Uber Co-Founder’s Cryptocurrency Trading Platform Launches Institutional Brokerage

Voyager, the cryptocurrency trading platform created by Uber’s first CTO and a former E*Trade executive, has launched a new brokerage division designed specifically for institutional investors.

Dubbed Voyager Institutional, the brokerage aims to deliver a “best-in-class crypto trading solution” to large firms seeking to trade cryptocurrencies, a group that among others includes hedge funds, buy-side firms, and market makers. The news was first reported by Traders Magazine, who said that the brokerage is slated to launch before the end of the year.

“Expanding our offering and leveraging our infrastructure to include the institutional community was always a part of our long-term strategic roadmap,” said Stephen Ehrlich, CEO of Voyager and a former executive at E*Trade, in an interview with Traders Magazine.

“Based on the sheer number of conversations since we announced our retail offering, it’s clear that there is a void in the marketplace and an immediate desire by institutions to participate in and offer their clients access to this emerging asset class without the significant resources, costs and time that would be required to develop an in-house solution.”

Voyager Institutional will be led by Glenn Barber, who is joining the firm as its chief institutional officer. Previously, Barber served as managing director of equities and co-head of Deutsche Bank’s New York-based global program sales desk.

“Our goal is to bring the level of access, connectivity and innovation that institutional investors, in particular, are seeking in order to effectively participate in crypto trading,” said Barber, who will work out of Voyager’s New York City headquarters.

As CCN reported in July, Voyager is also launching a zero-fee cryptocurrency trading platform built for retail investors. The platform, which uses a proprietary routing engine to help investors capture the best available prices across dozens of exchanges, looks to disrupt established retail trading platforms like Robinhood and Coinbase. The firm’s retail trading product is currently in beta.

Along with Ehrlich, Voyager was created Oscar Salazar, who co-founded Uber and served as the ride-hailing app’s first chief technology officer.

Author: Josiah Wilmoth
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Uber Lite is a slimmed-down, 5MB version of the app for emerging markets

India is Uber’s last stand in Asia. The ride-hailing giant is doubling down on the nation of 1.3 billion people after selling off its business in China and Southeast Asia. And in order to reach as many people in India as possible, Uber is releasing a new minimal version of its app that saves space, works on any network, and is compatible with any basic Android phone.

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Uber Lite is launching first in India, but the company anticipates rolling it out in other emerging markets in the future. The app strips out much of the bells and whistles, offering a more space-saving experience for users with limited data plans, spottier connectivity, and slower than average internet speeds. It’s only compatible with Android phones, which the majority of the app’s target audience uses.

Uber Lite is less than 5MB to download, as compared to the regular Uber app’s 181.4MB size. Gone is the map with tiny Uber vehicles that users typically see when opening the app, replaced with a very stripped-down design. Maps are optional in Uber Lite to keep it running fast and smooth. But many of the existing features, like in-app support and the ability to share trips with friends and family, remain.

Uber Lite uses the rider’s GPS location to guess possible destinations, so minimal typing is needed. The app caches the city’s top places so that even when users are offline, no network is needed for them to surface. Additional features, such as language selection and ride requests without network connectivity, are forthcoming.

India’s dominant ride-hail app Ola has its own minimal version called (unsurprisingly) Ola Lite. The app, which was released in January, is only 1MB to download and also offers a very stripped-down version of its design and features.

Earlier this year, Uber was bullish on its business in India:
“India is a key component of our growth plan,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told television channel ETNow on Feb. 22. “If you look at the market, it’s one of our healthiest markets in terms of growth rates … When I think about Uber and where we are going to be five to 10 years from now, our success in India is going to play a vital part in the growth of this company and how we do in terms of innovation and in terms of where we are within the global mobility ecosystem.”

But whether that remains the case is unclear. In March, it was reported that Uber was in talks to sell its business to Ola, much like it did with Didi in China and Grab in Southeast Asia. Softbank, the Japanese tech giant that owns a 20 percent stake in Uber, is pressuring Uber to stem its losses in Asia and focus on its core western markets.
If that’s true, today’s announcement of Uber Lite could be read as a doubling down of the company’s intention to stay competitive in India. But then again, maybe a 5MB version of the app is just a 5MB version of the app.

