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   Technology StocksPeer-to-Peer, Gig and On-Demand Economies

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From: Glenn Petersen6/19/2020 11:18:32 AM
   of 857
DoorDash scores valuation of $16 billion as coronavirus pushes it to top of food-delivery chain

Published Fri, Jun 19 20209:31 AM EDT

Amelia Lucas

Key Points

-- DoorDash has raised an additional $400 million in equity financing led by Durable Capital Partners and Fidelity, pushing its valuation to $16 billion, Axios reported.

-- Since Covid-19 lockdown orders were issued across the U.S. in mid-March, DoorDash’s sales have surged placing it well above rivals such Grubhub and Uber Eats.

-- DoorDash ranks No. 12 on the 2020 CNBC Disruptor 50 list.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the U.S. economy and wreaked havoc on businesses ranging from global shipping to cruise lines to restaurants. But food-delivery companies are thriving, with DoorDash looking to be the rare winner in its niche.

Since Covid-19 lockdown orders were issued across the U.S. in mid-March and consumers shifted to ordering delivery for dinner, DoorDash’s sales have surged, according to data from Edison Trends, which studies anonymized and aggregated e-receipts from millions of U.S. consumers.

The food-delivery service, which earned the No. 12 spot on the 2020 CNBC Disruptor 50 list, grabbed 45% of third-party delivery orders, followed by rivals UberEats at 28%, Grubhub at 17% and Postmates at 7%.

DoorDash on Thursday confirmed that it raised $400 million in equity capital, selling shares to mutual fund companies T. Rowe Price and Fidelity, along with other investors. This new funding round was led by led by Durable Capital Partners and Fidelity. It raises the company’s valuation to nearly $16 billion, up from the $13 billion value Bloomberg reported in November after the company raised $700 million in a Series G funding round.

This funding deal could push off the meal-delivery giant’s move to go public. In February, DoorDash confidentially submitted a draft S-1 filing in February, the first step toward an initial public offering, to join rivals Uber Eats and Grubhub on the public markets. (DoorDash declined to comment, citing SEC rules governing the quiet period.)

The race to the top of the food chain

The race to become the top delivery provider — and then to maintain that position — has weighed on the SoftBank-backed company, which reportedly lost $450 million last year. In a bid for more market share, DoorDash bought Caviar from Square in 2019 in a $410 million deal.

But then came the pandemic, accelerating consumers’ shift to third-party delivery apps. The NPD Group found that delivery orders soared 67% in March, even as overall restaurant traffic fell 22%.

“For some restaurants, that was their only means of being in business,” said Douglass Miller, a lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. “The only other option was to physically close.”

For some restaurants [food-delivery services were] their only means of being in business,” said “The only other option was to physically close.”

The company implemented a number of measures to help its delivery drivers and restaurants struggling with the pandemic. For example, eligible delivery drivers in the U.S., Australia, Canada and Puerto Rico who are quarantined or diagnosed with Covid-19 are receiving up to two weeks of financial assistance. The company waived or reduced commission fees for local restaurants and added more than 100,000 independent eateries to its subscription program for free to generate sales.

Monica Challingsworth, head of global relationships for Synergy Restaurant Consultants, said that DoorDash’s tech savvy has helped the company keep up as the restaurants responded to new conditions under lockdown.

“They were sending out automated robocalls to operators to ask if they were open, what their hours of operation were,” Challingsworth said. “Because of that, I think that they really quickly found a way to execute all of these things and get in front of all of these brands in a really strategic way.”

DoorDash also recently introduced Storefront to help restaurants create their own websites to take pick-up and delivery orders. The service also allows restaurants access to customer data, which third-party delivery aggregators do not share on orders placed through their apps. DoorDash’s chief operating officer told Reuters that restaurants won’t have to pay most fees for Storefront through the end of the year.

The company is also shifting to delivering more than just food. On Monday, DoorDash announced CVS Health will be the first pharmacy retailer to join its platform. Delivery drivers will now drop off non-prescription household essentials, like shampoo or over-the-counter cold medicine.

Challenges amid pandemic

But DoorDash, like others in the food-delivery industry, has also come under increased scrutiny during the pandemic for the fees it charges restaurants, which take a chunk of the industry’s already razor-thin profit margins. Restaurant owners can pay up to 30% in commission fees for every delivery order, and some chefs, like San Francisco chef Christian Ciscle, have called out delivery apps for just deferring or reducing fees.

In response, cities across the country, including New York City, San Francisco and Jersey City, placed caps on how much delivery apps could charge restaurants for their services. DoorDash has said that fee caps will hurt the quality of its service for consumers, lower its drivers’ earnings and lower restaurants’ sales volumes. While those restrictions are meant to last for the duration of the pandemic, regulatory scrutiny will likely continue even after restaurants resume normal operations.

