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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (561)7/22/2017 11:00:58 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 663
Rover raised $65 million for pet sitting

by Katie Roof ( @Katie_Roof)
July 13, 2017

Finding temporary housing for your dog should be as easy as renting an Airbnb. That’s the idea behind Rover, which raised $65 million to expand its pet sitting and dog-walking businesses.

The Seattle-based company got a significant vote of confidence from Spark Capital, which is leading the round and additional capital from existing investors including Menlo Ventures, Foundry Group, and Technology Crossover Ventures. Megan Quinn, a partner at Spark, is joining the board.

Dog boarding is a “massively untapped market,” said Quinn. “Rover is already the largest pet services marketplace in the world.”

They bought out DogVacay earlier this year, eliminating their biggest competitor. The two businesses were very similar and they have since integrated the websites. Rover CEO Aaron Easterly hopes that the DogVacay acquisition will help Rover expand internationally, especially since DogVacay was already dominant in Canada.

Rover’s site matches pet owners and pet sitters, and they take a roughly 22% cut of the transaction. They’ve introduced “Rover Go,” a premium service for sitters, which helps them photograph their house and build a better online profile. They also do background checks and offer insurance.

While it’s primarily a marketplace for dogs, Rover allows cats and other caged animals. They plan to use the funding to expand into the pet health and grooming categories and further expand their new dog walking business. “Our walking business is growing phenomenally,” said Easterly, explaining he wasn’t concerned about taking on startup Wag.

According to the American Pet Products Association, pet spending has grown every year since 1994 and reached almost $67 billion in the U.S. last year. This is partly what fueled the largest e-commerce acquisition ever,, a site for pet products.

Venture capitalists have taken note and have also invested in activity tracker Whistle, which was acquired by Mars. CB Insights found that funding of pet startups has increased over the past five years.

As for Rover, when asked about future plans, Easterly was optimistic that the six-year-old company will eventually be traded on the public markets. An IPO is “the most likely outcome by far,” he said.

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From: Glenn Petersen7/25/2017 8:11:10 PM
   of 663
Priceline, Expedia boost home-rental inventory as race with Airbnb heats up

Riley McDermid Digital ProducerSan Francisco Business Times
Jul 25, 2017, 7:27am PDT

Travel booking giants Expedia and Priceline have boosted their home-rental inventory as they attempt to catch up with San Francisco-based Airbnb, which currently dominates the home-sharing space.

Airbnb has about a 15 percent share of the global room market, larger than Priceline's 9 percent share or Expedia's 12 percent slice, research from the Susquehanna International Group show.

But both travel sites are boosting their share of home-rentals because they want visitors to have as many options as possible — while still grabbing part of a market projected to grow 8 percent in 2017 to $34 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Vacation rentals are at the very early stages of being wired up on a global basis,” said Expedia Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi told the Journal. “To the extent that you as an e-commerce player can wire up these fragmented marketplaces, you can add significant value to both the supplier and also to consumers.”

To that end, Expedia's has revved its home-rental inventory to 2.5 million listings in the last year, a 50 percent increase, while Expedia's HomeAway Inc. saw its online vacation rentals leap 48 percent during the first quarter, the Journal reports.

“For a very, very long time people have wanted to have this type of product,” Priceline Group CEO Glenn Fogel told the paper. “It’s not so much that people have changed. I believe technology has enabled this type of rental property to be so much easier for people to find.”

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From: Glenn Petersen7/26/2017 10:40:53 AM
   of 663
The global ride-hailing industry has its own Game of Thrones:

SoftBank Boosts Bet on Ride Hailing With Play for Stake in Uber

By Greg Bensinger and Joann S. Lublin
The Wall Street Journal
Updated July 25, 2017 6:41 p.m. ET

A SoftBank investment in Uber would muddy the mix of global alliances in the global ride-hailing business since the Japanese tech investor already own stakes in the three largest Asian ride-hailing companies. Photo: Eric Gay/Associated Press

SoftBank Group Corp. 9984 0.28% is angling for a piece of Uber Technologies Inc., a move that would further the grand ambitions of the tech investor’s founder and muddy the mix of alliances in the global ride-hailing business.

