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From: Glenn Petersen9/14/2017 10:15:14 PM
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Japan's Softbank wants to invest $10 billion in Uber, but only if it gets a big discount

Alexei Oreskovic
Business Insider
September 14, 2017

Softbank chairman Masayoshi Son Koki Nagahama/Getty Images

Softbank is in talks with Uber about a massive $10 billion investment in the company, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

The deal could give Japan's Softbank as much as a 22% stake in the ride-hailing company if it is able to carry out the full investment, which would entail purchasing shares directly from the company as well as from existing shareholders looking to cash out, the report said.

Uber was last valued at $69 billion. But according to the WSJ report, Softbank is trying to convince shareholder to agree to an auction process that would price Uber shares at a discount and value the company at $50 billion.

Softbank declined to comment to Business Insider. Uber did not immediately return requests for comment.

The talks come as Uber seeks to move past nearly a year of controversy and scandals that culminated in cofounder Travis Kalanick stepping down from the CEO job in June. Last month Uber hired Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to fill the CEO slot vacated by Kalanick.

The tumultuous management changes have been accompanied by bitter infighting among different factions of company insiders and investors. Benchmark Capital, one of Uber's largest investors, sued Kalanick in August, alleging that the Uber cofounder fraudulently obtain control of three company board seats. The lawsuit provoked a bizarre declaration of war from another high-profile Uber investor, who vowed to strike back at the "unholy alliance" of "sanctimonious hypocrites."

A deal with Softbank would mark Khosrowshahi's first major action since taking the reins. Negotiations began before Khosrowshahi was hired and could conclude as early as next week the WSJ reported citing an anonymous source.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/21/2017 11:15:16 PM
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How the Sharing Economy Liberates Us

by Paz Gómez
American Institute for Economic Research
Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Saving and generating additional revenue are now easier due to technological progress and a wave of innovation. A new business model has achieved a competitive advantage around the world and is growing by leaps and bounds. The sharing economy challenges the contemporary social order and destabilizes traditional businesses.

These initiatives cater to the new needs of individuals, and their swift rise testifies to the obsolescence of the traditional economic models of our societies.

Merely a century ago, we dispatched with the sky as a limit when in 1903 a plane built by the Wright brothers flew successfully. The first manned spacecraft, in 1961, demonstrated that there are no limits to human creation and exploration. No social structure is fixed; knowledge is constantly evolving; and no man-made system is perfect.

The conventional approach to commerce, which fences off and excludes personal assets, leaves resources idle and impedes allocative efficiency. The sharing or peer-to-peer economy arises from what a group of researchers at the Wroclaw University of Economics (WUE) describe as the principle of sustainable consumption: meeting the needs of consumers without ownership transfer via "resource sharing."

The WUE team identify other benefits associated with the sharing economy, such as greater socialization and better information for feedback on quality. Peer-to-peer businesses decentralize and democratize the economy, serving those of limited means and staving off irresponsible use of resources. Some advocates of these enterprises suggest that they are "alternatives to capitalism," since their narrow perception assumes vertical corporate structures — in contrast to the new horizontal structures with more efficient and dispersed use of resources.

Free-market capitalism, however, consists of guaranteeing individual rights. As Thomas DiLorenzo writes in How Capitalism Saved America, these include "private property, division of labor, social cooperation, freedom of contract, and voluntary exchange," and capitalism rejects "excessive public regulation and taxes." The sharing economy requires that individuals be free to make their own decisions about voluntary transactions with their physical or intellectual belongings.

Therefore, these new business models affirm rather than challenge the free market or its results. They push back against both inefficient business practices and the overdose of regulation and government intervention. We can say overdose because the top-down paradigm that prevails, both in the United States and elsewhere, imposes financial, economic, and institutional barriers that hinder entrepreneurship, favor monopolies, and disrupt the free flow and distribution of resources.

The collaborative economy has emerged as an option to avoid and often evade these regulations by utilizing the communications technology that we have at our fingertips in the 21st century. In other words, innovative business models allow resource allocation to respond to the spontaneity of the human mind, which craves freedom and personal and economic well-being.

The best evidence of the sharing economy's threat to the status quo is the desperation of governments to prohibit and regulate these new forms of exchange. We have seen this with Uber, Cabify, Airbnb, bitcoin, and many others. Collaborative businesses erode privileges and favor meritocracy, since a platform's success depends on the breadth of the market and the level of trust and value that the users maintain.

