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.
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
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?