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Uber: when technology threatens tradition

Uber is seen by traditional cab companies as a cab killer because of their technologies, so the Cab Commission is going after the company. The fight is on.

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How do you Get around these days

Uber sexy, Uber fast, Uber trendy, Uber safe, Uber… the list goes on. What doesn’t make the list is uber detrimental to the rest of the cabbies and car services out there who are behind the times in the ways of technology. This morning, I had purely planned on having a break out of some of the trends in commuting and what it means for urban realtors and their craft if they do or do not have a car. Do they Metro? Do they hoof it? Do they use a cab everywhere? Zip car? Carey Car? The lux-brand Uber?

Well, this quickly turned to me hanging out on the Uber site and reading their blogs and loving their sass; so I went into another direction you see… Then, that rolled into me checking out the DC based Uber site, since that is my current home base.

Get with the Program

After identifying the system that these cool cats have put together into a global market high-end car service at Uber, I of course wanted to read the latest articles posted as pros and cons about the business and stumbled upon some rather interesting information. DC’s taxi-cab commission was going after Uber back in January of this year as being non-compliant with their rules and regulations for being – uhm- for lack of a better word descriptor, better. Seriously.

[ba-pullquote align=”right”]”The issue the the Cab Commission has pointed at the new brand seems to be that “this isn’t fair.” Why does Uber have this fantastic technology that none of the other cab companies are utilizing to their advantage?”[/ba-pullquote]When I read and re-read the issue at hand, it looks like because the owners of the company have devised a system that is rooted in cloud based technology that incorporates android and iphones and their ability to map and mark exactly where the client is requesting pick up service. The client has also already pre-paid for the service via their credit card on file and will be picked up in a luxury vehicle for up to 4 people. 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. This is a lovely system that when functioning all-systems-go… sounds heaps and bounds better than most cab services and some other luxury car carriers.

The Uber blog and main site is very transparent. They don’t hide that their prices may be higher than taking a cab. They give helpful hints as to how to use the program. They give coupon codes and plot out maps of the cities where their provide phenomenal service. Allowing for questions and commentary and answering back to those who pose prying questions. Probing seems to be invited and not shucked away. This team does not seem to hide behind a facade, they take matters on head on.

The issue at Hand

The issue the the Cab Commission has pointed at the new brand seems to be that “this isn’t fair.” Why does Uber have this fantastic technology that none of the other cab companies are utilizing to their advantage? Hmmm… Raise your hand if you don’t see this as unfair. Maybe smarter? More advanced? Worthy of a slight price differential and the name Uber?

No one wants their start up to have this many issues with the governing body when they first land in a new city, but Uber is still out and making thousands of luxury seeking clients happy in the DC metro area and around the globe even. If the founder, Travis Kalanick, who started the company in 2009 back in San Fransisco has much to say about it, Uber will keep on truckin’ in DC with the better technology that they have created as a system to streamline their business of satisfying their clients.

Genevieve Concannon is one of those multifaceted individuals who brings business savvy, creativity and conscientiousness to the table in real estate and social media.  Genevieve takes marketing and sustainability in a fresh direction- cultivating some fun and funky grass roots branding and marketing strategies that set her and Arbour Realtyapart from the masses. Always herself and ready to help others understand sustainability in building a home or a business, Genevieve brings a new way to look at marketing yourself in the world of real estate and green building- because she's lived it and breathed it and played in the sand piles with the big-boys.  If you weren't aware, Genevieve is a sustainability nerd, a ghost writer and the event hostess with the mostess in NoVa. 

