TIME Telecommunications

Hong Kong Billionaire Li Ka-shing Eyes British O2 Telecoms Network

Li Ka-shing, Victor Li
Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, right, and his son Victor Li, react during a press conference in Hong Kong Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. Vincent Yu—AP

Acquiring O2 may allow a merger with Li's Three mobile network

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing is negotiating to spend almost $15 billion to acquire O2, Britain’s second-largest mobile network.

Taking over O2, currently owned by Spain’s Telefonica, would allow Li, 86, to merge the company with Three mobile network, which is currently owned by his firm Hutchison Whampoa. That would create Britain’s largest mobile telecommunications group, reports the BBC.

Hutchison shares increased by 4% after reports of a potential deal emerged, but negotiations with Telefonica are expected to take weeks. The purchase may also be hampered if European industry regulators perceive the move infringes on competition protocols.

In a bid to restructure his business empire, which spans everything from telecommunications to ports, Li, who until he was overtaken by Alibaba boss Jack Ma this year was the richest man in Asia, has spent nearly $30 billion this year acquiring foreign assets to diversify his Hong Kong holdings.

[BBC]

TIME energy

Oil Prices Spike After Saudi King’s Death

King Abdullah waves as he arrives to open a conference in Riyadh.
King Abdullah waves as he arrives to open a conference in Riyadh on Feb. 5, 2005 Zainal Abd Halim—Reuters

Last month, Saudi Arabia pumped 9.5 million oil barrels a day, but uncertainty clouds the future of oil prices

Oil prices spiked following the death on Friday of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, whose country’s oil production is the largest of any state in the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a cartel responsible for approximately 40% of the global oil supply.

The monarch’s passing also increased oil futures in New York by 3.1 and London by 2.6, according to Bloomberg. As the globe’s biggest exporter of crude oil, Saudi Arabia helped maintain an OPEC production quota last year that helped keep oil prices low by ensuring a high supply of crude in the worldwide market. Prices nearly halved last year when OPEC’s output did not drop to reflect oversupply, as the U.S., the globe’s largest consumer of oil, pumped more oil than it had in over three decades.

“The passing of King Abdullah is going to increase uncertainty and increase volatility in oil prices in the near term,” said financial analyst Neil Beveridge in a phone interview with Bloomberg.

U.S. crude stockpiles jumped by 10.1 million barrels, its largest volume increase since early 2001, according to the Energy Information Administration’s reports up to Jan. 16.

Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz succeeds King Abdullah, who helmed the kingdom for nearly a decade and significantly enlarged Saudi Arabia’s economy, which is now the largest in the Arab world in terms of total GDP.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Food & Drink

Yelp Has Spoken: These Are the 100 Best-Reviewed Places to Eat in America

Yelp IPO Puts Consumer-Review Site up for Review
The Yelp Inc. logo is displayed in the window of a restaurant in New York, U.S. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Yelp's list of top-rated spots across the U.S. might surprise you

Yelp released its 2015 edition of the top 100 places to eat in the United States Thursday — and the list may surprise you.

Rather than displaying an array of Michelin-starred establishments, the list is made up of food carts, delis and feel good BBQ spots that rarely exceed the “$$” price range. This could be because rankings were determined based on consumer reviews. (And who doesn’t like getting more bang for your buck?)

Here’s a sampling of the top 10:

1. Copper Top BBQ – Big Pine, CA
2. Art of Flavors – Las Vegas, NV
3. Soho Japanese Restaurant – Las Vegas, NV
4. TKB Bakery and Deli – Indio, CA
5. Ono Seafood – Honolulu, HI
6. Shark Pit Maui – Lahaina, HI
7. Gaucho Parilla Argentina – Pittsburgh, PA
8. Bobboi Natural Gelato – La Jolla, CA
9. Golden Bear Trading Company – San Francisco, CA
10. Little Miss BBQ – Phoenix, AZ

Check out the rest of the list at Yelp.

TIME Companies

Amazon Is Making It Easier to Publish Your Own Kindle Textbooks

Amazon.com Illustrations Ahead Of Earnings
The Amazon.com Inc. homepage and Amazon Kindle logo are displayed on laptop computers in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The commerce giant is moving further into the education market

Amazon announced Thursday that it’s making it possible for authors to create and distribute digital textbooks using its self-publishing tool, Kindle Direct Publishing.