The Japanese technology company has approached San Francisco-based Uber about a multibillion-dollar stake, people familiar with the matter said. Talks between the companies are described as preliminary and one-sided, and any deal would likely be on hold until Uber hires a new chief executive, which isn’t expected for weeks, the people said.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son has sought to seize hold of cornerstone technologies he expects to dictate how humans interact with the world for decades to come. As early adopters of self-driving technology, ride-hailing firms are central to Mr. Son’s strategy to accelerate a robotic revolution and generate value from his varied investments in semiconductors, networks, cybersecurity and deep learning.

Softbank is a big investor in the three largest Asian ride-hailing companies: Singapore’s GrabTaxi Holdings Pte., India’s Ola and China’s Didi Chuxing Technology Co. On Monday, SoftBank said that it and Didi would lead a $2.5 billion fundraising round in Grab, giving the startup more ammunition in its battle against Uber across Southeast Asia.

Spokesmen from both Uber and SoftBank declined to comment.

While it is rare for SoftBank to hedge its investments, an offer could mean the company hopes Uber combines its operations with Grab and Ola, as it did last year with Didi. Such a merger would give SoftBank a formidable share of the Asian market.

Uber, which is struggling with management challenges at home and strong competition from rivals overseas, has shown a willingness to retreat from costly battles around the world. Earlier this month, it said it plans to combine its operations with Russian rival Yandex.Taxi, owned by Yandex NV.

Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick relinquished his role as chief executive last month after investors demanded he step down. His resignation followed a number of scandals as well as an investigation into sexual harassment and sexism at the company. Mr. Kalanick remains on the board.

A massive capital injection wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for Uber, which has raised more money—about $15 billion in equity and debt funding—than any other private company backed by venture capital. Uber has had to tap increasingly larger sources of capital to support its breakneck global expansion and fight fierce price wars around the U.S. The company’s losses last year totaled more than $3 billion, though it still had about $7 billion in cash on its balance sheet.

A year ago Uber turned to the Middle East for its biggest single capital infusion, a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s main investment fund, the Public Investment Fund. That deal handed an Uber board seat to Yasir Al Rumayyan, the managing director of PIF who also now sits on the board of SoftBank. The Saudi sovereign-wealth fund is the lead investor in SoftBank’s new $93 billion fund that is already starting to shower startups with hundreds of millions of dollars in capital.

With the Vision Fund, Mr. Son is likely to wield extensive influence on Silicon Valley and beyond through significant bets in areas such as robotics and deep learning, as artificial intelligence surpasses human capabilities. He has turned SoftBank into one of Japan’s biggest companies by making sizable investments in telecommunications, e-commerce and technology, including an early investment in Chinese internet company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. , a gamble on U.S. telecommunications company Sprint Corp. and a buyout of U.K. Microchip designer ARM Holdings PLC.

“Many more changes are coming—I am so excited, even sleeping is a waste of time,” Mr. Son, 59, said at an event for SoftBank’s corporate clients and partners on Thursday. He compared SoftBank’s role to that of the landed elites played to enable the industrial revolution. “We want to be the gentry of the IT revolution.”

SoftBank’s big wagers have tended to greatly inflate startup valuations. The newest investment in Grab, which operates private-car, taxi, motorcycle and carpool bookings across seven countries in Asia, would value the startup at more than $6 billion, according to a person familiar with the situation. That is double the valuation from less than year ago and would make Grab the most valuable startup in Southeast Asia. SoftBank’s $5 billion investment in Didi last year catapulted the Chinese startup’s valuation to $50 billion from $33 billion.

Bloomberg News earlier reported SoftBank’s potential interest in buying shares of Uber.

Write to Greg Bensinger at, Joann S. Lublin at and Liza Lin at

Appeared in the July 26, 2017, print edition as 'SoftBank in Talks For Stake in Uber.'

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From: TimF8/22/2017 10:42:46 AM
3 Recommendations   of 663
Uber drivers gang up to cause surge pricing, research says
By Cara McGoogan
2 August 2017

Uber drivers team up in gangs to force higher prices before they pick up passengers, research has revealed.

