TIME Bing

Microsoft Exec: Bing Is a Self-sustaining Business

Illustrative image of the new Microsoft 'bing' search engine website.
Newscast—UIG via Getty Images Microsoft's Bing.

VP Rik van der Kooi says the search site ‘does pay for itself right now’

Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has made a habit of shedding businesses considered nonessential under the company’s new cloud- and mobile-focused strategy. But, one business apparently isn’t going anywhere: Bing search.

That’s according to Rik van der Kooi, vice president of Microsoft’s ad business, who told the website Marketing Land that the company remains “deeply committed on the search side.” The interview came after it was reported on Monday that AOL is taking over Microsoft’s ad sales business in a deal that will see Bing replace Google as AOL’s default search engine for the next 10 years. (It was also reported on Monday that Microsoft will sell some of Bing’s mapping assets, along with roughly 100 employees, to ride-sharing startup Uber.)

Speaking with Marketing Land, van der Kooi painted a picture of a thriving Microsoft search business, calling Bing a “sustainable and standalone” business. “It’s a multibillion dollar business, and it does pay for itself right now,” he said in the interview, adding that Bing is an important component in a number of Microsoft products, such as personal computers and phones.

While Bing still trails far behind Google in the battle over search engine market share, Microsoft’s search engine is gaining ground. Earlier this year, Bing’s share of that market topped 20%. That’s a distant second-place to Google’s 64.4% market share, but Bing’s recent gains in market share have come with corresponding declines for both Google and third-place Yahoo.

TIME technology

Uber Offers Free Rides to Its New York Protest

US-ECONOMY-TRANSPORT-UBER
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS—AFP/Getty Images An UBER application is shown as cars drive by in Washington, DC on March 25, 2015.

uberPOOL will pick up participants on Tuesday

Uber is using an unusual resource to protest a New York City proposal: its own cars.

Protesters attending an Uber rally outside New York’s City Hall on Tuesday can get free rides to and from the event through the company’s carpooling service.

The company is organizing a protest against legislation backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio that would limit how much large car services in the city could grow each year in order to limit congestion on city streets.

Uber says the bill “would stop thousands of new drivers from joining the Uber platform … destroy 10,000 job opportunities for New Yorkers in just one year, and result in longer wait times, higher prices and less reliable service for riders.”

Uber says anyone who takes a cab to or from City Hall on Tuesday between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. will get a free ride through uberPOOL—though theoretically that means some City Hall employees could get swept up in the mix alongside protesters.

TIME Uber

Two Uber Executives Arrested in France

Photo illustration of logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone over a reserved lane for taxis in a street in Madrid
© Sergio Perez / Reuters—REUTERS

Arrests come just days after fierce anti-Uber protests

Uber has encountered roadblocks in cities not keen on unregulated taxi services, but it might finally have met its match in the streets of Paris.

Two Uber executives were arrested in Paris Monday for running an illegal taxi company and concealing illegal documents, according to TechCrunch.

The arrested executives — Uber France’s CEO Thibaud Simphal and Uber Europe GM Peirre-Dimitri Gore-Coty — have previously said that Uber would continue operations in the country until a court rules against their service, UberPOP. Although UberPOP has been illegal since late last year, the country has had trouble enforcing the ban since Uber reportedly pays off drivers’ fines and encourages them to continue working.

The arrests come just days after fierce protests plugged up major traffic intersections in Paris. At one point, police in riot gear deployed tear gas on the taxi driver protestors, who say that Uber represents unfair competition.

But even arresting Uber’s executives won’t do much to stop the irreverent service: Simphal and Gore-Coty will probably be released within days, the report said, and France will have to let the case wind through the country’s courts.

TIME Uber

Why the Obamacare Decision Is Great for Uber

Berlin's Taxis As German Court Considers Uber Technologies Inc. Ban
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A passenger holds a HTC Corp. smartphone displaying the Uber Technologies Inc. car service application (app) as they sit in a taxi in this arranged photograph in Berlin, Germany, on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014.

The gig economy should be celebrating this week

Uber may have publicly praised Supreme Court’s Friday decision clearing the way for nationwide same-sex marriage, but a decision that came a day earlier promises a bigger impact on the ride-hailing company.

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a decision preserving federal tax credits tied to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The ACA is an essential ingredient in the success of the so-called “gig economy,” wherein workers serve as independent contractors on a flexible schedule for on-demand service companies like Uber, Postmates, Instacart and more.

