All the alternative data you need to know about Uber as it goes public

as the company rightly faced critics on worldwide for the behavior and management of now-deposed CEO Travis Kalanick, as well as a number of his …

Uber ($UBER) may be the most hotly anticipated IPO of 2019 – although it is heading to the New York Stock Exchange Friday May 9 in a turbulent market, and at a time when its biggest competitor’s offering has struggled.

Investors can infer a good deal about a company’s performance and prospects from the data we access via sites like Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB), Twitter ($NYSE:TWTR) and corporate job postings. Here, we have five charts that explain the company’s past, as well as its ambitions. Once focused solely on ridesharing, the Uber of tomorrow will operate multiple business lines, and will begin competing with companies that for a long time thought they might be immune to the “Uber for X.”

Uber isn’t getting the same amount of attention on Facebook (and, boy, is that a good thing)

The biggest ridesharing company on the planet is still getting tens of thousands of daily mentions on Facebook, according to our Talking About Count, which measures sentiment for specific brands on the world’s largest social network. That figure is down – way, way down – from when Uber social mentions peaked.

Lucky for Uber. The reason consumers aren’t spending as much time talking about Uber now, as it heads for its IPO, is because in 2017 a growing chorus of criticism reached a thundering crescendo of people across social networks screaming “#DeleteUber!” as the company rightly faced critics on worldwide for the behavior and management of now-deposed CEO Travis Kalanick, as well as a number of his direct reports who took their charismatic leader’s “Always be hustlin'” ethos far too seriously. Too much attention can be a bad thing.

Uber is – fortunately – keeping a steady pace of Facebook followers

Uber admitted it lost hundreds of thousands of users thanks to its #DeleteUber debacle. But, it sounds like they weren’t actually unfollowing it. Our Facebook Follower count reveals steady growth in social – and substantially greater than Uber’s relatively scandal-free competitor, Lyft ($NASDAQ:LYFT). Since the beginning of 2016, our data shows Uber followers have increased three-fold, from 333,000 to 1 million people today. Lyft was at a similar follower count in 2016 (326,000) – but that number has less than doubled, to 628,000 as of our last count. Here’s what we chalk the discrepancy up to: Uber also operates in more than 600 cities worldwide, to Lyft’s 350. Advantage, Uber.

Uber aims to continue its growth trajectory

Uber is focused on continuing its growth trajectory in as many places as possible – by car, scooter, freight, takeout delivery; you name it. Today, job postings for Community Operations and City Launch operations jobs outnumber other key roles, like Engineering and Sales. Uber operates in more cities than Lyft, and that differentiator could be key not just with investors – but with analysts, as well.

Uber is slimming down – for now, at least

We pointed out earlier this week, many soon-to-be-public IPO darlings are inclined to trim down job postings as they get ready to make a big market debut. Uber is no different – but its ambition to not just grow, but to take on new business lines, could change that soon.

Uber is getting hungry for takeout

The food delivery space is getting crowded with competitors out to eat GrubHub’s ($NYSE:GRUB) lunch, in a manner of speaking. From UberEATS to Postmates ($POSTMATES) to Caviar ($CAVIAR), companies are out to dethrone the long-time takeout titan that made its market debut more than 5 years ago. And, in part thanks to Uber’s brand ubiquity, UberEATS has a big advantage. The company has nearly doubled its Twitter follower count in the last year, which is far ahead of the pace of that of Postmates, for example – and with more than 130,000 Twitter followers, UberEATS’ food delivery business now has a greater audience than Postmates (128,000), to boot.

On Friday May 9, one of the most fascinating stories to emerge from Silicon Valley in recent memory will write its next chapter with CEOs old and new at the New York Stock Exchange. Where the data goes from here, will help determine Uber’s future.

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LA Drivers Strike Against Uber and Lyft

Uber and Lyft, you can’t hide—we can see your greedy side,” the protesters chanted. Most rideshare drivers work for multiple services. They are …

Shortly before noon on Wednesday, several dozen rideshare drivers walked out of Los Angeles International Airport to hold a rally in a nearby park. The sky was gray, and a dull brightness bathed the parking decks and palm trees, the modernist street lamps and knotted traffic. The demonstrators held signs that read “Regulate Rideshares” and “Uber and Lyft Stop Stealing from People.” They waved these slogans toward an endless river of cars delivering passengers to their flights.