The e-commerce giant expects the new initiative mostly to be used by independent authors, particularly those who have regained the rights to their textbooks, or smaller publishers. The self-published textbooks, Amazon expects, would be purchased and read mostly by higher education students.

“A professor might have an extra packet for their class that they could upload and make digitally available,” says a spokeswoman for Amazon.

Textbook writers will be paid on Amazon’s familiar royalty scheme: for all textbooks priced under $9.99, authors will earn 70% of the royalties. For all textbooks $10 and over, authors receive just 35%. That model helps Amazon encourage authors to price their books under $10. However, it’s unclear whether that model will disadvantage writers of textbooks, which are traditionally much more expensive than your average novel or non-fiction book.

For readers, Amazon says the new feature means they will be able to interact with more textbooks in a deeper way. Digital textbooks allow readers to highlight sections of text, add passages or images to a virtual notebook, create flashcards and click on words to look them up in a dictionary.

Amazon’s new initiative comes as technology companies and publishers explore new options in the education market to make up for slowing textbook sales. Publishers like McGraw-Hill and Prentice Hall are investing in adaptive learning software, while Apple is pushing its iBooks textbook platform. With the launch of textbook self-publishing, Amazon is moving deeper into a coveted market with a familiar approach for the company: do it yourself and skip the publisher.

“It’s a tool to help them push more into the eduction market. You’re using their app now,” says Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial. “It slows the iPad march.”

Amazon’s textbook sales have been lagging as of late. When its North American book and media sales posted their slowest growth in more than five years in the third quarter of 2014, Amazon Senior Vice President Tom Szkutak put the blame on readers switching from buying textbooks to renting them. Amazon now says its goal is to get more books into digital form — healthy sales of self-published textbooks could help offset physical textbooks’ tepid performance.

TIME stocks

European Stimulus Encourages Gain in U.S. Stocks

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi meets the press at the European Central Bank Headquarters in Frankfurt on Jan. 22, 2015.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi meets the press at the European Central Bank Headquarters in Frankfurt on Jan. 22, 2015. Horacio Villalobos—Corbis

Thursday’s strong gains turn the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite positive for 2015

—Wall Street soared Thursday, with U.S. stocks chalking up their fourth straight day of gains, as the world’s stock markets cheered a European Central Bank stimulus program worth more than one trillion euros.

ECB president Mario Draghi said the central bank will buy a total of 60 billion euros in assets every month in an effort to stimulate the region’s economy that is reminiscent of the stimulus program put into place several years ago by the U.S. Federal Reserve. (Fortune took an in-depth look at the ECB’s larger than expected quantitative easing earlier today.) London’s FTSE 100 improved by 1% following the news on Thursday while Germany’s DAX rose 1.3%.

Investors readying for a rise in global liquidity initially lifted U.S. Treasuries, whose relatively rich yields grew more attractive with prospects of lower euro zone bond yields, before they turned lower at midsession.

“It’s likely to impact yields everywhere,” said Aaron Kohli, an interest rate strategist at BNP Paribas in New York. “When you put this much stimulus into the markets, it’s going to go other places that you hadn’t intended, and one of those places is going to be U.S. debt.”

U.S. stocks rallied, with the Dow Jones industrial average jumping 260 points, or 1.5%. The Dow finished at 17,814, just a few points below where it started 2015. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite gained 1.5% and 1.8%, respectively, in a day that saw both indices wipe out all previous losses for 2015 seen earlier in January.

U.S. stocks have had a turbulent start to the year as low oil prices and concern over economic growth overseas have wreaked havoc on investor confidence and sent stocks on several losing streaks.

