Lyft

This Startup Is Telling Everyday Investors It Will Be The Next Uber

Actor John O’Hurley appears in an ad for YayYo, a ride-sharing app that promises to compare the prices of different ride-sharing companies (that aren’t Uber or Lyft).

Ramy El-Batrawi has founded 27 companies that are now inactive or dissolved, hawking everything from relationship counseling to futures trading to van rentals to Alaskan fishing vacations, a HuffPost review of state records finds. He even ran a travel agency in Palm Beach, Florida, with a Saudi arms dealer involved in the Iran-Contra affair, and was named as a go-between for an offshore entity listed in the Panama Papers.

In 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission barred El-Batrawi from being an executive in a publicly traded company for five years as part of the settlement over a $130 million stock fraud case against a company he led until it collapsed in 2001.

Now that his prohibition period is over, El-Batrawi has something new to sell: shares in YayYo, a price-comparing ride-sharing app that doesn’t currently work.

HuffPost

The company, with El-Batrawi as CEO, is trying to sell $50 million in stock ― which it can do thanks to newly relaxed securities laws that let speculative startups raise money from mom-and-pop investors. Proponents of the laws said they would boost the economy and create jobs, while critics said the loosened rules put people’s money at risk.

YayYo paid Master P to record a promotional track for the company and has been running TV ads on daytime cable news for weeks featuring the actor John O’Hurley, who famously played a catalog salesman peddling ordinary products and whimsical stories on “Seinfeld.”

“What if you were an early investor in Uber or Lyft — what would you be worth today?” O’Hurley asks. The answer, he says, is that you would have made “made millions, if not tens of millions.” (Uber and Lyft are valued at $62.5 billion and $7.4 billion, respectively.)

But wait, there’s more: YayYo, O’Hurley says, might just grow even faster that Uber and Lyft. When and if YayYo’s app works, it will let you compare prices from different ride-hailing companies by plugging directly into the data that companies like Uber and Lyft have made available to third-party developers.

As the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably running stock ads on Fox News at 11:45 on a random weekday morning.

Lyft has already filed a cease and desist order against YayYo and barred the company from using its data, a spokesman told HuffPost. Uber did not return HuffPost’s request for comment, but BuzzFeed’s Will Alden noted that the company’s terms don’t allow its data to be aggregated with that of its competitors.

A ride-hailing price-comparison app that can’t compare the prices of the two dominant ride-hailing services is extremely unlikely to succeed,…

Lyft partners with Waymo to develop self-driving car tech

Lyft partners with Waymo to develop self-driving car tech

On-demand cab service Lyft has inked a deal with Waymo, the autonomous vehicle firm spun off from Google, to jointly develop self-driving technology.

Details of the partnership are scant, and we don’t yet know what the two companies intend to build together. However, as The New York Times notes, given Lyft’s collaboration with General Motors, it’s likely that Waymo will want to get in on efforts like testing driverless electric Chevy Bolts.

The news comes at an interesting time in both companies’ journeys. Lyft raised $600 million last month at a valuation of $7.5 billion…

What Rating Should You Give Your Uber, Lyft, or Other Driver?

The gig economy looks like it’s here to stay. Although Uber still has the occasional battle with regulators, for the most part smartphone app-driven gig companies are popping up for every service imaginable.

Want someone to pick up takeout from a nice restaurant that doesn’t normally deliver? What about run to the shop and grab a few batteries for your TV remote? Favor can do it. What about someone to come in and clean your place while you’re out? Look no further than Handy. Odds are, if you can think of a small job that someone could do for you, there’s an app that will help you find someone. It’s really convenient.

The gig economy, though, does have a few quirks, so let’s dig a little deeper into how it works.

How the Gig Economy Works

Almost all gig economy companies work in roughly the same way, so let’s just use Uber as an example.

An Uber driver (well, at least an UberX driver) is a regular person who is using their own car; pretty much anyone who meets the basic criteria can sign up. They’ve got a smartphone app provided by Uber that they use to find gigs.

