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Smoking pizza ovens and pilfered dollar bills, or the early story of RapidSOS

The irony of 911 is that it’s a number that everyone knows (at least in the United States), and yet, no one really thinks about it. Few of us will dial 911 more than a handful of times in our lives, and even when we do, we will meet the police officers and paramedics who respond, never the 911 call taker who handled the dispatch. These systems and the people behind them garner meager attention, whether from Congress, state legislatures, the public or anyone else outside the emergency response community.
Except, that is, for Michael Martin.

RapidSOS’ story is one of a …

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Construct Capital’s Dayna Grayson will be a Startup Battlefield Judge at Disrupt 2021

Dayna Grayson has been in venture capital for more than a decade and was one of the first VCs to build a portfolio around the transformation of industrial sectors of our economy.
At NEA, where she was a partner for eight years, she led investments in and sat on the boards of companies including Desktop Metal, Onshape, Framebridge, Tulip, Formlabs and Guideline. She left NEA to start her own fund, Construct Capital, that focuses exclusively on early-stage startups, with a portfolio that includes Copia, ChargeLab, Tradeswell and Hadrian.
It should come as no surprise, then, that we’re absolutely thrilled …

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Uber’s first head of data science just raised a new venture fund to back nascent AI startups

Kevin Novak joined Uber as its 21st employee its seventh engineer in 2011, and by 2014, he was the company’s head of data science. He talks proudly of that time, but like all good things, it ran its course and by the end of 2017, having accomplished what he wanted at the company, he left.
At first, he picked up the pace of his angel investing, work he’d already begun focusing on during weekends and evenings, ultimately building a portfolio of more than 50 startups (including the fintech Pipe and the autonomous checkout company Standard Cognition).
He also began advising both startups …

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Uber to become the sole owner of grocery delivery startup Cornershop

Uber has reached a deal to become the sole owner of Latin American delivery startup Cornershop, just one year after acquiring a majority stake in the company. The ride-hailing giant said in a regulatory filing Monday that it will purchase the remaining 47% interest in Cornershop in exchange for 29 million shares. The transaction is expected to close in July.
Uber announced in 2019 plans to take a majority ownership in Cornershop. That transaction wasn’t completed until the third quarter of 2020 other than in Mexico, which closed in January 2021. This latest agreement, which was reached June 18 and reported Monday, will make Cornershop …

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SoftBank, Uber, Tencent set to reap rewards from Didi IPO

After years of speculation, Didi Chuxing, China’s ride-sharing behemoth, finally unveiled its IPO filing in the U.S., giving a glimpse into its money-losing history.
Didi didn’t disclose the size of its raise. Reuters reported the company could raise around $10 billion at a valuation of close to $100 billion, though The Wall Street Journal cited a valuation upward of $70 billion. Uber’s market cap currently exceeds $90 billion.
Cheng Wei, Didi’s 38-year-old founder owns 7% of the company’s shares and controls 15.4% of its voting power before the IPO, according to the prospectus. Major shareholders to reap returns are SoftBank …

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4 women in engineering discuss harassment, isolation and perseverence

Women engineers often face workplace and career challenges that their male colleagues don’t because they remain a minority in the profession: Depending on how you count, women make up just 13% to 25% of engineering jobs. That inequity leads to a power imbalance, which can lead to toxic working environments.
One of the more infamous and egregious examples is Susan Fowler’s experience at Uber. In a blog post in February 2017, she described her boss coming on to her in a company chat channel on her first day on the job. She later wrote a book, “Whistleblower,” that described her time …

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Uber, Lyft to give free rides to COVID-19 vaccine sites in deal with White House

Uber and Lyft will provide free rides to any user traveling to get the COVID-19 vaccine through an agreement reached with the White House.
The free rides will last through July 4, the date when President Joe Biden wants 70% of U.S. adults to be vaccinated, according to the WSJ, which was the first to report on the partnership between the ride-hailing companies and the White House.
Lyft and Uber separately told TechCrunch the companies will cover the costs of the free rides. The White House will help advise on the product and how it is rolled out as well as …

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If 12% is the new 30%, 4% is the new 12%

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.
The whole team was aboard for this recording, with Grace and Chris behind the scenes, and Danny, Alex and Natasha on the mics. We had to cut more than we included this week, which should give you a good idea of how busy the startup and VC worlds are of late.
Make sure that you are following the podcast on Twitter, where we post all sorts of memes and cuts and, perhaps, the occasional video here and there. That aside, here’ …

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Investors cheer as Lyft’s Q1 revenue didn’t fall as much as expected

Investors gave Lyft’s value a small bump Tuesday after the American ride-hailing company reported results that weren’t quite as bad as the company, and Wall Street, had expected. Shares of the Uber competitor rose as much as 4.5% in after-hours trading following the disclosure of its financial performance from the first three months of the year. As of the time of writing those gains have fallen to a smaller 2.5% gain.
Turning to its results, Lyft’s revenue fell 36%, to $609 million, in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year before the COVID-19 pandemic upended the economy, …

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Uber and Arrival partner to create an EV for ride-hail drivers

Arrival, the electric vehicle manufacturer that’s attempting to do away with the assembly line in favor of highly automated microfactories, is partnering with Uber to create an EV for ride-hail drivers. 
Arrival expects to reveal the final vehicle design before the end of the year and to begin production in the third quarter of 2023. Uber drivers have been invited to contribute to the design process to ensure the vehicles are built to suit their needs.
Uber is trying to make good on a promise it made last year to become a fully electric mobility platform by 2025 in London, 2030 in …

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