Uber rival Bolt receives funding round bringing value up to $8.4 billion

It’s definitely an interesting roundup this week with goldfish learning how to drive, an Uber rival reaching a valuation of about $8.4 billion and so much more. Let’s walk through the news of the week with senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins.

Fish in the driver’s seat: Israeli scientists teach goldfish to operate vehicle (Washington Post)

Summary: Israeli researchers have taught goldfish to drive, according to a study that offers new insights into animals’ ability to navigate — even when they’re literally fish out of water.

For the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Behavioural Brain Research, the goldfish were trained to use a wheeled platform, dubbed a Fish Operated Vehicle. The FOV could be driven and have its course changed in reaction to the fish’s movements inside a water tank mounted on the platform.

Their task was to “drive” the robotic vehicle toward a target that could be observed through the walls of the fish tank. The vehicle was fitted with lidar, short for light detection and ranging, a remote sensing technology that uses lasers to collect data on its ground location and the fish’s location within the tank….

My Take: Ok, this one’s a bit of a funny one. I don’t think anyone fully expects goldfish to replace any professional driver. But, of course, someone shared it on the Lyft Drivers subreddit.

My favorite response?

“I, for one, welcome our new goldfish overlords.”

Drivers slam Lyft for campaign to take away minimum wage and paid sick days during pandemic (Daily Record News)

Summary: Lyft drivers reacted to news today of Lyft dumping $2 million into a campaign committee preparing an initiative to take away minimum wage and paid sick days from drivers during the pandemic.

“It’s shameful that Lyft would rather spend millions on a scheme to take away minimum wage and paid sick days from their drivers, instead of supporting the hardworking immigrants who have sacrificed and taken risks to provide essential transportation services during the pandemic,” said Peter Kuel, President of Drivers Union, the voice for Washington’s more than 30,000 Uber and Lyft drivers.

During the pandemic, Seattle drivers won nation-leading labor protections, including paid sick days and a minimum wage.

Meanwhile, riders across the country have been hit by higher prices as TNC companies seek to increase profits for shareholders….

My Take: This may only affect drivers who work in Seattle, but it shows the lack of compassion that Lyft shows for drivers even during unprecedented times. I agree with the president of Drivers Union. It is shameful of Lyft to pull something like this at this time.

Taking away paid sick time is just encouraging drivers to drive when they are sick, whether it’s Covid or not, and that is not a good thing. Lyft needs to step up and start opening their eyes to the fact their drivers are humans.

Do better, Lyft.

DoorDash will deliver Girl Scout Cookies to your house this year (Yahoo! Finance)

Summary: Girl Scouts of the United States of America and DoorDash announced a new agreement that will allow drivers to deliver Girl Scout Cookies to homes this year.

Customers in select areas will be able to exclusively place orders on DoorDash.com or through the DoorDash app for pickup or delivery.

Nationwide deliveries will begin in February.

The collaboration stems from current COVID-19 mandates that have hindered the cookie delivery process.

For the past two seasons, Girl Scouts “hosted virtual cookie booths, drive-thru contact-less cookie stands, and learned the distribution process behind food delivery services through hands-on order fulfillment,” according to a press release….

My Take: YES, PLEASE! Ok, I love Girl Scout cookies and I love buying them directly from the Girl Scouts, but this is still pretty sweet. I might just have to check them out in February to see if there are any near me I can order from.

My favorites are Thin Mints and the S’mores cookies. What are your favorite Girl Scout cookies?

European Uber rival Bolt valued at $8.4 billion in new funding round (MSN)

Summary: Estonia-based ride-hailing start-up Bolt says it has raised $711 million in a new round of funding led by Sequoia Capital and Fidelity.

The investment values the eight-year-old company at about $8.4 billion, up from $4.8 billion just five months ago.

Asked whether Bolt will seek an IPO, CEO Markus Villig said “there’s no urgency for us at the moment.”…

My Take: I think more competition is better. I hate seeing so many companies buying each other out. So, I think this is nothing but good for the time being. Maybe Bolt will come to the U.S. and establish itself as the next best thing compared to Uber and Lyft here. Of course, it would be great if they would offer their drivers better deals and higher pay.

Uber Eats joins Betty White challenge (Twitter)

Summary: Couldn’t wait to join #BettyWhiteChallenge by donating $50k to @ASPCA to make grants to local shelters.

And more for our furry friends: our CEO Dara apologizes for those pesky doorbells (we know, we know!) and offers #UberEats CODE: LOKI (Exp. 5/17/22, while supplies last) 🐶❤️

My Take: Ending on a high note. While it’s sad that Betty White passed so close to her 100th birthday, I think it’s so heartwarming that so many are banding together to support ASPCA and local animal shelters in her honor.

Will you be joining the Betty White challenge?

-Paula @ RSG