An estimated hundred thousand people serve as drivers for ridesharing apps in Los Angeles. Airports, where fifteen per cent of Uber bookings start or end, are one of a few places where the diffuse network of freelance drivers converges. For Rideshare Drivers United, a driver-advocacy group that was established in Los Angeles last year, airports were an obvious place at which to protest Uber’s initial public offering—the company is expected to début on the New York Stock Exchange at a valuation of between eighty and ninety billion dollars. According to a 2018 study by the Economic Policy Institute, the average rideshare driver makes $11.77 an hour after expenses and fees, less than the average compensation for retail workers. Dara Khosrowshahi, the C.E.O. of Uber, earned forty-five million dollars in executive compensation last year. On Wednesday, drivers turned off their apps and picketed in ten cities across the country. In Los Angeles, the call to turn off the services began at midnight on Wednesday and lasted for the next twenty-four hours.

“Uber and Lyft, you can’t hide—we can see your greedy side,” the protesters chanted. Most rideshare drivers work for multiple services. They are classified by the companies they drive for as independent contractors rather than employees. They get no benefits, are responsible for their own expenses, have no power to negotiate their rates, and have no one to represent their collective interests to the company. If they disagree with a change in the terms of their employment, their choices are to click “no” on a pop-up contract and have their accounts deactivated or, at least in this case, to keep working and stand outside an airport holding a sign. A baby-blue taxi from Beverly Hills Cab honked in solidarity. Many drivers who passed by in cars with Uber and Lyft stickers on their windshields stared straight ahead.

Uber has a history of fighting against drivers’ attempts to regulate their earnings. In 2017, a dashboard camera video of then C.E.O. Travis Kalanick arguing with a driver over a decrease in rates went viral. “Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit,” Kalanick said to the driver, before exiting the car. “They blame everything in their life on somebody else.” Last month, in a regulatory filing in advance of its initial public offering, Uber noted, “We continue to experience dissatisfaction with our platform from a significant number of Drivers. In particular, as we aim to reduce Driver incentives to improve our financial performance, we expect Driver dissatisfaction will generally increase.” Drivers United organized an earlier protest in March, after Uber cut the per-mile rate that drivers in Los Angeles earn, from eighty to sixty cents a mile.

Police accompanied the small parade as it walked down Sepulveda Boulevard, past a sprawl of off-ramps, on-ramps, and billboards advertising marijuana-delivery apps. The air smelled of jet fuel. At Airport Landing View Point Park, the demonstrators helped themselves to pizza from the back of a pickup truck and then arrayed themselves before a dozen or so cameras for a short news conference.

Rideshare Drivers United has a platform, the main goal of which is to achieve a $27.86 per-hour-minimum guarantee that drivers recently won in New York City, which translates to about seventeen dollars an hour after expenses. Another major goal of the movement is to cap commissions that Uber or Lyft take from each ride at ten per cent. Many of the signs held aloft were simply enlarged screenshots of receipts that showed Uber or Lyft taking forty or even seventy per cent cuts of fares.

“This is one I took just this week,” said a driver named Esterphanie St. Juste, holding up a poster that she had made of an earnings report from a Lyft ride. “I was up at three or four in the morning, and I got a scheduled ride. For that scheduled ride, the rider paid $81.25. I got $46.13.”

The gathered drivers hooted in sympathy. Several speakers, including a representative from the local longshoremen’s union, expressed resistance to an automated future. The drivers were well aware that the revenue they generated for the companies was also being used to fund research on how to eventually eliminate their jobs.

“All of us have had a front-row seat to the early stages of a new era in app-enabled exploitation,” said a driver named Jos Cashon, who has driven for rideshare apps since 2015. “These Silicon Valley one-per-centers have only one goal: to slowly but surely turn us partners into an underclass so that they can become modern-day robber barons.” She described the job as having changed in those years from a decent way to make a living to one that did not even offer a subsistence wage.

