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Uber's Underwhelming IPO, Lyft Earnings and More Car News This Week

Finally, after much ink spilled and many hours prognosticating, it happened: Uber started trading on the stock market. On Friday, after Uber execs rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, it was off to the races, and… not the greatest news for Uber. Instead of popping, Uber trended down for much of the day, ending nearly 8 percent below the $45 IPO price. The big question for potential buyers: Is Uber even a functional business yet? Or will it have to pull off the tricky task of building autonomous vehicle tech and putting its human drivers out of work to reach profitability? (Not coincidentally, some of those drivers went on strike this week to demand better wages and more transparency.)

Time will tell, as will the company’s first quarterly earnings report in a few months. Which, in fact, came for Lyft this week. The company lost $1.1 billion in the first quarter of 2019, but promised this would be its peak loss year.

Plus, we perused the bonkers amount of money people are pouring into self-driving right now, and took a white-knuckle racetrack ride with some robocar speed junkies. It’s been a week. Let’s get you caught up.

Headlines

Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week

A year ago, an Uber testing self-driving car struck and killed a woman. But the company’s future may rest on automated vehicles.

One thing you don’t want to hear from inside a self-driving race car as it preps to make a hairpin turn: “This one’s going to be a little fast.”

General Motors’ autonomous vehicle unit, Cruise, raises another $1.15 billion. Apparently, ‘tis the season for mind-blowing self-driving investments.

A global strike by ride-hail drivers Wednesday didn’t seem to affect Uber or Lyft service—but it did inject discussions of gig economy labor into America’s fractious political debate.

Lyft lost a lot of money in the first quarter of 2019. But the company also wants you to know that soon, 10 or so Waymo self-driving vehicles will operate on its ride-hail platform in Phoenix. (Yes, there will still be safety drivers in the front seat.)

Ride-hail IPO Gossip of the Week

Over at the New York Times, reporter Mike Isaac has a juicy look into the personal machinations that led up to Uber’s IPO—including the executives’ decision to leave former bad boy CEO Travis Kalanick off the New York Stock Exchange dais as they rang the bell to open trading.

Stat of the Week$1,299

So you’ve taken a shared scooter for a spin. Why not buy one? Bird, the largest of the scooter-share startups, is really hoping your inner dialogue sounds something like that. It’s now offering scoot addicts the chance to snap up their own for that hefty sum. Pick a color: jet black, dove white, or electric rose. Our questions: Does mean the “shared” craze is losing steam? Or is it just another experiment from the Silicon Beach startup?

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet

More on Uber’s disappointing first day on Wall Street.

Why would anyone invest in an unprofitable company? Peep this helpful explainer.

CEO Elon Musk makes changes to the Tesla Autopilot team.

Celebrate, but not too much: Delta is testing (and not yet rolling out) free WiFi.

President Trump outs, via tweet, ongoing negotiations between GM and the electric vehicle startup Workhorse over a factory in Ohio. But nothing signed yet.

Your worthwhile #longread of the week: Why San Francisco’s attempt to revamp its main boulevard via tech tax breaks hasn’t quite gone as planned.

Happy 150th birthday to the Transcontinental Railroad!

We all knew it would come to this.

In the Rearview

Essential stories from WIRED’s canon

In the summer of 2017, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi became the unlikely CEO of Uber. Contrary to the company’s roots, he planned to move slow and test things.

More Great WIRED StoriesThe hacker group on a supply-chain hijacking spreeMy search for a boyhood friend led to a dark discoveryLA’s plan to reboot its bus system using cell phone dataThe antibiotics business is broken, but there's a fixMove over, San Andreas: There’s a new fault in town💻 Upgrade your work game with our Gear team's favorite laptops, keyboards, typing alternatives, and noise-canceling headphones📩 Want more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss our latest and greatest storiesRead More



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