Researchers at the University of Warwick found Uber drivers in London and New York have been tricking the app into thinking there is a shortage of cars in order to raise surge prices.

According to the study. drivers manipulate Uber's algorithm by logging out of the app at the same time, making it think that there is a shortage of cars.

Uber raises its fare prices when there is a high demand for vehicles and a short supply of drivers available. Fares are known to increase during peak times such as rush hour, during public events and late at night. Surge pricing can boost the cost of rides to multiple times the normal rate.

The study said drivers have been coordinating forced surge pricing, after interviews with drivers in London and New York, and research on online forums such as In a post on the website for drivers, seen by the researchers, one person said: "Guys, stay logged off until surge. Less supply high demand = surge."

Responding to fears that Uber might discover that its drivers are manipulating its algorithm, the driver said: "They already know cos it happens every week."


It is not clear how much impact the trick has had on prices. Uber denied that the practice is widespread.

Uber said: "This behaviour is neither widespread or permissible on the Uber app, and we have a number of technical safeguards in place to prevent it from happening."

The ride-hailing company has come under fire in the past over its surge pricing, which has rocketed during events including tube strikes, but been suspended during taxi strikes.

Separate research at Northeastern University has previously found passengers can game surge pricing with simple tricks such as waiting five minutes or crossing the road.

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To: TimF who wrote (565)8/24/2017 8:05:12 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 663
Humans versus algorithms. A short term edge for the humans. It won't last.

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From: Glenn Petersen8/24/2017 8:14:51 AM
   of 663
Uber is still a mess financially. Meg Whitman is still in the running for the CEO position. I personally think that she would be a good choice. Adult supervision. If Lfyt were smart, they would accelerate their IPO timetable and get the jump on Uber.

Exclusive: Inside Uber's financials

Lazaro Gamio / Axios
August 23, 2017

Uber's gross bookings were up 17% in the second quarter, the number of trips taken rose 150% in the past year and its adjusted loss fell, according to numbers provided to Axios by the company. Uber drivers have earned $50 million in tips since the program started in late June.

Why it matters: Uber spent most of the quarter under the cloud of a well-publicized internal investigation into sexual harassment and other unsavory aspects of company culture, and ended it with the forced resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick. The ride-hail giant's core business, however, appears to have kept humming along.

The numbers:
  • Gross bookings rose 17% in the second quarter to $8.7 billion (and doubled from a year earlier).
  • Adjusted net revenue was $1.75 billion in Q2 vs $1.5 billion in Q1 and around $800 million in Q2 2016.
  • Adjusted net loss fell almost 9% quarter-over-quarter to $645 million and over 14% year-over-year.
    • The $645 million is adjusted EBIT, while Uber's Q2 EBITDA loss was $534 million (down from $598 million in Q1). Uber's global ride-share business was margin positive last quarter, which is a flip from Q1.
  • Global trips increased 150% year-over-year, including 90% growth in developed markets and over 250% growth in developing markets. This excludes China, which Uber exited last summer in exchange for an equity stake in Didi Chuxing. It includes Russia, where Uber's recently-announced partnership with Yandex has yet to be approved by local regulators.
  • Revenue note: Uber is no longer reporting unadjusted net revenue to its investors, due to new guidance from the SEC.
  • Uber had $6.6 billion in cash at quarter's end, down from around $7.2 billion at the end of Q1.
  • Uber drivers have earned around $50 million in tips between when the program was rolled out in select markets on June 20 and the beginning of this week. For context, Lyft reported a similar $50 million figure for a 2.5 month period ending in the middle of this past June, but that was for a longer time period and for all of its markets (Lyft originally launched tipping nearly five years ago, generating over $250 million to date).

Recruiting tool: A booming top-line and shrinking (albeit still sizable) losses are why Uber, despite its myriad of problems, remains attractive to blue-chip CEO candidates like former General Electric boss Jeff Immelt. But...
What to watch: Uber still had a CEO for most of Q2, and its board had not yet erupted into the open warfare seen in Q3. Expect Immelt and others to dive deep into still-unreleased results for July and August.

