting the company’s seemingly pervasive problem with sexual harassment. That led to an internal investigation, and a few days later the company’s senior vice president of engineering left the company, once it was discovered that employees at Google, his former company, had made sexual harassment claims against him.

That same month — we’re still in February, by the way — Alphabet‘s (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Waymo — the newly spun-off self-driving company that used to be part of Google — filed a lawsuit against Uber, claiming that a former Waymo employee misappropriated trade secrets relating to its autonomous-driving tech. That lawsuit is still ongoing.

Just days after that lawsuit was filed, then-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was caught on film arguing with and belittling an Uber driver when he and the driver got into a heated debate over Uber fares. Kalanick issued an apology after the video went public.

OK, so that was January and February. The spring has to be better, right?

Springing into more trouble: Greyball and more internal turmoil

Not even a week after the video surfaced, The New York Times published an article showing that Uber had created fake versions of its app, known as “Greyball,” which was used to deceive local government officials into thinking they were waiting for an Uber driver when they actually weren’t.

Uber used its app to gather information about some of its users, and if it determined that they were local government officials or law enforcement, then the app essentially pretended to work but would show that no drivers were available in their area. The company took this move so it could operate in cities where the service may not have been approved.

Greyball set off a firestorm for the company that it’s still dealing with today; major cities have considered kicking Uber out over its seemingly deceptive practices.

To top the spring months off, The Information reported (the article is behind a paywall) in March that Kalanick and five other Uber executives visited an escort bar while traveling in South Korea back in 2014. The article said an executive was present who felt uncomfortable with where they were, left the bar, and later reported the incident to the company’s human resources. The article then alleges that Uber tried to keep the executive quiet about the incident in light of the current sexual harassment investigations the company was already facing.

Image source: Getty Images.

Never-ending summer: Kalanick leaves, firings, and more sexism charges

Uber kicked off the summer with a board meeting discussing the findings of its internal investigation into sexual harassment within the company. An Uber board member at the time, David Bonderman, made comments regarded as sexist during the meeting and ended up resigning two weeks later.

The company ended up firing 20 employees as a result of the investigation, and Kalanick decided to step away from the company for three months. That news came as Kalanick’s mother had passed away and some assumed he would come back to lead the company, but a little more than a week later he resigned from the company, after Uber’s biggest investors wrote a letter asking him to resign.

Uber then hired former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to help turn around the company. That appears to have been a wise decision, but Uber’s deep-seated problems have continued to surface even under new leadership.

Uber’s perpetual fall: London ditches Uber, a data breach, and big losses

In the fall, the Transport for London (TfL) — London’s highest transportation authority — said it wouldn’t renew the license for the company to operate in the city. The TfL cited Uber’s Greyball software and other privacy concerns, saying in a statement, “TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.”

That was a blow to the company, not just because London is a huge city, but also because it could set a precedent for other cities to shut down Uber as well. The company still functions somewhat in London, because a ban is difficult to enforce, but the move by the city was nonetheless another black eye for the ride-sharing company.

Then in November, it was revealed that hackers breached some of Uber’s computer systems and had gotten access to the information of 57 million riders and drivers in 2016. All companies have data breaches, of course, but the big problem is that Uber didn’t tell its customers or drivers about the breach and instead paid the hackers $100,000 to delete the data.

As a result of Uber’s handling of that breach, several cities around the globe are looking into lawsuits against the company, and Washington’s state attorney general has already filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Uber.

The only way to go is up?

Uber’s new CEO appears to be trying to right the company, and Khosrowshahi said recently that the company plans on going public in 2019. Uber’s revenue increased by 21% sequentially in its most recent quarter, but its losses also widened to $1.5 billion, up from $1.1 billion the previous quarter.

Going public more than a year from now should give Uber plenty of time to release any remaining skeletons in its closet, but in its current state this wouldn’t be a company I’d want to invest in — at least not until it proves it knows how to function in an ethical and transparent way, obey the laws, and treat its employees and customers with respect.