“Do we like what we’ve seen?” she asked.

“No!” shouted the crowd in reply.

“They’re not going to rest until they’ve undercut and gig-ified and automated away every sector of the market until there’s nothing left that’s not under their control,” she continued. “Fifty per cent of jobs will be freelance by 2027. Forty-seven per cent of jobs will be automated away completely by 2034. Is that the future of work that we want?”

“No!” the crowd yelled again.

After the rally, I visited an area where Uber drivers wait, after dropping off a ride, for a new fare. It was a desolate surface lot next to a construction site in a no man’s land just outside the airport. A few porta-potties were set up in a corner, but the pervasive smell of urine indicated that not everyone bothered using them. Still, it was peaceful there, except for the roar of the planes. Drivers stood alone and stretched their legs or chatted with friends. I approached a group gathered around a Mercedes S.U.V.—they drove for Uber Select, they said, and deflected questions about the strike.

Another driver, who was smoking a cigarette, said that he was working that day, even though he supported the strikers’ demands. “I hope the government will listen to them,” he said. “It’s not a living wage at all.” He told me that he had driven a passenger to the airport from the neighboring city of El Segundo. That trip, plus the wait time in the airport parking lot, had earned him seven dollars in an hour of work. “Yesterday I put in at least nine hours of work,” he said. “I only made a hundred and five dollars.” He shrugged when I asked why he didn’t strike. “Right now it’s very, very hard out there,” he said. “Either you love it or you leave it.”

After he drove away, a driver nearby who was sitting on his back bumper and drinking a Dr Pepper beckoned me over. His name was Anthony Saldana, and he said that he saw no reason for the strike. He said that he usually made at least a thousand and seven hundred dollars a week before expenses, working sixty hours a week.

“I lost my job, and I had no choice but to do this, but I’m grateful for it,” he said. “I think people are just exaggerating.” He confirmed, however, one effect of the strike—usually a driver has to wait in the queue for about a half hour, time he uses to eat or take a nap. Today the wait was five minutes.

While we spoke, a woman in a black Honda Accord drove up to the group clustered around the Mercedes. She waved some flyers out of the window and urged the drivers to turn off their apps. “Please come—don’t sell out to Uber!” she pleaded. The men, unmoved, accepted a flyer.

Her name was Laurel Hirschmann. She had painted “UBER/LYFT STRIKE LAX” on her back windshield. I asked her about the driver who said that he made seventeen hundred dollars a week.

“Good for him,” she said. “He’s probably driving twelve hours a day, maybe more, because you can drive twelve hours on each app. Seven days a week. That’s the only way he’s making money like that.”

She told me that the cuts in pay had taken her monthly gross income down from five thousand dollars a month to three thousand dollars. “I’d like to make a personal message to Dara, the C.E.O.,” she said. “You have no conscience. This is a greedfest, and you’re exploiting your drivers.” She got out of her car and began to walk around, recruiting drivers. Rideshare Drivers United estimated that hundreds of drivers participated in the strike, but the number was difficult to verify. At L.A.X., I saw a group that never grew to more than several dozen, although its ranks changed over the course of the day. Later in the afternoon, some demonstrators became more confrontational. A man holding a sign that read “WE ARE BECOMING A CONTRACT ECONOMY” politely stepped off the curb each time a rider was picked up at “ride app pickup section A.”

“Join us, please, join us!” he would say as stony-faced drivers took suitcases out of trunks.

Soon, a larger group of protestors had moved from the other end of the terminal to the designated rideshare-pickup zone. A young man in all black, carrying a Fjallraven backpack and wearing acetate-frame glasses, stared at the ground as he got out of his Lyft and wheeled his suitcase through the crowd of protestors.

If you wanted to be idealistic, the gathering employees really did look like some vision of international solidarity. They came from all over the world. They held signs in Mandarin and in Spanish. There were drivers who identified as trans and a driver who wore a hijab. There were drivers who drove full time and drivers who also wanted to be actors, fashion designers, or artists. A driver with a cane held a sign that said “Disabled people drive, too.” It was, when you thought about it, truly amazing, that all of these different kinds of people, in so many cities in America and around the world, all paid a dividend to Silicon Valley for the work they woke up for and did each day.