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. athanrebelos

    June 10, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Genevieve is the perfect Über demographic. Young, uninformed and naive. A more seasoned writer would ask some obvious questions about the history of taxicabs and the purposes of regulation. They would also know that Über’s technology isn’t new it’s they’re flagrant violation of laws around the country that’s new. The marketing of several year old, independently owned Town Cars to pick you up for the same cost as a corporate service is new. Goldman Sachs should be taken to task by their investors for their participation with Über. What if GE or WalMart were building stores without permits and unfairly competing with local business? Would that still be cool? Try Taxi Magic or Cabulous. Get taxis at taxi prices with adequate insurance coverage and service to the poor, seniors, disabled all at one regulated fare. Where’s Über’s wheelchair accessible fleet? Where’s Über’s service to the community? It’s funny how they don’t have to pick up just anyone but taxis do…

  2. Alisa Hagner

    June 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Give good service or get lost

  3. Stephanie L Davis

    June 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Disruption – for the most part is good.

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Business News

Too connected: FTC eyes Facebook antitrust lawsuit

(BUSINESS NEWS) Following other antitrust hearings, we’re expecting to hear more about the FTC’s antitrust lawsuit against Facebook, soon.

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Facebook being crossed out by a stylus on a mobile device.

Facebook might be wishing it had kept the “dislike” button.

On September 15, the Wall Street Journal announced that the Federal Trade Commission was preparing a possible antitrust lawsuit against the social media titan. Although the FTC has not made an official decision on whether to pursue the case, sources familiar with the situation expect a determination will be made on the matter sometime before the end of 2020. Facebook and the FTC both declined to comment when asked about the story.

The news comes following a year-long investigation by the FTC that has looked into anti-competitive practices by the Menlo Park-based company. This past July, the United States House of Representatives held hearings in which they grilled the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook regarding their business practices. In August, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also testified in front of the FTC as part of the department’s antitrust probe into the organization.

The FTC seems to be especially interested in Facebook’s past acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, which they believe may have been done to stifle competition. In internal emails sent between Zuckerberg and Facebook’s former CFO David Ebersman back in 2012, the 36-year-old seemed worried that the apps could eventually pose a threat to the social media conglomerate.

“These businesses are nascent but the networks established, the brands are already meaningful, and if they grow to a large scale the could be very disruptive to us,” Zuckerberg wrote to Ebersman, “Given that we think our own valuation is fairly aggressive and that we’re vulnerable in mobile, I’m curious if we should consider going after one or two of them.”

When Ebersman asked him to clarify the benefits of the acquisitions, Zuckerberg stated the purchases would neutralize a competitor while improving Facebook.

“One way of looking at this is that what we’re really buying is time. Even if some new competitors springs up, buying Instagram, Path, Foursquare, etc. now will give us a year or more to integrate their dynamics before anyone can get close to their scale again.” Zuckerberg said.

This isn’t the first time the FTC has investigated Facebook either. Last year the agency fined the company $5 billion for the mishandling of user’s personal information, the biggest penalty imposed by the federal government against a technology company. As a part of the settlement with the FTC in that case, Facebook also promised more comprehensive oversight of user data.

If the FTC does pursue an antitrust suit against Facebook, it could end up forcing the social media giant to spin off some of the companies it has acquired or place restrictions on how it does business. Considering how long it will take to file the litigation and prove the case in a courtroom, however, it seems that Zuckerberg will once again be “buying time.”

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Business News

What you need to know about the historic TikTok deal (for now)

(BUSINESS NEWS) No one really knows what’s happening, but the TikTok deal’s impact on business, US-China relations, and the open internet could be huge.

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Male black hands holding app opening TikTok app.

So, maybe you’ve heard that Oracle and Walmart are buying TikTok for national security!

Um, not exactly.

Also, Trump banned TikTok!

Sort of? Maybe?

But then he said he approved the Oracle-Walmart-TikTok deal!

We guess?

The terms of the proposal seem to shift daily, if not hourly. The sheer number of contradictory statements from every player suggests no one really knows what’s going on.

Just one example: Trump said the deal included a $5 billion donation to a fund for education for American youth. TikTok parent ByteDance, said, “Say what now?”

Here’s what we think we know (as of this writing):

Oracle and Walmart would get a combined 20 percent stake in a new U.S.-based company called TikTok Global. Combine that with current US investors in China’s ByteDance, TikTok’s parent, that would give American interests 53 percent. European and other investors would have 11 percent. China would retain 36 percent. (On Saturday Trump said China would have no interests at all. But that does not jibe with the reporting on the deal.)

