‘I’d go wherever they pay me to take them’: NFL lineman A.J. Francis joins Uber, wants to give you a ride in his Dodge Charger

One NFL player's drive to the Super Bowl goes through Uber. Miami Dolphins defensive tackle A.J. Francis just bought a new car and now wants to put it to work shuttling passengers around South Florida. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound NFLer told the Daily News that after being a user and fan of the crowd-sourced taxi app he applied to be a driver on Wednesday. "It would be a cool way to get some extra cash," admitted Francis, who signed with Miami as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maryland in 2013 and spent last season on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury. Pro athletes working part-time jobs during the offseason is as old as the games themselves. But in today’s billion-dollar business it’s a rare sight. "I've been using the app for two years," he told the News. "And every driver I talk to says it really helps supplement their income." Francis recently turned in his lease and purchased a muscular white Dodge Charger with black trim, something he envisions spinning around Fort Lauderdale in ferrying passengers up to four hours a day during the offseason. "I'd go wherever they pay me to take them," Francis joked. "The customer is always right." Even as a youngster, Francis looked for enterprising ways to earn cash around the Washington D.C. suburb of Severn, Md. "I always worked odd jobs," Francis said. "I mowed lawns in summer and shoveled snow in the winter. I got a job in a deli cutting meat. I was a bouncer at a night club in college." Organized team activities began Monday, so Francis, who lives near the Dolphins training facility in Davie, has been busy. He expects to be in the mix for playing time, even with the blockbuster acquisition of Ndamukong Suh. And he has yet to play in an NFL regular season game. Simply getting on the field is his motivation. "I want to be a major contributor on the team," Francis told the News. I'm hoping to Continue Reading

New York’s Tech Day attracts over 400 startups including Push for Pizza and Uber

Welcome to the science fair of startups. Thursday was the fourth annual Tech Day in New York City and more than 400 startups showed up to the event to display their services and products. There were startups from all sorts of verticals: music and media, fashion, health and fitness, education, food and ecommerce. Some of the startups that showed up at Pier 92 are well-known brands such as Uber, Push for Pizza and Elite Daily. Other startups—fairly new to the startup world—include Eat Arcade, Thirstie and DocChat. The New York Daily News Innovation Lab—an initiative aimed at engaging with thriving New York startups—was also present at the event. "This is a way to let people know that we're out here and let people know that we want to work with startups," said Cyna Alderman, managing director of the Daily News Innovation Lab. "Tech Day is a great way to bring together people who are doing very interesting things in different spaces. It's a really exciting environment to be in to get a sense of what is happening in the New York tech environment. " The Daily News Innovation Lab was also raffling tickets for its "Conversations" event, which brings together several media and tech companies to explore the evolving media landscape. Tech Day had more than 10,000 attendees this year. Aside from the press, other attendees were school groups, investors and tech enthusiasts looking for employment. Continue Reading

Chicago-area Uber driver accused of firing handgun at drunk passenger who threw rock through moon roof: reports

A Chicago-area Uber driver is accused of firing his handgun at a drunk rider who allegedly hurled a rock through his moon roof during an argument early Saturday, according to reports. Police say Marvin White, 44, picked up Alan Slawson, 20, and four other passengers in his BMW SUV at around 3 a.m., following a party in the suburban town of Rolling Meadows, the Chicago Tribune reported. Slawson got into the verbal altercation with White when he and two other passengers — all of whom were “very intoxicated” — exited the vehicle at Owl Dr. and Holly Ln. around a mile from where they got in, Rolling Meadows Police Chief Dave Scanlan told the town’s Daily Herald. The unruly rider allegedly grabbed a rock and threw it at the SUV, shattering its moon roof, according to the Tribune. White is accused of retaliating by firing his legally-owned semiautomatic handgun in Slawson’s direction, according to the Tribune. Police say Slawson and the two others ran away, but White started after them and fired another shot, reported the Tribune. No one was hit or injured in the incident. Police rushed to the scene and later arrested both White and Slawson. The driver is charged with aggravated discharge of a firearm and is incarcerated with a $75,000 bail, while Slawson faces property damage charges and is being held with a bail of $50,000, according to Cook County inmate records. Both are scheduled to appear in court on June 29, records show. Uber didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment early Wednesday. Follow on Twitter @tobysalkc Continue Reading

