Uber CEO: ride hailing will be eclipsed by scooters, bikes and even flying taxis

A decade from now, ride-hailing will be less than 50 percent of Uber’s business, in terms of transactions, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said Thursday at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. The onstage prediction is in line with recent moves by Uber and its CEO to be part of, and make money from, all the different ways people might move within an urban environment. In Khosrowshahi’s one year as CEO, Uber has made a multimillion-dollar acquisition of JUMP bikes, launched UberRENT, announced plans to launch a dockless electric scooter service and launched a new modalities organization created to figure out what this multi-modal future might look like for Uber. Ride hailing, the company’s first and primary revenue driver, and its delivery app UberEATS, will both be enormous in the future, Khosrowshahi said. But the long-term vision, and one that is already in motion, is to move away from travel that relies on passenger cars. “We
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Whole Foods workers seek to unionize, says Amazon is ‘exploiting our dedication’

A group of workers at Whole Foods Market is leading an effort to establish a union for the Amazon-owned company’s 85,000+ workforce. In a letter addressed to Whole Foods employees, the group — members of Whole Foods’ cross-regional committee — wrote that they are “concerned about the direction” of Whole Foods in an Amazon era. The letter outlines several demands, including a $15 minimum wage for all employees, 401k matching, paid maternity leave, lower health insurance deductibles and more. “We cannot let Amazon remake the entire North American retail landscape without embracing the full value of its team members. The success of Amazon and [Whole Foods] should not come at the cost of exploiting our dedication and threatening our economic stability,” they wrote. The grocery store chain was acquired by Amazon one year ago in a $13.7 billion deal that sent shock waves through the e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail
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BMW launches a personal voice assistant for its cars

At TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, BMW today premiered its digital personal assistant for its cars, the aptly named BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. But you won’t have to say “Hey, BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant” to wake it up. You can give it any name you want. The announcement comes only a few weeks after BMW also launched its integration with Amazon’s Alexa, but it’s worth stressing that these are complementary technologies. BMW’s own assistant is all about your car, while its partnerships with Amazon and also Microsoft enables other functions that aren’t directly related to your driving experience. “BMW’s Personal Assistant gets to know you over time with each of your voice commands and by using your car,” BMW’s senior vice president Digital Products and Services, Dieter May, said. “It gets better and better every single day.” Sticking with the precedents of Microsoft’s, Google’s and Amazon’s assistants, the voice
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ShipBob brings in $40M to help e-commerce businesses compete with Amazon

Nowadays, those of us who shop for everyday goods online are accustomed to said goods arriving on our doorstep 24 to 48 hours after we click ‘buy.’ That’s because of Amazon; the e-commerce giant’s next-day delivery feature is a sweet, sweet deal, but for smaller e-commerce businesses that are trying to compete with Jeff Bezos it’s, well, tough. ShipBob is here to help. The Chicago-based startup has raised a $40 million Series C to help small e-commerce businesses streamline the fulfillment process and manage inventory. The company was launched through Y Combinator in 2014 by CEO Dhruv Saxena and Divey Gulati, a pair of engineers that met after college. “Once we graduated, we thought up this e-commerce store and we were able to automate basically everything in the operation except for shipping and logistics,” Saxena told TechCrunch. “We realized none of the existing solutions out there worked. So, we
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Elastic’s IPO filing is here

Elastic, the provider of subscription-based data search software used by Dell, Netflix, The New York Times and others, has unveiled its IPO filing after confidentially submitting paperwork to the SEC in June. The company will be the latest in a line of enterprise SaaS businesses to hit the public markets in 2018. Headquartered in Mountain View, Elastic plans to raise $100 million in its NYSE listing, though that’s likely a placeholder amount. The timing of the filing suggests the company will transition to the public markets this fall; we’ve reached out to the company for more details.  Elastic will trade under the symbol ESTC. The business is known for its core product, an open-source search tool called ElasticSearch. It also offers a range of analytics and visualization tools meant to help businesses organize large data sets, competing directly with companies like Splunk and even Amazon — a name it mentions
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Bernie Sanders intros ‘Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS)’ bill

Bernie Sanders has never been one to mince words — and the past couple of weeks have found the independent senator from Vermont going toe to toe with some of the world’s largest and wealthiest companies. As promised, the 2016 presidential candidate introduced a bill aimed at ending what he’s deemed “corporate welfare.”