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From: FUBHO9/22/2017 10:20:16 AM
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To: FUBHO who wrote (584)9/22/2017 5:20:29 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 644
London's Uber Ban Is a Big Brexit Mistake

Why would tech companies want to invest in the U.K. and subject themselves to such a slap in the face?

by Tyler Cowen
Bloomberg View
September 22, 2017

How much to Heathrow?
Photographer: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Prime Minister Theresa May made a big speech Friday on Brexit negotiations, but the bigger news coming out of London may have been that the transit authority, Transport for London, decided not to renew the license of Uber Technologies Inc. to operate inside city limits. The decision is a clear statement that the future of both London and the U.K. are less bright than we might have thought even a few days ago.

Banning Uber shows that a post-Brexit nation won’t be the libertarian paradise that many Brexit advocates have been predicting or at least clamoring for. The notion was that European Union regulation was horribly restrictive, and British business would blossom under a reign of newfound freedom, if only it could be left to its own devices. Although that was never very plausible to begin with, it was a common argument from Brexit supporters such as MP Daniel Hannan. It’s now hard to raise that point with any credibility.

The new Britain appears to be a nationalistic, job-protecting, quasi-mercantilist entity, as evidenced by the desire to preserve the work and pay of London’s traditional cabbies. That’s hardly the right signal to send to a world considering new trade deals or possibly foreign investment in the U.K. Uber, of course, is an American company, and it did sink capital into setting up in London -- and its reputational capital is on the line in what is still Europe’s most economically important city. This kind of slap in the face won’t exactly encourage other market entrants, including in the dynamic tech sector that London so desperately seeking.

A striking feature of this decision is the use of an outright ban rather than a gentler negotiation. Whether or not you agree with them, there are plausible criticisms of Uber. You might think the drivers need stronger security checks, the company needs to be removed from congested areas, it should pay more for local infrastructure, its drivers face subpar labor standards, and so on. Those worries, to the extent they are true, would suggest some mix of higher regulations and taxes for Uber. Yet the announcement of a pending ban is sending a broader signal to London and indeed British business that due regulatory process might be weak moving forward. It’s enough to make one long for the arduous, multistage regulatory decision processes of the EU.

The good news is that the announcement did seem to leave open the possibility of revision through the appeals process. The London transit authority cited Uber’s approach to crime reporting and medical certification, as well as a lack of transparency to regulators as reasons for the ban. That suggests a revamped Uber might stand a chance. In the meantime, the service is up and running.

But is the best way to deal with business regulation to take dramatic moves that grab headlines and fill my Twitter feed? Or does this tend to politicize and polarize opinion on what should be more narrowly technocratic issues?

The Uber ban might seem like a kind of populist measure, but from the consumer side it is likely to harm wealthy Londoners the least, or perhaps even benefit them. I’ve taken many cab rides and Uber rides in London, and in general I find the cabs to be pretty expensive. But they offer better service. You can find one right away, the drivers have a remarkable and indeed fabled knowledge of London roads, they are on the whole good drivers, and the vehicles are large and comfortable. I prefer to take London cabs over London Uber, even when Uber might be cheaper.

Over time, let’s say Uber would continue to encroach upon the cab business. It then becomes harder to hail cabs, as arguably is already the case. Uber fares might be lower, but the average quality of the ride would be lower too. That’s a better deal for poorer people, and an inferior deal for the well-off. Wealthy people are just fine with paying more and getting the better service. So in essence the Uber ban is locking in a system that harms poorer Londoners the most. Keep in mind the London Tube is not 24/7, and cabs are often more reluctant to pick up customers from dicier neighborhoods.

Of course, London cabbies are better off from the ban, and there are anecdotal reports of them celebrating in the streets. That’s sooner a sign of bad public policy than a beneficial act for London users and riders, numbering about 2.5 million for Uber. Although cabbies are likely to see higher incomes, an estimated 40,000 people are driving for Uber in London. They will have a harder time making ends meet.

Unfortunately, the U.K. is in a position where it can’t afford too many more mistakes. It just made one.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Tyler Cowen at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Stacey Shick at

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (585)9/22/2017 5:26:14 PM
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I'm confused why that writer is equating the London ban with nationwide policies.

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From: FUBHO9/23/2017 9:44:22 PM
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Khan could be in breach of equality rules as UBER fights ban...

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From: FUBHO9/27/2017 3:46:32 PM
1 Recommendation   of 644
IT’S A SHAKEDOWN: More evidence that the London Uber ban is about politics and demanding concessions, not safety. You can read my take here if you haven’t seen it already.

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From: Glenn Petersen9/28/2017 10:37:08 PM
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Ikea has bought TaskRabbit

The Swedish home goods giant is looking for some digital help from the contract labor marketplace.

by Kara Swisher and Theodore Schleifer
Sep 28, 2017, 11:35am EDT

The heads of TaskRabbit and Ikea Group: Stacy Brown-Philpot (left) and Jesper Brodin Ikea

Swedish home goods giant Ikea Group has bought TaskRabbit, according to sources close to the situation.

