Saturday, October 18, 2014

TfL Advertising "Uber" On Their Website, Despite Taxi Trade Protests... By Jim Thomas

Taxi Leaks has received this reply from TfL regarding the controversial advert embedded by AdChoice on their Website. It now appears that after first removing the advert, they have had second thoughts, declaring that although advertising is done at arms length by a third party, this particular one from Uber meets with their guidelines.



Below is the email received.


Dear Mr Thomas

 

Thank you for your email of 15 October which was passed onto me as I am responsible for TfL's commercial development activity, including commercial advertising.

 W

Advertising on our website is handled by a third-party agency at arm's length from TfL. All advertisements, whether on-line or on the Tube or bus networks, must meet our published guidelines. The agency assesses each campaign against our guidelines and with reference to standard advertising industry practice. Individual advertisements are not endorsed by TfL. Our advertising policy is published online at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/tfl-advertising-policy.pdf

 

It is open to all organisations, including those in the taxi and private hire industry, to advertise provided that the advertisements are consistent with the guidance. This approach provides a level playing field, and our systems carry advertising for a wide range of transport operators.

 

The availability of advertising opportunities to everyone and the fact that individual advertisements are considered in accordance with TfL's published guidance mean that we do not accept this particular advert in some way favours the advertiser relative to other organisations.  

 

I completely understand the sensitivity of the issues that have been raised by Uber's arrival in London, however, for the reasons I have set out, we can see no grounds to prevent advertisements for drivers by Uber on our systems.  

 

Yours sincerely

 

Graeme


Graeme Craig | Director of Commercial Development

Transport for London | 5th Floor - West Wing, 55 Broadway, London, SW1H 0BD
Tel: 020 3054 3417 | email:graemecraig@tfl.gov.uk




Editorial Comment

We have checked every taxi authority in the world including TLC of New York and every other regulator in the U.K (OfWat, ORR, OfGen etc. Etc.) none of them, repeat none of them carry any advertising.

That would of course create a conflict of interest. 
Why is this not clear to TfL, the TfL Board and the Mayor's office?

Perhaps it is and they just don't care? 


TfL's reluctance to go up against any form of complaint made against certain favoured PH companies doesn't go unnoticed.


All over Europe, Uber have been seen operating with scant regard to any form of Taxi regulation and have even carried on operating after receiving bans in major European cities. In our opinion, their apparent behaviour is of a company not fit and proper to hold a PH operators licence. They currently have 6 drivers in London who are subject to legal action from a private prosecution, being undertaken by the LTDA.  


Complaints of credit card fraud abound the Internet and the company is also banned in a number of a US states.


How can TfL seriously enter into any form of future litigation concerning this company when they openly support them through their website. This is just more evidence of TfL's total incompetence and failure to protect not only the London Taxi and Private Hire industries, but also the safety and well-being of the public.


Uber first acquired an operators licence in 2012, despite using a meter to calculate fares, using instant electronic hails, from a server based in Holland with no land line for complaints or queries. The unlawful operation was carried out for a period of time from unlicensed premises in N1 >Click here for article< and now this insult to the trade. 


It would seem that our licensing authority has bent over backwards to facilitate this company.


And it's not only Uber!


RD2 were granted 18 licence variations in the same week they registered as a brand new company, without the mandatory 12 months of trading requirement. When we complained, we were basically told that as licensing authority, TfL can do what they like.


TfL recently admitted to the LCDC they had given special dispensation to RD2, to park up on the TfL red-rout network and form a ranks in the City. 


When we complained about Addison Lee's removal of rear wiper blades, the company was given a whole year to sort it out. When we complained that their rear adverts were bigger than the regulation permitted, we were told that the regulations were no more than guidelines.


Not forgetting the West London PH company that was receiving licence roundels through the post, a story that never made the trade media and no one was ever held to account. A story that LTPH director (at that time), John Mason said, was just a friend doing a friend a favour.



TfL do not seem to understand that as regulator, they have a duty to be fair, transparent and impartial. 

Their actions are more akin to those of a commercial promoter.




Friday, October 17, 2014

What's being said in Parliament about the Cycle Super Highway.