A handful of strong quarterly earnings reports also gave the U.S. market a boost on Thursday as shares of Southwest Airlines and railroad company Union Pacific both surged on strong financial numbers. EBay’s shares also gained 7% one day after the e-commerce giant announced massive job cuts and a standstill agreement with activist investor Carl Icahn.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Economy

Europe’s Economic Band-Aid Won’t Cure What Really Ails It

Prime Minister David Cameron Tries To Take A Harder Line with Europe
E.U. flags are pictured outside the European Commission building in Brussels on Oct. 24, 2014 Carl Court—Getty Images

Quantitative easing is a good start, but it won't fix the Continent's underlying wounds

Markets always love a money dump, which is why European stocks are now rallying on news that the European Central Bank will purchase 1.1 trillion worth of euro-denominated bonds between now and September 2016. Bond yields are dropping, implying less risk in the European debt markets. And the value of the euro itself is falling, which should make European exports more competitive, which could in turn bolster the European economy over all.

All good, right? For now, yes, it is all good.

But let’s remember that central bank quantitative easing (QE) of the kind that Europe is now embarking on is always just a Band-Aid on economic troubles, not a solution to underlying structural issues in a country (or in this case, a region). Just as the Fed’s $4 trillion QE money dump bolstered the markets but didn’t fix the core problems in our economy—growing inequality, a high/low job market without enough work in the middle, flat wages, historically low workforce participation—so the ECB QE will excite markets for a while, but it won’t mend the problems that led Europe to need this program to begin with.

Those consist primarily of a debt crisis stemming from the lack of real political integration within the EU. Right now, Europe has a currency and an economic union that exists in a kind of fantasy land, with no underlying political unity. Until the Germans start acting more European (meaning creating a consumption society and realizing that they’ll have to do some fiscal transfers to struggling peripheral nations in exchange for the huge export benefits they get from the euro), and countries like Spain, Italy, Portugal and France start making the changes they really need (all the usual stuff—labor market reforms, cutting red tape, fighting corruption, opening up service markets), the debt crisis won’t go away.

Indeed, the challenge now is for countries is to use the breathing room that the ECB has given them to really come together over the next 18 months and make those reforms happen while committing to a truly integrated Europe. Germany should say it will unequivocally back peripheral nations financially in exchange for a promise of real reforms in those nations. (There should also be tough penalties for failure on both sides of the bargain.)

That will be tough for sure, but Europe will find itself in an even worse place come September 2016 if it doesn’t take action now. Post QE, without any real structural reform, the EU will simply have an even more bloated balance sheet, and the market will exact punishment for it. For a historical lesson on this, look to the many emerging market crises of the past where countries tried to spend themselves out of their problems without doing underlying reforms; it always ends in a stock market crash, a financial crisis, and plenty of tears.

The buck has stopped for Europe. The ECB has called policy makers’ bluff. It’s time to create a real United States of Europe to match the common currency.

TIME Davos

The Coming Crisis Making the World’s Most Powerful People Blanch

TIME.com stock photos Money Dollar Bills
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

If global growth slows, as some predict it will, the globe is in for a lot of very big problems

The past 50 years have been the most exceptional period of growth in global history. The world economy expanded sixfold, average per capita income tripled, and hundreds of millions of people were lifted out of poverty. That’s the good news. But according to a new McKinsey report on the next 50 years of global growth revealed today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, it’s very unlikely that we’ll be able to equal that in the future. There are two main reasons for this gloomy conclusion: the global birthrate is falling dramatically and productivity is slowing. Economic growth is basically productivity plus demographics. The result? McKinsey is forecasting that if current trends continue, global growth will fall by 40% over the next half century, to around 2.1% year.

A while back, I wrote a column about what a 2% economy would mean for the U.S. Imagine if the whole world, including emerging markets that need much higher rates just to keep social unrest under control, were growing that slowly too. Not good.

McKinsey got a bunch of big brains—Larry Summers, Martin Sorrel, Martin Wolf, Laura Tyson, Michael Spence, and others—together to discuss all this and figure out some possible solutions. A few interesting points that came out: while we are in the middle of a digital revolution that seems to be disrupting nearly every aspect of business and the economy, not to mention our personal lives and culture, the revolution isn’t showing up in productivity numbers yet. Part of that could be that the way we measure productivity isn’t capturing everything that individuals are doing on their smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets. (It’s also worth noting that a lot of what is being created by individuals on those devices is free, which is an economic problem all its own, in the sense that only a few big companies like Facebook and Google and Twitter capture those creative gains, and they don’t create enough jobs to sustain what’s being lost in the economy.) There’s also the possibility that this “revolution,” simply isn’t as transformative, at least in terms of broadly shared economic growth, as those of the past—the Industrial Revolution or even the 1970s computer revolution. (For more on this, check out research by Northwestern University academic Robert Gordon, who is all over this topic.)