“Delivery companies’ margins are also small, because they spend so much money on technology and marketing,” Miller said.

And some consumers have even filed lawsuits against DoorDash and its rivals for their commission fees. A lawsuit filed by New Yorkers in April alleges that the delivery companies violated antitrust laws by requiring restaurants to charge delivery and dine-in customers the same price, even though restaurants have to pay a percentage of revenue on delivery orders.

Fierce competition spurring consolidation

The fierce competition among food-delivery services has spurred consolidation within the industry. Netherlands-based Just Eat was formed earlier this year through an $11.1 billion merger between the U.K.-based Just Eat and Takeaway, a Dutch company.

Now Just Eat Takeaway and Grubhub have announced that the two companies plan to merge, a deal that could topple DoorDash’s dominance. The all-stock deal with the European company, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, will likely sidestep any scrutiny from regulators and could give Grubhub the ammunition to regain its status as the market leader.

“Grubhub being acquired by a larger competitor will only embolden the market share battle just at the same time that the regulatory environment around delivery fees across cities is becoming a larger headwind,” Wedbush analysts Dan Ives and Ygal Arounian wrote in a note to clients.

Uber had previously courted Grubhub on and off for more than year, but talks fell through amid concerns over antitrust scrutiny. The deal would have brought two of the largest food-delivery companies in the U.S. together, pushing DoorDash back to second place for market share.

Staying supreme post-Covid

Experts say it’s too early to tell if consumer behaviors formed during the pandemic will last after restaurants fully reopen.

For now, states across the country are limiting restaurants’ dine-in capacity, meaning that some will still have to rely on pick-up and delivery for the bulk of sales. About 68% of U.S. restaurants are allowed to reopen in some capacity, according to the NPD Group.

According to Miller, as some consumers look to circumnavigate some locales’ restrictions on large parties dining at restaurants, dinner parties are coming back in fashion — this time with restaurant meals ordered from a third-party delivery platform.

And while DoorDash has 340,000 restaurants on its marketplace, as much as 30% of independent restaurants are not expected to reopen their doors.

"One of the strengths that they push is diversity of restaurants,” Miller said. “If restaurants close and their portfolio shrinks, that hurts their business model because they don’t have that diversity of restaurants for consumers to choose from.”

The pandemic has also pushed large restaurant chains that were previously signed to exclusive delivery contracts to work with other delivery providers as a way of driving sales growth.

“If I’m a consumer who wouldn’t go onto Grubhub, and Grubhub is the only way I can get McDonald’s, for example, I would just go to the next fast-food burger place because I wouldn’t want to download a whole new platform,” Challingsworth said.

The U.S. economy has also entered a recession, and stay-at-home orders and lower consumer spending has left millions of Americans out of work. Consumers typically spend less during economic crises and may be less willing to pay the premium just for convenience.

“I think it will be a tale of two cities,” Miller said. “Recessions do not impact everyone equally.”

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From: Glenn Petersen6/29/2020 9:13:09 PM
   of 857
Uber Makes Offer to Buy Postmates Delivery Service

The ride-hailing company has been trying to expand its food-delivery business to compensate for the collapse of its main business.

By Mike Isaac and Erin Griffith
New York Times
June 29, 2020
Updated 8:48 p.m. ET

A deal for Postmates, last valued by investors at $2.4 billion, could bolster Uber’s delivery business, Uber Eats.Credit...Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber has made a takeover offer to buy Postmates, the upstart delivery service, according to three people familiar with the matter, as the on-demand food delivery market consolidates and Uber looks for new ways to make money.

The two companies could reach a deal as early as Monday evening, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to do so publicly. The talks are still going on, the people cautioned, and any potential for a deal could fall apart.

Representatives of Uber and Postmates declined to comment on any potential deal talks.

A tie-up could bolster Uber’s delivery business, Uber Eats, and help it compensate for the cratering of its core ride-hailing business, which has collapsed in many cities because of the coronavirus pandemic. Food delivery is not profitable, but demand has soared while restaurants are closed and people are staying at home.

The deal would also be a lifeline for Postmates, a nine-year-old company that was one of the earlier start-ups to harness the power of the smartphone and the nascent “gig economy” to offer city dwellers a courier service that could deliver anything at the tap of a button.

The value of the takeover offer was not clear Monday evening.

While Postmates saw early popularity in coastal cities — especially Los Angeles — the company has struggled to compete with much larger competitors like DoorDash, GrubHub and Uber Eats. In February, Postmates confidentially filed to go public.

The category has been ripe for consolidation. Uber held merger talks this year with GrubHub, a food delivery competitor. But those talks fell apart after the two companies could not come to agreement on a price, two people familiar with the matter said. GrubHub was eventually bought by Just Eats, a European food delivery service, for $7.3 billion in June.