Along with Congress member Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Sanders has just introduced legislation titled Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS). The senator held a press conference today in Washington, introducing the bill aimed at what he deemed “the great economic crisis in America today.”

“Despite low unemployment, we end up having tens of millions of Americans working at wages that are just so low that they can’t adequately take care of their family,” Sanders told the audience. “And today, we have the three wealthiest people in America who own more wealth than the

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EU to move ahead with cultural quotas for streaming services

The European Union is set to move ahead with a plan to enforce pan-European quotas on streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix to support production of locally produced film and video content. Roberto Viola, the European Commission’s directorate general of communication, networks, content and technology told Variety that the new rules are on track to be approved in December. “We just need the final vote, but it’s a mere formality,” he said in an interview at the Venice Film Festival. The proposals will require that streaming services give over at least 30% of their on-demand catalogues to original productions made in each EU country where a service is provided (individual EU Member States could choose to set the content bar even higher, at 40%). Streaming services will also have to ensure visibility and prominence for local content — so no burying the ‘European third’ in a dingy corner of the
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Amazon opens its largest Amazon Go convenience store yet

Amazon is picking up the pace when it comes to unveiling its line of “stores of the future,” today opening its second cashier-less Amazon Go convenience store in the last week. More Amazon Go locations are expected to land in other cities soon, though the company has yet to confirm any plans. The latest location is its third overall and third in Seattle, where it’s headquartered. The 2,100 square feet store sits on the corner of Boren Ave. and Thomas St. and is its largest yet. The first iteration of the Amazon Go store was 1,800 square feet; it opened its doors to the public in a surprise opening in December 2016. The second, measuring 1,450 square feet, began doing business last Monday. In case you’re unfamiliar, Amazon Go stores cut out the check-out process by charging customers for what the pick up in-store using the Amazon Go app. The
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Amazon strikes $1 trillion market cap, 4 weeks after Apple did the same

Amazon just joined the exclusive $1 trillion club (briefly). The e-commerce behemoth jumped above a trillion dollar market cap on Tuesday during intraday trading. Its share price hit an all-time high of $2,050.27 earlier this morning bringing its value above the massive, yet meaningless, milestone. The share price is bouncing around and is currently sitting a few million below the number but the share price will inevitably rest above the number soon enough. Amazon, founded in 1994 with the lofty ambitions of taking on Borders and Barnes and Noble, has completely rewritten the rules of retail in the past couple decades as it has aggressively moved to build a massive logistics engine to power all sorts of e-commerce needs for a consumer base emboldened by the shift to mobile. This news is all the more notable because it follows Apple’s ascent to the same milestone just a few weeks ago.

Alexa is now available on 20,000 devices

That large number comes courtesy of Amazon’s press event at IFA in Berlin this week. It’s an impressive jump, given that the company was only boasting around 4,000 the last time it reported a number at the beginning of the year.

“Just this year,” exec Daniel Rausch told the crowd, as reported by CNET. “Alexa has sung Happy Birthday millions of times to customers, and she’s told over 100 million jokes.”

That’s a lot jokes — at least one or two of them must have been good, right?

Alexa confirmed the number with TechCrunch, noting that Alexa is on “20k+ devices you can control with Alexa, from 3500+ brands.”

