From Tuesday, February 28th through Friday, March 3rd, teams will work remotely on the their projects. Participants will be able to get live support from the GM teams from 6:00 p.m. through 9:00 p.m. on those days.
The grand prize will be a trip to GM headquarters in Detroit for all the members of the winning team. There will also be prizes for runners-up.
GM’s NGI SDK in action. Click the photo to read TechCrunch’s story on it.
Instrument panel measurements, such as trip odometer, orientation, and vehicle speed
GPS and navigation data
Audio playback and streaming
Status information, such as presence of passengers or if the windows are open or closed
Vehicle features, such as radio or backup camera
Performance and maintenance data, such as oil life and tire pressure
Warning indicators, such as a burnt-out lightbulb or low washer fluid
Internet data via OnStar’s 4G LTE
The NGI SDK also has a system that simulates real vehicle data so that you can test your apps on your development machine.
I’ve heard a lot of jokes about building software, but this one’s new to me! And yes, it’s funny because it’s true — we’ve all seen projects where the one thing that seems to be set in stone is the delivery date.
A manager was asking women working at Uber for sex. “On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t.”
The manager wasn’t disciplined because it was a “first offence” and he was a “high performer”. “When I reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense, and that they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to.”
Fowler talked to other women at Uber and found they’d be asked for sex by the same manager. “It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being ‘his first offense,’ and it certainly wasn’t his last.”
She tried to transfer to another department, but her transfer was blocked because of her “undocumented performance problems”. “I pointed out that I had a perfect performance score, and that there had never been any complaints about my performance. I had completed all OKRs on schedule, never missed a deadline even in the insane organizational chaos, and that I had managers waiting for me to join their team … I kept pushing, until finally I was told that ‘performance problems aren’t always something that has to do with work, but sometimes can be about things outside of work or your personal life.’”
Her manager threatened her with dismissal for reporting issues to HR. “California is an at-will employment state, he said, which means we can fire you if you ever do this again. I told him that was illegal, and he replied that he had been a manager for a long time, he knew what was illegal, and threatening to fire me for reporting things to HR was not illegal. I reported his threat immediately after the meeting to both HR and to the CTO: they both admitted that this was illegal, but none of them did anything. (I was told much later that they didn’t do anything because the manager who threatened me ‘was a high performer’).”
“I have just read Susan Fowler’s blog. What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. It’s the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations. We seek to make Uber a just workplace and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber — and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.”
Michael was particularly focused on one journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. Lacy recently accused Uber of “sexism and misogyny.” She wrote that she was deleting her Uber app after BuzzFeed News reported that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service. “I don’t know how many more signals we need that the company simply doesn’t respect us or prioritize our safety,” she wrote.
At the dinner, Michael expressed outrage at Lacy’s column and said that women are far more likely to get assaulted by taxi drivers than Uber drivers. He said that he thought Lacy should be held “personally responsible” for any woman who followed her lead in deleting Uber and was then sexually assaulted.
Then he returned to the opposition research plan. Uber’s dirt-diggers, Michael said, could expose Lacy. They could, in particular, prove a particular and very specific claim about her personal life.
Michael ended up having to apologize to Sarah Lacy publicly…
@sarahcuda I would like to apologize to you directly. My comments were wrong and I deeply regret them.
Renee Atwood is either the least self interested person in Silicon Valley or she knows something about Uber the rest of us don’t.
Until Wednesday, Atwood was the head of HR for Uber, a job she’d taken after four years at Google. Hers should have been the easiest job in Silicon Valley: Head of HR for the highest valued, more anticipated IPO candidate we’ve seen since Facebook. The unicorn-iest unicorn in an era of more than 150 unicorns.
She joined Uber in 2014– when the company’s valuation was a “mere” $13 billion, compared to near $70 billion today. Smart bet. When she joined Uber had just 600 employees– what Google had in year five. Today it has more than 5,000. By all metrics she seems to have done an amazing job in a period of insane hyper growth.
