April 20, 2012 in News

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Mozilla Names Firefox OS Co-Founder Andreas Gal As Its New CTO

April 24, 2014 in News, TechCrunch

Andreas-Gal_Mozilla-Final_9_24_131 When Mozilla named JavaScript inventor Brendan Eich as its new (and short-lived) CEO, it left the CTO position Eich previously occupied unfilled. Today, Mozilla announced that Andreas Gal will become its new CTO. Most recently, he was Mozilla's Director of Research and later VP of Mobile and Research. Read More

The Tool Your Nonprofit Needs the Most

April 24, 2014 in Entrepreneur Magazine, News

After your nonprofit is up and running, a strategic plan will help you keep it in business and moving forward.

FCC to Propose Controversial New Rules on Net Neutrality

April 24, 2014 in Entrepreneur Magazine, News

The new rules would reportedly allow ISPs to charge content providers for a faster, separate pipeline into customers' homes, effectively ending net neutrality.

UberX allegedly hired a convicted felon with a 20-year rap sheet. So much for those improved background checks

April 24, 2014 in News, Pando Daily


Travis Kalanick’s day may be about to get a whole lot worse. NBC4 LA is currently running a promo for their 11 pm news show which includes a segment on Uber that looks like it’s out of “To Catch a Predator.”

“Your mother warned you not to do it,” the husky-voiced narrator intones ominously. “But a popular app lets you catch rides from strangers without a clue who’s behind the wheel.” What comes next is less than reassuring news: NBC LA claims it reverse-engineered a criminal driver.

That is to say, the investigative team says it found a reformed convict with a 20-year “rap sheet” of burglary, cocaine possession, and assault. They then had this person apply to be an UberX driver and — uh oh — she passed the background check with flying colors and was approved. With her face blurred out, this person describes one of her former crimes, “I pulled a girl out of a car and almost beat her to death.”

For the full story viewers will have to turn into NBC LA at 11 pm or watch it online around midnight at www.nbcla.com.

This of course wouldn’t be the first case of an UberX driver with a criminal record the company missed in its background checks. As Pando has previously reported, an SF driver who allegedly assaulted a passenger had served prison time for a felony but slipped through the company’s checks. The Chicago Tribune then found another UberX driver, this time from Chicago, who passed the company’s checks despite having a felony and two misdemeanors to his name.

But, assuming NBC’s story is accurate, this is the first big expose of a driver with a criminal record since the company claimed to have expanded its background checks. It brings up the issue of whether these new checks are doing their job. Has Uber has exaggerated their efficacy?

After consumer complaints and several investigations, Uber’ introduced these expanded background checks back in February. The company claimed it started employing a service to send someone in person to pull records at courts when they weren’t available online, as is the case in many districts. It also started running county level — instead of just state level — checks. At the time, Uber said “[We] are committed to maintaining industry-leading policies.”

But unfortunately that may not be enough. The Uber driver featured in NBC’s investigation applied in early February for the job and was notified she had passed the background check in early March. That’s a full month after Uber announced its new checks.

There’s no reason for this driver to have passed the checks, because Uber required even older drivers to come get re-vetted. Their blog post announcing the news said, “This expanded program also involves running county and federal background checks on all existing rideshare partners who have not yet cleared these additional checks.”

Again assuming that NBC’s reporting is good, this is an Alexander-level terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Uber. It also raises the relentless question that has refused to go away: Why the hell is Uber still not performing Live Scans — the official, government regulated, fingerprint based background checks required for most taxi companies? Pando has asked Uber this again and again without getting a satisfactory answer. It may be leading the ridesharing industry in terms of safety practices, but given that the company is increasingly taking over the taxi sector, it needs background checks that are just as good as that industry too.

At the time of publishing Uber had not responded to Pando’s requests for comment [~1 hour prior to publishing]. We’ll update this story if and when we hear back.

[Illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]

Lyft Gets a Serious Lift: Uber Competitor Expands to 24 More Cities

April 24, 2014 in Entrepreneur Magazine, News

Fresh off of a $250 million round of funding, the ride-sharing company is venturing into new markets.

How Do You Take Your Eggs? This Startup Likes Them ‘Golden’

April 24, 2014 in Entrepreneur Magazine, News

The Golden Goose, a kitchen gadget that scrambles raw eggs within their shells, has nearly surpassed its $34,500 Kickstarter goal in one week.

The North Star to Guide Your Startup: Core Values

April 24, 2014 in Entrepreneur Magazine, News

A set of beliefs can guide a young company as it chooses new staff and lays a strong foundation for the future.

