Uber’s String of International Setbacks Continues in Israel — Fortune

Uber’s past keeps giving headaches to Uber’s present management. This time, the company is banned in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Uber has been ordered to halt a trial service in Tel Aviv that the U.S. ride-hailing company had hoped would pave the way for full operations in Israel.

Given that Uber is in more than 600 cities worldwide, at a banning a week, we’re only 11 and a half years from the end of this streak. 

Here’s what you need to know about SoftBank’s tender offer for Uber coming tomorrow — Recode

Tomorrow is the day existing Uber investors find out whether the drama has been worthwhile:

Tuesday is when a multi-billion dollar “tender offer” from Japanese investment giant SoftBank is expected to begin, according to sources tracking the process, giving Uber shareholders the chance to sell some of their stock or hold fast until the company goes public. The decision effectively asks every Uber insider to gauge their confidence in the company they built.

Curious to see whether Travis Kalanick sells any shares. Stay tuned.

Lyft Gains Permission to Test Autonomous Vehicles in California — MotorTrend

Everyone is testing autonomous vehicles in California these days: 

Ride-hailing company Lyft has received permission to test autonomous vehicles in California by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, according to a report from Reuters. Lyft is the latest to receive permission in California and joins companies like Waymo and Apple, as well as automakers Subaru, Ford, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors.

Lyft and Waymo move to counter Uber’s autonomous aspirations. My prediction: Eventually, Alphabet will buy Lyft.

Uber’s Eternally Bad Weeks

Pity Dara Khosrowshahi, who has done yeoman’s work neatening the Uber business in the wake of its uproarious startup years. He can’t get a break from the previous mischief committed by the company’s founder. Yet, I suspect Khosrowshahi is satisfied with his work to date, as the Uber board probably is, as well.

Last week, after finally resolving board conflicts with founder Travis Kalanick, Khosrowshahi admitted the company had, under Kalanick, covered up a massive data breach and paid off the intruders without reporting the event to law enforcement or regulators. Having swept its juvenile behavior under the rug, Uber will be dealing with these malignant hairballs for years to come. How long will the company hand competitive advantages, brand confidence-building opportunities, and market share to its competitors? Forever, because it established a huge early advantage over competitors that, like Microsoft’s PC market share, is permanent and of dubious value — because it distracted Microsoft from new markets for more than a decade while Apple and Google sopped up the mobile market like gravy.

Uber’s view of local transportation markets was an incredible asset, but the insights generated by Lyft, Didi Chuxing in China, Ola in India and Grab in Southeast Asia, now rival those of Uber. This has given Lyft, in particular, an opening in the U.S. to move into enterprise services. For example, Lyft signed an agreement with corporate travel giant Carlson Wagonlit this week, giving it convenient expense management for enterprise travelers. Volkswagen today announced a Chinese on-demand transportation service (cars on demand) that mimics Cadillac, Audi, and other carmaker services that promise to change the auto purchase process over the next decade. Meanwhile, companies, such as Stratim, formerly Zirx, and others, such as Ford and GM, are jockeying for part of the on-demand automobile management market, hoping to carve out a share of transaction revenue to pay for vehicle cleaning, maintenance, and, ultimately, customer relationships with car users.

From AutoNews: Even EY is working on a software management platform, called Tesseract, to connect fleet operators, service providers and passengers. The firm is working with automotive partners to develop a system that can manage payments among all parties in a mobility service, from the car’s manufacturer to the rider — another aspect of ride-hailing services Schondorf says consumers will expect to be quick, easy and trustworthy.

This is a business Uber should own, but seems prepared to cede, along with the revenue, to competitors Not Currently Struggling With Brand Reputation. If Uber’s primary role will be the acquisition of vehicle fleets, such as its $1B Volvo deal last week and $10B Mercedes deal in March 2016, the company is taking on inventory risk that voids its earlier scale-free growth strategy: Drivers paid for vehicles until now, and Uber’s customer interface will need to be transformed from the face of the driver (and their vehicle) into a remote service business represented by the Uber app. This will be Uber’s biggest pivot, yet. The bad weeks must end for the strategy to pay off.


The Falling Cost of Video Marketing: Local Implications

Amazon today introduced AWS (Amazon Web Services) Elemental Media Services, a suite of video production and distribution tools that demonstrate, once again, the growing importance of video to local marketing and engagement. Elemental Media Services, like Azure Media Services from Microsoft and others, provide professional grade tools for virtually any organization to use. Enterprise capabilities have percolated down to Main Street, and local engagement has never looked as complex as a result. Video blended with messaging, email, web, app, and bot-enabled UX represents improved branding opportunities for small business and large. 

