Weekly Round-Up: Couple Trapped in Waymo Driverless Car

We all are a bit skeptical about driverless vehicles. After this SF couple felt trapped on their recent Waymo ride-turned-disaster, I think more people will think twice before ordering one. But that’s not the only reason Waymo was in the news this week.

Also, this week, InstaCart is laying off 250 employees, Lyft is confusing shareholders, and Uber is receiving backlash from their Super Bowl ad.

Join RSG Contributor Paula Lemar as she breaks down the top headlines in this week’s rideshare news.

SF Couple Describes Feeling ‘Trapped’ Riding In Waymo Driverless Car That Was Being Attacked


As autonomous driving technology expands, we are also seeing reports of incidents in San Francisco involving passengers and a cyclist.

SF Couple Describes Feeling 'Trapped' Riding In Waymo Driverless Car That Was Being Attacked
SF Couple Describes Feeling 'Trapped' Riding In Waymo Driverless Car That Was Being Attacked,

A couple of minutes into his Waymo ride, Robert Moreno said the cool feeling of getting an invitation to ride on a driverless vehicle quickly shifted.

“Some panic set in – just all in the situation,” said Moreno.


On Saturday, Robert and his husband said a person who looked homeless was trying to cover the sensors of the vehicle as the light turned green.

My Take

The couple in the article mentioned that if they were in any other situation, they would have been able to feel safer.

However, since they were in a driverless vehicle, with the sensors covered by an outside person who appeared to be a homeless person, they were unable to flee the situation and just felt trapped.

It also wouldn’t have been the couple’s fault that the driverless vehicle hit a cyclist. They have no control over the movement of the vehicle.

Luckily, the Waymo vehicle doesn’t let just anyone open the door, so the couple was able to stay safe enough within the confines of the car. However, being stuck in a Waymo is also not a great situation when considering the rest of the news from this week.

A Waymo Robotaxi Was Vandalized And Burned In San Francisco


A Waymo robotaxi was vandalized and then set on fire by a crowd of people Saturday evening in San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood.

The incident is the latest encounter between driverless vehicles and the public in San Francisco, a city where autonomous vehicle companies have spent years testing the technology on public streets.

A Waymo Robotaxi Was Vandalized And Burned In San Francisco
A Waymo Robotaxi Was Vandalized And Burned In San Francisco.

The Saturday night incident, which was captured on video and shared on social media channels, didn’t appear to be a coordinated effort. Instead, the video shows a crowd becoming increasingly riled up and violent once the driverless vehicle becomes surrounded.

My Take

Chris and Sergio covered this in their latest Show Me The Money Club video. Catch up on their take here. Or watch the full show:


I agree with Chris that this is horrible news and that mob mentality is dangerous and could be deadly. Thankfully, this time, it was just against a vehicle, not against a human.

What was the reasoning behind it? Why did the vandalism and violence start? The world is a scary place, and people’s anger tends to be right at the surface level, ready to tip at the drop of a hat.

One commenter on the SMTMC board asked, “Isn’t vandalism legal in SF?” So, of course, I had to dig into it, and of course, the answer is it is illegal.

They may have been thinking of graffiti, but that is also illegal in San Francisco. It can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on how much damage was done.

So, the vandals better hope the vehicle didn’t catch their faces on its cameras.

Instacart To Lay Off 250 Employees, Or About 7% Of The Company, As Part Of Restructuring


On Tuesday, Instacart announced it would lay off about 250 employees, or roughly 7% of the company, as part of a restructuring. The news came as the company reported fourth-quarter earnings that fell roughly in line with analysts’ revenue estimates.

Instacart To Lay Off 250 Employees, Or About 7% Of The Company, As Part Of Restructuring
Instacart To Lay Off 250 Employees, Or About 7% Of The Company, As Part Of Restructuring.

Shares of the company fell 5% in extended trading.

The layoffs are focused in part on middle management and creating a flatter organizational structure, according to Instacart, as well as focusing teams on larger projects, such as advertising efforts on Roku, Google Ads, and more.

Three top executives are also departing the company for personal reasons, according to Instacart: Chief Operating Officer Asha Sharma, Chief Technology Officer Varouj Chitilian, and Chief Architect JJ Zhuang. Instacart will only backfill the CTO role.

My Take

With Instacart newly in the public trading market, it doesn’t surprise me that they are restructuring and looking to save money. They need to make investors and stockholders happy. The only way to do that is to dump people and show a profit.

Will it be enough? Or is Instacart in trouble? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Lyft Shares Surge as Strong Earnings Report Offsets Typo Confusion


Lyft shares hit a 52-week high Wednesday following the company’s strong fourth-quarter results and despite confusion caused by a mistake in its earnings release.

Lyft’s release Tuesday said one of its profit margins was expected to expand by 500 basis points—or five percentage points—in 2024. That margin was only expected to expand by 50 basis points, the company’s chief financial officer later clarified on a call with analysts.

The figure in question is a wonky but closely watched metric. The ride-sharing company was forecasting its adjusted earnings margin as a percentage of its bookings. A higher margin signals that Lyft is earning a bigger cut from its bookings.

My Take

All I can really say is, whoops!

We’re all human, and mistakes are made, but rarely are mistakes made on this level concerning this much money. 500 versus 50 is a super easy typo to make.

It seems to have worked in their favor for now. It doesn’t sound like there were big repercussions of the error, but of course, it wasn’t something where the sales of the stock could be reversed.

Lyft is still trailing Uber as far as profitability goes, and of course, that’s the ultimate goal.

Uber Makes Changes To Super Bowl Ad After Backlash


Uber Eats has made last-minute changes to its Super Bowl advertisement after criticism that it inappropriately made light of food allergies.

The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) charity thanked the food delivery firm for agreeing to edit out parts that showed a man having an allergic reaction to peanut butter.

Uber did not issue a statement but shared the edited version of the ad.

The Super Bowl is one of the most high-profile marketing moments of the year.

Tens of millions of Americans tune in for the American football championship, taking place later on Sunday, and the commercials that air during the game are expensive and typically planned months in advance.

My Take

I’m mostly including this in honor of the Super Bowl last weekend. The Uber Eats commercial was one of my favorites (though I did painstakingly figure out the promo code for the DoorDash sweepstakes, so that will always live with me for the rest of my days).

I’m glad they did edit the video. Showing someone “forgetting” their peanut allergy and then suffering its consequences was in poor taste, and it’s moments like that where you just have to wonder how many people on the team saw this video, and no one there thought, “maybe this isn’t a good idea.”

What was your favorite Super Bowl commercial?

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