Shortly after the GrubHub deal fell through, Uber began to piece together a potential offer for Postmates, one of the few stand-alone American companies in food delivery.

Postmates also held sale talks with DoorDash and GrubHub over the last year, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who declined to be identified because the talks were private.

Postmates was created in 2011 by Sam Street, Sean Plaice and Bastian Lehmann, who is the chief executive. It managed to capture the hearts of Hollywood, with endorsements from celebrities like Kylie Jenner and the singer John Legend. It even scored an investment from the actor Jared Leto.

But Postmates, last valued by investors at $2.4 billion, remains a small player in a fiercely competitive market. The other large private company, DoorDash, which investors have valued at $12.7 billion, confidentially filed to go public in February.

Though not a direct comparison because the companies calculate fees and discounts differently, GrubHub reported $1.3 billion in revenue in 2019 and Uber Eats reported $1.4 billion.

Postmates and its rivals face regulatory hurdles. California recently passed legislation that may require them to treat delivery drivers as employees rather than as independent contractors. That would mean the companies would have to offer drivers full-time benefits such as health care. Other states are considering similar legislation.

Postmates is supporting a California ballot measure to overturn the law, which is known as Assembly Bill 5.

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From: Glenn Petersen7/8/2020 9:00:33 AM
   of 857
13 million gig workers getting unemployment benefits, 41% of the total

Published Mon, Jul 6 20201:25 PM EDT
Updated Tue, Jul 7 202011:16 AM EDT

Greg Iacurci @GregIacurci

Key Points

-- Nearly 13 million Americans are getting unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

-- The PUA program is meant for the self-employed, independent contractors, gig-economy workers, those with limited recent work history, and those looking for part-time work, among others.

-- PUA recipients account for about 41% of all people getting unemployment benefits, and the share is growing.

Certain groups of workers, like the self-employed and those in the gig economy, are pulling in an increasing share of jobless benefits relative to others.

Around 12.9 million Americans are collecting unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, according to most recent Labor Department data.

That program, created by the federal CARES Act relief law enacted in March, extends jobless benefits to some workers previously ineligible for the jobless benefits traditionally offered by states.

These include the self-employed, independent contractors, gig-economy workers, those with limited recent work history and those looking for part-time work, among others.

That so many Americans are receiving aid through this new federal program suggests the system should be altered to provide unemployment benefits to these workers even in normal times, say some experts.

“If we think unemployment insurance is a good idea, why would you be excluding work that’s now characteristic of so many jobs?” asked Erica Groshen, a senior labor economics advisor at Cornell University and former commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Workers collecting benefits through the PUA program represented about 41% of the 31.5 million total unemployment benefit recipients nationwide as of June 13, according to most recent Labor Department data.

That’s up from a little over a third the month prior.

These workers can generally get benefits for up to 39 weeks, through the end of the year. Like other worker groups, they get an extra $600-a-week supplement through July 31.

The share increase is partly attributable to claims for traditional state unemployment benefits leveling off after a precipitous rise over the past three months, after state-mandated business closures led to mass layoffs and furloughs.

About 17.6 million Americans were collecting regular state benefits as of June 13, a decline of about 778,000 from the week prior.

Many businesses recalled furloughed workers back to their jobs as state economies have begun reopening. They may have also received federal loan money through the Paycheck Protection Program that offers incentives to rehire workers.

These dynamics would have largely helped those with traditional employment arrangements, rather than workers such as the self-employed and independent contractors, to come off the ranks of unemployment benefits, Groshen said.

Meanwhile, the number of PUA recipients has been ticking upward, with an increase of about 1.7 million people between June 6 and 13, according to the Labor Department.

Many states struggled to get their PUA programs up and running amid a deluge of jobless claims in the first several weeks of the pandemic, said Stephen Woodbury, a labor economist at Michigan State University.

“The PUA program generally had a slow start,” he said.

A handful of states haven’t reported their numbers of weekly PUA recipients to the Labor Department. They include Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

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From: Glenn Petersen8/6/2020 8:21:38 AM
2 Recommendations   of 857
Rural Airbnb bookings are surging as vacationers look to escape the coronavirus

M ichelle Gao @MICHGAO


-- As the coronavirus devastated the global travel industry, Airbnb laid off nearly 25% of its employees, raised emergency debt funding and at least temporarily shelved its highly anticipated IPO.

-- The one bright spot: Rural hosts are seeing huge surges in business.

-- According to Airbnb, hosts in rural areas of the U.S. earned over $200 million in June 2020 — an increase of more than 25% from the previous June.