10 stocks we like better than Wal-Mart

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The Morning After: Wednesday, December 13th 2017


It’s just about that time of year.
Engadget is once again presenting the official Best of CES awards

CES is just around the corner, and we’re getting ready to try out all the latest gadgets. We’re also pumped to be hosting the official Best of CES awards for the fifth year in a row. Just as in years past, our team of intrepid editors will search out the cream of the crop, nominate a group of finalists and later select the winners. Oh, and you, too, will have your voice heard through the People’s Choice award. Want to know more? Head over to our awards hub. Oh and if you’re part of a company who wants to submit a product for consideration, you’ll find instructions for that, too.


There’s a reason it’s called the Bitcoin bubble, folks.
People are mortgaging their houses to buy Bitcoin

Bitcoin is sitting at $16,674 at the time of writing, after rocketing from $1,000 to more than $19,000 in the course of this year. Those types of eye-catching numbers (and the resulting media hype) are bound to draw the interest of casual folk. But, unless you’ve got money to burn, most analysts will tell you the same thing: steer clear of the hyper-volatile currency.

Still, it seems some people aren’t paying heed. A bunch of wannabe investors are even going so far as to take mortgages out to buy bitcoin.


One is a serious VR contender.
Samsung vs. Acer Mixed Reality headsets: Which handles VR best?

The big VR story this year isn’t another headset from Oculus or HTC — it’s Microsoft’s entry into the space with Windows 10 Mixed Reality devices. They promise to be cheaper and easier to use than the Rift or Vive, thanks to a bit of help from HoloLens’ 3D tracking technology. Acer’s was among the first we saw in action, and it was a promising example of what an inexpensive VR headset could look like. Samsung, meanwhile, was late to the party with HMD Odyssey, but it also gave us a glimpse at high-end Mixed Reality headsets. Now that we’ve spent some time with both (along with HP’s headset earlier this week), it’s time to decide which handles Mixed Reality best.


Its first pro desktop in years is almost here.
Apple iMac Pro goes on sale December 14th

If you like your Apple hardware incredibly powered, you’ve been waiting on this. Apple’s new iMac Pro will launch mid-December, with prices starting from $4,999. That ‘starter’ model ships with an 8-core Xeon processor, 32GB of RAM, 1TB of solid-state storage and a Radeon Vega Pro graphics chipset with 8GB of RAM. And it all scales up from there.


Almost ready for tourists
Blue Origin tests Crew Capsule 2.0

The latest rocket launch from Blue Origin featured a second generation of its capsule equipped with “the biggest windows in space.” The Jeff Bezos-backed company has said it could start space tourism trips as soon as next year, and giving passengers a good view for their money will be critical. This flight only had equipment and a test dummy onboard, but all went well — check out the video here.


The number-one-selling EV in the world gets a much-needed makeover.
The 2018 Nissan Leaf gets a semi-autonomous upgrade

The Nissan Leaf is the top-selling electric vehicle in the world. Sure, Tesla and Chevy get all the hype with the Bolt and Model 3, but with more than 290,000 cars sold, Nissan’s little electric car is the one people are buying. But after seven years without a design refresh, Nissan has finally gone back to upgrade the original for 2018. We took it for a spin.


Nearly 40 senators signed a letter asking Ajit Pai to abandon the proposal.
Senators make last-ditch effort to halt the FCC’s net neutrality vote

The FCC votes this Thursday on its proposal to remove net neutrality protections, and while it’s all but certain that the commission will vote in favor of the proposal, some still haven’t given up trying to convince the commissioners to change their minds — including 39 senators. They apparently signed a letter addressed to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai requesting that he reconsider: “We write to urge you to abandon your reckless plan to radically alter the free and open internet as we know it,” the Democrats wrote. “Your proposed action will amount to the largest abdication of the Federal Communications Commission’s statutory responsibilities in history.”

But wait, there’s more…


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Paytm Mall 2017 Grand Finale Sale Has Discounts, Cashbacks on iPhone X, iPhone 8, Samsung Galaxy S7, and More Offers

Just a day after the conducting its 12.12 sale, Paytm on Wednesday kicked off the 2017 Grand Final Sale on Paytm Mall, lasting till Friday, December 15. The new sale includes offers, cashbacks, and discounts on a range of smartphones and tablets, including the iPhone X, iPhone 8, Samsung Galaxy S7, Vivo V7+, apart from iPad models and Kindle ebook readers. Paytm Mall has listed offerings from all the major brands, including Apple, Lenovo, Motorola, Samsung, and Xiaomi among others.