Amazon’s own devices only make up a small portion of the overall number, of course. There just aren’t that many Echo smart speakers, the Fire TV and Fire tablets. But the company has been making an extremely aggressive push

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The Amazonization of Whole Foods, one year in

Amazon promised to breathe new tech into the relationship with Whole Foods after putting a $13.7 billion ring on it one year ago. So how did that promise shake out? At the time, Amazon said the goal was to make “high-quality, natural and organic food affordable for everyone.” Bananas, avocados and even tilapia was going to be cheaper than before. Prime members would receive increased benefits with discount rewards and Amazon drones would be delivering packages right to your door. Okay, that last bit was not promised — though we’re not the first to speculate on that possibility in the future. A bunch of other Amazon offerings involving delivery options were also mentioned, including the getting of Whole Food groceries through a then new Amazon Fresh grocery delivery program and Whole Foods private label products would be made available through Prime Now and Prime Pantry. Further, Amazon lockers
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How Silicon Valley should celebrate Labor Day

Ask any 25-year old engineer what Labor Day means to him or her, and you might get an answer like: it’s the surprise three-day weekend after a summer of vacationing. Or it’s the day everyone barbecues at Dolores Park. Or it’s the annual Tahoe trip where everyone gets to relive college. Or simply, it’s the day we get off because we all work so hard. And while founders and employees in startup land certainly work hard, wearing their 80-hour workweeks as a badge of honor, closing deals on conference calls in an air-conditioned WeWork is a far cry from the backbreaking working conditions of the 1880s, the era when Labor Day was born. For everyone here in Silicon Valley, we should not be celebrating this holiday triumphantly over beers and hot dogs, complacent in the belief that our gravest labor issues are behind us, but instead use this holiday as
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Alexa routers are a thing now

Some things are inevitable — stock market fluctuations, thunderstorms, your favorite band reuniting to offset poor financial planning. And then there’s Alexa. Amazon’s smart assistant is slowly making its way onto every aspect of of the smart home, and Google’s own offering isn’t too far behind.

As far as these things go, routers make a lot of sense. They’re a key part of stay connected, and in the case of mesh ones, they’re everywhere. So why not have them do double duty, right? Clearly Huawei and Netgear were struck by the same thought, and Amazon was more than happy to oblige. 

Both companies debuted a take on the concept this week at IFA. Huawei’s AI Cube, which despite not being a cube at all, is the more straight forward of the two offerings. The device looks remarkably like a Google Home (and, by extension, a Glade air freshener, but

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Porter Road was to herd the meat industry in a new direction

Down a two lane road on the outskirts of Princeton, Ky., next to a cemetery and past the Light of Truth Church is the Porter Road Butcher Meat Co. facility — a staging ground for what the Nashville-based startup Porter Road hopes will be a revolution in the American meatpacking industry. For the company’s co-founders, James Peisker and Chris Carter, the refashioning of the meat business in America is the next step in a nearly decade-long journey since the former chefs first met working in the restaurant of Nashville’s historic Hermitage Hotel.  The two men started their butcher business, selling locally sourced meat from the East Nashville Farmer’s Market in 2010 and eventually moved to a storefront in the same neighborhood a year later. “We ended up going around and raising funds and opened the brick and mortar shop in 2011,” Peisker said. “Chris worked a job
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Bernie Sanders fires back against Amazon, calling subsidy reliance ‘absurd’

Next week, Bernie Sanders will introduce legislation aimed firmly at large companies he believes have taken advantage of “corporate welfare” by underpaying employees. Amazon and Walmart in particular have bore the brunt of the Senator’s criticisms, and the rhetoric has become increasingly heated over the the past few days.

Earlier today, Amazon accused Sanders of issuing “inaccurate and misleading” statements as he called the company out of warehouse conditions. The Vermont senator has since responded with a release, calling Amazon fulfillment center wages “absurd.”