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Author: Andrew J Hawkins
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Uber Stumbles in Lengthy CFO Search Ahead of IPO

The ride-hailing company’s leading candidate, the CFO at VMware, has indicated he would likely withdraw

Uber Technologies Inc. chief Dara Khosrowshahi is under pressure from the board and investors to find a new finance chief after its leading candidate backed out, adding to the challenges of preparing for an IPO next year.

Mr. Khosrowshahi had hoped to reach an agreement with VMware Inc. CFO Zane Rowe for Uber’s long-vacant role. But Mr. Rowe recently indicated he will turn down the job, according to people familiar with the matter.

Representatives for Uber and VMware declined to comment.

Uber, which hasn’t had a CFO since 2015, needs a finance head to help steward an initial public offering planned for 2019. A new CFO would have the hefty task of shoring up the finances after Uber reported a loss of about $4.5 billion last year.

The company has so far come up short with its latest search under Mr. Khowsrowshahi. Laurence Tosi, who left Airbnb Inc. as CFO earlier this year, also recently passed on the role, these people said.

Mr. Khosrowshahi has asked candidates to commit to staying in the job for five years or more, some of the people said, a relatively long commitment.

Other candidates remain in the running for the position, the people said. The CEO has been working to identify diverse candidates for the post, some of the people said.

At a board meeting on Tuesday, directors pushed Mr. Khosrowshahi to speed the CFO search to help get the company’s finances in order, the people said. The directors also raised questions about why other positions remained open, including the chairman and chief compliance officer, the people said.

Mr. Khowsrowshahi named a new chief operating officer and general counsel a few months after becoming CEO of Uber in September.

He has previously discussed adding media magnate Barry Diller, his former boss at IAC/InterActiveCorp, as chairman of the 11-member board, though that idea fell through, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Diller didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Two appointees from SoftBank Group Corp. — Rajeev Misra and Marcelo Claure —have yet to start their board positions amid a review of the firm’s recent $7.7 billion investment in Uber by the multi agency panel known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.

Uber hired Mr. Khosrowshahi from Expedia Group Inc. after co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick was pushed out in June. Since then, Mr. Khowsrowshahi has been finding ways to pare losses and cut costs, including selling divisions such as the money-losing U.S. car leasing business to Fair.com and its Southwest Asian operations to rival Grab Inc.

While Uber has never been profitable, the company continued to boost ridership and revenue throughout last year despite a punishing stretch of scandals. Revenue in the fourth quarter rose 12% to $2.26 billion, while its loss narrowed to $1.1 billion, according to financial statements reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Its total revenue last year was $7.36 billion.

After facing charges of sexism by a former software engineer last year, Uber tried to find a woman for either its COO or CFO positions, according to people familiar with the matter.

For COO, Mr. Khosrowshahi ultimately settled on his former employee and Orbitz head Barney Harford. The company had interviewed Karenann Terrell, then the information chief of Walmart Stores Inc., and Helena Foulkes, the former executive vice president of CVS Health Corp., among others, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Uber last year hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s law firm, Covington & Burling LLP, to investigate its workplace practices. Among the firm’s recommendations after a monthslong probe were that Uber should recruit more diverse candidates for it senior leadership positions and adopt a version of what is known as the Rooney Rule, a National Football League policy that dictates that teams interview minority candidates for top jobs.


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Author:  Greg Bensinger 
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The Chinese Car Invasion Is Coming

China’s rising automakers want to sell the future of driving all over the world.

On a bright spring day in Amsterdam, car buffs stepped inside a blacked-out warehouse to nibble on lamb skewers and sip rhubarb cocktails courtesy of Lynk & Co., which was showing off its new hybrid SUV.

What seemed like just another launch of a new vehicle was actually something more: the coming-out party for China’s globally ambitious auto industry. For the first time, a Chinese-branded car will be made in Western Europe for sale there, with the ultimate goal of landing in U.S. showrooms.

That’s the master plan of billionaire Li Shufu, who has catapulted from founding Geely Group as a refrigerator maker in the 1980s to owning Volvo Cars, British sports car maker Lotus, London Black Cabs and the largest stake in Daimler AG—the inventor of the automobile. Li is spearheading China’s aspirations to wedge itself among the big three of the global car industry—the U.S., Germany and Japan—so they become the Big Four.