Among the other mobile devices, Paytm Mall has listed the iPhone X 64GB with a cashback of Rs. 4,000. This gives the new iPhone model an effective price of Rs. 85,000 (MRP Rs. 89,000). If you don’t want to spend much of your funds on the premium iPhone, the Paytm Mall sale has listed the iPhone 8 64GB for Rs. 58,582 (MRP Rs. 64,000). You can also use the promo code “MOB7500” to get a cashback worth Rs. 7,500. The iPhone 7 32GB is available for Rs. 44,599 that can be further reduced to an effective price of Rs. 38,349 after receiving a cashback worth Rs. 6,250. You need to use “MOB6250” promo code to receive the cashback. Similarly, the iPhone SE 32GB is available at Rs. 19,999 (MRP Rs. 26,000). A cashback worth Rs. 3,000 can be opted in addition to the discounted price by using the promo code “A3K”.

Paytm Mall is also providing a discount on the Samsung Galaxy S7 under its 2017 Grand Finale Sale. The smartphone is available for Rs. 32,750 (MRP Rs. 48,900). If you’re picking the Vivo V7+, it comes with a discounted price tag of Rs. 21,990 (MRP Rs. 22,990). A cashback of Rs. 1,100 can be received by adding “SAVE5” promo code.

The Lenovo K8 32GB is available under the Paytm Mall sale for a price tag of Rs. 10,356. You can use the promo code “MOB12” to receive a cashback worth Rs. 1,243. Additionally, there is Oppo A71 16GB at a discounted price of Rs. 11,800 (MRP Rs. 13,490). Paytm Mall has also listed the LG Q6+ 64GB at Rs. 18,999 (MRP Rs. 19,990). You can purchase the Moto G5S 32GB for Rs. 13,430 (MRP Rs. 14,999). This can further be sweetened with a cashback of Rs. 1,612.

Various discounts and cashbacks are also applicable on budget smartphones, including the Swipe Konnect Power 4G, Swipe Elite Pro 32GB, Swipe Elite 2 Plus, Micromax Canvas 6, and Intex Aqua S3 4G.

If you’re looking for a tablet, the Paytm Mall sale has listed some popular tablets as well. The iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular 32GB is available with a discounted price of Rs. 48,304 (MRP 61,900), while the iPad mini 4 Wi-Fi + Cellular 16GB comes at Rs. 35,588 (MRP 38,900). You can use the promo code “TAB11” to get an 11 percent cashback. There are also Kindle e-readers with cashbacks.

Disclosure: Paytm’s parent company One97 is an investor in Gadgets 360.

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Black Friday failed to boost November retail sales

Black FridayImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Black Friday has not had the desired effect on retail figures

Black Friday was not enough to boost November’s Scottish retail sales.

Last month sales dropped by 1.3% on a like-for-like basis compared with November 2016, with last year’s figures down 0.2% on the previous year.

Figures for November said Black Friday’s evolution into a week-long affair had a “damaging effect” on footfall in stores.

Shoppers waited for the heavy discounts and found online shopping more convenient.

Total sales in Scotland declined by 0.6% compared with November 2016 when they had declined by 1.5%, the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) KPMG Scottish Retail Sales Monitor for November 2017 showed.

‘Make-or-break month’

When adjusted for deflation, measured at 0.1% by the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index (SPI), November sales declined by 0.5%.

While total food sales increased, total non-food sales decreased last month.

Retail experts suggested Black Friday may be losing its appeal and said December would be a “make-or-break” month for retailers.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionNot everywhere was as busy as predicted on Black Friday

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy and external affairs at the SRC, said: “Black Friday wasn’t enough to boost November’s Scottish retail sales, with figures flagging by 0.5% in real terms.

“Despite that week’s sales being 40% higher than the November average, it wasn’t enough to help beleaguered high street stores match last year’s performance.

“As expected, Black Friday sales were concentrated online, with footfall figures not especially higher for the week.

