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Uber entices drivers back post-pandemic with $250 million stimulus

Despite the classification of ride-hail drivers as “essential workers” during the early days of the pandemic, last April Uber’s business dropped by 80%. Drivers decided they’d rather not risk contracting or spreading COVID-19 for the measly revenue provided by the few rides per day they were getting, so when the federal CARES Act extended the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance to gig workers, many Uber drivers decided to hang up their keys. 
With more than a quarter of the U.S. population already vaccinated, Uber is now in a sticky situation wherein there are more riders requesting trips than there are …

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Backflip offers an easier way to turn used electronics into cold, hard cash

Mike Barile spent two years and racked up nearly $20,000 in credit card debt to bring his first startup, Backflip, to life.
The former management consultant had spent years toiling in the startup grind, first at Uber, then, after taking a coding academy bootcamp through AppAcademy (where Barile met his co-founder, Adam Foosaner), at Google and at a failed cryptocurrency startup.
Burned by the crypto experience, Barile was casting about for his next thing, and trying to find a way to scrape up some rent money, when he hit on the idea for Backflip. The experience of selling electronics online was …

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Daily Crunch: Uber to classify UK drivers as workers

Uber changes driver classification following a legal defeat in the U.K., Facebook says it will crack down on rule-breaking Groups and Snap makes an e-commerce acquisition. This is your Daily Crunch for March 17, 2021.
The big story: Uber to classify UK drivers as workers
Following a Supreme Court ruling, Uber said it will classify all drivers in the United Kingdom as workers — a category between self-employed and employed that entitles those designated to a minimum wage and holiday pay.
That doesn’t mean the dispute is fully resolved, however. Uber said that it will calculate working time starting when drivers …

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Uber says it will treat UK drivers as workers in wake of Supreme Court ruling

Uber said Tuesday that drivers in the UK who use its ride-hailing app will be treated as workers, a designation that will give them some benefits such as holiday pay. However, even as Uber seemingly concedes to a Supreme Court ruling last month, a new fight could already be brewing over the company’s decision to calculate working time from the point a trip commences — rather than when drivers log on to the app.
Uber said that beginning Wednesday all drivers in the UK will be paid holiday time based on 12.07% of their earnings, which will be paid out every …

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Investors Clara Brenner, Quin Garcia and Rachel Holt are coming to TC Sessions: Mobility 2021

The transportation industry is abuzz with upstarts, legacy automakers, suppliers and tech companies working on automated vehicle technology, digital platforms, electrification and robotics. Then there are shared mobility companies from cars to scooters and mopeds to e-bikes. And who can forget the emerging air taxi companies?
At the center of this evolving industry are the investors. Simply put: TechCrunch can’t hold an event on mobility without hearing from the people who are hunting for the best opportunities in the industry and tracking all of its changes. That’s why we’re happy to announce investors Clara Brenner of Urban …

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Eco raises $26M in a16z-led round to scale its digital cryptocurrency platform

‍Eco, which has built out a digital global cryptocurrency platform, announced Friday that it has raised $26 million in a funding round led by a16z Crypto.
Founded in 2018, the SF-based startup’s platform is designed to be used as a payment tool around the world for daily-use transactions. The company emphasizes that it’s “not a bank, checking account, or credit card.”
“We’re building something better than all of those combined,” it said in a blog post. The company’s mission has also been described as an effort to use cryptocurrency as a way “to marry savings and spending,” …

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From the ashes of nearly a billion dollars, Ample resurrects Better Place’s battery swapping business model

A little over thirteen years ago, Shai Agassi, a promising software executive who was in line to succeed the chief executive at SAP, then one of the world’s mightiest software companies, left the company he’d devoted the bulk of his professional career to and started a business called Better Place.
That startup promised to revolutionize the nascent electric vehicle market and make range anxiety a thing of the past. The company’s pitch? A network of automated battery swapping stations that would replace spent batteries with freshly charged ones.
Agassi’s company would go on to raise nearly $1 …

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Daily Crunch: Uber loses UK legal challenge

Uber loses a legal battle over driver classification, we survey mobility investors and new data suggests a COVID-19 vaccine should be easier to transport. This is your Daily Crunch for February 19, 2021.
The big story: Uber loses UK legal challenge
The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court has reaffirmed earlier rulings that the Uber drivers who brought the case — which dates back to 2016 — are workers, not independent contractors.
“Drivers are in a position of subordination and dependency in relation to Uber such that they have little or no ability to improve their economic position through professional or entrepreneurial skill,” the court said …

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Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine just got a lot easier to transport and distribute

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech now has less stringent and extreme transportation requirements than it debuted with. Originally, the mRNA-based vaccine had to be maintained at ultra-low temperatures throughout the transportation chain in order to remain viable – between -76°F and -112°F. New stability data collected by Pfizer and BioNTech, which has been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for review, allow it to be stored at temps between 5°F and -13°F – ranges available in standard medical freezers found in most clinics and care facilities.
The vaccine should remain stable for …

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