“I want the whole world to hear the cacophony generated by Geely and other made-in-China cars, Geely’s dream is to become a globalized company. To do that, we must get out of the country,” Shufu said.

He’s not alone: At least four Chinese car makers and three Chinese-owned startups—SF Motors Inc., NIO and Byton—plan to sell cars in the U.S. starting next year. At the same time, Warren Buffett-backed BYD Co. is building electric buses in California; Baidu Inc. is partnering with Microsoft Corp., TomTom NV and Nvidia Corp. on a self-driving platform; and Beijing-based TuSimple Inc. is testing autonomous-driving big rigs in Arizona.

The industry is set for more upheaval as China unravels a two-decade policy that capped foreign ownership of car making ventures at 50 percent. The change may energize companies such as Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co. to seek a bigger piece of the world’s largest car market and allow Tesla Inc. to set up a fully owned unit. Car makers may get better visibility of their futures, and those Chinese companies that fear losing sales at home may sense a greater impetus to go abroad.

“They are in a better position now than they ever have been,” Anna-Marie Baisden, head of autos research in London with BMI Research, said of Chinese car makers. “They’ve had so much time working with international manufacturers and have become a lot more mature.”

We’ve seen this move before from China—in the smartphone industry. The nation used the shift in technology from basic flip phones to hand-sized computers to dominate the manufacturing industry, trouncing then-dominant makers from Finland, Sweden, the U.S., Japan and Germany.

Last year, three of the top five smartphone handset makers in the world were Chinese, according to Gartner Inc.

Yet the sequel may take longer to become a hit, given the brand loyalty that has existed since Henry Ford debuted the Model T in 1908. How will Chinese automakers convince Midwesterners to give up their Ford F-150 pickups or Tokyo residents to switch from their Toyotas?

“Chinese carmakers intend to come over, but what need will they fill?” said Doug Betts, senior vice president of global automotive practice at J.D. Power. “What is the reason to buy their cars?”

Chinese cars probably would compete more directly with Japanese and Korean models, said Bob Lutz, the retired vice chairman of GM. American consumers mostly cross-shop Asian brands.

“If they start coming in, they won’t be any more competent than Korean and Japanese cars,” Lutz said. “They would probably take share from other Asian brands because the vehicles will be more Asian in character. They’re not going to get much market share.”

And then there’s President Donald Trump. Trade tensions between the U.S. and China are simmering as both nations move to slap tariffs on each other’s products. This month, China said it would put an additional 25 percent levy on about $50 billion of U.S. imports, including automobiles and aircraft. The move matched the scale of proposed U.S. tariffs, with Trump threatening an escalation.

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That’s not to say the road is impassable. A few decades ago, South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group was knocked for fragile engines and rust-sensitive body panels. Now it’s one of the five biggest manufacturers in the world, selling about 1.25 million cars in the U.S. last year, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. The group also has factories in Alabama and Georgia.

“Competitors emerging from China must be taken seriously,” said Matthias Mueller, former chief executive officer of Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker. “I visited China for the first time in 1989, and the development that has happened there since then is just impressive.”

The creeping global influence of China’s industry isn’t limited to getting their wheels on U.S. and European roads.

Equally important, the Chinese are getting under the hoods of foreign brands by buying up parts suppliers, making batteries for the world’s EV fleet and corralling supplies of the metals that give those batteries life.

Automakers such as Geely, Chery Automobile Co. and BYD started talking a decade ago about cracking the U.S. auto market with an array of low-cost passenger vehicles. Those efforts stalled, so the industry built a global presence through acquisitions.

Chinese companies have announced at least $31 billion in overseas deals during the past five years, buying stakes in carmakers and parts producers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The most prolific buyer is Li, who spent almost $13 billion on stakes in Daimler and truck maker Volvo. Tencent Holdings Ltd., Asia’s biggest internet company, paid about $1.8 billion for 5 percent of Tesla.

As software and electronics become just as critical to a car as the engine, China is ensuring it doesn’t lag behind in that market, either. Baidu, owner of the nation’s biggest search engine, announced a $1.5 billion Apollo Fund to invest in 100 autonomous-driving projects during the next three years.

