Goodnews and bad news
Good news for Austinites who miss Uber and Lyft. Or put another way, a very bad news for those who do not, and have rather grown fond of local ridesharing startups.
Thanks to House Bill 100, a Texas Senate approved legislation creating statewide ridesharing rules—thereby overriding local ordinances—the ridesharing giants are braced to come back to Austin in the near future.
One signature away
The bill is now awaiting at the desk of Gov. Greg Abbot, whose signature would immediately make it into law.
Uber and Lyft for their part, is keen to come back.
A spokesperson for Uber tells news channel KXAN that they will resume operations in Austin immediately after Gov. Greg Abbott signs the bill into law.
Where’d they go?
A year ago, Uber and Lyft pulled out just two days after refusing to comply with voters’ wishes of abiding by strict regulations. They both decided not to comply with the rejection of Prop 1—which would have replaced the City Council’s strict rules with loose oversight, like making fingerprinting a non-requirement.
At that time, the ridesharing companies warned residents during the lead up to the voting, that banning the company would mean increases in instances of drunk driving related deaths, crimes, and a massive loss of local part time and full time jobs.
They spent $8 million on a campaign, and provided free rides on the day of the voting.
Austin residents still rejected their Prop 1. Thankfully, the grim picture painted by Uber and Lyft in case of their departure did not come to pass.
On the contrary
Instead, DWI arrests hit a five-year low in the six months following the vote. And those who lost their jobs signed up at least half a dozen other startups that filled the space, including Fasten, Fare and RideAustin, a local nonprofit operation.
But the new bill, approved on Wednesday, will override regulations imposed by 20 municipalities across the state, including Austin, and put the operational legal framework of ride hailing companies under the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
What about the lil’ guys?
Now that the comeback of the ride hailing titans are all but a matter of time, the future of young startups suddenly become uncertain.
CEO of RideAustin, Andy Tryba said in comments on Wednesday that if the company gives fewer than 20,000 rides a week, on average, it will very likely have to shut down.
Currently the company provides between 50,000 and 70,000 rides a week, but their share would fall significantly, if Uber and Lyft came back.
Mr. Tryba added that since RideAustin adheres to current city ordinances for ride-hailing apps, it is going to continue to do so, despite of what competitors do, including the requirement that drivers submit to fingerprint background checks, “because we feel it’s important to continue to honor the wishes of Austin’s voters.”
That Austin requires more stringent rules than Uber and Lyft cared for remains a contentious issue. Mayor Steve Adler said on Wednesday, “Our city should be proud of how we filled the gap created when Uber and Lyft left, and we now must hope that they return ready to compete in a way that reflects Austin’s values.”
However, it is almost certain that Uber and Lyft shall not abide by the city ordinance, as they were always opposed to it. Moreover, the House Bill 100 shall render the Austin law inoperative, thereby making strict background checks unnecessary.
Kirill Evdakov, CEO and co-founder of Fasten, which opposed the Bill, said lawmakers voted against public safety and the rights of cities.
Evdakov urged the city residents to ignore Uber and Lyft when they come back. “Austinites may not be able to overturn HB 100 legislatively, but they can make it irrelevant economically,” he said in a prepared statement.
Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to the sign the bill, as evident from his Wednesday tweet that read “Buckle Up. Coming Soon.”
In response to HB100 passing onto the governor, Chelsea Harrison, a spokesperson for Lyft said, “Ridesharing in Texas took a tremendous step forward today. Thank you to Senator Schwertner and Representative Paddie for defending consumer choice and all the stakeholders who have helped create safer roads and expand reliable, affordable rides for Texans. On behalf of the entire ridesharing community, thank you to all of the legislative champions who have helped guide this bill through the capitol.”
Here we are
It seems that big tech giants got their way this time around.
They lobbied the Senate and the House when they failed to lobby enough votes from the citizens.
The Mayor made a point to raise this glaring fact: “I’m disappointed that the legislature chose to nullify the bedrock principles of self-governance and limited government by imposing regulations on our city over the objection of Austin voters.”
Top 15 jobs that will see hiring growth in 2020
(BUSINESS NEWS) LinkedIn releases the 2020 Emerging Jobs Reports which looks at trends and growth. A lot of changes are happening, especially in tech.