Midlife Crisis? Ronald McDonald Gets a Makeover, Joins Twitter

April 24, 2014 in Entrepreneur Magazine, News

On the heels of a disappointing earnings report, McDonald's announced its mascot is getting a new look and joining social media.

Storyful’s Verification Tech Could Stop Fake News From Spreading On Facebook

April 24, 2014 in News, TechCrunch

10298427_663458093689772_4707351582710444803_o Twitter is the king of real time news, but people's eagerness to retweet juicy stories sometimes outweighs their willingness to verify the facts, leading them to parrot misinformation. That's why the most intersting thing about Facebook partnering with Storyful to create a Newswire isn't about refferals or helping journalists find things to cover. It's about making the Internet more truthful. Read More

Mobile showdown: Revealing the drugs of choice and other insights into the interests of iOS and Android users

April 24, 2014 in News, Pando Daily

Inside the Brains

With mobile now the dominant computing platform, the platform war between iOS and Android remains a central battleground. Android may have won the masses, thanks in part to its ubiquity and availability on low-cost devices, but Apple appears to be winning the premium consumers. The question is, how accurate are these broad generalizations and how much more granular can we make our analysis of mobile users?

To do this, Pando worked with Gravity, the recently-acquired interest graphing company for the second in a series of studies – the first focusing on bitcoin – drawing from the company’s detailed (but anonymized) profiles on more than 200 million global internet users. Gravity is capable of analyzing the content these users consume online and, more specifically, the way in which they engage with that that content. That includes analyzing users’ corresponding social behavior, including liking, sharing, and commenting in order to map with a high degree of accuracy the subjects that individual users care about.

Turning its attention to the iOS versus Android debate, Gravity reveals that iOS fans are more interested than average in media and consumer platforms including Kindle Fire (25.03-times more interested), Sonos (22.25X), Roku (21.69 times more interested), Angry Birds (14.99X), Pinterest (5.35X), Tumblr (3.4X), and HBO (2.85X). On the other hand, Android fans over-index for Google Play (unsurprisingly, by 28.21X), Barnes & Noble Nook (24.52X), XBox Live (10.58X), Netflix (7.16X), and WhatsApp (6.83X).

Taking a more broad look at retail consumerism, iOS fans are 3.3-times more interested than average in online shopping, while Android fans are 20.12-times and 5.96-times more interested than average in Smart Watches and Virtual Reality.

On the business front, Android fans are more apt to show a strong interest in Evernote (16.65X), LinkedIn (6.90X), venture capital (5.44X), and corporate finance (3.85X). The only business topics to feature prominently for iOS fans are TechCrunch (13.55X) and Bitcoin (7.93X).

Interestingly, iOS fans demonstrate a slight affinity for dating at 0.12-times more interested than average, but a dislike of marriage at 0.37-times less interested. Android fans don’t index for either topic, but show a 0.43-times weaker interest than average in spirituality and 1.93-times greater than average interest in alcohol. iOS fans appear to be strongly interested in pot, 0.85-times more so than average, but slightly nonplussed in cocaine at 0.20-times less than average.

Both camps seem to have a general dislike of team sports, with iOS fans under-indexing for basketball (-0.65X) and football (-0.53X) in general, and Android fans showing more of a league bias against both the NFL (-0.49X) and NHL (-0.41X). Android fans are big yoga fans, at 2.86-times above average, but not too interested in running at 0.44-times less than average.

To be clear, Gravity doesn’t choose the topics against which to measure consumer interest. Rather, the company simply interprets the data based on these users’ media consumption patterns and lets the chips fall where they may.

In this case, the data doesn’t seem to support the conclusion that iOS users are any less sophisticated or financially well-off than Android users. Rather, it simply shows groups with different interests and preferences.

That said, the availability of interest data like this is the kind of thing that’s sure to have marketers and advertisers salivating. Just remember, if you want to attract iOS users, dating and marijuana will get you further than marriage and cocaine.

See the full Gravity mobile platform Interest Graph below:

Gravity iOS vs Android Interest Graph

Michael Carney

Michael Carney_PandoDaily
Michael Carney has spent his career exploring the world of early stage technology as an investor and entrepreneur and has participated in building companies in multiple countries within North and South America and Asia. Ultimately, he is an enthusiast of all things shiny and electronic and is inspired by those who build businesses and regularly tackle difficult problems. You can follow Michael on Twitter @mcarney.