Uber will offer $5 rides while L train is shut down for repair

Suffering subway riders might find this an Uber-cool solution to suspended L-train service — $5 car rides. The MTA is closing the L line between Lorimer St. in Williamsburg and Eighth Ave. in Manhattan for five weekends so transit crews can do maintenance. The shutdown begins Friday at 11:30 p.m., with trains returning Monday at 5 a.m. During the outages, Uber is offering $5-per-person service between neighborhoods with the shuttered stations. The offer also is designed to promote an app. Travelers need to download the app, UberPool, to use the service. Continue Reading

Uber plans to create 1 million driver jobs for women by 2020

Better step on it!  Uber pledged to create 1 million driver jobs for women over the next five years worldwide, following a United Nations directive to accelerate gender equality, the ride-hailing service announced Tuesday. Only 22,400 of Uber's 160,000 drivers in the United States  — just 14% — are women, the company said. Uber intends to fix that disparity globally by 2020 in partnership with UN Women, a UN organization for gender equality, representatives told the Daily News. Together, the organizations hope to help bridge the gender gap in wages and earning potential. "This important mission can only be accomplished when all women have direct access to safe and equitable earning opportunities," Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in a statement. The unused global productive potential for women is valued at 48%, double that of men, the International Labor Organization found. Uber's announcement comes a day after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon challenged all governments to reach equality for women by 2030. He pointed to the disproportionate suffering of women from sexual violence, displacement during conflicts, persecutions and economic turmoil, according to the Associated Press. He said things can change only when mindsets do. Uber said it will focus on recruiting women. The company, now worth an estimated $40 billion, clearly expects to keep growing at a rate similar to that it has experienced in its first six years. UN Women and Uber representatives said they will weigh the steps that would be most effective, and develop a concrete plan. The groups said they will release more details in the coming months. The organizations plan to use their global pull. Uber operates in 55 countries and UN Women is present in 48. The joint announcement falls on the 20th anniversary of the Beijing conference, when delegates called for world gender equality by Continue Reading

2 Uber managers detained in France over low-cost service

PARIS — French authorities took two Uber managers into custody for questioning on Monday over “illicit activity” involving its low-cost service. The detentions came amid rising tensions between the government and the ride-hailing company, which culminated last week in a violence-marred taxi strike that blocked roads around the country. French authorities are frustrated that Uber doesn’t pay the same taxes and social charges as traditional taxis, whose drivers have lashed out against what they see as unfair competition. Uber, meanwhile, argues that the French system is outdated and needs reform to keep up with apps and geo-localization. Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday but officials last week vowed to keep operating the lowest-cost UberPop service until France’s top court rules on it. A spot check of the app on Monday showed drivers available in central Paris. Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, the Paris prosecutor’s spokeswoman, did not name the two Uber managers detained on Monday. The standoff reflects larger tensions in France over how to regulate fast-moving technology and stay globally competitive while ensuring labor protections. Uber has also run into legal problems elsewhere in Europe, as well as in China and India. Continue Reading

Uber, city taxi officials clash at public hearing over proposed car service rules

Uber and city taxi officials got into a head-on collision at a public hearing Thursday over proposed rules that the app-based car service feared would put the brakes on its operations. With Uber’s mounting criticism of the rules as stifling innovation and risking a citywide shutdown of the on-demand car provider, Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi pushed back on those “mischaracterizations” that confuses drivers and app users. “Misinformation only leaves them in the dark about the actual debate,” Joshi said at the packed hearing. “As a public servant, I find this disappointing.” Joshi apologized to Uber’s tech-savvy hacks for losing money by spending the morning protesting a “phantom ban” on cancelling pickup requests. The proposed rules include charging a $1,000 technology fee to car bases that use an app, requiring the TLC to review app changes that affect how it interacts with passengers and prohibiting drivers from unlawfully refusing a ride by cancelling a dispatch. Michael Allegretti, a public policy official at Uber, laid out all the potholes in the regulations to the commission, alleging that these rules would let one bad driver throw Uber’s operations into park. “They will be crushing to our thousands of drivers,” Allegretti told Joshi and her fellow taxi commissioners. Meanwhile, Lyft, a smaller competitor in the taxi app field, worried a proposed limit of devices a driver can use would give Uber a monopoly on the streets. Lyft, which dispatches cars sporting a pink moustache on dashboards, has many drivers who are already picking up fares for other car companies. Joshi, meanwhile, said through the hearing that there would be clarifications to the package of new rules. “This is a primary reason why we invited Uber and other stakeholders to submit language that they believe protects them and would still accomplish our regulatory Continue Reading