“Thousands of Amazon employees are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing because their wages are too low,” Sanders says, “including 1 out of 3 of its workers in Arizona and 2,400 in Pennsylvania and Ohio, according to The New Food Economy. Bottom line: the taxpayers of this country should not have to subsidize employees at a company owned by Mr. Bezos

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Amazon calls Bernie Sanders’ claims ‘inaccurate and misleading’

On September 5, Senator Bernie Sanders will introduce legislation aimed at curbing large companies like Amazon and Walmart’s “corporate welfare.” Amazon has unsurprisingly been on the offensive since the Vermont Senator called the company out by name.

When we interviewed Sanders by phone yesterday, the retail giant provided us with a fairly standard comment, “encourage[ing] anyone to compare our pay and benefits to other retailers.” Today, however, it’s got something more substantial, and the company’s not mincing words here.

In a blog post titled “Response to Senator Sanders,” Amazon calls out what it claims are “inaccurate and misleading accusations” against the company. Sanders noted in our conversation that Amazon has been less than forthcoming with certain details, though the company says its been “in regular contact” with his office.

Yesterday a Sanders representative confirmed with TechCrunch by email that Amazon had offered the senator a tour of

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Bernie Sanders’ problem with Amazon

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is seeking additional information about the working conditions in Amazon warehouses in advance of legislation he’s preparing to introduce on September 5. 

Income inequality was, after all, the centerpiece of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. It was a populist message that resonated strongly with voters, giving the dark horse candidate a boost among concerned progressives and independents during a tooth and nail primary battle.

But while the message, perhaps, wasn’t enough to put him over the top, it’s a mission that’s remained central to Sanders’ work on Capitol Hill, finding him taking aim at some of the world’s largest corporations. In recent months, Amazon has been in the senator’s sights.

Earlier today, Sanders tweeted out a link asking employees of the online retail giant to share their experiences working for the company. The form allows current and former Amazon employees to share their stories either on

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WeTransfer is getting weird…

What do you do if you’re a European startup competing against the likes of Box and Dropbox, and are looking to make a splash in international markets like the U.S.? Well, if you’re the Dutch startup WeTransfer (which raised a cool $25 million about three years ago to take the U.S. market by storm), you get weird. Really, really, avant garde-level weird.

The latest overture to the hipsterati is the company’s three video set collaboration with King Krule (which I applaud for no other reason then it lets me write about King Krule on the site). Here’s the first video from the collaboration between the (Beyonce-and-Tyler-the-Creator-and-New-Yorker-approved) artist and the file transfer and storage service.

Bose takes on the HomePod with a $400 Alexa smart speaker

The latest Echo devices are a touch more premium than their predecessors, but Amazon hasn’t gone out of its way to compete with Apple’s HomePod head-on. And why bother, really, when hardware partners are willing to do the heavy lifting?

Bose is certainly making a compelling case with the Home Speaker 500. The compact smart speaker finds the audio company going all in on the smart assistant market, along with a pair of new soundbars that also sport Alexa functionality.

The company has cautiously embraced Amazon’s smart assistant in recent years, but the trio of new products are the first Bose speakers to feature Alexa built-in, rather than relying on a skill. The Home Speaker is a fairly compact device, measuring 8 x 6 x 4 inches, with two custom drivers built-in, designed to reflect sound off of walls. The looks are a little lacking, but the sound is

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Amazon’s children’s book subscription ‘Prime Book Box’ opens to all in the U.S.

Amazon today publicly launched a new perk for Prime members with young children, with the broad release of the new subscription-based “Prime Book Box” service. The $22.99 per box offering ships Prime members in the U.S. a curated selection of kids’ books every 1, 2 or 3 months, at up to 35% off the list price, Amazon says. The service was first launched in May, but was only available in an invite-only basis at that time. Members will receive 2 hardcover books or 4 board books per box, depending on the child’s age. The books chosen are curated by Amazon editors and include a combination of new releases, classics and “hidden gems,” and are tailored to the reader’s age range of “Baby-2,” “3-5,” “6-8,” or “9-12.” For example, some current selections include Amazing Airplanes, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Malala’s Magic Pencil,
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