2020 has not gone according to plan for Airbnb. The tech company came into the year preparing for a highly anticipated IPO, but then the coronavirus pandemic changed everything.

As the pandemic devastated the global travel industry, Airbnb laid off nearly 25% of its employees, raised emergency debt funding and at least temporarily shelved the IPO.

But there is one bright spot. While urban Airbnb hosts have suffered heavily along with traditional hotels and travel companies, Airbnb hosts in rural areas are seeing huge surges in business.

These rural Airbnbs for local getaways are all the rage as Americans jump at opportunities to escape the confines of their homes and the stress of the ongoing pandemic.

Trisha Mixer lost over $40,000 worth of bookings for her two properties outside Austin, Texas, when Covid-19 hit. But once the state started reopening in May, she said, she was “barraged” with requests.

“You could tell people were desperate,” Mixer said.

Mixer’s two properties, a lake house and a cottage, are 30 and 90 minutes away from Austin, respectively, and the majority of her recent customers are other Texans — even people from Austin who just want to get away. Summer weekends have always been popular, but this year she hasn’t had to do extra to fill up weekdays too.

Mixer even raised prices a little to try to slow down the pace of bookings, but it didn’t work. Her properties are filled through the summer, and weekend business looks steady through the end of October.

The data supports the popularity of rural renting. According to Airbnb, hosts in rural areas of the U.S. earned over $200 million in June 2020, an increase of more than 25% from the same period a year ago. Airbnb also said more than nine of every 10 dollars earned by hosts for June trips inside the U.S. were for sites outside the 10 biggest American cities by population.

Airbnb’s data also supports hosts’ speculation that guests are choosing to stay local. In New York, for example, Airbnb hosts earned over $5.8 million from guests living within 300 miles during June, according to data from the company.

“Many families are looking to stay in short-term rentals because it gives you a little more control over your environment, a little more privacy,” a spokeswoman for Airbnb told CNBC. People can access these quieter areas by driving and still practice social distancing while going outdoors, she added.

The rustic indoor setting of Jacki Hannon’s property in upstate New York.
Courtesy of Jacki Hannon

Jacki Hannon, a host in upstate New York, is capitalizing on this shift. She adjusted her social media posts and Facebook advertising to emphasize the peace, solitude and “off the beaten path” atmosphere available at her cabin 10 minutes away from Lake Ontario.

Now it’s booked at a higher rate than ever before, and most of her recent customers are from the greater New York City area. This is a welcome development. She has been trying to target the downstate area for some time with “meh” results, she said, but now, those renters are “finding me on their own.”

Location isn’t the only change renters are making. People are also looking to go away for longer. The average stay length has increased 18% to 4.27 days between January 2020 and June 2020, according to AllTheRooms, an aggregator of data on the vacation rental market. At its peak in April, just after the majority of shutdown orders, the average stay lasted 7.43 days.

“It really looks like individuals and families [are] choosing to get away from densely populated areas and wait out the virus,” said Joseph DiTomaso, CEO of AllTheRooms.

Many hosts noticed the same thing. Those whose weekends usually filled up first now have no problem booking weekdays as well, because people are staying through the week. Guests are also booking with less lead time — they just want to get away quickly.

Rural hosts emphasize their WiFi can hold up. They are fielding requests from guests who want to do a little remote work while still enjoying the getaway.

Guests are also coming in larger groups. Several hosts noted a trend of larger, multigenerational families organizing vacations together. Hannon, whose cabin fits 10 people, has also seen the rise of the mid-20s friend group looking to get away from New York City — like the “getaway of my youth that I remember,” she said.

On these getaways, just some space and, if possible, a swimming pool might be enough. At Kathryn Langer’s property in Lake Travis, Texas, which sleeps nine people and does have the coveted pool, it is the “busiest and craziest” time in her four years of hosting on Airbnb.

People are “stir crazy,” she said, adding that she had a guest who booked in May and then rebooked for August without having visited the first time yet.

Langer is in a unique position to see the difference in rural-urban demand because her urban property in Fredericksburg, Texas, where she said people come for shopping, wineries and restaurants, remains practically a “ghost town.” Girls’ weekends and bachelor or bachelorette parties are no longer providing a steady stream of guests. But Langer, who relies on hosting as her only source of income, has been relieved to see demand for her rural retreat recover.

As summer continues, the most sought-after states are those known for their rural getaways, according to AllTheRooms’ data. The states with the greatest year-over-year increase in bookings for the next 90 days are Oklahoma, Arkansas, West Virginia, North Dakota and Iowa. Meanwhile, bookings have dropped around 25% from last year for California, Massachusetts and New York.

But as the coronavirus continues to flare up in many places across the country, it’s an open question whether shutdowns or rising anxieties will affect demand again. Just being in a rural area isn’t automatically safer, of course.