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse, Labour) 

I received an e-mail this morning from Owen Pearson of Tower Hamlets Wheelers. He said that his local cycle campaign supports

“the proposals put forward by Transport for London to upgrade Cycle Superhighway 2 between Aldgate and Bow”,

which is a dangerous stretch of road. The e-mail acknowledged the local concerns of the council and others, especially with regard to Whitechapel market, but said that the group believed that

“with adjustments to the TfL plan these issues can be overcome.”

I have some concerns about what I call the Mayor’s plans, although they are probably primarily the tsar’s plans—Andrew Gilligan’s plans—especially with regard to the stretch from Tower Hill to Westminster. The key criteria for cycle lanes is to get people out of cars and to improve the environment by reducing congestion. However, the proportion of cars on that stretch of road is already less than 9%, and many of those 9% are private hire vehicles or minicabs. There are few people to be taken out of cars as the vast majority of the traffic on that main artery through London is made up of public transport, taxis, coaches and commercial traffic, such as white vans delivering to businesses and HGVs. TfL plans to prevent 80% of that traffic using the road. I do not know where it will go. For the 20% that will be allowed to use it, there will be a 16-minute delay. That simply does not seem workable, and it will give the cycling community a bad reputation, because it is just bad planning.

My understanding is that the Mayor’s plans will be subject to an extensive consultation, which would be very welcome, as would publication of all the background data, including environmental impact assessments, the economic assessment, alternative routes and alternative designs.

There is also a problem with the waiting times for pedestrians, because in some areas they will have to wait up to two minutes before getting a green light, and in London people will simply not wait that long to cross the road. Also, having to cross three lanes of traffic and four lanes of cyclists, with a fast lane for the Lycra brigade—we know that they take no prisoners—will be pretty difficult. Another observation about the plan that the Department for Transport published this morning is that its title makes no mention of walking, which is a big element of the promotion, so there are questions to be answered about the route from Tower Hill to Westminster.

We all want to see cycling become mainstream. As a cyclist myself, I know that we are not above criticism. The tiny minority who cycle without lights at night, ignore pedestrian crossings, ride on pavements or cruise through red lights greatly annoy the rest of us, because they give us a bad reputation and irritate the rest of the

public. The Transport Committee heard in evidence that when the Metropolitan police blitzed London’s roads earlier this year, following the spate of five deaths in November 2013, they issued 14,000 fixed penalty notices for transgressions at major junctions in London—10,000 to vehicle drivers and 4,000 to cyclists. That demonstrates that there are drivers and cyclists who break the law.

However, what we need is enforcement. CTC makes the point that the reduction in the number of traffic officers in all constabularies across the country is moving in the wrong direction. As I mentioned earlier, cyclists are the most vulnerable. The Transport Committee’s third report of the Session, entitled “Cycling Safety”, makes recommendations for improving safety for cyclists.

Right hon. and hon. Members have made the case well for cycling and cycling safety. The Minister is very much pro-cycling. It is even more disappointing, therefore, that we have not heard a commitment on funding. The Prime Minister promised a cycling revolution and the Department for Transport is promising to support cycling, so No. 11 is the roadblock. Somehow we have to get underneath No. 11, turn theChancellor around and then use the autumn statement and the Budget to commit to that funding. All parties can use their manifestos next year to commit funding for cycling, because without funding it simply will not happen.


Police commissioner Tony Lloyd fears rise in sex attacks if taxiregulation is 'swept away'

Since the Private Hire Act of 1998, London has been no more than an experiment, when it comes to private hire regulation an enforcement.



It's time for our licensing authority to admit that this experiment has failed. 


The amount of minicab related serious sexual assaults, including rapes, robberies, extortion and people trafficking in London is disproportionate to other major cities in the UK. 



  • Why is London one of the only cities that PHV can be passed around to friends and family members to drive?
  • Why should London's minicabs carry no visible livery identification as in other major cities?
  • Why should London minicabs be allowed to have blacked out windows making identification of roundels impossible?
  • Why should licensing authority TfL be allowed to refuse to deal with complaints against drivers which are currently passed back to the operator to deal with?

Below is an article taken from the Manchester Evening Post expressing concerns from a cross party group of police commissioners, concerning the removal of certain measures by the Deregulation Bill currently going through parliament.




