Day: May 14, 2019

Uber riders can now ask their drivers to be quiet directly from the app, but you’ll pay extra for that convenience (UBER)

Source: Business Insider On:

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  • Uber is rolling out a new quiet mode for riders who want to keep conversation between themselves and their drivers to a minimum.
  • The ride-hailing service is offering the option to users who choose the Uber Black and Uber Black SUV services, starting May 15.
  • Those rides will come with some additional perks, including the option to select an ideal interior temperature for your ride, luggage service, and a little extra time to find your driver’s car after it has arrived.
  • It’s part of Uber’s effort to draw users back to its pricier Uber Black service. The ride-hailing company which has not yet made a profit will likely seek additional roads to revenue after a disappointing debut on the stock market last week.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Uber is offering some added perks for users who choose its pricier Uber Black and Uber Black SUV service.

Riders who want to keep conversation between themselves and their drivers to a minimum can select “quiet mode,” and they can enjoy other perks like luggage service, freedom to choose a specific interior temperature, and extra time to find their driver’s car after it has arrived.

Users also get access to a dedicated customer-support line and what the Uber bills as “professionalism” and “consistent quality” — meaning Uber is promising there’s a commercially licensed driver behind the wheel, who is showing up in the kind of vehicle one would expect when using a luxury car service.

Read more: Uber isn’t screwed. There are a ton of ways it could become a profitable monster

Uber’s senior product manager Aydin Ghajar said in a press release on Tuesday the company understands that riders who choose the Uber Black and Uber Black SUV service “want a consistent, high quality experience every time they ride.”

“With these new features and more to come, we’re excited to ensure that our riders can arrive relaxed and refreshed, wherever they’re headed,” Ghajar said.

The features come online May 15. They are part of Uber’s effort to draw users back to its pricier Uber Black service.

The ride-hailing company which has not yet made a profit, despite its multibillion-dollar valuation, will likely seek additional roads to revenue after a disappointing debut on the stock market last week.

SEE ALSO: Sure, Uber didn’t leave any money on the table, but its IPO was nothing to celebrate and it could haunt the company and its execs for years to come

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Amazon Alexa Wants To Guard Your House And Listen For Broken Glass, Smoke Alarm

Source: Forbes Innovation On:

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Amazon wants to live with you, protect you from harm, and provide for your every need, on the same day, of course. That much is clear and has been for quite some time. Today, several news organizations noticed the new “Guard” feature is now live in the Alexa app.

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield jokingly proposed to Jen Rubio, cofounder of $1.4 billion Away, on Twitter, and the whole thing really confused Silicon Valley (SLCK)

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Slack CEO and co-founder Stewart Butterfield jokingly proposed marriage to Away co-founder and president Jen Rubio over Twitter — but many followers couldn’t figure out whether it was a real proposal or not. 

On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Away, the luggage startup, landed a $1.4 billion valuation with a new funding round.

Butterfield shared the article on Twitter and tweeted to Away co-founder and president Jen Rubio saying, “Let’s make today a double-whammy — Jennifer, will you marry me? Promise I’m not just a golddigger.”

Then, Butterfield said that he found out that Rubio is currently in flight, with no internet access.

However, it soon looked like Rubio did actually have WiFi access, has shown in this apparent Slack exchange between the two that Butterfield shared on Twitter. 

Shortly thereafrer, Rubio did not directly respond to Butterfield’s apparent proposal, but rather commented on Away’s funding round: “This new capital will help us continue to build a strong business and community of travelers around the world!”

The original proposal, and the cryptic non-answer of Rubio’s response, made many in Silicon Valley and beyond wonder if this was the real deal, prompting perplexed replies.


About an hour and twenty minutes later, Rubio tweeted that Butterfield was kidding.

away jen rubio

Even Slack employees seemed to be confused by the whole thing: 


For his part, Butterfield seemed to express some contrition for the joke, after all the confusion:


Apart from Rubio’s success at Away, Butterfield has a lot going on, himself:  Slack filed to go public in April. It was officially valued at $7.1 billion after its latest financing round, last August. On Monday, Butterfield appeared in a livecast investor presentation, laying out Slack’s business for would-be stockholders following the IPO.

SEE ALSO: Slack just filed to go public, but experts worry that Microsoft will do to it what Facebook did to Snapchat

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BMW’s ReachNow suspends ride-hailing service temporarily in setback for Uber and Lyft rival

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The ReachNow Ride ride-hailing service, which debuted in Seattle in late 2016, has been temporarily suspended due to an issue with a third party vendor. The original ReachNow car-sharing service remains available. (ReachNow Photo)

ReachNow, the car-sharing and ride-hailing service that is part of a joint venture between BMW Group and Daimler AG, has temporarily suspended operations of ReachNow Ride, the ride-hailing component of its service that competes with Uber, Lyft and other transportation network companies.

The original car-sharing component of the ReachNow service remains in operation, but in a notice to users, the company said it was forced to suspend ReachNow Ride after the third-party vendor that hires and trains its drivers informed ReachNow “that they could no longer support our business.”

“With the limited window of notice, there is nothing we can do to keep Ride operational at this time,” the company said in the update on its site. “However, our team is working as quickly (and creatively) as possible to get Ride back up and running soon.”