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (567)8/27/2017 6:56:57 PM
From: Sr K
   of 663
on WSJ

Meg Whitman a Leading Candidate to Run Uber as Immelt Drops Out

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO made presentation to Uber board Saturday, despite public denials of interest in the job.

The search for Uber’s next chief executive was upended over the weekend as GE Chairman Jeff Immelt dropped out of the race and Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman appeared to be back in the running.

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To: Sr K who wrote (568)8/27/2017 10:25:37 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 663
Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will be offered the job as Uber’s new CEO

The “truce” choice is likely to take it — though no one from the board of the car-hailing company has told him as yet!

by Kara Swisher @karaswisher
Aug 27, 2017, 8:14pm EDT

Dara Khosrowshahi is the pick Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The board of Uber has voted and wants Expedia Dara Khosrowshahi to be its next CEO. But here is a shocking twist for those who have had to endure this awful, messy and convoluted process: He has not been officially offered the job as of 15 minutes ago, said sources.

Still, most expect him to take it and he appears to be the one person dueling factions of the board can agree on. Unknown until now, Khosrowshahi was the third candidate — after Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt.

Khosrowshahi is considered the “truce” choice for the board, which has been riven by ugly infighting between ousted CEO Travis Kalanick and one of its major investors, Benchmark. Benchmark had backed Whitman, while Kalanick had backed Immelt.

Sources said that going into this morning, after Immelt withdrew his name from contention after it was clear he would not win the job, Whitman had the upper hand in the race for the job. But she also wanted a number of things — including less involvement by ousted Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and more board control — that became too problematic for the directors, said sources.

As he left, sources close to Immelt’s thinking called the search process totally “dysfunctional” (and worse). Cue sources close to Whitman to say that very soon (and more). Both are quite accurate.

And, in keeping with the cup full of crazy modus operandi, about 30 minutes ago, in a statement, an Uber board spokesperson said: “The Board has voted and will announce the decision to the employees first.”

Well, it’s Khosrowshahi, if he says yes, that is — so now we can all get back to the season finale of Game of Thrones.

Sources close to Meg Whitman said she has not been informed of any choice nor had the board agreed to some the the things she was asking for to take the job.

More to come, obvi!

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (569)8/28/2017 10:44:57 PM
From: Sr K
   of 663
with $200 million in stock options to replace EXPE options.

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To: Sr K who wrote (570)8/29/2017 3:37:14 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 663
Mr. Khosrowshahi, who now becomes one of the highest profile executives in the U.S., comes from a family of very high achievers:

Uber picked a CEO who has an influential network of relatives across Silicon Valley

By Elizabeth Dwoski
The Washington Post
August 28 at 11:20 AM

The chief executive of the travel company Expedia Inc., Dara Khosrowshahi, has been chosen as Uber's new CEO and is now challenged with leading the company out of a nearly year-long crisis. (Reuters)


SAN FRANCISCO -- At first blush, the choice of Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to lead Uber may seem a little odd.

The 48-year-old chief executive, who was born in Iran and moved to the U.S. in 1978 to flee the Iranian Revolution, does not live in Silicon Valley; he lives in Bellevue, Wa., where Expedia is headquartered.

The two businesses also appear to have little in common. Like Uber, online travel giant Expedia is a data-driven marketplace that links sellers to consumers who are on the move -- but the connections pretty much stop there.

Yet Khosrowshahi, 48, has deep ties to Silicon Valley, many of them through his own family. Indeed, Khosrowshahi may have one of the most extensive family networks of anyone working in the technology industry today -- six of his relatives are highly successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs or executives with strong ties to tech.

His brother Kaveh Khosrowshahi is managing director of Allen & Co., the influential boutique investment bank the runs the Sun Valley conference, a networking event frequented by tech elites like Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, entrepreneur Elon Musk, and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey.

His cousin Amir Khosrowshahi co-founded an artificial intelligence company, Nervana, that was acquired by Intel last year for $400 million (He is now an executive in Intel’s artificial intelligence unit).

His twin cousins, Ali and Hadi Partovi were early investors in many of the most successful tech companies produced by Silicon Valley over the last decade, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Uber, and Facebook. They also cofounded, an influential non-profit focused on improving computer science education across the United States.

