Cathy Bussewitz, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, December 24, 2019 9:44PM EST
NEW YORK – Travis Kalanick, who built Uber into a ride-hailing giant, only to be ousted as CEO over the company’s sexist “bro” culture, is cashing out.
Kalanick disclosed Tuesday that he has sold off all his Uber stock – estimated at more than $2.5 billion – and is resigning from the board of directors, severing ties to the company he co-founded a decade ago.
“Uber has been a part of my life for the past 10 years. At the close of the decade, and with the company now public, it seems like the right moment for me to focus on my current business and philanthropic pursuits,” the 43-year-old entrepreneur said in a statement.
Uber, based in San Francisco, transformed the way people get around and how they make a living, too, turbocharging the gig economy and undermining the taxi industry. Its nearly 4 million drivers around the globe have logged 15 billion trips since 2010, when Kalanick and Garrett Camp came up with the idea of hailing a ride from a smartphone after a trip to Paris when they couldn’t find a taxi.
But Kalanick was fired as CEO in the summer of 2017 with the company mired in lawsuits.
Uber under Kalanick grew with incredible speed, but like a number of other tech startups, it ran into trouble with a corporate culture that appeared at times to be spinning out of control. Before his ouster as chief executive, Kalanick acknowledged he needed to “fundamentally change and grow up.”
His career at Uber seemed to fit a certain pattern seen in Silicon Valley: The brash and disruptive personalities who are great at creating startups can be ill-suited for the corner office when the company reaches maturity. Sometimes “adult supervision” in the form of experienced executives has to be brought in.
In one of the Uber’s biggest scandals, Kalanick was accused of presiding over a workplace environment that allowed rampant sexual harassment.
A former Uber engineer, Susan Fowler, levelled sexual harassment and sexism allegations in a 2017 blog post, saying a boss – not Kalanick – had propositioned her and higher-ups had ignored her complaints. Kalanick called the accusations “abhorrent” and hired former Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate. Holder recommended reducing Kalanick’s responsibilities.
After multiple investigations, Uber fired 20 employees accused of sexual harassment, bullying and retaliation against those who complained. This month, the company paid $4.4 million to settle a federal investigation over workplace misconduct.
The problems went beyond employee relations.
Waymo, the self-driving car company spun off from Google, sued Uber in 2017, alleging a top manager at Google stole pivotal technology from the company before leaving to run Uber’s self-driving car division.
Uber also gained a reputation under Kalanick for running roughshod over regulators, launching in markets before officials were able to draft rules and regulations to keep the ride-hailing business in check.
During Kalanick’s tenure, The New York Times revealed that Uber used a phoney version of its app to thwart authorities in cities where it was operating illegally. Uber’s software identified regulators who were posing as riders and blocked access to them. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating.
“Many investors will be glad to see this dark chapter in the rear view mirror,” Dan Ives, managing director of Wedbush Securities, said in a note to investors.
Kalanick, through a spokeswoman, declined to be interviewed Tuesday.
Kalanick is not alone among visionary tech entrepreneurs who have stumbled after building startups from nothing.
Tesla founder Elon Musk has had too loose a grip on his Twitter habit and has been fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission for misleading investors with a tweet. He was also sued for defamation, but ultimately cleared, for going on Twitter and calling a British cave explorer “pedo guy” – short for “pedophile.”
Adam Neumann, the former CEO of WeWork, recently stepped aside after the workplace-sharing company cancelled its initial public offering amid concerns about his judgment, including his use of WeWork stock to secure a $500 million personal loan.
After Kalanick’s ouster, former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was brought on as Uber’s chief executive to clean up its image and steer the company to its stock market debut in May. But Uber’s stock floundered and fell almost 11% in its first day of trading as a public company. It has tumbled more than 30% since.
“Let’s call it like it is: Uber stock has been a nightmare since the IPO coming out of the gates,” Ives said.
Kalanick had been one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, owning 9% of the company at the time of the IPO.
Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst at Navigant Research, said it was not surprising Kalanick sold his stake.
“He, like everyone else, probably realizes now that Uber and its competitors are unlikely to reach sustainable profitability in the foreseeable future,” Abuelsamid said. “Automated vehicles are not the saviour for ride hailing and won’t be mainstream for many years. With that in mind, his Uber stake is probably as valuable as it will get for a long time, if not forever.”
Nova Scotia company waiting on Health Canada approval for rapid antigen test for COVID-19 – CTV News Atlantic
The Sona Nanotech lab in Dartmouth is making history by developing a rapid antigen test for COVID-19.
“There was a moment of tremendous pride for the entire team, as Canadians, when our evaluation results came back from both third-party laboratories and in-field trials and it showed how strongly our test preformed,” said CEO David Regan.
Here’s a simple breakdown of how the test works: After a nasal pharyngeal swab is administered, the swab is placed in a tube of solution for a few moments. Then, a sample of that is placed on a lateral flow test, like a pregnancy test. The results appear within 15 minutes.
“The Sona Nanotech test is like a pregnancy test. It’s a lateral flow test and those pregnancy tests detect the existence of a hormone, our test detects the presence of the coronavirus,” said Regan.
Sona Nanotech is the only company in Canada to come up with this technology.