So let’s recap:
After years at Google Atwood jumps to the next hottest thing: Check!
In just two years the value of the company she joined has jumped from $13 billion to close to $70 billion indicating a massive, massive payday coming for her: Check!
She’s the gatekeeper between every young aggressive candidate who wants to be part of the hottest company in all startups and her only job is to vet the right ones: Check!
That story sounds like a senior manager’s Silicon Valley dream.
And then what happened Wednesday? Atwood announced she was leaving Uber…. For Twittter.
Not Airbnb. Not even a troubled decacorn like Dropbox or Pinterest. Not even a still surging goliath like Facebook.
Twitter. The company that can’t seem to keep a head of product. The place “with no plan B.” Atwood left what should be the easiest job in HR in Silicon Valley for what should be one of the hardest. It’s like leaving as Facebook’s head of HR just before the IPO to go to Yahoo. Even without knowing the specifics of her contract at either place it’s safe to say Renee Atwood just turned down a major potential payday for one of the most thankless jobs in tech.
Sources close to the situation confirm that Atwood was not pushed. She was recruited away by Twitter. The sound you just heard was Uber CEO Travis Kalanick punching the wall in his famous “war room.”
Where to start with the news other than that it’s a colossally bad sign for Uber?
“A couple of female engineers…they don’t do much hardcore backend work or anything”
Here’s a tweet from 2015:
The person who tweeted deleted their original account and now has a protected one, because the whistleblowing in the tech and corporate worlds seems to follow this pattern:
The whistle is blown.
People rally around the whistleblower at first.
Soon, the “Did the whistleblower go too far?” stories appear.
A little less than a year ago I had the “pleasure” to interview at Uber. I didn’t know much about the company at the time, other than that they were big. I was looking for work already and Uber’s recruiter reached out to me, so I figured to give it a shot.
…and closes with:
Hopefully Uber will be able to grow up into a professional and respectful place of employment. Until then I am sticking with Lyft, even if it costs me a few dollars extra.
Uber is not without controversy and misunderstanding. I see this, know this, and am vigilant about this. Facebook too, in its early days, was not without controversy. The future arrives in mysterious and abrupt ways, and in the present, is often a messy and rambunctious guest.
…Uber has certainly had its fair share of criticism in its pursuit of the future, but it is not nostalgic. It is competitive, fierce, and entrepreneurial — and these are traits that I’ve found in most of the companies that I’ve rooted for over the past ten years living and working in Silicon Valley.
I interpreted this as “They have a reputation for being terrible, but the future is made by terrible people! Stock options ahoy!”
She found that the expenses take a significant slice of an UberX’s driver’s money, and once you factor them in, an UberX driver is making cabbie wages — or less.
To help their driver partners (remember, they’re not employees) get cars, they partnered with a predatory auto title loan company
Until 2015, Uber had a relationship with Santander Bank, who provided financing for “driver-partners” (not employees) who needed cars, but had to drop it when it became clear that Santander was making expensive subprime loans and illegally repossessing cars financed for U.S. Armed Forces veterans.
In late 2015, they partnered with Westlake Financial, whose subsidiary Wilshire Consumer Credit, has a reputation for providing predatory auto title loans and had been hit with $44 million in fines and restitution by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for “deceiving consumers by calling under false pretenses, and using phony caller ID information, falsely threatening to refer borrowers for investigation or criminal prosecution, and illegally disclosing information about debts to borrowers’ employers, friends, and family.”
And if you think Uber treats their tech employees and drivers (who aren’t really employees) badly, wait until you see what they’ve done to the competition!
The most recent target that Kalanick has had in his crosshairs is rival ride-sharing app Lyft, which attaches giant pink mustaches to the grilles of its cars. Kalanick readily admits to trying to tamper with a recent fund-raising round that Lyft was doing.
