The Failure of Ridesharing, Major Vulnerabilities at Cisco and IBM, and San Francisco Bans Facial Recognition

This week in tech

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Vanity Fair said Uber’s IPO, “may be the worst ever on Wall Street,” after the stock plummeted in the first few days. While the stock has recovered somewhat, at the time of this writing Uber’s market cap is $72 billion, way down from its peak valuation of $120 billion. It’s a similar story for rideshare rival Lyft, whose share price is down to $58 today from $78 on March 29th. Both companies have consistently reported staggering losses, and continue to do so. While the companies continue to burn cash drivers went on strike last week to protest low wages. Wages vary widely from driver to driver, but the average hourly wage is $10-$12 for an Uber driver. As if that weren’t bad enough, a study of traffic in San Francisco found that ridesharing was the single largest contributor to congestion, invalidating a major premise of the ridesharing brand.

Surely, it speaks to the quality of this business model that both companies are burning through cash while still failing to pay drivers the minimum wage for many of the cities in which they operate. Both companies are likely banking on self-driving to reduce operating costs. Lyft announced its partnership with Waymo in Phoenix this month, building on its existing partnership with Aptiv in Las Vegas. And Uber has invested heavily in building self-driving cars in house. Speaking of self-driving, last week Cruise Automation announced it has raised an additional $1.15 billion.

There are other troubles in transportation as well: Planet Money reported that Lime and Bird — both valued at over $2 billion — are losing money on every scooter they put on the street. Apparently, a scooter takes on average 6 months to pay for itself but is typically destroyed within 2 months. A fantastic report by City Lab has me wondering, what if investors had spent their money on public transportation infrastructure instead?

In security, Intel and Cisco both had major vulnerabilities reported this week. For Intel the speculative execution nightmare continues, with new flavors of the same vulnerabilities that allowed Spectre and Meltdown allowing people to extract sensitive data from all Intel chips dating back to 2008. Operating system patches are available to address the vulnerabilities, so make sure to update your system. The Cisco vulnerability allows hackers to gain root access to the enterprise grade Cisco 1001-X series routers, including a trick that can fool the so-called Secure Anchor that is supposed to detect when a router has been compromised. Plus, an exploit that allowed attackers to install spyware via a WhatsApp VoIP call was reported this week as well.

Finally, the city of San Francisco banned the use of facial recognition by the police and other city agencies. The decision comes amid widespread controversy surrounding the technology. Meanwhile, London took an action in the opposite direction by fining someone for hiding their face from a camera tied to a facial recognition system.

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