The attitude toward those drivers who had chosen not to strike was not one of condemnation. “It’s because they can’t afford to take the day off,” said a driver who gave only her first name, Deanna. She had not known about the strike, but she joined in after dropping off a passenger. “I can’t afford to stand out here, I really can’t,” she said. She told me that she started driving for Uber for the flexibility three years ago, after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. This April, after completing eight thousand rides, she got a five-hundred-dollar bonus. “Imagine how much money they made!” she said.

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Uber has lived through a parade of executive exits before its IPO

… fellow boardmember Arianna Huffington; and Uber founder Travis Kalanick, the face of the company, stepped down amid investor pressure resulting …

Few startups have have gone through more public scandal and boardroom intrigue than Uber. On the road to its breathlessly anticipated IPO, Uber (UBER) has seen its C-suite reshuffled all the way up to the top.

On Thursday, Uber priced its IPO at $45 per share. At that price, the ride-hailing company raised $8.1 billion at a valuation of $82.4 billion.

As most discussion centers around what the shares might do in the first few days, it’s worth looking back and reexamining the Uber executive exodus.

Graphic by David Foster and JP Mangalindan for Yahoo FinanceGraphic by David Foster and JP Mangalindan for Yahoo Finance

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Graphic by David Foster and JP Mangalindan for Yahoo Finance

Accusations of a sexist workplace culture

A large portion of Uber’s high-profile exits since 2017 stemmed from problems related to Uber’s foray into self-driving car technology. That division of Uber, called Uber Advanced Technology, lost three top engineers at the end of 2016 who had all joined Uber from the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Center. The head of the division, Raffi Krikorian, left in February 2017.

Around the same time, a former Uber employee, Susan Fowler, wrote a blog post alleging rampant sexism at Uber and leadership problems. That triggered months of scrutiny and an internal investigation.

SVP of Engineering Amit Singhal resigned in February 2017 after the company discovered that he had failed to disclose a sexual harassment allegation from his time at Google; communications head Rachel Whetstonestepped down in April 2017 amid the fallout from the scandal and how Uber handled it publicly.

Legal disputes over self-driving car tech

Later in 2017, Uber’s self-driving car division became the center of a major legal dispute: Google accused Anthony Levandowski, who worked at Google’s self-driving car division Waymo before leaving to launch self-driving car company Otto, of stealing trade secrets from Waymo and bringing them to Uber. Uber had acquired Otto and made Levandowski the head of Uber Advanced Technologies.

The dispute became a massive headache for Uber, which fired Levandowski in June 2017 and didn’t fully escape the mess until February 2018 when it settled with Waymo for $245 million.

FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2016, file photo, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, left, and Anthony Levandowski, co-founder of Otto, pose for a photo in the lobby of Uber headquarters, in San Francisco. Former Uber CEO Kalanick returned to a courtroom Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, to deal with questions about his discussions with Levandowski, an engineer accused of stealing Google’s self-driving car technology. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)FILE - In this Aug. 18, 2016, file photo, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, left, and Anthony Levandowski, co-founder of Otto, pose for a photo in the lobby of Uber headquarters, in San Francisco. Former Uber CEO Kalanick returned to a courtroom Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, to deal with questions about his discussions with Levandowski, an engineer accused of stealing Google’s self-driving car technology. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

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In this Aug. 18, 2016, file photo, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, left, and Anthony Levandowski, co-founder of Otto, pose for a photo in the lobby of Uber headquarters, in San Francisco.. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

June 2017 saw a string of additional departures related to Uber’s cultural problems: SVP of business Emil Michael resigned after he was named in a report as part of a group of Uber execs who visited an escort bar in South Korea on a business trip; Uber board member David Bonderman stepped down from the board after leaked audio from a meeting, first reported by Yahoo Finance, showed him making a sexist comment to fellow boardmember Arianna Huffington; and Uber founder Travis Kalanick, the face of the company, stepped down amid investor pressure resulting from both the Waymo fiasco and the reports of sexism inside the company.

