Author: Megan Rose Dickey

Tesla brings on new VP of engineering from Snap

TECHCRUNCH Tesla announced a number of new hires today, including Stuart Bowers, who is joining as VP of engineering. Bowers is joining Tesla from Snap, where he worked as VP of monetization engineering. Other new hires include Neeraj Manrao, who left Apple to become Tesla’s director of energy manufacturing, and Kevin Mukai, who is now director of product engineering at Tesla’s Gigafactory. “We’re excited to welcome a group of such talented people as we continue to ramp Model 3 and accelerate towards a more sustainable future,” Tesla wrote on its blog. “We’ll be announcing more hires in the coming days, so stay tuned.” These new hires come following a couple of departures. In April, Tesla VP of Autopilot Jim Keller left for Intel, with Pete Bannon serving as Keller’s replacement. Bannon is a former Apple chip engineer who helped design Apple’s A5-AP chips. Earlier this month, Sameer Qureshi left a senior manager Autopilot role at Tesla to lead Lyft’s autonomous driving efforts. Here’s the full list of new hires, via Tesla’s blog: Stuart Bowers is joining as VP of Engineering, responsible for a broad range of Tesla’s software and hardware engineering. Stuart has 12 years of software experience and a background in applied mathematics, and is joining Tesla from Snap. There, he was most recently VP of Monetization Engineering, leading the team with a focus on machine learning and ad infrastructure....

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Lime, Bird and Spin have to temporarily remove scooters from SF

TECHCRUNCH The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has officially made available its permit application for electric scooters to operate in the city as part of a one-year pilot program. Part of that means companies like Bird, Lime and Spin will need to at least temporarily remove their scooters from city sidewalks while their applications are being processed. Lime, Bird and Spin — all of which deployed their scooters in March without permission from the city — have until June 7 to submit their applications. At that time, the SFMTA will review all the applications and aim to let companies...

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GOAT launches electric scooters in Austin

TECHCRUNCH GOAT, a dockless electric scooter company, has launched in Austin, after receiving official permits from the city’s transportation department for its pilot program. Unlike what’s happened in San Francisco with startups Bird, Lime and Spin, GOAT says it wants to work in tandem with city officials in Austin. GOAT is currently bootstrapped, but says it plans to continue partnering with local cities to launch its electric scooter service across the nation. GOAT has permission to launch up to 500 scooters as part of the pilot program, but is currently incrementally deploying scooters 20 at a time. The company...

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Sinemia, a MoviePass competitor, launches cardless ticketing

TECHCRUNCH Sinemia is further differentiating itself from its main competitor, MoviePass. The moviegoing startup is launching a new feature today that gets rid of the need for people to have a physical card in order to purchase movie tickets. This comes after a number of new Sinemia customers reported long wait times for their debit cards to arrive. “The Cardless feature was in our product pipeline but we accelerated it due to strong demand and issues that it brought,” Sinemia founder and CEO Rifat Oguz said in a statement to TechCrunch. Following Sinemia’s launch of new plans that cost as little...

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Apple reportedly partners with Volkswagen for self-driving employee shuttles

TECHCRUNCH Apple has decided to work with Volkswagen for some of its self-driving car efforts, The New York Times reported today. The plan, according to the NYT, is to turn some of Volkswagen’s T6 Transporter vans into autonomous shuttles for employees. However, this project is reportedly behind schedule and taking up much of the time of Apple’s autonomous driving team. According to the NYT, Apple’s lengthy talks pertaining to partnerships with manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz have ended. A Volkswagen T6 van Earlier this month, Apple’s fleet of self-driving cars registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles grew...

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Uber’s raising up to $600M in a secondary round at $62B valuation, Q1 sales grew to $2.5B

TECHCRUNCH Uber’s CEO is in Paris this week meeting with the French president to talk tech in Europe and expanding its insurance coverage in the region, but back in the US the company is moving ahead on another kind of expansion. TechCrunch has learned and confirmed that Uber is raising another secondary round of funding of up to $600 million, on a valuation of $62 billion. The fundraising development comes at the same time that Uber is also releasing its Q1 financials — which indicate that the company pulled in $2.5 billion in net revenues, with a net loss of $601 million, and negative EBIDTA of $304 million on a pro forma basis. Raising between $400 million and $600 million on a valuation of $62 billion (at $40 per share) would indicate that while Uber is recovering from the drop in valuation from its last round with SoftBank at the end of 2017 — another round with secondary components that valued the company at $48 billion — it’s still not back up (or higher than) its loftiest valuation of $69 billion.  From what we understand, investors participating in the offering, which has yet to close, include Coatue, Altimeter and TPG. Uber employees with at least 1,000 shares can also participate in the financing. According to the terms of offer, no one can sell more than $10 million worth of shares. That general upward...

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Uber is done testing self-driving cars in Arizona

TECHCRUNCH Uber, which had already pulled its autonomous cars off the road following a fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona, is officially calling it quits on the state of Arizona, the Wall Street Journal first reported, citing an internal memo from Uber Advanced Technologies Group lead Eric Meyhofer. As part of the wind-down, Uber has let go 300 of its test drivers. This comes after the state of Arizona officially barred Uber from testing its autonomous vehicles on public roads in March. “We’re committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future,”...

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Lyft invests $100 million in its drivers

TECHCRUNCH Lyft is committing $100 million to better support its drivers. The company is specifically putting this money toward cheaper oil changes, basic car maintenance, serviced car washes and more. Lyft will also almost double its operating hours at its driver hubs in 15 cities throughout the nation. The idea is to help drivers make more money and maximize their earnings by offsetting the costs of driving. Other benefits will include car and SUV rentals, tax education and more. Lyft also says it expects to more than double its driver base in the next five years. Currently, Lyft has 1.4 million drivers, according to its latest economic impact report. “Just as advancements in aviation technologies haven’t reduced the need for pilots or flight staff, there’s still security in the future for the 1.4 million people who depend on driving for an income,” Lyft COO Jon McNeill wrote in a blog post. “We are in the business of supporting our drivers for the long haul. Period.” McNeill joined Lyft just earlier this year from Tesla, where he was president of global sales and service. Given that a number of Lyft drivers also drive for Uber, Lyft will likely tier some specific perks and discounts based on number of driver hours, a Lyft spokesperson told...

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