While many are hanging their stockings by the chimney with care, we’re digging into the end-of-year data that runs rampant at this time of year – and we love it. Such data has been released from LinkedIn in the form of its 2020 Emerging Jobs Report.
LinkedIn explains this report as: “The Emerging Jobs analysis is based on all LinkedIn members with a public profile that have held a full-time position within the U.S. during the past five years. Once the talent pool has been identified, we then calculate the share of hiring and Compound Annual Growth Rate for each occupation between 2015 and 2019 to identify the roles with the largest rate of hiring growth. These become our Emerging Jobs.”
The report finds that trends for U.S. jobs in 2020 will see data and artificial intelligence continue to grow as time marches on. Additionally, data science is booming and is starting to replace legacy roles.
The trends also state that increased insurance for mental health is driving up demands for behavioral health professionals. Lastly, the report finds that it’s never a bad time to be an engineer.
As for overall industry trends, it was found that online learning is here to stay while more smart cars are coming our way. Also, the future of tech will rely heavily on people skills.
Location trends found that secondary cities have the jobs (like Austin, hollaaaa!) and tech is taking over Washington D.C. And, as pointed out in many of my articles this year, remote work will continue to become more and more mainstream.
The report then listed the top 15 emerging jobs in the U.S. These include:
1. Artificial Intelligence Specialist (74% annual growth)
2. Robotics Engineer (40% annual growth)
3. Data Scientist (37% annual growth)
4. Full Stack Engineer (35% annual growth)
5. Site Reliability Engineer (34% annual growth)
6. Customer Success Specialist (34% annual growth)
7. Sales Development Representative (34% annual growth)
8. Data Engineer (33% annual growth)
9. Behavioral Health Technician (32% annual growth)
10. Cybersecurity Specialist (30% annual growth)
11. Back End Developer (30% annual growth)
12. Chief Revenue Officer (28% annual growth)
13. Cloud Engineer (27% annual growth)
15. Product Owner (24% annual growth)
When looking at how your company is growing, it is worthwhile to look at how the world around you is expanding, and if you’re job hunting, this list shows job titles that are quickly getting more competitive!
Unicorn goes extinct – is the scooter movement in trouble?
(BUSINESS NEWS) The scooter war may be coming to an end with many companies, like Unicorn, closing their doors and refusing to fulfill orders and/or refund customers.
Scooters, scooters, scooters – it seems like that’s all us city-dwellers have heard about these past 3 years.
Since the inception of rental scooters in Santa Monica in 2017, more and more companies have thrown their hats into the ring, resulting in intense competition. Through this brand rivalry, many of the scooter-centric companies have gone bust, including the most recent shut-down, Unicorn.
Unicorn is a newer brand of electric scooters, under the brand name Unicorn Rides. The supposed up-and-coming scooter company was created by well-known tech CEO, Nick Evans, the maker of the ever-popular tracking device, Tile.
Unicorn was meant to be a product that wowed customers, with special bells and whistles not seen before with other scooter brands. The company boasted a unique, rugged and waterproof battery, enhanced motor output for riding through hilly areas, an integrated smartphone app, and even extra storage for grocery shopping and other errands.
But when Unicorn sent a very worrisome email to a large portion of its customers last week (350 paid-up, un-served customers), it quickly became clear that the company wasn’t going to live up to the hype. In fact, it was obvious that the company wouldn’t live any longer at all.
The gist of the email included an announcement that the company would be shutting down, strictly due to finances. Apparently, the company spent the majority of it’s money on Google and Facebook ads, as well as loan repayments which, they explained, resulted in their inability to fulfill existing orders or refund anyone who had already purchased the $699 device – a huge blow to customers.
In the email, Evans stated that they actually could have continued to press forward with production and fulfillment, and that it may have been enough to fund the business, but they ended up opting against this route as a lack of sales could have resulted in future customer upsets.
In the same email, Evans went on to more deeply explain their money trouble: “Unfortunately, the cost of the ads were just too expensive to build a sustainable business. And as the weather continued to get colder throughout the US and more scooters from other companies came on to the market, it became harder and harder to sell Unicorns, leading to a higher cost for ads and fewer customers.”