“The question is not about population number but density,” said Dr. Ashely Alker, who works in emergency medicine and has treated Covid-19 patients. “You are safer in a city using adequate social distancing than in a rural area if you are going to surround yourself by people in bars, restaurants and boardwalks.”

Alker also pointed out that many of these smaller vacation spots attract people from the same nearby cities, so you may not be getting away completely. She noted rural areas may have less hospital capacity as well.

These reminders are not to discourage people from traveling at all. Alker said it’s important to continue doing the “simple things” such as wearing masks and distancing, even while on vacation.

Airbnb has also developed an “ enhanced cleaning protocol” informed by CDC guidelines to help hosts demonstrate the safety measures they’re taking so that guests can make responsible decisions.

When so many travel plans have been disrupted, perhaps people are more appreciative of the local getaways they wouldn’t have otherwise chosen. Amid the surge in rural demand, there’s been one other change Hannon noticed: “The reviews have been better than I’ve ever seen.”

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (794)8/10/2020 9:48:58 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 857
Uber CEO advocates for ‘third way’ to classify gig workers while fighting California labor lawsuit

Lauren Feiner @LAUREN_FEINER


-- Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi laid out his argument for a “third way” to classify gig workers in a New York Times op-ed published Monday.

-- The op-ed comes as Uber fights a lawsuit from the California attorney general that claims it denied its drivers benefits by falsely classifying them as contractors.

-- Khosrowshahi suggests companies that rely on gig work should be required by law to create benefits funds that can be used by workers for anything from health insurance to paid time off.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi laid out his argument for a “third way” to classify gig workers as he fights a lawsuit from the California attorney general that claims it denied its drivers benefits by falsely classifying them as contractors.

In a New York Times op-ed published Monday, Khosrowshahi elaborated on his vision of a new labor construct which he had previously floated by President Donald Trump ahead of his signing of the CARES Act. Though the bill ultimately provided relief to gig workers along with others impacted by the pandemic, Khosrowshahi had urged Trump and Congress to consider updating labor laws more broadly to support gig workers who cherish the flexibility of contract work but also desire the protection of employee status.

The op-ed comes as Uber awaits a California judge’s ruling on a preliminary injunction over its worker classification. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and three city attorneys filed suit against Uber and its rival Lyft in May, alleging they broke the state’s new law which aimed to reclassify gig workers as employees, rather than contractors. Uber, Lyft and other companies that rely on gig work have consistently opposed the law and have backed a ballot initiative seeking to roll back the requirement.

In the op-ed, Khosrowshahi calls the classification of workers as contractors versus employees a “false choice.” By requiring companies work within a binary system, he said, they take on “more uncertainty and risk” when they choose to provide more benefits to independent workers.

Instead, he suggests companies that rely on gig work to be required to create benefits funds that can be used by workers for anything from health insurance to paid time off. The amount of money workers can take out of the fund would be based on the number of hours of work they put in. Since all gig companies would have to contribute to the fund, workers would be able to accumulate benefits even if they switch between the apps they use to make money.

According to Khosrowshahi, Uber would have contributed $655 million to benefits funds last year if such a law had existed in all 50 states, though he does not specify the percent contribution he expects gig companies would be required to set aside. He estimates a driver in Colorado averaging more than 35 hours a week would have made about $1,350 in benefits last year, which he said would cover two weeks of paid time off or a median annual premium payment for a subsidized health insurance plan offered through an Uber partnership.

Khosrowshahi says gig workers should be allowed to choose which benefits they want. He said while policymakers believe health care would be most important to drivers, health care does not even rank in the top five benefits drivers say they want most when polled by Uber.

Gig companies should also be required to provide medical and disability coverage for when workers get hurt on the job, Khosrowshahi said, adding that they cannot currently offer such benefits “without risking their independent status under the law.” New laws should also prevent companies from denying opportunities to independent workers on the basis of protected classifications like race and gender, he argued.

Khosrowshahi said Uber would be “more transparent about what drivers make and the realities of the work,” starting with a new earnings estimator drivers can use to understand what they can expect to earn in their area. He also committed to surveying all active drivers in the U.S. about what is and isn’t working and releasing the results publicly. Uber will also help every driver register to vote, he said.

“During this moment of crisis, I fundamentally believe platforms like Uber can fuel an economic recovery by quickly giving people flexible work to get back on their feet,” Khosrowshahi wrote. “But this opportunity will be lost if we ignore the obvious lessons of the pandemic and fail to ensure independent workers have a stronger safety net.”

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (795)8/10/2020 3:47:28 PM
From: TimF
   of 857
If your not going to just leave people free to contract with others as they want (my preference) and instead feel the need to force people in to different specific boxes each with its own set of rules, then a "third-way" makes sense here. Its different then conventional employment and also different then a strongly independent contractor.