“We have secured a chance to compete in the U.S. market of self-driving cars through those partnerships,” Li Zhenyu, a vice president overseeing Baidu’s intelligent-driving unit, told Bloomberg News. “Everyone has a good chance to win if it has good development plans.”

Baidu and Tencent are among the Chinese corporations racing Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, Uber Technologies Inc. and the major automakers to develop autonomous driving, with an aim for mass adoption by 2021.

The government’s aspiration to deploy 30 million autonomous vehicles within a decade is seeding a fledgling chip industry, with startups like Horizon Robotics Inc. emerging to build the brains behind those wheels.

Then there’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd., the maker of electric-vehicle batteries that’s planning a $1.3 billion factory with enough capacity to surpass the output of Tesla and dwarf the suppliers for GM, Nissan and Audi.

The Ningde-based company plans to raise 13.1 billion yuan as soon as this year by selling a 10 percent stake, at a valuation of about $20 billion. The bulk of the new funds would pay for a manufacturing plant that would make CATL the world’s biggest maker of Lithium-ion batteries.

CATL already supplies Volkswagen and owns 22 percent of Finland’s Valmet Automotive Oy, a contract manufacturer for Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz.

To juice those batteries, Chinese companies are leading the way in securing necessary raw materials like cobalt and lithium. Chinese companies make about 60 percent of the world’s refined cobalt, according to trading firm Darton Commodities Ltd.



Uber to buy electric bicycle-sharing firm Jump

Uber users around the world may soon be able to hire electric bicycles through the app, after the ride-sharing firm bought US bike-hire firm Jump.

Based in New York, Jump allows riders to rent electric-powered “pedal assist” bikes via an online platform.

Its bikes are also dockless and do not need to be returned to a specific place.
Uber, which already has a tie-up with Jump in San Francisco, said it would now look to “scale” the bikes globally.

Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi said: “We’re committed to bringing together multiple modes of transportation within the Uber app – so that you can choose the fastest or most affordable way to get where you’re going, whether that’s in an Uber, on a bike, on the subway, or more.”

The bike-sharing market is growing at about 20% a year and is set to be worth between €3.6bn (£3.1bn) and €5.3bn by 2020.

David Bailey, a professor at Aston Business School, told the BBC: “Uber is looking at this partly because it is fast growth area but it is also looking forward to a time when we won’t own cars.

“Autonomous cars are coming and in big cities you won’t need to own a car in future. You might want to use an Uber taxi but then finish the journey on a bike. So it’s about offering multi-modal transport.”

Founded in 2008, Jump Bikes has launched conventional bike-sharing schemes in 40 cities across six countries, including in Brighton in the UK.

Its e-bikes, which were unveiled last year in Washington DC, cost $2 (£1.40) for the first half-hour, then 7 cents per minute.

The bikes are “pedal assist”, meaning their batteries only kick in when you are pedalling.
Users also locate and unlock the cycles with their smartphones and use a built-in lock to secure the bike to a rack at the end of their ride.

Bike-sharing company Jump and ride-hailing service Uber have more in common than you might think. Both join the dots in journeys between traditional lines of public transport.
Deploying a fleet of vehicles is one way to get a passenger from door-to-door. Owning a fleet of electric bicycles offers another. Both companies concentrate their efforts in cities, where governments are keenest to rid the roads of cars.

There are over a thousand different bike-sharing companies currently in operation across the world. The vast majority have yet to turn a profit. Most will fail.

The likes of Uber, however, are prepared to play the long-game. Scale and brand recognition are critical. They have both. Transport in cities is a winner-takes-all kind of business.

Didi expansion

The Jump deal comes as Uber faces growing competition from competing ride-sharing operators in international markets.

Last week, Uber sold its South East Asian operations to regional rival Grab, retaining a 27.5% stake in Singapore-based firm.

It follows a similar deal in 2016 with China’s Didi Chuxing, which on Friday also said it would open in Mexico – the firm’s first launch outside Asia.

Didi said it would start off with a car service, but according to Reuters, it is also considering allowing users to hire motorcycles and bikes.



Here at Dollar Destruction, we endeavour to bring to you the latest, most important news from around the globe. We scan the web looking for the most valuable content and dish it right up for you! The content of this article was provided by the source referenced. Dollar Destruction does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. As always, we encourage you to perform your own research!


Author BBC News

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