News Greater Manchester News.
Tony Lloyd Police commissioner Lloyd fears rise in sex attacks if taxi regulation is 'swept away'

A group of police commissioners led by Tony Lloyd have urged the government to remove 'dangerous' measures in the Deregulation bill currently before parliament

Plans to cut red tape for taxi and private hire drivers could lead to rise in sex attacks, police commissioner Tony Lloyd has warned.

A cross-party group of police commissioners, led by Mr Lloyd, have joined forces to urge the Government to remove ‘dangerous’ measures in the Deregulation Bill currently going through parliament.

In Manchester the livery of private hire taxis and regulation were improved following the 1996 murder of student Rachel Thacker in the city by a bogus cabbie Duncan Bermingham.

Mr Lloyd said: “Taxi regulation reform is long overdue, but this is not the way to go about it. The current system is far from perfect, but at least there are safeguards there which mean people can have confidence that when they get into a marked private hire vehicle it is genuine and being driven by a licensed operator.

“Taking these safeguards away opens the prospect of a private hire free-for-all. There will be no guarantee that a driver is who he says he is, and the inevitable consequence is that there will be an increase in people being attacked after a night out.

“Private hire regulation is good here in Greater Manchester – but that’s as a direct result of a terrible case nearly 20 years ago when a young woman was brutally murdered after getting into a vehicle she thought was a cab. Her murder was the catalyst for change in Greater Manchester. I never want to see a case like that again in our region, but I’m afraid to say these proposals make that prospect much more likely.

“We know that isn’t what the bill intends, and support measures to make life easier for small businesses and self-employed people, but there’s a real danger it will be the consequence, which is why we’ve written to (minister without portfolio) Ken Clarke to urge him to remove these measures and introduce a dedicated taxi bill so that reforms can be brought in in a considered way which will be subject to rigorous scrutiny. These current proposals are ill-thought-through - rushed law is often bad law.”

Under the Deregulation Bill, these safeguards are to be ‘swept away’, opening up the prospect of a private hire ‘free-for-all’, says Mr Lloyd.






Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Licenses To Be Issued To All Drivers, To Combat Counterfeits... By Jim Thomas


Just received information, that over the next 6 weeks, every licensed Taxi driver will be receiving, new issue bills and identifiers.

This measure was planned for September and was due to be completed by now, but the issue had to be put on hold while the backlog of licence renewals was cleared.

We've been told that the new identifiers will be similar to the current ones but this time double sided with the details (colour code, sector, badge number barcode and hologram) will be visible on both sides.

The licence will be A4 again but with added security features. Let's hope it looks a bit better than the present photo copy look a like (probably the reason why there are so many counterfeit licenses floating around). 

Drivers should display their replacement identifiers and carry the copy of their replacement licence as soon as they receive them.

Drivers renting taxis should give the original licence to the owner of the taxi and ask for the return of the existing licence.

Accompanying the new documents will be instructions advising how to return existing documents to TfL.


Uber Advertising On TfL WebSite.

An open letter to Sir Peter Hendy: 

Dear Sir Peter,
I would like to bring your attention to the fact that the smart phone app Uber, is currently a major advertiser on LTPH website.

I feel that in the present circumstances concerning this controversial private hire operator, it is in very bad taste and inappropriate for TfL to allow this advert on their web pages. 

Surely a licensing authority would have to be seen as impartial and independent from Taxi and Private Hire Trade due to the fact of them being the regulator.

Many licensed Taxi drivers, myself included have been  surprised at the level of protection TfL have offered to this controversial operator. They were originally licensed in 2012, operating from an office complex in More London. They did for some months operate from a property in N1 for which they did not have a license or variation. According to the TfL staff manual, their operators licence should have been revoked with immediate affect. 

The matter was reported by myself to TfL, but the company was unbelievably given time to apply and receive a license variation before our complaint was answered. 

Now the TfL website is awash with adverts from this company which we as a trade find insulting and inappropriate.

To avoid possible allegations of a "pay off for protection", I  therefore feel the most appropriate action from TfL would be to remove all the offending adverts.

I look forward to your reply. 