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To: TimF who wrote (796)8/10/2020 4:34:17 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 857
This idea has been kicked around by the gig companies for at least five years. Given the realities of U.S. politics, they should have aggressively pursued it while they still had some leverage and goodwill. In the past couple of years the gig companies have lost a lot of goodwill, and today they lost some of their leverage:

Judge grants preliminary injunction requiring Uber and Lyft to stop classifying drivers as contractors

Lauren Feiner @LAUREN_FEINER


-- A California judge granted a preliminary injunction Monday requiring Uber and Lyft to stop classifying their drivers as independent contractors pending further action by the court.

-- California Attorney General Xavier Becerra brought the lawsuit in May along with city attorneys from San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

-- The ruling does not end the legal battles for Uber and Lyft as California’s Labor Commissioner announced additional lawsuits against the companies alleging wage theft.

A California judge granted a preliminary injunction Monday requiring Uber and Lyft to stop classifying their drivers as independent contractors pending further action by the court. The order will take effect after 10 days, as the companies requested a brief stay during the appellate review process.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra requested the injunction as part of a lawsuit he brought in May along with city attorneys from San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, alleged Uber and Lyft violated the state’s new law known as Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), which was created as a way to classify gig workers as full employees and ensure benefits from their employers. Uber and Lyft were among a group of tech companies that have previously opposed the bill, arguing their workers enjoy the flexibility of creating their own schedules as contractors.

California officials sought an injunction on the alleged misclassification and restitution for workers and civil penalties worth up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi advocated for a “third way” to classify workers in a letter to President Donald Trump in March as the first round of coronavirus relief measures were being negotiated. He argued there should be a way for workers to gain protections without sacrificing the flexibility of contract work.

The ruling does not end the legal battles for Uber and Lyft, however. Last week, California’s Labor Commissioner announced lawsuits against the companies alleging wage theft due to misclassification. The commission seeks to recover wages it believes were owed to drivers currently classified as contractors. The suits were filed in Alameda County Superior Court.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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From: Glenn Petersen8/12/2020 7:27:08 AM
1 Recommendation   of 857
Airbnb Plans to File for IPO in August

Shares in the home-sharing platform could begin trading by year-end

By Corrie Driebusch, Maureen Farrell and Cara Lombardo
Wall Street Jiurnal
Updated Aug. 11, 2020 12:59 pm ET

Airbnb Inc. is close to filing to go public in a move that would underscore a surprising rebound for the home-sharing giant and the IPO market.

The company plans to file IPO paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission later this month, laying the groundwork for a potential listing before the end of the year, according to people familiar with the matter. Morgan Stanley MS 2.37% has been tapped to lead the offering, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS 0.80% also playing a key role, the people said.

There is no guarantee Airbnb will move forward on the expected timeline, in part because of the uncertain timing of the SEC’s review process and since there is no telling whether stocks will still be in favor with investors by the time the company is ready to stage an offering. A listing could take different forms: The company could pursue a traditional IPO, launch a direct listing—in which no money is raised—or take advantage of the latest trend of merging with a blank-check company.

Either way, the long-awaited move will bring one of the stalwarts of the sharing economy into the public domain, alongside ride-sharing platforms Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc., and sets up the next few months to be an especially busy time for big IPOs. Airbnb was recently valued at $18 billion, down from an earlier valuation of $31 billion.

San Francisco-based Airbnb, the largest home-sharing platform in the U.S., joins a rush of companies tapping public investors after the IPO market emerged from a virtual standstill triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. Music label Warner Music Group Corp. and insurance startup Lemonade LMND -6.91% Inc. staged successful debuts in June and July, and shares of food-delivery startup DoorDash Inc. and data-analytics firm Palantir Technologies Inc. are both expected to start trading later this summer or in the early fall.

An imminent debut would also mark a turnaround for Airbnb, which was founded in 2008 and allows people to list their homes for rent. For years, the company shied away from the public markets as it grew into one of the most highly valued startups, with $4.8 billion in revenue in 2019. It spent big, however, prompting an even steeper loss in 2019 than in prior years, The Wall Street Journal reported. Its woes deepened late last year after issues emerged involving crime and safety problems on its platform.

As the pandemic spread across the globe, so did the company’s headaches. People stopped traveling, causing bookings to plummet. Airbnb, three years ago valued at more than $30 billion, rushed to secure financing from private-equity firms Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners at a high interest rate—and with warrants that when exercised would value the company at $18 billion. In May, Airbnb said it would lay off a quarter of its staff.

Chief Executive Brian Chesky said in an interview in April that the company was working to file IPO paperwork with the SEC in March but that the coronavirus’s impact on global travel quashed those plans.