“The four antigen tests that have been approved in the U.S. so far are from billion dollar companies, multi-billion dollar companies, with vast resources,” said Regan.
“This test at Sona Nanotech has been developed in the lab, here at the bays in Dartmouth based on research that was started at St. Francis Xavier University in the chemistry lab there and brought to fruition over the last nine months.”
Regan says the test could help triage people faster and free up the health-care system.
“A rapid test for COVID would be a great idea,” said Dr. Todd Hatchette, the Chief of Microbiology with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. “Having the ability to provide results within 15 or 20 minutes can be helpful in many different situations. But again, it comes back to primary concern, are these tests accurate, and are they sensitive to pick up the infection.”
Regan says it is.
“This is a screening device that can be used widespread to pick up not only the virus of those people that have symptoms but importantly, before people have symptoms,” he said. “At that stage, positives can be sent to the labs for confirmation but that will be result in much shorter turnaround times.”
Right now, it’s a waiting game for the lab as they seek approval from Health Canada.
In the meantime, the company is also working on a saliva at-home test, which is considered in the early stages of development.
Another Billion-Dollar Oil Merger Is On The Horizon – OilPrice.com
We may be coming out of the first pandemic lockdown and business does, broadly, appear to be picking up; however, but some sections of manufacturing, including U.K. car manufacturing, are still suffering badly.
U.K. car industry, supply chain face challenges
An article in the Financial Times starkly outlines the continued pain the U.K. car industry is experiencing and, by extension its extended supply chain.
U.K. car manufacturing fell 44% last month compared with a year earlier. Domestic orders and exports remain severely depressed. Last month’s performance marked the sector’s second-worst since car plants restarted after lockdown.
The Financial Times went on to advise that just 51,039 cars rolled off British production lines. The total fell from 92,153 in August 2019. Meanwhile, August output for U.K. buyers fell 58% to just 7,795 vehicles. The number of cars made for export fell 41% to 73,443 cars.
To be fair, several plants working during summer 2019 boosted August 2019 performance. Summer output followed a three-week closedown in the spring to prepare for the expected Brexit in 2019, which in the end did not transpire.
So, looking at the first half of each year gives a fairer comparison. Yet, even in that view, the decline remains dramatic.
Between January and August, the U.K. produced 40.2% fewer cars than in the same months a year earlier. The period included several weeks of complete stoppages during the first lockdown in March and April.
Year-to-date production is now down by 348,821 units worth more than £9.5 billion to U.K. carmakers, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Furthermore, projections suggest U.K. car manufacturers are now on track to produce just below 885,000 cars this year – down 34% on 2019.
Job losses in the sector
The SMMT reported at least 13,500 jobs have been cut across the U.K. automotive sector this year. The body warned up to one in six positions may be at risk in the future.
Manufacturers are hoping the government’s latest job retention scheme will help employers keep skilled workers. Skilled workers will be needed if, or when, demand comes back, but many of them are currently facing redundancy.
Rising coronavirus cases, tightening restrictions, and Brexit
Yet with virus cases increasing in the U.K. and containment measures ramping up, the SMMT is if anything more pessimistic now than it was in the early summer.
The SMMT says business restrictions look set to make the industry’s attempts to restart even more challenging, with the prospect of Britain’s exit from the European Union also now just 100 days away.
The industry is not in a good state to handle the country’s imminent exit from Europe on Jan. 1. In addition, the automotive industry has been at the forefront of demanding a free trade deal between the U.K. and the E.U., saying last week that “no deal” would cost the pan-European automotive industry some £100 billion in lost trade over the next five years.
Europe, though, is proving very unwilling to retain the open-door, free-trade environment for electric vehicles – which it sees as the future – as it currently does for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
The future of U.K.-E.U. auto trade
The Financial Times recently reported E.U. diplomats said the European Commission is wary of agreeing to U.K. car manufacturers being allowed to source a large number of components from other countries while still exporting electric vehicles tariff-free to the E.U.
Four out of five cars made in the U.K. are exported. Of those exports, more than half goes to the E.U. British car plants owned by Nissan, Toyota and PSA are all reliant on European sales for more than half of their business.
Last year, Nissan sold more than 30,000 U.K.-built Leaf electric cars to Europe. Toyota exported close to 120,000 hybrid models across the channel. Europe is keen to keep the U.K. as a market for components and finished vehicles but not so keen on allowing these plants to sell into the E.U. tariff-free after Brexit.
Coming on top of already challenging times this year, some foreign owners of U.K. car plants may begin to wonder whether continuing to invest in the U.K. is as desirable as it once was.
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Some Ontario casinos open as province reports COVID-19 surge – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
TORONTO – Several Ontario casinos reopened on Monday as the province reported a surge in new cases of COVID-19.
Great Canadian Gaming Corporation says it reopened 11 of its properties, including Casino Woodbine in Toronto and Casino Ajax.
Ontario allowed casinos to reopen as parts of the province moved into Stage Three of their pandemic response this summer.
The province has, however, prohibited table games at the establishments.
Great Canadian Gaming said it will have a limit of 50 guests indoors at its casinos and is focused on reopening safely.
Ontario reported 700 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the highest daily increase recorded since the start of the pandemic.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2020.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
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