The vendor, Vancouver, B.C.-based Ecoservice, informed ReachNow that it is ceasing its U.S. operations, according to a ReachNow representative. GeekWire has contacted Ecoservice for more information about its decision.

ReachNow Ride was limited to Seattle. ReachNow also operates its car-sharing service in Portland. The company exited Brooklyn last year.

“When we made Ride available side-by-side with car sharing in our app last summer, we intentionally took important steps toward creating a better model for ride-hailing,” the update says. “We’re proud to support more than 100 drivers with a livable, hourly wage, access to healthcare benefits and remove the burden of using their own car or having basics like gas and maintenance eat into their bottom line.”

ReachNow Ride has been received favorably by drivers, and usage of the service has been growing, said Laura Gonia, ReachNow’s head of marketing. Representatives of the company met with ReachNow Ride drivers earlier today to address the situation. ReachNow is speaking with other vendors with the goal of restarting operations as soon as possible, although there’s no official timeline yet for that to happen.

“We’re hoping that we can get this back online soon and continue to innovate,” Gonia said.

The auto giants last year announced a new joint venture that brought together businesses including BMW-owned ReachNow and Daimler-owned car2go, along with others such as moovel and mytaxi. The joint venture was designed in part to help the automakers compete more aggressively against sharing economy companies such as Uber, Lyft and Lime, which are expanding their own tech-powered transportation-related offerings.

ReachNow started testing ReachNow Ride in Seattle in November 2016, before expanding the service across the city and ultimately creating a unified app that combines the car-sharing and ride-hailing components of its service, touting itself as the first company to do so.

Huawei is about to unveil an AI-powered rival to Oracle databases that an analyst calls the ‘first salvo in US-Chinese database wars’ (ORCL, MSFT, IBM)

Source: Business Insider On:

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  • Huawei on Wednesday will introduce a new AI-powered database system powered by ARM chips.
  • An analyst called the move “the first salvo in the US-Chinese database wars.”
  • Huawei is at the center of an international drama – the rollout comes two days after Huawei’s embattled CFO sent a defiant letter thanking employees for their support as she fights extradition to the US. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

As Huawei finds itself at the center of an international drama, the Chinese tech giant is unveiling a new AI-powered database in what one analyst describes as the “first salvo in the US-China database wars.”

Huawei on Wednesday will introduce what it says is “the world’s first AI-native database,” the company said in an email inviting media to the launch.

The product marks the company’s “move from focusing on hardware business only to hardware + software ones,” Huawei said, adding the system will run on ARM chips — a rival to those made by Intel, and the dominant standard in smartphones  — and will be the “the world’s first ARM-based enterprise database system.”

The Huawei database is a win for chipmaker ARM. A major player in the mobile microprocessor market, ARM is working to expand in the enterprise tech arena, including data center hardware like servers, which is dominated by Intel.

This is legitimate competition,” Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies Inc. told Business Insider. “But most likely it will not have a major impact on Intel, unless Huawei gains large backing for their solution.”  

The move highlights Huawei’s increasingly aggressive positioning in key areas of tech where it’s already going head- to-head with US giants such as Cisco and Apple.

The company is ranked second place behind Cisco, in the telecom service provider router and Ethernet switch markets, according to IDC. Recently, it passed Apple as the world’s second-biggest smartphone vendor behind Samsung.

“Huawei is building more software as they see the long term limitations in hardware,” Constellation Research analyst Ray Wang told Business Insider. He called Huawei’s move the “first salvo in the US-China database wars,” even though the Chinese tech powerhouse faces an uphill climb against its American rivals.

The $33 billion database market is dominated by other US behemoths led by Oracle, which has 42% of the market, followed by Microsoft, with 24%, and IBM with 13%, according to IDC.

IDC analyst Carl Olofson said AI appears to be a key element in Huawei’s strategy. “It looks like Huawei is upping the game in the AI area with respect to integrated database support,” he told Business Insider. “The impact on the general market worldwide is likely to be minimal at first, but as Huawei’s influence grows beyond Asia, this could be a key differentiator.”

However, Bajarin said there are “risks and challenges” in banking on AI, given growing worries the technology can be used for “nefarious purposes.”

It is positive for Huawei’s business but they must assure customers and prove to them that this is clean AI code and they have safeguards to keep it clean at all levels,” he told Business Insider.

Huawei in the spotlight

In fact, Huawei’s bid to expand may have been hampered by allegations of spying and violations of US laws — charges that the company and the Chinese government have denounced as unfair and politically-motivated.

Huawei’s database rollout follows the latest twist in the case of CFO Meng Wanzhou, who is currently fighting extradition from Canada to the United States. Meng is the daughter of Huawei CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei.

Meng was indicted by the US in January, claiming she covered up the company’s links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran, in violation of US trade sanctions. Meng and Huawei deny any wrongdoing.

On Monday, Meng  sent a letter to Huawei’s 188,000 employees, saying, “My inner self has never felt so colorful and vast.”

“You concern has warmed my heart and your support has filled me with power,” she also said.

Got a tip about Huawei, Oracle or another tech company? Contact this reporter via email at [email protected], message him on Twitter @benpimentel, or send him a secure message through Signal at 510.731.8428. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.


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