Recode Daily: Should Uber sell off its self-driving car unit?

16 Aug

Recode Daily: Should Uber sell off its self-driving car unit?

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi presents the Jump electric-bike-sharing service at the Brandenburg Gate on June 5, 2018, in Berlin, Germany. 

Plus, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is rethinking how Twitter works so it won’t help spread hate; how air conditioning helped create the modern city; happy 60th birthday to the ageless Madonna.

Uber is investing its growth in becoming — as CEO Dara Khosrowshahi put it — the Amazon for transportation, a platform that riders can use to access several different modes of transport. Instead of chasing profitability and expanding its global footprint at breakneck speed, it is building out its next chapter, which includes food delivery, scooter- and bike-sharing, car rental, flying cars, partnerships with transit networks and expanding its rides business in key global markets. Uber generated $2.8 billion in revenue last quarter — a nearly $1.1 billion increase over the same period a year ago, representing 63 percent growth — but it still lost close to $900 million last quarter. [Johana Bhuiyan / Recode]

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Meanwhile, investors have urged Uber to sell off its self-driving car unit, which has lost between $125 million and $200 million per quarter over the last 18 months. Uber does not separate its autonomous-vehicle-related finances in its quarterly earnings reports, but a report by The Information claims that the losses from its self-driving unit comprise between 15 and 30 percent of Uber’s quarterly losses. [Andrew Krok / CNET]

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he is rethinking core parts of how Twitter works so that it doesn’t enable the spread of hate speech, harassment and false news. After Twitter put Infowars’ Alex Jones’ accounts on read-only mode for a week for violating its policy against inciting violence, Dorsey also said he was experimenting with features that would promote alternative viewpoints in Twitter’s timeline to address misinformation and reduce “echo chambers,” and said he is open to labeling bots and redesigning the “Like” button and the way Twitter displays users’ follower counts. [Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin / The Washington Post]

Elon Musk’s Boring Company wants to build a tunnel to Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles from a transit station, potentially offering a 4-minute, $1 ride that would skip all sorts of traffic. It’s an interesting idea, but highlights the tension between proprietary, private infrastructure — useful for 81 days a year, when the team has home games — versus simply investing in better public transit and street design. [Jenna Chandler / Curbed]

Seed investor Y Combinator is launching a new Chinese incubator called Y Combinator China, and has named former Baidu COO Qi Lu as CEO. It’s the first full-fledged international effort by Y Combinator, which seeded Airbnb, Stripe, Reddit and Dropbox among other startups. [Selina Yang / Bloomberg]

T-Mobile is partnering with Pandora and concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment to offer its customers free music, special seating and other perks in an effort to attract and retain customers without changing its prices. As they battle for customers, wireless carriers are adding such extra sweeteners, without resorting to discounting. [Drew FitzGerald / The Wall Street Journal]

PRX and PRI, two of the four largest U.S. distributors of public radio, are merging in hopes of becoming a podcasting juggernaut. No money will change hands in the tie-up. Boston-based WGBH, which bought PRI in 2012 and recently turned to PRX as a partner for podcasts, will invest $10 million in developing new content, including a new production studio and a Podcast Garage in Washington, D.C., to train new creators. [Anne Steele / The Wall Street Journal]

Today seems as good a time as any for an exploration of how air conditioning created the modern city. [Rowan Moore / The Guardian]

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