There are things we can do to boost productivity, like getting the private sector more involved in areas like education (for more, see The School That Will Get You a Job), and by allowing the gains from the internet of things (meaning the connection of all digital devices to each other) to filter through over the next few years. It’s not yet clear that will create more jobs though. Indeed, it may create jobless productivity which is a whole new challenge to cope with, one that might require bigger wealth transfers from the small number of wealthy people who do have jobs to the larger number of people who don’t. (Paging Thomas Piketty!)

There are some other ideas on the demographic side. Women are still dramatically underrepresented in the workforce in many countries. (One WEF study estimates it will take 81 more years for global gender parity at the current rate of change—argh!) Putting more of them to work could help a lot with growth; indeed, Warren Buffet once suggested to be that the federal government should provide inexpensive, partly federally funded child care to allow other women to take jobs higher up the food chain, this boosting economic growth. A win win.

Of course, this requires governments to take the lead on what can be politically contentious policy decisions, not easy when most politicians spend much of their terms trying to get reelected. Unfortunately short-termism is rife in the private sector too. CEO tenures are now five years on average and CFOs only last 3. All of which tends to lead to decision-making that benefits corporate compensation more than real economic growth.

Depressing, I know. But I saw one ray of hope when I ran into an emerging market CEO outside the panel, one who runs a family business that does planning in 10- to 20-year cycles rather than quarterly, investing quite a lot in areas like training and education. McKinsey research shows these types of firms will make up the biggest chunk of new global multinationals. Perhaps they can take the long view and come up with some better ideas about how to ensure global growth for the future.

MONEY Fast Food

McDonald’s Restaurant Owners Want to Banish These Menu Items

A customer carries McCafe cups and a bag of food
A customer carries McCafe cups and a bag of food inside a McDonald's restaurant in Oak Brook, Illinois. Tim Boyle—Bloomberg via Getty Images

If McDonald's franchisees have their way, some coffees, wraps, and Happy Meal options will disappear from menus.

By some account, 2014 is shaping up as McDonald’s worst year in three decades. Sales in the U.S. have grown an average of 5.6% annually over the last 30 years, according to industry publication Nation’s Restaurant News, yet it looks like domestic sales will have actually declined in 2014, marking the first time this has happened over that span.

In recent years, McDonald’s has been relentless in efforts to attract new customers—younger ones especially—and they’ve been adding menu items and customization options left and right in pursuit of that goal. It’s hard to determine the degree to which these efforts have been successful. What is clear, however, is that the menu has expanded to the point that it’s slowed down operations and arguably hurt profits. McDonald’s acknowledged as much last month when the fast food giant announced it would be removing some items from the menu in 2015.

The fact that the menu has become unwieldy is not news to McDonald’s restaurant owners and managers. They’ve been complaining for years that, among other issues, there are too many seasonal items and too many dollar menu options for restaurants to keep business humming along. These are supposed to be “fast” food operations, remember, and drive-thru wait times have consistently gotten slower in recent years.

But what parts of the McDonald’s menu should be done away with? Janney Capital Markets restaurant analyst Mark Kalinowski recently polled a few dozen McDonald’s franchisees about the menu items they’d most like to see disappear, and the owners—whose comments were published anonymously at Burger Business and MarketWatch—weren’t shy about voicing their opinions about the menu, as well as how the company has been doing as a whole.

“Operator morale is at the lowest I’ve seen in over 20 years,” one owner said. “Sales decreases are the new norm. Nothing exciting on the horizon. It looks like we’ll be down all year,” reads another comment. Still another chimed in:

“From an operator’s perspective, the financial future looks grim. Operations are overly complex. … A silly marketing campaign. Customers who are leaving us because even they can’t figure out what we are trying to be anymore.”

And another, specifically regarding the topic of scaling back the menu:

“Significant menu simplification is not happening as far as I can tell. Any operator could have, and many did, say that this needed to happen two years ago.”