In August 2017, Uber brought on former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as its new CEO. He has been credited with improving the culture at the company in the run-up to its IPO.

But even after Kalanick left and Khosrowshahi came aboard, the parade of exits continued, as you can see in the Yahoo Finance timeline graphic above. Many of the company’s earliest employees left after Kalanick did, including head of external affairs Dave Clark and chief legal officer Salle Yoo.

Today, the senior leadership team at Uber looks very different from the inner circle at the company just two years ago. And the company still hasn’t fully escaped public criticism and scandal: on the very day before its $90 billion public offering, Uber drivers across the country are on strike over pay.

But many analysts say all that noise is unlikely to dim the shine of the Uber IPO.

Daniel Roberts is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @readDanwrite.

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Uber, Lyft increased traffic delays in San Francisco by 40%, study says

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – If you feel like traffic in the Bay Area is only getting worse, we may have Uber and Lyft to blame for most of it, according to …

Uber, Lyft increased traffic delays in San Francisco by 40%, study says

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Uber drivers striking in San Francisco
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Waymo and Lyft Partner for Self-Driving Vehicle Rides in Phoenix

Waymo’s CEO John Krafcik said in a blog post that his company would soon deploy 10 autonomous Waymo vehicles on Lyft’s ridesharing platform in …

Alphabet‘s (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) self-driving vehicle company, Waymo, announced a new partnership Tuesday with ridesharing company Lyft(NASDAQ:LYFT). Waymo’s CEO John Krafcik said in a blog post that his company would soon deploy 10 autonomous Waymo vehicles on Lyft’s ridesharing platform in the Phoenix area.

Waymo launched its commercial ridesharing service in Phoenix just six months ago, and already has roughly 1,000 riders using the service daily to take self-driving trips to work, school, grocery stores, and elsewhere. While the cars drive themselves, Waymo still has a safety driver in each car in case a human needs to take over the vehicle.

Krafcik said in the post that “Once Waymo vehicles are on the platform, Lyft users in the area will have the option to select a Waymo directly from the Lyft app for eligible rides.”

The new partnership is a significant move for both Waymo and Lyft as the autonomous ridesharing market begins to take shape, and each stands to benefit from the new relationship.

Family sitting in a minivan with a Waymo logo

Image source: Waymo.

A win-win for Lyft and Waymo

While the ridesharing market is gaining traction worldwide, the profitability of the model is still in question. The fees Lyft pays to its drivers and the company’s technology, marketing, and other expenses outpace the revenue intake for the company right now. That’s why Lyft and its rival Uber are looking to autonomous vehicles as a way to lower costs in the future.

Instead of creating all of its own self-driving technology, Lyft has opted to partner with other companies that are already making huge strides. For example, Lyft has worked with the self-driving car tech company Aptiv(NYSE:APTV) to provide more than 30,000 autonomous rides to customers in Las Vegas.

The new partnership with Waymo is yet another opportunity for Lyft to introduce its ridesharing customers to autonomous vehicles. It also allows them to gather important data on how riders respond to this type of technology and how well it works. Understanding how customers use autonomous ridesharing vehicles could be critical information for Lyft in the coming years, if the company’s management begins to pivot more in that direction.

For Waymo, the new partnership with Lyft allows the company to expand its autonomous-ridesharing reach in Phoenix. Krafcik said that adding Waymo vehicles to Lyft’s ridesharing network will help his company “welcome even more riders” to experience self-driving technology, and give Waymo “the opportunity to collect valuable feedback” from how riders use the service.

In addition to bringing more riders to Waymo’s service, the partnership will help Waymo show Lyft and other companies just how well its self-driving technology works for ridesharing. Waymo has said that one of the ways it plans to make money from its technology is by licensing it out to other tech companies and automakers. This partnership is just one more way for Waymo to prove its technology is ready for real-world use.

For investors who are still trying to figure out the ridesharing market and how autonomous vehicles fit into it, it would be wise to keep a close eye on this new partnership. Alphabet’s Waymo is one of the leading driverless-car companies in the U.S., and Lyft is the second-largest ridesharing company in the country. What these companies learn from this partnership could potentially influence their businesses for years to come.

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