“However, with Black Friday falling earlier before Christmas this year, and for many customers before payday, we haven’t seen the growth of recent years.”

He added: “That’s a disappointment for retailers hoping the relatively-weak sales in the autumn were due to consumers waiting for the best bargains.

“These are the final sales figures before Christmas, and they will leave Scottish retailers feeling very nervous about what is now a make-or-break December.”

Image caption

Scottish consumers are not shopping in stores and were thought to be waiting for online deals

The figures showed that total food sales in November increased 4.2% versus November 2016, when they had remained static.

Total non-food sales declined 4.4% compared to November 2016, when they had decreased by 2.7%.

When adjusted for the estimated effect of online sales, total non-food sales declined by 2.6% compared to November 2016, when they had increased by 1.1%.

Craig Cavin, head of retail in Scotland at KPMG, said: “A 4.4% decline in non-food sales suggests the novelty of ‘Black Friday’ may have worn off for consumers.

“The now week-long extravaganza has perhaps left customers fatigued, with many choosing to shop online, rather than in store.

“However, while Black Friday boosted sales following a poor October – particularly in electrical goods – retailers must be careful. What started as a one-day experience has turned into at least a week of sales.

“Scotland’s bargain hunting customers may come to expect discounted goods for much longer periods than were previously on offer, which has a significant impact on retailer margins.”

Here Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier – Everything You Need To Know

Future Soldier (a video game) is released on May 22, 2012 by both Xbox 360 consoles and PlayStation 3. Ubisoft published the video game and it is the fourth addition to the Ghost Recon video game series. The game's events are set somewhere in the near future when a dirty bomb kills all the members of a ghost team. After this incident, a different ghost team takes up the task of getting to the source of the dirty bomb. This tracking leads them to several countries such as Pakistan, Nigeria, Norway and Russia through the game.

This video game has changed from the original version. The soldiers have a futuristic look and have prototypes weapons. Other additional features include the pocket sized machines which turn into cars and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The camouflage suit enables the soldiers to become invisible when crouching. These and other features in the game give the player a firsthand combat experience. The game's developers have worked hard to improve the features such as sensor grenades, heavy weapons and remote controlled vehicles. There are infinite fun-filled opportunities to use these improvements when chasing the enemy with the remote controlled cars, blowing up buildings with the sensor grenades as well as marking targets and shooting them with the heavy, handed weapons.

The future soldiers in the game have to work together to defeat the enemy, despite the heavy weaponry and the hi-tech gadgets they possess. This is to show that no battle is won by a single soldier, and the value of team work is immeasurable. The team of four can take out four targets at once using the contemplative weapons. The weapons have specific target marketing propositions that add to the thrill of playing the game. When in hiding, these weapons can take out targets with utmost precision, although they prove to lose their accuracy in full combat.

The future soldiers' strength lies in their synchronized enemy- wiping shots. The game focuses on traveling to foreign destinations to fight and kill the enemy. The game is however, immensely entertaining for the players. During the game, there are some instances where group play is essential in defeating the enemy. The game has various challenge stages where the players are required to complete the stages in order for them to get new weapons. After successfully completing the stages, the players can obtain attachments from the gunsmith for their guns. There are some stages that a single player can complete, while others require a team effort. These challenges have twists, which leave the players yearning for more difficult challenges.

The game does not give the players all the necessary weapons at the beginning. Along the way they have to pick new weapons and learn new tricks up until the end of the game. After playing a few times, the player has a feeling of prowess, which should use to tackle future challenges. The game offers the players some of the most hi-tech gadgets for the weapons. These include an underbarrel, barrel length, side rail attachments as well as a trigger pull. This gun customization mode is no doubt one of the best features of the game.

The game has some solo mission games, although it would be impossible to play alone. Some of them include the Guerrilla mode and the Survival Challenge. These two require a single player, but just to be on the safe side, another player should also play. The pocket sized UAV drones can not bring much help when on a solo mission. The synchronized shots work better, so it would be advisable to have multiple players to finish off the enemy faster. There are multiplayer games such as Decoy and Conflict. The decoy mode focuses on attackers shooting on three objectives without knowing which one is the primary target.