The price of the deal could not be determined, but the contract labor marketplace company has raised about $50 million since it was founded nine years ago. Sources added that TaskRabbit will become an independent subsidiary within Ikea and that CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot and its staff would remain.

Sources also noted that Ikea would add capital to the company, although that amount could not be determined. TaskRabbit, which is now profitable, will also be able to strike other partnerships, such as one it already has with Amazon.

TaskRabbit is one of the best-known startups in the so-called “gig” economy that links freelance workers with jobs, from handymen to movers to assistants. It has about 60 employees, but over 60,000 independent workers use its platform.

The purchase of TaskRabbit was fueled by Ikea’s need to further bolster its digital customer service capabilities to better compete with rivals likes Amazon, which has stepped up its home goods and installation offerings. The purchase is Ikea’s first step into the on-demand platform space.

TaskRabbit had already struck a pilot partnership with Ikea around furniture assembly in the United Kingdom and also had marketed its workers’ ability to put together Ikea items in the U.S. and elsewhere.

But a purchase of TaskRabbit will get Ikea even more deeply into the tech space, although it has not been without some tech innovation of late. The company — which has sales of more the $36 billion annually and 183,000 workers — recently announced an initiative to shift its 389 stores worldwide to electric car transportation and infrastructure.

And this week, it released a nifty augmented reality app for the Apple iPhone, called “Ikea Place.” Using the phone’s camera, a customer can scan a room and then place Ikea furniture virtually to see how it looks (see below). It has gotten positive reviews.

The cool new augmented reality app from Ikea helps you decorate virtually Ikea Previous acquisitions by Ikea have ranged in price from $20 million to $90 million, according to PitchBook data.

The TaskRabbit acquisition, which was finally completed this week, comes six months after Brown-Philpot said that the company had been responding to sales interest from strategic buyers.

“It’s opportunistic,” said Brown-Philpot in an interview with Recode, but declined to provide more details about the process. Sources said over the last several months there was other buyer interest, including from Yelp, Google and IAC.

The deal came together as the San Francisco-based company was in the process of raising another round of funding; TaskRabbit used Bank of America Merrill Lynch as advisers.

TaskRabbit’s investors include venture firms like Shasta Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Founders Fund. Sources said the company did another small financing last year from an international investor.

That was all to continue its expansion of cities in the U.S. to 40 from its current 24 locations. In a Recode Decode podcast last September, Brown-Philpot said TaskRabbit was cash flow positive in its cities, and close to reaching profitability overall.

Brown-Philpot, a former Google exec and a board member at HP Inc., took over the top job at TaskRabbit from founder Leah Busque in mid-2016. Busque, as Recode reported earlier this week, has recently joined the seed-focused Fuel Capital as a venture partner. Busque founded TaskRabbit, originally called Run My Errand, in 2008.

For those who do not know the massive retailer — or have never spent hours assembling one of its Kallax shelves using those tiny little L-shaped hex tools — the Ikea Group is led by Jesper Brodin. The longtime company veteran had previously run its Swedish unit and replaced Peter Agnefjall, who led the company for only four years.

TaskRabbit and Ikea declined to comment.

Update: Ikea and TaskRabbit have confirmed the deal to Recode.

“In a fast-changing retail environment, we continuously strive to develop new and improved products and services to make our customers’ lives a little bit easier. Entering the on-demand, sharing economy enables us to support that,” Ikea chief Jesper Brodin said in a statement. “We will be able to learn from TaskRabbit’s digital expertise, while also providing Ikea customers additional ways to access flexible and affordable service solutions to meet the needs of today’s customer.”

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From: TimF9/30/2017 10:41:43 PM
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Why You Can't Always Trust a 5 Star AirBnB
Why AirBnb's review process is pressuring guests to give positive reviews.
by Charity-Joy Acchiardo

Originally published at

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From: Glenn Petersen10/1/2017 10:36:42 PM
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Inside the Latest Power Struggle at Uber

New York Times
October 1, 2017

The latest board fight at Uber is over a proposed plan that would expand the powers of the company’s new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi. Credit David Ryder/Bloomberg

SAN FRANCISCO — The phone calls began late Friday among Uber’s new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, and the ride-hailing company’s executives, as well as board members and a raft of lawyers. They were facing an emergency.

The problem was that Travis Kalanick, Uber’s former chief executive and a board member, had appointed two new directors — Ursula Burns, the former chief executive of Xerox, and John Thain, the former chief of Merrill Lynch — to the privately held company without informing them. The moves, which pushed the nine-member board to 11 people, gave Mr. Kalanick new potential allies on major decisions at Uber.