“We knew that Lyft was going to raise a ton of money,” says Kalanick. “And we are going [to their investors], ‘Just so you know, we’re going to be fund-raising after this, so before you decide whether you want to invest in them, just make sure you know that we are going to be fund-raising immediately after.’ ”
Worth watching: Cracked’s video, Why Uber is a Terrible Company Run by Maniacs
If you haven’t watched it yet, take a 12-minute break and watch this insightful people from the people at Cracked:
Uber is what you get when you take Silicon Valley’s most toxic values, add billions of dollars in venture capital, and spice it with endless adoration from a fawning tech press. The resulting cocktail has turned as putrid as it’s been potent. And the inebriated corporate culture of Uber is acting as reckless and callous as a dangerous drunk.
If you feel like canceling your Uber account after reading Fowler’s story and all the background info above, the steps for doing so are listed above. As he writes (the emphasis is mine):
So it’s time for the consumers of Uber to do what its board, venture capitalist-backers, and royal protectors never will: Impose real consequences on Uber for its appalling behavior. Because without the approval of riders, Uber is nothing. None of the billions of dollars in funding will do anything to save them, if enough people say “enough” and stop using the app.
I get that may well be a bit inconvenient at times. And alternatives like Lyft may not be squeaky clean either. But these are all excuses for people trying to avoid the bare minimum a consumer can do when faced with a company that repels it: Stop buying. It’s really that simple. You don’t have to print any signs, you don’t even have to go to a rally, just #DeleteUber, and you’ll sleep just that tiny bit better tonight.
It’s an easy argument to make. Tampa Bay’s cities — Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater — don’t have the sort of entrepreneurial or tech cachet that other places, from the usual suspects Silicon Valley, Austin, and Seattle to upstarts like Raleigh and Boulder. They’re overshadowed by other Floridian cities: Miami and Orlando, places that are known even internationally. The bay geographically fractures the area, and the locals see the bridges as barriers that prevent them from visiting their nearby sister cities. What could the well-intentioned team behind Tampa Bay Startup Week 2017 possibly hope to accomplish?
If we — the organizers and we, the people for whom they organize this annual event — play our cards right, their accomplishments could be bigger than anyone dreamed. This sort of thing has been done before, quite notably in 1976, at a seemingly unremarkable event in a failing city in England that would later be known as “The Gig That Changed the World”.
Manchester, 1976: The Gig That Changed the World
The Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England.
You could draw a number of parallels between Manchester, England and Detroit, Michigan, especially in the 1970s. Both were cities that grew to become industrial powerhouses in the first part of the 20th century, and both saw their fortunes decline drastically and become bleak urban wastelands after World War II. Both would also end up changing the course of music history in unexpected ways.
The Sex Pistols: Glen Matlock, Johnny Rotten, and Steve Jones in 1976.
In June of 1976, a still relatively unknown band called the Sex Pistols played a concert at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall. There were a mere 42 people, which is respectable for a band that plays at your local bar on a Tuesday night, but it doesn’t seem like the sort of gig that would “change everything”, until you consider who was in attendance and what they did afterwards:
Devoto would later form the post-punk band Magazine, who would influence ’80s acts Ministry and Peter Murphy as well as late ’90s acts Radiohead and Jarvis Cocker (lead vocalist from Pulp).
Shelley went solo, during which time he recorded the synth-pop single Homosapien with producer Martin Rushent. The experience doing all the drum machine and synth programming for that single would serve Rushent well, as his next project was The Human League’s ground-breaking album Dare! (the one with their big single, Don’t You Want Me).
Hannett who would go on to become a legendary record producer.
Steven Patrick Morrissey was also in attendance. He’d ditch his first two names and go on to become the King of Mope and lead vocalist of The Smiths, who would go on to inspire just about every emo rock band that followed.
And finally, three young men named Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook. Inspired by the performance, Hook would buy his first guitar, and the three would form a band named the Stiff Kittens, which would later go by the name Warsaw, after which they’d finally settle on the name Joy Division. They would go on to become one of the best-known and influential New Wave bands. After Curtis’ suicide, the remaining members who would go on to become New Order, who’ve influenced anyone who’s ever plugged in a MIDI cable into a synthesizer. To this day, New Order’s Blue Monday is the best-selling 12″ single of all time.