Oracle would host all user data on its cloud, where it is promising “security will be 100 percent” to keep data safe from China’s prying eyes. But reporting has differed on whether Oracle will get full access to TikTok’s code and AI algorithms. Without full control, skeptics say, Oracle could be little more than a hosting service, and potential security issues would remain unaddressed.

Walmart says they’re excited about their “potential investment and commercial agreements,” suggesting they may be exploring e-commerce opportunities in the app.

The US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is overseen by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, still has to approve any deal.

As for the TikTok “ban” – which isn’t really a ban because current users can keep it – the Commerce Department postponed the deadline for kicking TikTok off U.S. app stores to September 27, to give time for the deal to be hammered out. Never mind that it’s still not clear whether the U.S. government has authority to do that. Unsurprisingly, ByteDance says it doesn’t in a lawsuit filed September 18.

Whatever happens with the whiplash of the deal’s particulars, there are bigger issues in play.

According to business news site Quartz, moving data storage to Oracle mirrors what companies like Apple have done in China: Appease the Chinese government by allowing all data hosting to be inside China. A similar move could “mark the US, too, shifting from a more laissez-faire approach to user data, to a more sovereign one,” says China tech reporter Jane Li.

More obvious: Corporate sales and mergers are now part of the parrying between the U.S. and China, which adds a whole new playing field for negotiations among businesses.

In the meantime, TikTokkers keep TikTokking. White suburban moms continue to lip sync to rap songs in their kitchens. Gen Z continues to make fun of the president – and pretty much everything else.

And downloads of the app have skyrocketed.

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Business News

Hobby Lobby increases minimum wage, but how much is just to save face?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Are their efforts to raise their minimum wage to $17/hour sincere, or more about saving face after bungling pandemic concerns?

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Hobby Lobby storefront

The arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby announced this week that they will be raising their minimum full-time wage to $17/hour starting October 1st. This decision makes them the latest big retailer to raise wages during the pandemic (Target raised their minimum wage to $15/hour about three months ago, and Walmart and Amazon have temporarily raised wages). The current minimum wage for Hobby Lobby employees is $15/hour, which was implemented in 2014.

While a $17 minimum wage is a big statement for the company (even a $15 minimum wage cannot be agreed upon on the federal level) – and it is no doubt a coveted wage for the majority of the working class – it’s difficult to not see this move as an attempt to regain public support of the company.

When the pandemic first began, Hobby Lobby – with more than 900 stores and 43,000 employees nationwide – refused to close their stores despite being deemed a nonessential business (subsequently, a Dallas judge accused the company of endangering public health).

In April, Hobby Lobby furloughed almost all store employees and the majority of corporate and distribution employees without notice. They also ended emergency leave pay and suspended the use of company-provided paid time off benefits for employees during the furloughs – a decision that was widely criticized by the public, although the company claims the reason for this was so that employees would be able to take full advantage of government handouts during their furlough.

However, the furloughs are not Hobby Lobby’s first moment under fire. The Oklahoma-based Christian company won a 2014 Supreme Court case – the same year they initially raised their minimum wage – that granted them the right to deny their female employees insurance coverage for contraceptives.

Also, Hobby Lobby settled a federal complaint in 2017 that accused them of purchasing upwards of 5,000 looted ancient Iraqi artifacts, smuggled through the United Arab Emirates and Israel – which is simultaneously strange, exploitative, and highly controversial.

Why does this all matter? While raising their minimum wage to $17 should be regarded as a step in the right direction regarding the overall treatment of employees (and, hopefully, $17 becomes the new standard), Hobby Lobby is not without reason to seek favorable public opinion, especially during a pandemic. Yes, we should be quick to condone the action of increasing minimum wage, but perhaps be a little skeptical when deeming a company “good” or “bad”.

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