Uber driver nabbed for stealing $5K worth of jewelry from Orthodox Jewish couple: cops

A devious Uber driver sneaked away with $5,000 worth of jewelry from an Orthodox Jewish couple before cops caught up with him, police said. Juan Morales, 51, of Brooklyn, drove the pair from Borough Park to Williamsburg on April 3 to celebrate Passover, according to JP Updates, which first reported the story. The woman realized she left her handbag in the cab only after sundown, and, in observance of the Jewish holiday, could not contact authorities. When the couple called Morales on Sunday evening to retrieve the precious items, the thief denied any wrongdoing. After making a second call on Monday, the driver agreed to meet in Borough Park and return the jewelry for a cash reward. Morales was later arrested and charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, cops said. After learning about the incident, Uber removed Morales from its slate of drivers, said Lane Kasselman, head of the company’s communications for North America. “This is an unfortunate incident and we are gratified that the authorities were able to quickly apprehend the suspect,” he said. “We stand ready to assist them in any investigation.” A statement from Kasselman said Morales was operating on the Uber Black platform and had passed all TLC screening requirements prior to working for the car service. The statement said the company was not immediately notified of the theft. Continue Reading

Illegal street pickups in NYC could increase if Uber and Lyft allowed to operate in New York state, taxi driver advocate warns

Illegal street pickups could explode in the city if Uber and Lyft are allowed to operate in New York State, a taxi drivers’ advocacy group warns. Under a bill pending in Albany, the app-based drivers would use their personal cars outside of New York City. But they could roll in from the suburbs to drop off a passenger and snag street hails inside city lines, said Bhairavi Desai of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. “It’s impossible for the (Taxi and Limousine Commission) to enforce against all the illegal activities today,” said Desai, who’s leading a rally in Albany and Long Island Ctiy Tuesday against allowing the apps outside the city. Uber and Lyft contend its technology prevents its drivers from seeing potential pickups in areas they are barred from serving. “Smartphone dispatch is far more transparent to City authorities than the current system, making it easier to go after illegal taxis,” said Lyft, which had previously operated in Rochester and Buffalo, in a statement. TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg touted the agency’s ability to enforce laws banning illegal street pickups. The agency has 254 inspectors. Still, Fromberg said, “it would be difficult to say at this point how that level could change with an unregulated dynamic that may spillover into New York City.” Continue Reading

HBO Now, Uber team up for #RideofThrones experience: ‘Game of Thrones’ fans can get a chance to sit on the Iron Throne in NYC

New Yorkers: Spring is coming — and so is the Iron Throne. Uber has teamed up with HBO Now to celebrate the new stand-alone streaming service, which provides TV viewers access to HBO content, including the hit drama “Game of Thrones.” For those who’ve dreamed of taking over the Iron Throne from the warring clans of Westeros, they have the opportunity to do just that with Uber’s #RideofThrones experience. Taking place in Midtown Manhattan on Thursday and Friday, fans can summon the Iron Throne using the Uber app in two ways: They can request a visit from the throne encased in a glass truck (think of it as the Throne-mobile), or ask for a ride from a throne pedicab. Here’s how it works: When Uber users enter the promotion code “ThroneRides” in the Uber app, the HBO Now option will appear as an additional car selection. Riders can either choose “THRONE” to take photos with the throne in the glass truck or “PEDICAB” for a ride in the throne pedicab. Multiple Throne-mobiles and pedicabs will be reigning over Manhattan between 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the radius of 14th to 59th Sts. and Lexington to 9th Ave. (this includes both pick-up and drop-off). Fans are encouraged to share their photos with the throne on social media using the hashtags #RIDEOFTHRONES and #GETHBONOW. ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. Continue Reading