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    Startups Weekly: The unicorn from down under, an Uber TV show and All Raise’s expansion / TechCrunch – Yesterday - 12:00

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy news pertaining to startups and venture capital. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about Revel , a recent graduate of Y Combinator that’s raised a small seed round.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets . If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here .

What happened this week?

Uber the TV show

Is anyone surprised Mike Isaac’s “Super Pumped” is set to become a TV show? Travis Kalanick’s notorious journey to CEO of Uber and subsequent ouster was made for television. This week, news broke that Showtime’s Brian Koppelman and David Levien, the creators and showrunners of “Billions,” would develop the project, with Isaac himself on board to executive produce. I will be watching.

All Raise expansion

All Raise , an 18-month-old nonprofit organization that seeks to amplify the voices of and support women in tech, announced new chapters in Los Angeles and Boston this week. I spoke with leaders of the organization about expansion plans, new hires, product launches and more. “Women are hungry for the support and guidance we provide. I think the movement is just gathering momentum,” All Raise CEO Pam Kostka told me.

VCThe unicorn from down under

You’ve probably heard of Canva by now. The Australian tech company, which has developed a simplified graphic design tool, is worth a whopping $3.2 billion as of this week. Investors in the company include Bond, General Catalyst, Bessemer Venture Partners, Blackbird and Sequoia China. Alongside a fresh $85 million funding, Canva is also making its foray into enterprise with the launch of Canva for Enterprise. Read about that here .

What else?

  1. The Station , TechCrunch’s Kirsten Korosec’s new weekly newsletter, has officially launched. She is going deep each week on all things mobility and transportation. You can read her first one here and subscribe here .
  2. ‘Cloud kitchens’ is an oxymoron , says TechCrunch editor Danny Crichton. He penned an interesting piece this week, arguing cloud kitchens are just adding more competition to one of the most competitive industries in the world, and that isn’t a path to leverage.
  3. NASA made history this week when astronauts Christina H. Koch and Jessica Meir took part in the first-ever spacewalk in the agency’s history featuring only women. No, this isn’t startup-related but it’s pretty damn cool. Watch the video here .


NASA astronauts Christina H. Koch and Jessica Meir

VC deals

Startup spotlight: Petalfox . I discovered the business earlier this week. Basically, it’s a super easy way to order flowers, coffee and others goods via SMS. I’m trying it out. That’s all.


This week was honestly a treat. We had myself in the studio along with Alex Wilhelm and a special guest, Sarah Guo from Greylock Partners , a venture firm (obviously). Guo has the distinction of having the best-ever fun fact on the show. We kicked off with Grammarly, a company that recently put $90 million into its accounts . Then chatted about Lattice, Tempest, WeWork, SaaS, the future of valuations in Silicon Valley and more if you can believe it. Listen here .

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on iTunes , Overcast and all the casts.

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    Uber integrates electric moped service Cityscoot in Paris / TechCrunch – 4 days ago - 16:06

Uber wants to become a super app by providing multiple services in a single app. That’s why the company is announcing an integration with French startup Cityscoot .

Cityscoot is a free-floating electric scooter service (moped scooters). Just like other free-floating mobility services, you can open an app, locate the nearest vehicle around you, unlock it and ride.

And Cityscoot has been doing well as the company now has 4,000 scooters in Paris. It has raised €40 million and expanded to Nice, Milan and Rome.

In the coming days, Uber will activate an integration with Cityscoot in the Uber app. You’ll be able to locate, get the unlock code and pay straight from the Uber app. A Cityscoot ride costs €0.29 per minute.

Cityscoot Uber

This could boost Cityscoot’s usage numbers and provide another source of revenue for Uber. I’m sure there’s some referral agreement between the companies.

Uber is now much more than a ride-hailing app in Paris. The company has already launched Jump bikes and scooters in Paris. And Uber also plans to launch public transport directions in Paris.

UberxCityscoot 2

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    Uber, Lime and Spin scooters are now legal in SF / TechCrunch – 5 days ago - 16:00

Uber, Lime and Spin have officially deployed their electric scooters on the streets of San Francisco as part of the city’s permitting program. Last month, the city announced Uber’s JUMP, Lime, Ford’s Spin and Scoot were granted permits to operate the shared electric scooter services. Scoot, however, has operated in the city since last year.