Bringing that communication engagement smoothly into the transactional experience is challenging. Large brands have tended to produce for national or, at the most granular, regional audiences. Local media, however, requires local stories of success with products/services, as well as a form of influence that is easily shared. Video is ideal for this intimate connection, but it requires locally connected sales and influencer engagement to activate audiences based on personal and local influencer connections. People need to be involved, telling stories that can be promoted locally to establish authentic community bona fides — the notion that the brand is not only successful but that it is successful for people in the consumer’s community. These stories get shared, but they need a platform like Elemental Media Services for successful management and follow-through on sales opportunities. 

Amazon’s dominance in transactions, which accounted for 2016 online sales, ties many sales opportunities to search and fulfillment by the retail giant. Indeed, MediaPost’s Marc Schader wonders if Amazon won’t dominate all marketing because of its growing search marketing influence: “Brands are quickly realizing that if they don’t start taking Amazon’s search capabilities seriously and get in on the “Amazon effect” now, they could find Amazon-owned brands overtaking their own market share.”

Which leads to the question for local retailers and service providers: Where to plug into local video marketing services? AWS and Azure, among others, have attractively priced video services, but Amazon’s comes with implicit and explicit tie-ins to Amazon’s retail search that could turn a local marketing investment into an Amazon marketing benefit — a local retailer’s advertisement could convert into an Amazon sale of the advertised product. This isn’t to say that Amazon video is necessarily a bad choice for local marketers. Instead, the system needs reporting tools that display clearly the transactional outcomes of local campaigns. 

Recent movements among brand marketers to demand transparency in media results are another facet of this issue. Enterprise marketers, such as Unilever and P&G, now want to understand how their marketing spend benefits participants in their own and competitors’ supply chains. A transparent marketing environment will benefit consumers and marketers alike, but the advantage lies with the entity with the transactional opportunity, which is, in many cases, Amazon.

Wag, the ‘Uber for Dog-Walking,’ Is Drawing Uber-Like Scrutiny – Bloomberg

Posting cease and desist warnings in social media is a terrible customer engagement strategy. The bigger problem is the essential home on-demand challenge: Trust. Consumers will provide access to a home or a pet based on personal knowledge, not just ratings. Trust may start with ratings, but it cannot carry the weight of customer security — think about how eBay’s sales have migrated to public venues where, say, a car is transferred, out of fear of robbery. Combined with threats of libel suits against customers still searching for a pet lost by the company, this demonstrates the local trust problem every on-demand company seeking access to the home must address. It requires people referring or vouching for on-demand workers personally.

Wag Labs Inc., the app’s parent company, did something unusual for a tech company: fired off a cease and desist letter to one of its own customers. “If your retraction and apology to Wag! are not publicly posted to each and every social media platform that you have used to libel Wag! within 24 hours of the time of this email, this office has been authorized to use all available means to bring as swift as possible an end to your lies,” company attorney Mark Warren Moody wrote.

Source: Wag, the ‘Uber for Dog-Walking,’ Is Drawing Uber-Like Scrutiny – Bloomberg

Uber, Lifting Financial Veil, Says Sales Growth Outpaces Losses – Bloomberg

Based on these numbers, Uber took an average of 32.5 percent of revenue for each ride. Much more than the 20 percent they tout to drivers.

The ride-hailing giant more than doubled gross bookings in 2016 to $20 billion, according to financial information Uber shared with Bloomberg. Net revenue was $6.5 billion, while adjusted net losses were $2.8 billion, excluding the China business, which it sold last summer.

Source: Uber, Lifting Financial Veil, Says Sales Growth Outpaces Losses – Bloomberg

Google’s Aero takes flight in India: On-demand household services

Google launches Areo, a food delivery & home services app for IndiaGoogle seems to have silently launched a new food delivery and home services aggregator called Areo for the India market. The app is available as a free download on the Google Play store and is currently operational in Bengaluru and Mumbai.

Areo aggregates food dishes and home services across various local service providers, allowing users to order food or schedule appointments with a local beautician, electrician, painter, cleaner and plumber among others. The app was first spotted by The Android Soul.

Source: http://tech.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/mobile/google-india-launches-areo-a-food-delivery-home-services-app/58159124