Mr. Kalanick’s actions were “disappointing,” Mr. Khosrowshahi wrote on Friday in a letter to employees that was obtained by The New York Times. “Anyone would tell you that this is highly unusual.”

The trigger for Mr. Kalanick’s move — one made possible by a board vote last year giving him control of three seats — was a proposal that Mr. Khosrowshahi and the investment bank Goldman Sachs, an Uber shareholder, brought to the board on Thursday. The proposal, which is set to be discussed by directors on Tuesday, includes measures that would shift the power on Uber’s board by reducing Mr. Kalanick’s voting clout, expanding Mr. Khosrowshahi’s powers and imposing a 2019 deadline on the company to go public, according to three people with knowledge of the proposal who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Parts of the proposal were also read to The Times.

The power shift proposed by Mr. Khosrowshahi and Goldman Sachs spurred Mr. Kalanick to act to reassert control, according to a statement Mr. Kalanick issued on Friday. That has now plunged Uber into another period of uncertainty and a corporate governance crisis, at a time when the company had been trying to move beyond its controversial past with a new chief executive on board.

Uber is “attempting to copy some things that characterize good governance at a public company,” said Charles M. Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware. But, he added, parts of the proposal “typically show up when you have poor management and are generally opposed by public shareholders.”

The governance plan that touched off the latest politicking was created by Mr. Khosrowshahi and Goldman Sachs as part of a bigger effort to finalize a deal to sell billions of dollars of Uber stock to the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, according to a person briefed on the proposal.

That deal depends on the participation of some early Uber investors, who have said they will not sell their shares to SoftBank unless Uber’s governance structure changes and Mr. Kalanick is barred from returning as chief executive. Those investors include the venture capital firm Benchmark, which put money into Uber early on and has more recently been warring with Mr. Kalanick over his control of the company.

Here are some of the specifics of the proposal that Mr. Khosrowshahi and Goldman Sachs put before the board on Thursday, including details that are in flux, according to the three people briefed on the proposal and the parts of the plan that were read to The Times. Some parts of the proposal were earlier reported by Recode.

¦ According to the proposal, if the Uber board seats currently held by three directors — Ryan Graves, Arianna Huffington or Wan Ling Martello — are vacated, Mr. Khosrowshahi gains the power to nominate directors for those spots. The new directors must be approved by a majority of the board and by a majority of all shareholders.

¦ The plan also includes a proposal to remove the outsize voting power carried in two categories of Uber stock, the Class B common shares and the preferred shares. Class B common shares currently offer their holders 10 to 1 voting power, for example. But under the proposal, that would change to one vote per share. The change would diminish the power of some current shareholders, like Mr. Kalanick, as well as that of Benchmark and other venture investors.

¦ The proposal also suggests that Uber elect only a few board members each year, in effect setting a cap. That would make it hard for an activist shareholder to take over the board.

¦ One part of the proposal takes direct aim at Mr. Kalanick. The measure states that any person who has previously been an officer of Uber can return as chief executive only if he or she can get the approval of two-thirds of the board and 66.7 percent of all shareholders.

¦ The proposed plan also imposes a 2019 deadline for Uber to go public. To ensure that the public offering happens at that time, there is a provision that if more than one third, but less than one half, of the board wants an I.P.O., they can add directors until they have the control over the board they need to make the public offering happen. This provision may be dropped.

¦ The plan does allow Mr. Kalanick to keep his board seat, subject to the approval of Mr. Khosrowshahi. Of the two other board seats that Mr. Kalanick controls, one would be given to SoftBank while the other would be filled by the chief executive of a Fortune 100 company, if approved by the majority of the board and a majority vote of all shareholders. If for some reason Mr. Khosrowshahi rejected the proposed board member three times, he could designate someone for the third seat himself.

For now, most of Uber’s directors are reluctant to oppose the new board appointments of Mr. Thain and Ms. Burns made by Mr. Kalanick, according to two people who were briefed on the calls. Ms. Burns, the first African-American woman to helm a Fortune 500 company, and Mr. Thain, who also ran the New York Stock Exchange, could potentially help Uber address issues around company culture and diversity, and better prepare it to go public.

To employees, Mr. Khosrowshahi wrote: “Just know that the most important work here is the hard work you’re doing on behalf of our company. Keep focused, keep together, and keep going.”

Correction: October 1, 2017
An earlier version of this article misstated the number of members on Uber’s board. The board had nine members before the two new appointments raised it to 11; it was not an eight-member board.

Follow Katie Benner on Twitter @ktbenner and Mike Isaac @MikeIsaac.

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