The new program allows Scoot to operate 1,000 scooters, down from the 1,250 it had previously operated, while JUMP, Spin and Lime will be able to deploy 500 each. That cap for new providers will increase to 750 on December 15 and to 1,000 on Feb. 15, 2020, as long as each company continues to meet the terms of and conditions of the permit.

“The new Powered Scooter Share Permit includes a more stringent complaint tracking process through a shared complaint database,” the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency wrote in a blog post on Friday . “Operators will be required to track all complaints (and the resolution of these complaints) and provide this information to SFMTA on a regular basis. Operators will also be required to take proactive measures to ensure that their customers are aware that sidewalk riding is both unsafe and illegal and implement deterrent measures, including graduated monetary penalties and suspensions for those who engage in unsafe riding behavior.”

It’s worth pointing out that Uber will now benefit from both JUMP and Lime ridership. That’s because of the partnership Uber and Lime formed last July. Through the partnership, riders can reserve Lime scooters through the Uber app. In SF, however, this integration is not yet live. This means riders in SF can soon access JUMP scooters, Lime scooters, JUMP e-bikes, cars and transit info through a single app. For those with app fatigue, this is a major advantage for Uber.

Bird, which owns Scoot, could have applied for its own permit but CEO Travis VanderZanden “didn’t want to get greedy with it,” he told me earlier this month at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco.

For both Lime and Spin, it’s been quite the journey to get to this point of city-sanctioned deployment. After deploying their respective scooters without permission last March, they were forced to remove their scooters and then apply for a permit. Lime and Spin were not granted permits and each subsequently appealed the city’s decision. The city denied both of those appeals, but a neutral hearing officer recommended the city allow both Spin and Lime to operate scooters in the future.

Fast forward to today, and the city legislators have now proposed the creation of an office of emerging technology. The idea is that before any new tech is tested or piloted, the city would review it with all relevant departments and determine if it results in the overall common good.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee has already secured $250,000 to fund this new office. If his proposal passes, the office could open this January. That would mean any new tech, like automatic repositioning of micromobility vehicles , for example, would go through a more rigorous vetting process.

Uber, which is exploring sidewalk detection and autonomous re-parking of scooters and bikes, imagines cities seeing the benefit in that tech. In San Francisco, where it requires vehicles lock to a stationary object, Uber envisions a robotic lock that retracts itself.

“I suspect that the reason many cities require locks is for the same reason we think robotic tech is appealing,” Uber Head of New Mobility Robotics Alan Wells told TechCrunch. “If it’s locked to something, it’s far less likely to be in the way. I think the premise of the tech is to provide a far more flexible way to deliver that end-result of vehicles that are not in the way.”

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    Uber lays off another 350 workers amid ongoing losses / ArsTechnica – 6 days ago - 20:44

A man in an open-collared shirt during a presentation.

Enlarge / Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. (credit: George Grinsted )

Uber is laying off another 350 workers, the company announced on Monday. Uber Eats and Uber's self-driving car team are among the divisions hit by job losses. TechCrunch obtained a copy of an email CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sent to Uber workers. It describes the layoffs as "difficult but necessary changes."

This is Uber's third round of layoffs for 2019. The company laid off 400 workers in its marketing department in July and 435 engineering and product workers in September . Some workers have also been asked to relocate.

Uber announced in August that it racked up record losses of $5 billion in the second quarter of 2019. It's important to note that the bulk of that figure represents one-time charges connected to Uber's May stock offering. Excluding those charges, Uber's ongoing burn rate has been around $1 billion in recent quarters. Third-quarter financial results are due out next month.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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    Uber lays off another ~350 across Eats, self-driving and other departments / TechCrunch – 6 days ago - 17:10

Uber has just laid off around 350 employees across a variety of teams within the organization, marking what the company says is its third and final phase of layoffs of the process it began earlier this year, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said to employees today in an email obtained by TechCrunch (full email below). Those affected include employees from Eats, performance marketing, Advanced Technologies Group, recruiting, as well as various teams within the global rides and platform departments. Some employees have also been asked to relocate.

“Days like today are tough for us all, and the ELT and I will do everything we can to make certain that we won’t need or have another day like this ahead of us,” Khosrowshahi wrote in the email. “We all have to play a part by establishing a new normal in how we work: identifying and eliminating duplicate work, upholding high standards for performance, giving direct feedback and taking action when expectations aren’t being met, and eliminating the bureaucracy that tends to creep as companies grow.”