Since spring, however, the rebound for Airbnb has been surprisingly swift. Even as people stayed closer to home, they still sought rental-home bookings. On July 8, guests booked more than one million nights of future stays at Airbnb listings around the world, the company said. It was the first time to hit that level since March 3.

Still, moving forward now carries risk, especially for a money-losing company such as Airbnb, given IPO investors’ limited tolerance for red ink. WeWork’s deep losses helped doom the office-sharing company’s attempt to go public, and Uber’s failure to turn a profit more than a year after its IPO continues to weigh on its stock.

Even Quicken Loans parent Rocket Cos RKT -5.03% ., a solidly profitable company, struggled to find demand at its target valuation, and the mortgage giant priced its offering below expectations last week. The stock has risen only modestly since then.

But overall, the market is one of the most hospitable for IPOs in years. U.S.-listed IPOs have raised more than $60 billion so far in 2020, according to Dealogic, on track for the highest level since the tech boom in 2000. On average, these IPOs have risen 23% in their first day of trading, the biggest first-day pop since 2000.

—Preetika Rana contributed to this article.

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From: Glenn Petersen10/17/2020 3:19:51 PM
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Why millions of freelancers fear a Biden presidency may put them out of work



-- With 59 million Americans freelancing, the future of freelance work is a key concern for these workers as the presidential election approaches.

-- Biden has expressed support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act on his campaign website.

-- The PRO Act would use the same three-pronged ABC test as California’s AB-5 law to decide who is a freelancer nationwide.AB-5 classifies contractors as employees and makes it hard for freelancers to work for businesses in their industry.

With the presidential election coming, Carolyn Bothwell, a freelance copywriter from Charlestown, Massachusetts, has been hearing from concerned members of the freelancer community she started, Freelance Founders, about what the results may mean for their business.

Some are wondering what Democratic candidate Vice President Joe Biden’s public support for AB-5, a union-backed California law, aimed at preventing the misclassification of rideshare drivers by giving them the status and protections of full-time employees, means for the future of their businesses. AB-5 had to be modified repeatedly after taking effect on Jan. 1, 2020, because it was putting so many other types of freelancers out of work. “They are really worried about it,” says Bothwell. That’s because Biden -- historically a supporter of unions -- wants a federal law similar to AB-5 that could place steep restrictions on who can be a freelancer.

With more Americans freelancing than ever before, the future of freelance work is a key concern for some workers as the presidential election approaches. A recent Upwork survey, Freelance Forward 2020, found that 59 million Americans did some form of freelancing in 2019, up 2 million from the year before.

Many freelancers across the nation have been keeping an eye on headlines about AB-5. The law that took effect on Jan. 1, 2020 is an attempt to address inequities in the gig economy including the independent contractor policies of ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber. It assumes that every worker in the state is an employee unless employers can prove otherwise using the rigorous “ABC test” it is based on.

The B-prong of the test says that to be considered a contractor, a worker must perform work that is outside of the usual course of business for the hiring company — making it harder or impossible for many freelancers to work for clients in their own industry. Similar measures have been considered in other states, including New York and New Jersey, so far unsuccessfully.

A California Appeals Court has been hearing arguments this week by lawyers for Uber and Lyft as they try to overturn a lower court ruling that said they had to reclassify their drivers as employees.

In addition to rideshare drivers, AB-5 swept many other types of freelancers into its net, making some employers decide not to hire freelancers from the state and prompting a heated outcry from freelancers in fields that did not get carve-outs that exempted them. The law has now been amended so many times it offers exemptions for more than 100 industries. The fixes are likely to continue, says Steve King, partner in Emergent Research, which studies the independent workforce. “It’s still really confusingly written,” he says.

On Election Day, California residents will now be asked to vote on Proposition 22, a ballot measure that would overturn AB-5, backed by a group of rideshare and gig economy companies that are investing more than $180 million in defeating it. Proposition 22 would deem rideshare drivers to be independent contractors, rather than employees or agents. The ballot initiative would also require app-based rideshare companies to provide a guaranteed minimum wage, a subsidy for health benefits, medical and disability coverage for workplace injuries, and added protection against harassment and discrimination. “It effectively creates a third category of worker,” says King.

Biden has opposed Proposition 22. In a tweet on May 26, the same day he was endorsed by the AFL-CIO, he urged Californians to vote no on this issue.

Biden’s Pro Act

What concerns freelancers in other states, in the meantime, is that Biden has expressed support for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, tweeting that he would sign it on Sept. 7 and expressing his support in the Biden Plan for Strengthening Worker Organizing, Collective Bargaining and Unions on his campaign website. The PRO Act would use the same three-pronged ABC test as AB-5 to decide who is a freelancer nationwide.