Jim Thomas
Editor, Taxi Leaks blog.




Uber's tax affairs referred to HMRC after complaint from senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge

Minicab operator Uber's tax affairs have been referred to HMRC by London's taxi and minicab regulator Transport for London (TfL).


The move follows a complaint from senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge that Uber was "opting out of the UK tax regime".

London mayor and TfL chair Boris Johnson said TfL had no powers over where a company pays tax.

The app's Dutch operating firm, Uber BV, does not pay tax in the UK.

"TfL has raised this issue to the appropriate body, the HMRC, for them to consider," Mr Johnson wrote in a letter to Ms Hodge.

Ms Hodge said she was "pleased".

"I hope that HMRC will carry out a rigorous and thorough investigation to ensure that Uber is paying an appropriate level of tax in the UK, rather than constructing artificial structures to get out of paying its fair share," she said.

The referral from TfL comes as a bit of a surprise after TfL’s Garrett Emmerson recently went on record saying:

“We do not have any powers in relation to an operator’s corporate structure and how or where they pay tax.



“We are fully satisfied that based on our understanding of the relationship between passengers and Uber London, and between Uber London and Uber BV, registered in Holland, that Uber is operating lawfully under the terms of the 1998 PHV(L) Act.”

This statement was made in defiance of the fact that Uber were caught bang to rights operating from its N1 premises without a current license. When reported to TfL, they just gave Uber time to apply for and receive a licence variation before investigating. TfL's staff manual states that any operator, found to be operating from premises without a licence, should have their licence revoked immediately. This never happened in this instance. 

Within the present framework of the 1998 PHV act, if TfL suspect Uber of any wrong doing, in the way the company operates, they have the power as licensing authority to suspend their licence. But again, TfL don't seem to have the bottle, although in light of the growing number of complaints and calls for a Europe wide ban, TfL are starting to slightly change their stance of "total" support for Uber.

An Uber spokesman said it complied with all applicable tax laws and "pays taxes in all jurisdictions, such as corporate income tax, payroll tax, sales and use tax and VAT".


    Source: BBC News and MayorWatch 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Government abandon Clause 10 of the Deregulation Bill:

Editorial Comment:

The report below is a massive victory for the RMT, GMB and Unite unions, who alongside Police, Crime Commissioners and Local Government campaigned tirelessly to get clause 10 dropped from the Deregulation Bill 

It is now up to our trade representation here in London to demand parity with the rest of the country on this particular issue. How much easier would enforcement be if a driver could not use the excuse I've just borrowed this car, I'm picking up a friend, I'm not working. 

Our trade reps should now be seeking the support of all groups who helped achieve this victory including the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Survivors Trust and local Govenment associations.

When it comes to robbery, rape and serious sexual assaults....LONDON IS NOT DIFFERENT.



Mary Creagh, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, responding to the news that the Government have abandoned Clause 10 of the Deregulation Bill, said:

“We welcome the Government’s climbdown on their disastrous proposal to deregulate taxis, which would have put women's safety at risk. However, Ministers are still pressing ahead with their risky plans to loosen taxi licensing and allowing cabs to work out of area, which Labour, alongside safety charities, has opposed. 
“Ministers need urgently to review these final two measures and we repeat our offer to work with them to get the rogues off the road.”
Ends

1.   On 14 October DfT dropped Clause 10 from the Deregulation Bill 
Clause 10 would have enabled people who don’t hold a private hire vehicle license to drive one when it is “off duty”. Safety campaigners and local government had warned this reform has the potential to increase the number of unlicensed drivers pretending to be legitimate. 

2.   The Government failed to publish an Impact Assessment until 8 months after the reforms were proposed
The taxi and minicab reforms were added to the Deregulation Bill in March 2014. But the Government didn’t publish an impact assessment on their rushed and risky reforms until Labour asked for one on the 1 October 2014. It confirmed that the reform ‘could lead to an increase in illegal use of licensed vehicles.’ 

3.   Campaigners, Police and Crime Commissioners, Local Government and the trade joined Labour in opposing the reforms
Organisations including the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the Survivors Trust, the  Local Government Association, 17 cross-party police and crime commissioners and various industry bodies had opposed the reforms. Labour voted against the clauses in the Deregulation Bill at Report Stage in the Commons and will continue to oppose them in the House of Lords. 