In total, the layoffs represent about 1% of the company, an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. All of this comes about one month after Uber laid off 435 employees across its product and engineering teams and less than three months after Uber laid off about 400 people from its marketing team . At this point, most departments at Uber have been affected by layoffs.

For Uber’s self-driving car unit, this is its first round of layoffs since it spun out into its own unit earlier this year . Uber has previously said the team consists of more than 1,200 people and today still employs more than 1,200, despite the layoffs. according to an Uber spokesperson. Based on the terms of ATG’s $1 billion fundraising round in April, the unit is worth $7.25 billion on a post-money basis.

More than 70% of those affected in this round of layoffs are based in the U.S. and Canada, and the rest are relatively evenly distributed across APAC, Latin America and EMEA. Uber notified those affected this morning.

As TechCrunch previously reported , these layoffs are a result of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi asking every member of his executive leadership team if they were to start from scratch, if their respective organizations would loo the way they do.

“As you know, over the past few months, our leaders have looked carefully at their teams to ensure our organizations are structured for success for the next few years,” Khosrowshahi wrote to employees. “This has resulted in difficult but necessary changes to ensure we have the right people in the right roles in the right locations, and that we’re always holding ourselves accountable to top performance.”

In Q2 2019, Uber lost more than $5 billion — its biggest quarterly revenue loss to date — though a chunk of its losses were a result of stock-based compensation expenses for employees following the company’s IPO in May.

In other parts of Uber’s business, it’s continuing to invest money in ensuring its drivers remain 1099 independent contractors. Already, Uber, along with Lyft and DoorDash , put $30 million toward a 2020 ballot initiative that would enable them to keep their drivers as independent contractors. In light of gig worker protection bill AB-5 passing in the California State Senate and Assembly, Uber Chief Legal Officer Tony West made it clear the company was willing to invest more money into that campaign initiative. California Governor Gavin Newsom has since signed that bill into law , which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

While West said he believes Uber would pass the test and prove its drivers are properly classified, there would surely be a financial impact if Uber fails the test. West did not comment on what that impact could be, but industry analysts have estimated a change in classification for drivers could result in up to a 30% cost increase.

Uber will report its Q3 earnings on November 4. The company is currently trading at $31.26 per share, which is well below its IPO pricing of $45.

Below is Khosrowshahi’s full email with the subject line, “Stronger moving forward”:

Team Uber,

As you know, over the past few months, our leaders have looked carefully at their teams to ensure our organizations are structured for success for the next few years. This has resulted in difficult but necessary changes to ensure we have the right people in the right roles in the right locations, and that we’re always holding ourselves accountable to top performance.

Today is the last wave of a process we began months ago with our Marketing team, and more recently, with our Product and Engineering teams. This time, ATG, Eats, Global Rides and Platform (Rides Ops, CommOps, Safety & Insurance, U4B, and Product Ops), Performance Marketing, and Recruiting have made changes. As part of this exercise, some of our employees are being asked to relocate, and around 350 will be leaving the company.

Days like today are tough for us all, and the ELT and I will do everything we can to make certain that we won’t need or have another day like this ahead of us. We all have to play a part by establishing a new normal in how we work: identifying and eliminating duplicate work, upholding high standards for performance, giving direct feedback and taking action when expectations aren’t being met, and eliminating the bureaucracy that tends to creep as companies grow.

We have proven ourselves to be not only one of the most ambitious and innovative companies in the world, but also one of the most resilient. We’ve always pushed through tough times and come out the other side a better and stronger company—that will continue to be true tomorrow, and every day after.

As always, we’ll be at the All Hands tomorrow and will dedicate most of the time to answer your questions. Add yours to the slido here .

Eyes forward—back to building.


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    Opendoor appoints CFO, CPO / TechCrunch – 6 days ago - 13:00

Opendoor has named Gautam Gupta its chief financial officer and chief business offer, critical roles as the business continues to alter the way in which homes are bought and sold. Uber’s former head of finance, Gupta joined the $3.8 billion home-selling platform as its chief operating officer in 2017.