As for specific menu items that they’d like to see targeted for termination or at least downsized, these stand out:

Happy Meal Options
Fast food kids’ meals have been bashed as unhealthy for years, and sales have fallen both because of the health factor and because ordering off the dollar menu is often a better value. To address these concerns, McDonald’s has drastically expanded Happy Meal options to include more fruits and vegetables and toy choices. At the same time, all the variations have created huge headaches for restaurants, because customers are confused and take an extra long time to place orders, and because it’s more difficult for employees to get the orders right. “Downsize Happy Meal choices,” one franchise owner said, flatly. “Happy Meals are a chore to ring up with all the options,” said another. “Perhaps corporate should make a decision on what a Happy Meal is and stop with complicating the choices.”

Espressos
During the Great Recession, McDonald’s saw a big opening into the coffee market, what with the potential for consumers to scale back on pricey Starbucks while still getting their “gourmet” caffeine fix. Hence the rise of McDonald’s McCafe line, and the larger quick-serve coffee wars, which now include McDonald’s periodically giving away coffee to draw in customers. Somewhere along the line, some franchisees have come to think of McCafe items—and espresso in particular—as too time-consuming to make and not profitable enough to keep on the menu. “Eliminate espresso drinks but keep the rest of McCafé,” one owner said.

McWraps
As the Wall Street Journal pointed out a few months ago, the Premium McWrap is a “showstopper” for restaurants because it comes with two choices of chicken, three options for sauces, and can’t be prepared in advance. So it’s no surprise owners would love to see this item removed from menus, or at least have the variations winnowed down significantly. “Downsize Premium McWraps down to one or two,” one owner suggested. “They take so long to make we already hope nobody orders them.”

Read next: Here’s How McDonald’s Makes Its French Fries

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Labor

Why This New McDonald’s Lawsuit Could Be Big Trouble for Fast Food

McDonald's
A sign for a McDonald's restaurant is seen in Times Square on June 9, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton—Getty Images

A new civil rights suit is holding McDonald's responsible for a franchise owner's actions

Former McDonalds workers filed a lawsuit Thursday that could put more responsibility on national restaurant chains for franchise owners’ actions.

The suit, filed in Virginia, alleges that a McDonald’s franchisee was acting in a racially motivated way when he fired several employees. But the workers are taking their grievances a step further by also suing McDonald’s national corporation, arguing the larger company is liable for the franchisee’s alleged actions.

The suit also comes just one month after the National Labor Relations Board took the unprecedented step of holding McDonald’s Corporation responsible as a “joint employer” for labor violations the agency says occurred at McDonald’s franchise locations. McDonalds is fighting the distinction.

Historically, national restaurant chains have been insulated from legal culpability for activities at franchised restaurants because the franchises are seen as independent businesses. This structure has been particularly useful in the last two years as fast food workers nationwide have gone on multiple one-day strikes demanding a $15 per hour living wage in coordinated, union-backed campaigns. By invoking its franchisees’ independence, McDonald’s doesn’t have to bargain with workers collectively or issue a wage increase that would affect all workers at once.

But Thursday’s lawsuit argues that McDonald’s franchises are “predominately controlled” by their corporate parent, as McDonald’s sets national policies for restaurant operations, corporate representatives oversee franchises and the national company coordinates training for all managerial employees. An operational manual issued to franchise owners specifically outlines a “zero tolerance” policy for discrimination, as well as a mandate against workplace remarks that demean individuals because of their race, sex or religion, according to the suit.

The ten workers involved in Thursday’s suit, all either black or Hispanic, claim their managers consistently addressed them in derogatory ways, calling them “ghetto,” “ratchet,” or “dirty Mexican.” Several female employees also say they were victims of sexual harassment that included being touched inappropriately and being sent unwanted explicit photos. The workers ultimately argue they were terminated from their jobs because the store owner wanted to increase the ratio of white employees to minority ones — supervisors said they needed “to get the ghetto out of the store,” according to the lawsuit.

The McDonald’s restaurants involved in the lawsuit are run by Soweva Corporation, a company owned by franchisee Michael Simon. However, Paul Smith, the plaintiffs’ legal counsel, says McDonald’s Corporation “could have put policies in place to stop what the plaintiffs endured.”