The headlining act (the Sex Pistols) and the organizers (who’d go on to form the Buzzcocks) of this poorly attended, seemingly insignificant gig were so influential that they’d end up in Jack Black’s lesson in School of Rock…
…and the concertgoers from that gig would go on to build the foundations of alternative rock and influence a lot of people who took up the electric guitar, synthesizer, or turntables.
In theory, this concert should’ve amounted to nothing, but in the end it changed everything in the music world.
The Gig That Changed the World brought together people with similar interests who were passionate about what they did. Its attendees saw that popular music was changing, and after being inspired by a group of troublemakers, decided that they could be part of that change. They went on to create music their way, and they made their mark on the world.
Tampa / St. Petersburg 2017: The week that could change the world
The people behind Tampa Bay Startup Week (the 2015 team is pictured above) may not look punk rock, but they’ve most certainly got its DIY, “we have an idea and we’re going for it” spirit. Like the Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto organizing the Sex Pistols gig, they’re a band of troublemakers putting on an event on a shoestring budget (yes, Chase is sponsoring, but without them, the budget would likely go from shoestring to none), and at the moment, it isn’t being noticed by most of the world outside “the other bay area”.
Like the music scene in Manchester the mid-late 1970s, the work-life dynamic in Tampa Bay in the mid-late 2010s is undergoing some big changes:
The team at Tampa Bay Startup Week have done their part by organizing their event for Tampa and St. Pete, just as Shelley and Devoto did back in 1976 by bringing the punk rock to Manchester. How the rest of the story ends is up to us.
I’ll repeat what I said at the start of this article: In theory, Tampa Bay Startup Week should amount to nothing. In practice, and as shown by music history, if we take inspiration from the event, make friends and connections, and take action, it could be that gathering that changed the world.
This year’s Tampa Bay Startup Week is living up to its name by taking place on both sides of Tampa Bay, with many of the big events on the Tampa side on Monday, February 13th through Wednesday, February 15th, followed by big events on the St. Petersburg side on Thursday, February 16th through Friday, February 17th.
Tampa Bay Startup Week brings together entrepreneurial types in the Tampa Bay area — techies, creatives, marketers, and businesspeople — to highlight the opportunities and resources available to them, bring them together, provide the ideas and inspiration, and help grow the local self-starter business scene.
Chase doesn’t sponsor just any city’s Startup Week. To qualify, it’s got to meet the criteria of density, government regulations, culture, talent, and access to said talent. In Money’s 2015 roundup of the 5 best big cities, they named Tampa the best city in the southeast. It’s got great weather, an airport that punches above its weight class, low cost of living (moving here was like getting a big raise, there’s no state income tax, the median house price is low compared to most U.S. cities), and as I’ve posited before, the “Florida Man” factor is actually a blessing in disguise:
Tampa Bay still has a long way to go if it wants to become a haven for startups, entrepreneurship, and technological development, but it does have a lot of the raw material and right elements, combined with easy access to beaches, Disney, the Space Coast, and a beautiful subtropical climate.
I’ll be catching the kickoff party at the Rialto Theater, which will feature Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Michele Grace from Chase (who are sponsoring Tampa Bay Startup Week), and Tampa Bay Startup Week organizers Trey Steinhoff, Gracie Leigh Stemmer, and Ryan Sullivan. The Rialto is a beautiful space, and it’s worth checking out, especially if you’ve never been there before.
I work in the internet of things space, so plan to catch a couple of the IoT talks on Tuesday morning:
Thursday’s big evening event features a panel of local founders who’ve managed to raise at least $1 million for their companies — the CEOs of Presence (formerly Check I’m Here), PikMyKid, and PeerFit — who’ll share what they’ve learned on their path to their successes.
Tampa Bay Startup Week will wrap up Friday evening with a closing party in St. Pete at another great space: Nova 535. St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman will speak, as will Startup Week organizer Gracie Leigh Stemmer.