The PRO Act, heavily supported by Democrats, would weaken right-to-work laws in states that let employees opt out of participating in unions and paying union dues. It also gives the National Labor Relations Board the ability to fine companies that retaliate against workers for organizing and give collective bargaining rights to many workers who do not have them now.

Jim Hoffa, the Teamsters general president, noted his support of the legislation in a blog post: “The misclassification of workers is on the rise and too many working Americans are falling through the cracks.”

Some freelancers are so fearful of what would happen if the PRO Act were enacted with the ABC test that this is affecting their choice of candidates. “My vote is 100% on this issue because we are talking about 100% of my income,” says Kim Kavin, a freelancer writer from Long Valley, New Jersey. She co-founded a Facebook group called Fight for Freelancers NJ to oppose a law similar to AB-5 that was proposed in New Jersey but did not make it to a vote. “Especially in the current economic situation we face, I want to keep earning a living.”

The Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the candidate’s positions on AB-5 and the PRO Act. However, in the plan for strengthening worker organizing on his website, Biden says that if elected, he will ?aggressively pursue employers who violate labor laws, participate in wage theft, or cheat on their taxes by intentionally misclassifying employees as independent contractors.”

As president, Biden will put a stop to employers intentionally misclassifying their employees as independent contractors,” the statement goes on to say. “He will enact legislation that makes worker misclassification a substantive violation of law under all federal labor, employment, and tax laws with additional penalties beyond those imposed for other violations. And, he will build on efforts by the Obama-Biden Administration to drive an aggressive, all-hands-on-deck enforcement effort that will dramatically reduce worker misclassification.

He will direct the U.S. Department of Labor to engage in meaningful, collaborative enforcement partnerships, including with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department, and state tax, unemployment insurance, and labor agencies. And, while Trump has weakened enforcement by sabotaging the enforcement agencies and slashing their investigator corps, Biden will fund a dramatic increase in the number of investigators in labor and employment enforcement agencies to facilitate a large anti-misclassification effort.”

Trump’s stance on worker classification

The Trump administration has also taken a position on worker classification. The Department of Labor in September proposed a new rule to clarify employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. It would adopt an “economic reality” test that looks at whether workers are in business for themselves or are economically dependent on the employer for work. The determination of whether they are in business for themselves would depend on the nature and degree of the workers’ control over the work and the opportunity for profit and loss based on initiative and investment.

The analysis would also look at the amount of skill required for the work, the degree of permanence of the working relationship between the worker and the hiring entity, and whether the work is an “integrated unit of production.” The 30-day comment period on the rule ends on Oct. 26, 2020.

At the Freelancers Union, executive director Rafael Espinal says there needs to be more education about how freelancers’ livelihood will be affected if the PRO Act moves forward as written. Although the group’s membership leans Democrat, Espinal says many freelancers generally don’t feel represented by either party.

Freelancers Union executive director Rafael Espinal says although its membership leans Democrat, many freelancers generally don’t feel represented by either party. “Those who are aware of the negative impacts of AB-5 in California are extremely concerned about what the next presidency can mean for their industry.”
Christina Emilie Photography

“Those who are aware of the negative impacts of AB-5 in California are extremely concerned about what the next presidency can mean for their industry,” says Espinal.

A grassroots movement underway

The Freelancers Union has been actively reaching out to legislators to make sure they are aware of the potential impact of the PRO Act on its members. On Sept. 10, the Freelancers Union held a town hall with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), where the group raised concerns about the PRO Act. “He committed to working with us and making sure we don’t have the same outcome that came out of California at the federal level,” says Espinal.

The Freelancers Union now plans additional outreach to other legislators, says Espinal.

“We are doing our best to build lines of communication with legislators that can help us guide the PRO Act and any similar legislation to a point where freelancers are not negatively impacted by it,” says Espinal. “We also are working on creating a space to raise awareness so freelancers’ voices can get heard and legislators can hear how laws like this have been detrimental to the freelance workforce. We hope to get to a point soon in which we are playing a more active role in the conversations around the PRO Act and any similar legislation on the state level.”

With many people losing jobs or forced to find more flexible work arrangements by the demands of the pandemic, the issue of worker classification is likely to increase in importance in the next few years.

“I expect the number of freelancers to grow after pandemic, given previous trends,” says Espinal. “After 2008, there was a huge increase in the number of people who decided to go freelance.” And for many, whatever laws are on the books about how they are classified will determine how easy, or difficult, it is to earn a living independently.

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From: Following-Mr.Pink10/19/2020 4:00:22 PM
   of 857
Thoughts on On-Demand Economics in the supply chain / logistics space?

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Seems counterintuitive compared to how the AB-5 ruling ended... putting more truckers out of jobs

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