Taxi Groups Call For Eradication Of Rideshare Startups At SF City Hall Protest

Comment

The CrunchGov Essential is a scannable roundup of technology’s influence on the day’s big issues. Below a feature post, we present the most thoughtful, outrageous, and inspiring stories told through the web’s best content. Sign up for the morning newsletter here.

technothieves-edited2

San Francisco taxi labor groups called for the eradication of car ride-sharing startups and the imprisonment of some of their members at a protest in front of City Hall yesterday. “We want to see these illegal cabs to go away. We want them to be ticketed, cited, arrested, if necessary. They should not be allowed as long as you have a regulated taxi force,” said Barry Korengold, President of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association, who helped organize the protest.

ubersign-edited

Taxi unions have come out in full force against the growing industry of transportation tech startups, which turn car owners into smartphone-enabled cab drivers. Yesterday, several taxi groups ground traffic to a halt around San Francisco’s Civic Center, as fleets of cabs honked their horns in solidarity.

The party line at the protest was that smartphone ride-sharing services were “unlicensed, unregulated, unlawful and unsafe.” Unlike the strictly regulated cab industry, these ride-share drivers are covered under private insurance plans and company training. Protestors argue that the private insurance policies of Lyft and Uber are inadequate to protect consumers and the drivers themselves aren’t properly trained.

Beyond the carefully orchestrated slogans, however, nearly every single driver and representative we spoke with thought ride-share startups caused unnecessary competition to the already beleaguered cab industry. “How will I feed my family when you take my money?” read one protest sign. “Techno Thieves,” read another.
technothieves-edited
The speakers were more strident than I imagined. In past appearances with TechCrunch, New York City cab unions simply expressed a desire for equal regulation. Uber, Lyft, and SideCar drivers, they argued, need proper licensing, oversight and training to be on the road. Without the burden of regulation and taxes, ride shares can undercut cabs while ignoring important safety requirements.

But when I probed demonstrators in San Francisco, none could imagine a future where ride apps peacefully co-exist with taxis — even if they agreed to regulation. “If they’re going to be on the road, what’s the reason for having taxis in the city? I don’t want them to be on the road,” said one cab driver of four years. “They shouldn’t even exist,” said another driver, who argued that “if we couldn’t get rid of them,” Uber and Lyft should only be able to pick up pre-arranged rides like limousines (instead of on-demand hailing like taxis).

Over the last year, taxi association leaders acknowledged that animosity has turned into violence from cab drivers against their ride-sharing competitors. Last week, a former Lyft driver told me one reason he switched to Uber was because Lyft’s signature pink car mustache encouraged attacks against him and his car. “You get physical confrontations between legal cab drivers and cabs who are trying to steal our fares,” explained Kornengold. “We don’t condone any physical attacks, but we’re all human and people get angry when they’re stolen from.”

The protests over the legality and safety of ride-share startups was entirely preventive. No one could give an example of where an accident with Uber or Lyft resulted in an unfair legal outcome for a consumer. “None have happened yet, but it’s going to any day,” contends lawyer Christopher Dolan, who says he’s trying “to forestall a disaster.”

Two days ago, I got into a Twitter debate over a post I’d written on why labor unions were not generally accepted in Silicon Valley. I presented survey data demonstrating that unions often begrudgingly accept innovation, prioritizing jobs over technological advancement. On the same day of the protests, the California Public Utilities Commission proposed new guidelines that would allow ride-sharing startups to become properly regulated with safety and insurance standards. If the protests yesterday were really about consumers, and not protectionist policies for cabs, we won’t see Taxi associations fight these new guidelines. Time will tell what their true intentions are.

The Essential: Manning (Partly) Not Guilty, Aaron Swartz MIT Doc, An Anti-NSA Bill, Colbert On British Porn Filters

Manning Not Guilty, Kinda Of [TechCrunch]
–Wikileaks leaker, Bradley Manning, was aquitted of the most serious charge, Espionage, but was found guilty on 19 other counts,and could face over 100 years in Prison

Aaron Swartz Case Deepens [Lessig Blog V2]
–MIT’s report on fallen hacktivist, Aaron Swartz, exonerated the university for most wrong doing, but found that MIT never thought Swartz hacking was “unauthorized”
–“If indeed Aaron’s access was not “unauthorized” — as Aaron’s team said from the start, and now MIT seems to acknowledge — then the tragedy of this prosecution has only increased.

New Anti-NSA Bill [The Hill]
–Representatives Amash and Conyers have introduced a bill to make dragnet surveillience illegal, the LIBERT-E Act
–“The Conyers-Amash bill would require the government show “specific and articulable” facts that the phone records are material to the investigation and “pertain only to individuals under such investigation.”

Colbert Takes On Porn Filters

–Steven Colbert has some choice words for Britain’s new anti-porn Internet filters. Begins @3:25

More TechCrunch

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

2 hours ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more