Uber’s customers also use an app. When you want a ride, you open the app, enter your location and a ping is sent out to nearby drivers.

The Uber driver who’s sitting just down the road, gets the notification and wants the job. They tap Accept, drive over, pick you up, take you to your destination and drop you off. Your credit card is charged and you go on with your day. Both you and the driver are able to rate each other.

The Uber driver gets paid by Uber (less their cut for providing the platform).

And that’s kind of it. Whatever the actual thing the person is doing for you, it all works broadly the same. There’s just one small niggle in it: the ratings.

Ratings and the Gig Economy

Ratings are a big part of most…

Unroll.me, the Email Unsubscription Service, Has Been Collecting and Selling Your Data

Yesterday, The New York Times went deep into some of Uber’s shady business practices. In the article, one small section revealed that one service we’ve talked about extensively over the years, Unroll.me, has been mining and selling off your email data, and Uber used that data to gain intelligence on Lyft.

In this case, Uber was buying data collected from one company to give them an edge over their rival, Lyft. Here’s the Times for background info:

They spent much of their energy one-upping rivals like Lyft. Uber devoted teams to so-called competitive intelligence, purchasing data from an analytics service called Slice Intelligence. Using an email digest service it owns named Unroll.me, Slice collected its customers’ emailed Lyft receipts from their inboxes and sold the anonymized data to Uber. Uber used the data as a proxy for the health of Lyft’s business. (Lyft, too, operates a competitive intelligence team.)

Slice confirmed that it sells anonymized data (meaning that customers’ names are not attached) based on ride receipts from Uber and Lyft, but declined to disclose who buys the information.

Slice Intelligence is a data collection and analytics service on the service. It turns out that it also owns Unroll.me, a service that makes it easy to unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t want and that we’ve recommended multiple times, and Slice, a package tracking app that happens to be our favorite app for doing so on Android and iPhone.

Why You Need to Start Talking to Your Lyft Driver

I love the concept of ride sharing services like Lyft or Uber, and I use them all the time when I travel or feel the urge to paint the town red. But it’s not just because they’re convenient; I like to talk to the drivers! And I wouldn’t trade all the stories, advice, and near head-on collisions for anything.

It’s the Perfect Time to Practice Talking to Strangers

Talking to somebody you don’t know seems like the most awkward, difficult thing in the world—until it isn’t. You open your mouth, say hello, spout off a few pleasantries, and before you know it, you’re having one of the most interesting conversations of your life. Chatting with strangers is good for you: it improves your conversational skills, can boost your mood, and best of all, it pops that bubble you’re floating around in.

During various Lyft and Uber rides, I’ve chatted with an ex-police officer in Salt Lake City who was on the scene during the L.A. riots, been regaled with tales of lavish parties from a professional dancer in Hollywood who does background for pop music videos, and talked to a Seattle man about the difficulties of raising four daughters in the heart of the city. It was rewarding to share tips with a young auto mechanic who had a love for writing but no outlet. I’ll never forget the talk I had about diversity and storytelling in film with an independent filmmaker from Mexico. And I was blown away the other night when my driver said they were a huge Lifehacker fan and wanted my autograph.

Conversations like these let me turn a mundane practice into something memorable and useful. You see, all of these people gave me something: perspective. A different outlook on life and why we do the silly things we do in our brief time here. And that’s something that’s more valuable to me than an $18 ride to the bar. But you have to want that to happen. I find I can get conversations going with the simplest of questions:

  • Busy so far?
  • How long have you lived here?
  • Been driving for [service] long?
  • Have you heard of [place I’m headed]?

That’s all it takes. Most drivers will be fully engaged by the time I ask one or two of these questions because they’re probably bored and tired of all the jerks they usually have to deal with. That said, I’m well aware that it’s easier for me as a benign-looking, six-foot tall, white male who looks capable of defending himself. I know there are creepy, horrible people out there, and that some of them are drivers you may encounter. But if someone seems nice, give it a shot. Ask how their day is going. Besides, what else are you going to do? Stare at your phone? Neat. Plus, it’s an easy way to improve your passenger rating or keep it looking…