Two other family members are Google executives. One cousin, Farzad Khosrowshahi, invented the software tool now known as Google spreadsheets, and is the executive that runs Google Docs. Another family member, Avid Larizadeh Duggan, is a general partner at Google Ventures, the search giant’s venture capital arm that invests in startups (Uber was an investment in the Google ventures portfolio) .

In an interview, Ali Partovi said that his cousin Dara was always someone he and his brother had looked up to. “My whole life, anytime I've faced a high-pressure decision, my model for mature behavior has been, 'What would Dara do'? He's one of the humblest and most even-keeled people I know.”

That trait in itself may serve the embattled Uber well, and will be a stark contrast to the leadership style of former chief executive Travis Kalanick. Kalanick is known to fly into fits of anger. (In one infamous episode that was caught on video earlier this year, Kalanick unloaded on an Uber driver who criticized the company’s wages.)

Many of the cousins went to the same high school, the Hackley School, a private prep school in Tarrytown, NY, Partovi said.

Over the years, they have helped one another, investing in each other’s companies and supporting one another’s ideas. The extended family moved to the United States between the late seventies and eighties, fleeing the Iranian revolution.

Their remarkable immigrant success story isn’t lost on them, which is why Khosrowshahi and his cousins became some of the most vocal opponents of President Trump’s immigration ban on Muslim Americans, including those from Iran. Shortly after the ban was issued, Khosrowshahi sent a memo to the entire Expedia workforce, according to Business Insider.

"I believe that with this executive order, our president has reverted to the short game,” he wrote. "The US may be ever so slightly less dangerous as a place to live, but it will certainly be seen as a smaller nation, one that is inward-looking versus forward thinking, reactionary versus visionary.” Khosrowshahi reiterated his concerns during a routine earnings call with investors.

While it’s not known who first tapped Khosrowshahi to come in to interview for the top job at Uber, conversations began in Seattle a few weeks ago, said people familiar with the discussions. At the time, the board was considering two other candidates with higher-profiles, GE chief executive Jeff Immelt and HPE chief Meg Whitman.

Negotiations lasted throughout the weekend, and the decision was a close call between Whitman and Khosrowshahi, people familiar with the discussions told the Post. Uber’s eight-member board debated until the very last minute on Sunday.

The talks were kept so secret that many of Khosrowshahi’s own family members were surprised when they heard the news, Ali Partovi said. “My phone has been blowing up with messages for my family for the last hour,” he said on Sunday evening.

As of Monday, Khosrowshahi was still pondering the job, according to an internal letter circulated among Expedia's staff by the company's chairman, Barry Diller. "Nothing has been yet finalized," Diller wrote, "but having extensively discussed this with Dara I believe it is his intention to accept."

Khosrowshahi won't be a cheap hire. He was named the highest paid chief executive in the U.S. by Equilar for his 2015 compensation, thanks largely to a long-term stock option package valued at $90.8 million he would gain access to over a period of several years.

As of Friday's close, that meant Khosrowshahi had unvested options worth about $97.5 million if he'd stayed on at Expedia, according to an analysis by independent compensation consultant Brian Foley. Yet he also has additional options that would be worth another $82.5 million if aggressive stock price performance targets were met, bringing the total to at least $180 million.

Foley said it is unlikely Khosrowshahi would give up pay to take the job at Uber -- and he could very well be paid more. "I suspect the real question is not how much he gives up but how much more did he get," said Foley. "He's in the catbird seat. They've now come to him -- it's got to be something that has some real sizzle to it."

Because Uber is a private company, the company will not be required to immediately release specifics on Khosrowshahi's pay, though it would become public if the company launches an IPO. But Foley expects the circumstances -- a high-profile, highly public search that included heavyweights like General Electric chairman Jeff Immelt and Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman -- would mean little will be left on the table.

"I have to figure they gave him new grants that would make him whole on whatever he would lose at Expedia and then threw a sweetener on top," Foley said, noting it would be unusual for a company losing its CEO to accelerate the vesting of his options. "They want to save that for the next guy."

Staff writer Jena McGregor contributed to this report.

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