Because Uber and many companies like it consider their workers independent contractors instead of employees, they’re not required to provide those workers with health insurance, as the ACA only mandates that employers extend coverage to full-time employees. That loophole saves the companies a tremendous amount of money. Obamacare’s subsidies for individual insurance buyers, meanwhile, make it easier for Uber drivers and similar workers to get affordable coverage, making the work more attractive.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick reportedly said at a November dinner that Obamacare is “huge” for his company because it frees up more workers to come drive cars for Uber when they might otherwise be tethered to a job that offers health benefits. “The democratization of those types of benefits allow people to have more flexible ways to make a living,” Kalanick said at the dinner. “They don’t have to be working for ‘the man.'” (An Uber spokeswoman confirmed Kalanick’s comments, but declined to elaborate further.)

Indeed, when Uber recently surveyed its drivers about whether they would prefer a “9-to-5 job with some benefits and a set salary” or one where they could make their own schedule, 73% said they would forgo the benefits package in favor of freedom, according to a report the company released in January. And Uber is making efforts to help its drivers get insured, announcing late last year a partnership with Stride Health to guide workers in choosing a plan on the government insurance exchanges.

It’s unclear, however, how much Uber is actually spending, if anything, on this ancillary benefit: Stride’s services are already available for free to anyone. A spokeswoman for Uber says drivers who use Stride through Uber’s “customized” app would “save time” because their personal information would already be “pre-populated” into tool.

Still, how much longer Uber might capitalize on a combination of Obamacare and employment status rules remains up in the air. A California labor board recently found that a single Uber driver was more accurately characterized as an employee, not an independent contractor. While that decision is non-binding, it has called into question Uber’s policies regarding health insurance and other benefits. On-demand grocery service Instacart, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, recently announced that it is experimenting with turning some of its workers into part-time employees in what could be the first step in a broader trend across gig economy companies.

For now, however, Uber is safe to celebrate. Had the Court gone the other way Thursday, it may have found its business model in serious jeopardy.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME self-driving cars

Bill Gates Thinks Uber Has the Best Shot at Self-driving Cars

One company will rule the space

Driverless cars have become a moonshot project for tech companies around the world, and Microsoft’s Co-founder and world-leading philanthropist Bill Gates believes there’s one company that will rule the space.

In a conversation with Financial Times Editor Lionel Barber at an event in London Wednesday, Gates shared his thoughts on issues ranging from the global economy to robots to Silicon Valley. Gates said a real tipping point for change in driving will come from self-driving cars, calling it “the real rubicon.” And Uber is primed to take the lead, he added.

FT Alphaville writer Izabella Kaminska live-tweeted Gates’ thoughts:

If Gates is correct, it will validate recent moves by Uber to invest in self-driving technology. Earlier this year, Uber announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh “to do research and development, primarily in the areas of mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology.”

CEO Travis Kalanick has made it no secret that his company sees a future where we drive without our hands on a steering wheel. “The reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car, you’re paying for the other dude in the car,” Kalanick said in a conference last year. “So the magic there is you basically bring the cost below the cost of ownership for everybody, and then car ownership goes away.”

The move has set Uber up for a battle with Google. Last year, at the Code Conference, the tech giant made public a two-seater, self-driving car after years of research. Both companies, however, will have to battle the public’s perception on giving up control of a car. A survey conducted by NerdWallet found that only 37% of women and around half of men expressed any interest in owning a self-driving vehicle.

TIME facebook

Facebook Poached This Influential Yahoo Exec

US-IT-INTERNET-FACEBOOK
KAREN BLEIER—AFP/Getty Images

He held his post at Yahoo for a little over a year

Alex Stamos, Yahoo’s chief information security officer, announced on his Facebook page Wednesday that he’s leaving to take a similar post at Facebook.

“The Internet has been an incredible force for connecting the world and giving individuals access to personal, educational and economic opportunities that are unprecedented in human history,” Stamos wrote. “These benefits are not without risk, and it is the responsibility of our industry to build the safest, most trustworthy products possible.”

He added: “This is why I am joining Facebook.”

The post generated over 800 likes on the social media service he’ll soon be working for.

Stamos had served as Yahoo’s top cybersecurity officer and was with the company for a little over a year. He succeeds Joe Sullivan, who left Facebook in April to join ride-share startup Uber.

TIME Uber

Paris Taxi Drivers Burn Tires, Flip Cars In Giant Protest Against Uber

In its five year history, Uber has made a lot of enemies. Some of its fiercest may be in Paris.