This explanation isn’t leaving a better taste in their customers’ mouths though. Buyers like Rebecca Buchholtz are very unhappy, and rightfully so. Buchholtz told The Verge “I am upset he basically robbed everyone of his customers and is closing without delivering any scooters.”
It’s important to mention that Unicorn did not go the typical funding route for its product, either. Instead of just using angel investors and investment firms, Unicorn chose to go a different route – scooter pre-orders. Crowd-funding through pre-orers is not a completely unheard of avenue, though. Unagi Scooters, for example, successfully funded its first campaign for its new scooter (appropriately named Unagi) on Kickstater in 2018, raising over $242K. The main difference here is that Unicorn’s “pre-order” was not through a platform such as Kickstarter, which actually protects buyers from incidents like this.
In his email, Evans alludes that they’re still trying to refund (at least partially) their customers, but he also specifically said that it “looks unlikely”. Their website is still working, but pages like their shipping update and pre-order cancelation pages, which still show up in Google’s search results, are now dead links, resulting in 404 errors. This makes for a pretty clear statement on what’s to happen with the company’s existing customers.
But it’s not over yet! If you are an affected customer of Unicorn’s, don’t fret. Most banks have fraud-protection and buyer-protection, so if you pre-ordered using a credit or debit card, we recommend contacting your bank.
Court green lights demoting an employee for physical disabilities
(BUSINESS NEWS) Court rules the Americans with Disability Act doesn’t fully cover employees – but is the law actually open to some interpretation?
Wrongful termination is a hot topic these days, especially in relation to employees with disabilities. It’s commonly thought that if you have a disability, you’re safe and that no one can fire you for simply being disabled. But did you know that’s actually a myth?
Ford, who worked 12 years as a Sheriff’s Deputy, was injured when a car ran a red light and ran into her patrol car, smashing her hand. This resulted in constant pain and an inability to use her right hand. She spent the next few months working in alternative, lighter-duty areas of the department. But even after a year, she was unable to return to her initial post.
Because of this, the Sheriff’s department offered her 3 options:
1. She could move to a civilian job, with a cut in pay. This would include any associated accommodations she may need.
2. She could resign.
3. If she didn’t choose either of the above, they claimed she could be terminated.
Ford ended up choosing a demotion, and then elected to sue the department for violating the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). At the end of these proceedings, the court found that the demotion was reasonable.
But is this really the standard application for the law?
Although there are many myths associated with the ADA, the law clearly states that in order to provide reasonable accommodation for an employee, you must go through an “interactive process”, which means there must be some back and forth to accommodate the employee.
In Ford’s case, she was unable to continue her initial job as she was not provided with all the accommodations she requested and therefore, only had enough accommodations to continue with a civilian job.
What’s strange about this situation is that she was provided with a few in-depth provisions that would meet her needs, such as training for her supervisors, extra breaks when needed, so she could deal with her pain, and a more ergonomic work station. However, when she requested a voice-activated software for her computer, which would limit her need to use her right hand, she was denied.
The court stated that if there had been a lateral position available, with no decrease in pay, and Ford was qualified for the job, the ADA would have protected Ford a bit better, favoring this option over demotion.
Nevertheless, with the rise of documented disabilities in America, the lines the ADA draws for employees and employers-alike continue to seem blurred. Just like many other laws, the act seems to be open to some interpretation, but at the end of the day, when something like this is brought to the court system, American citizens are truly at the mercy of our court’s Judges and how they translate the laws.
No-reply emails have run their course, they don’t help customers
Top 15 jobs that will see hiring growth in 2020
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Unicorn goes extinct – is the scooter movement in trouble?
PHD job seekers shouldn’t scare employers, they should be welcomed
WeWork chaos over the weekend = employees in a new version of purgatory
Pointed out I was the only person of color at work, was told ‘Yes, but you pass’
Hear me out – Google Alerts but for Facebook Groups
Tesla’s Cybertruck windows are the least of their growing manufacturing crises
Facebook Ads Manager MIGHT suck less this Black Friday
Anti-surveillance mask – creepy, ingenious, or potentially illegal?
Amy’s Ice Cream founder on Austin’s business risks and rewards #WhyAustin
Turns out a lot of people are in between introverted and extroverted
P. Terry’s founder on the booming economy in Austin #WhyAustin
Ladies and gentlemen, the U.S. National Anthem
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