The company, which has raised more than $4 billion in debt and equity funding to date, is announcing several new hires this morning. Venrock’s Tom Willerer has joined as the company’s first-ever chief product officer. Willerer has previously led product at Coursera and Netflix. He joined the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Venrock in 2017 and has since struck deals with edtech startups including Make School and Flockjay .

Opendoor has also hired Julie Todaro as its president of homes and services, another newly created role. Todaro, who spent over a decade at Amazon, most recently as its vice president of consumer electronics, will oversee market operations, customer experience and home services.

Finally, Carrie Wheeler, a partner at TPG for 20 years, and Jason Kilar, the founding CEO of Hulu, have joined Opendoor’s board of directors.

Founded in 2013, San Francisco-based Opendoor is backed by General Atlantic, Hawk Equity, SoftBank, Access Technology Ventures, Lennar Corporation, Fifth Wall Ventures, SV Angel, Norwest Venture Partners, NEA, GGV Capital, Khosla Ventures, GV and more.

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    SoftBank reportedly preps a package to take control of WeWork parent company / TechCrunch – 7 days ago - 22:19

SoftBank Group , the multi-billion dollar Japanese technology conglomerate and investment firm, has put together a  bid that would save WeWork parent company We Co. , just weeks before the co-working real estate company’s imminent collapse, The Wall Street Journal reports .

With the collapse of the company’s planned initial public offering, We Co. is facing a cash crunch. The company was planning to raise billions of dollars in debt on the heels of its public offering to finance its continued operations.

The botched public offering already cost We Co. co-founder Adam Neumann his leadership position at the co-working rental business he co-founded roughly a decade ago. The new financing pitch that SoftBank has put together would further remove Neumann from the company’s operations and business, according to the WSJ’s reporting.

SoftBank’s pitch isn’t the only lifeline for We Co. According to the WSJ’s reporting there’s a plan in the works to raise billions of debt through a process being managed by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

“WeWork has retained a major Wall Street financial institution to arrange a financing,” a spokesperson for We Co. wrote in an email. “Approximately 60 financing sources have signed confidentiality agreements and are meeting with the company’s management and its bankers over the course of this past week and this coming week.”

SoftBank already owns about one-third of the company and their bid for the business would involve billions in equity and debt.

The struggles at We Co. coupled with underperforming investments in publicly traded companies like Uber and Slack have damaged SoftBank just as the company was hoping to move forward with a second version of its ambitious Vision Fund, a $100 billion investment vehicle formed in 2017 to invest in ambitious startup companies.

The results have been lackluster. And it’s not just public companies like Slack and Uber that are dragging down the fund. Investments in direct to consumer companies like Brandless , or the robotic pizza delivery startup Zume have also failed to deliver — despite hundreds of millions in commitments from SoftBank.

SoftBank did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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    Plus de 1.600 euros pour une course Uber non désirée / JournalDuGeek – Saturday, 12 October - 08:00

Plastician, un DJ habitant à Londres, a eu une bien mauvaise surprise. Après une soirée arrosée, il commande un Uber pour rentrer chez lui. Une fois dans le véhicule, confortablement installé, il s’endort… en se réveillant cinq heures plus tard, à plusieurs centaines de kilomètres de là où il voulait aller ! Le trajet initial devait être de 16 km seulement…

Ne pas boire et se faire conduire par un Uber

La mauvaise blague n’est pas terminée. Plastician doit en effet régler la course : 1.453 livres, soit 1.680 euros ! Pendant le trajet, il ne s’est rendu compte de rien, le chauffeur n’ayant pas dit un mot. L’infortuné DJ explique sur Twitter qu’après avoir contacté Uber une première fois, il a obtenu confirmation d’avoir bien saisi la bonne adresse, c’est à dire son appartement londonien.

Mais désormais, l’entreprise nie et explique n’avoir aucun preuve que le voyageur n’a pas entré l’adresse située à des centaines de kilomètres. Pourtant, Plastician ne s’est jamais rendu dans le lieu en question, la ville de Sleaford. Les conducteurs peuvent visiblement changer de destination pendant le voyage.

La somme a quant à elle été versée à Uber, après que la banque l’a bloquée en raison de son montant. L’utilisateur, qui n’espère plus grand chose du SAV de l’entreprise de VTC, fait désormais la tournée des journaux et des chaînes de télé pour raconter son aventure malheureuse. Peut-être que cette pression médiatique forcera Uber à réagir et rembourser la course.