Cabbies on Thursday blocked roads to and from Paris airports and disrupted traffic on a major highway in opposition of Uber’s service, which they say represents unfair competition.

AFP reported that cab drivers blocked access to three terminals at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris’s main transportation hub, and they were converging on Orly airport and train stations in the city. French media reports also showed cabbies overturning cars and burning tires in protest.

Parisian cabbies have staged similar protests in the past, and on some occasions they’ve turned violent.

Though they severely disrupted travel on Thursday, demonstrators won the support of France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve who ordered Paris police to issue a decree banning the activity of UberPOP, which uses unlicensed drivers in private cars to undercut existing taxis, Reuters reports. He also told local police chiefs and prosecutors to crack down on what he said was a failure by Uber to pay social and tax fees in France.

In October 2014, a law in France placed a ban on putting clients in touch with unregistered drivers, but Uber has challenged the rule saying it was unclear and infringed on the freedom to do business.

According to Reuters, Uber spokesman Thomas Meister said Cazeneuve was over-riding the normal legal process. “The way things work in a state of law is that it’s for the justice to judge whether something is legal or illegal,” he told the news agency.

The protests ensnarled at least one celebrity on Thursday. Courtney Love tweeted that demonstrators attacked the car she was in and held her driver hostage.

Luckily, she managed to escape.

 

TIME France

Courtney Love Says She Was Attacked by Uber Protestors in Paris

And she'd like President François Hollande to do something about it

Trouble seems to have a way of finding Courtney Love, but this time she says it came armed with metal bats and rocks.

While in Paris, the 50-year-old musician said demonstrators protesting Uber attacked the car that she was riding in. The protests by taxi drivers against the ride-hailing company in the French capital have turned violent, prompting police in riot gear to fire tear gas into the assembled masses.

Love described the scene on Twitter:

Kanye West has yet to reply via Twitter to Love’s request for asylum.

Courtney later added on Instagram: “how on earth are these people allowed to do this? the first car was destroyed, all tires slashed and beat with bats, these guys trying to open the doors and the cops are doing nothing?? French Taliban? civil reform needed in France?? I want to go home.”

 

TIME Ford

Ford Thinks You’ll Rent Your Car to Help Pay Your Monthly Payment

Better hope no one spills anything

Do you have your eye on a certain Ford vehicle, but you’re not sure you’ll be able to afford the monthly payments? Well, the company has a solution for you: rent out your car for short periods, offsetting the cost.

The new program is called Peer-2-Peer Car Sharing, and it’s available now as a pilot program in Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and London. Ford cited research showing that one-third of millennials were interested in renting out their car as a way to supplement their income.

Right now, only customers invited by Ford can participate. To rent your car, it has to be financed through Ford Credit, the financing arm of Ford. Combined with Ford’s recently announced car sharing service in London, it’s clear the Detroit company wants to keep up with younger transportation leaders such as Uber and Car2Go.

TIME Uber

Here’s Another Sign Uber Is On The Road To An IPO

Uber Technologies Inc. Application Demonstration
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Uber is already operating in around 300 cities.

A huge Chinese backer is leading a $1 billion-investment

All signs are pointing to an initial public offering for Uber after reports that a major Chinese investment group is leading their latest funding round.

Chinese fund manager Hillhouse Capital Group is leading an investment in the ride-sharing company that could reach around $1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. The convertible bond deal involves buying bonds that can be converted into shares at a discount to the company’s IPO price. The longer it takes for Uber to go public, the greater the return for investors, providing a time-laden incentive for the company to launch an IPO soon. Uber had previously raised around $1.6 billion from the wealth-management division of Goldman Sachs in a very similar deal in January.

The entrance of Hillhouse is also notable for two reasons: The Beijing-based firm is one of the biggest fund managers in Asia, overseeing assets in excess of $20 billion; and Hillhouse’s previous investments in technology firms, such as China’s Tencent Holdings, have paid off.

Working with such a prominent firm also plays well with Uber’s ambitions to go big in China. Earlier this month, CEO Travis Kalanick said in an email that went public that the company’s global team was spending $1 billion on expanding into China, making it the company’s “number one priority”. Uber already operates in around 300 cities.

The deal should also send confusing signals to Didi Kuaidi, the largest taxi-hailing app in China, and, by definition, Uber’s biggest competitor. Hillhouse is also an investor in the Chinese startup, and this latest news will worry them. This comes after tech sites in Asia highlighted a consumer report that Didi Kuadi had experienced more customer data leaks from taxi apps between January of 2014 and May of 2015 in China when compared to Uber.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com