“We believe that McDonald’s Corporation controlled nearly every aspect of the store’s operations,” Smith said on a press call with reporters Thursday.

Soweva Corporation did not return a call seeking comment. In an emailed statement, a McDonald’s spokeswoman said the company had not seen the lawsuit, but planned to review it carefully.

“McDonald’s has a long-standing history of embracing the diversity of employees, independent Franchisees, customers and suppliers, and discrimination is completely inconsistent with our values,” the statement read. “McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants.”

Dave Sherwyn, a law professor at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, says more cases are likely to emerge that try to hold corporate chains responsible for the actions of franchisees. This is the tip of the iceberg,” Sherwyn says. “The next step is going to be in discrimination litigation and wage and hour litigation.”

 

TIME Companies

Uber Just Answered Everything You Want to Know About Your Driver

Uber
Gamma Nine Photography/Uber

Do Uber drivers go to college? How much do Uber drivers earn? How many hours do they work?

If you’ve ever sat in the back of an Uber car and wondered what it would be like to be the driver, ruminate no further.

Uber released a trove of data Thursday that answers pretty much every question you’ve ever had about the average Joe (or Jane) Uber driver. In a joint analysis by Princeton Professor of Economics Alan Krueger and Uber Head of Policy Research Jonathan Hall, Uber revealed its drivers’ average wages, education, race, and driving patterns. The data are based on aggregated data from Uber driving histories, schedules and earnings from 2012-2014, as well as a survey of 601 active drivers.

Basically, it’s every nosy question you ever had for Uber drivers, answered. So sit back in your seat, enjoy the passing scenery, and query away — Here are all your questions as answered by a hypothetical Uber driver, per the company’s own data:

Are you a man?

Probably. Only about 13.8% of Uber drivers are female. Comparatively, women make up nearly half of the overall U.S. workforce.

How old are you?

Unsurprisingly, we Uber drivers tend to be younger than the average U.S. worker, and much younger than the average taxi driver. A plurality of us are between 30-39 years old, compared with 22.5% in the regular work force and 19.9% among regular taxi drivers and chauffeurs.

Did you go to college?

We’re better educated than the average U.S. worker. About 37% of us Uber drivers have a college degree, versus 25.1% in the general work pool.

Why did you start driving Uber?

It’s likely I started driving for Uber as a temporary gig. About one-third of us started with Uber to earn money while looking for a steady, full-time job.

Is this your only job?

Don’t think so. Uber is still a side-gig for most drivers. Over 62% of Uber drivers are working full-time or part-time on another job.

How many hours do you drive Uber a week?

Not that many, to be honest. A majority (51%) of Uber drivers work 15 hours a week or fewer. Only 19% of us are really driving full-time (35 hours per week and more) compared with 81% of regular taxi drivers and chauffeurs.

Tell me how much money you make.

Ahem. It’s complicated. On average, we make $19.04 per hour, but our earnings vary widely across the country. In New York, for instance, our average wage per hour is $30.35, while in Chicago, it’s just $16.20.

Compare that to taxi driver and chauffeur hourly wages: on average nationwide, they make $12.90 per hour. So that’s about $6.14 less per hour than us Uber drivers.

When are you going to quit?

Pretty soon. Most Uber drivers don’t keep the job very long. Just a little more than half are still taking rides a year after starting. That’s because a lot of people don’t see Uber as a long-term job — it’s a stopgap before doing something else.

Do you earn a higher hourly wage if you work more hours?

Yes. Believe it or not, Uber drivers who work more hours also make more money each hour. The earnings sweet spot for both uberX and UberBLACK drivers is 35 to 49 hours per week, when drivers make $17.56 and $21.67 per hour, respectively. Any more or any fewer hours than that, and drivers start to earn slightly less per hour.

How many drivers does Uber have?

There were more than 160,000 active Uber drivers by the end of 2014. (“Active” means that a driver gives at least four rides per month.) Some 120,000 of those drivers signed up with Uber in the last 12 months.

For comparison’s sake, Amazon had 149,500 employees in the September 2014. McDonald’s had 440,000 at the end of 2013. But it’s important to remember that only a small number of us Uber drivers (32,000 by our count) work full-time.

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