4.   Remaining Taxi and Minicab Clauses of the Bill 
Clause 11 of the Deregulation Bill will end annual license renewal for minicab drivers, which helps licensing authorities recognise changes to a drivers’ convictions or medical status. Clause 12 will enable minicab operators to subcontract a booking to another operator, licensed in a different area. Local licensing officers don’t currently have the powers to enforce safety in respect of vehicles in other areas.

5.   Conclusions from Rotherham Report on Taxis and Minicabs
The Inquiry concluded that “one of the common threats running through child sexual exploitation across England has been the prominent role of taxi drivers in being linked to children who were abused.” The Inquiry found that young women in Rotherham immediately and consistently avoided taxis as a form of transport because of safety fears, and issued a clear warning about the poor enforcement powers of local licensing officers. The author of the Independent Inquiry into Rotherham, Alexis Jay OBE, has warned against attempt to water down taxi and minicab reforms.


Government scraps plans to relax taxi licensing rules

LGA press release 15 October 2014


Commenting on the Government's withdrawal of plans to relax taxi licensing rules within the Deregulation Bill, Cllr Ann Lucas OBE, Chair of the Local Government Association's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:

"We are delighted that after concerted LGA lobbying, the Government has listened to our concerns and withdrawn plans to relax rules about who can drive licensed minicabs. Councils – alongside children's charities, personal safety organisations and taxi drivers themselves – have long-warned that this unwanted change would increase the public safety risk to people using minicabs.

"When people get into a taxi, they put their trust in the fact that the person driving the car has been vetted and licensed and that it is safe to be in a vehicle with them, especially if they are travelling alone. Anyone getting into a minicab should be assured that the only person allowed to drive the car has had their background checked, and it is right that Government has now agreed to let councils maintain this protection.

"Government should also now delete the two remaining taxi clauses in the Deregulation Bill, which would increase the length of driver licences and enable minicab firms to sub-contract bookings to other firms from different areas, without any requirement to tell the person making a booking.

"Our own opinion polling shows 80 per cent of women would be concerned if they booked a journey with one firm and a different one turned up.

"Councils support comprehensive reform of taxi licensing but on the basis of the whole of the recent Law Commission report and not through this unwise piecemeal approach that could have a negative impact on public safety."

The poll found:

Seventy-three per cent of people polled would be very or fairly concerned if they booked a minicab from one firm and a minicab from another firm turned up – including 80 per cent of women.

Eighty-five per cent of those polled said they were fairly or very concerned about the plans – including 91 per cent of women.

Telephone Omnibus – Populus Data Solutions
(Minicab survey data (PDF, 5 pages, 61KB))

A representative telephone survey of 741 English adults aged 18+, living outside of London, was conducted. London residents were excluded since the proposed new taxi licensing rules already apply in London.

The survey took place 10-12 October 2014.

50 per cent of the sample was contacted via landline and 50 per cent via mobile to ensure that the correct proportion of mobile only households is achieved.
Sample methodology: RDD (Random Digit Dialling).

Quotas are set on age, gender and region and the data weighted to the known GB profile of age, gender, region, social grade, taken a foreign holiday in the last three years, tenure, number of cars in the household, working status, and mobile only household.

The Government has dropped Clause 10 from the Deregulation Bill which would have allowed anyone to drive a licensed minicab when off duty. This follows extensive LGA lobbying supported by the NSPCC, Barnardo's, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Victim's Support, Age UK and the GMB Taxi Union.

Further taxi and minicab clauses remaining within the Bill will end annual license renewal for minicab drivers and enable minicab operators to subcontract a booking to another operator, licensed in a different area. The Bill returns to the House of Lords Committee Stage on Tuesday 21 October.





Why a taxi app with $100 million in funding failed in the U.S.


The startup had all the makings of a good rival to Uber and Lyft, but in the U.S., it encountered more speed bumps than it could manage.

When Hailo, a mobile application that hails taxi cabs, arrived in New York in early 2013 it was expected to take the country’s largest taxi market by storm, with the rest of the U.S. not far behind. On Tuesday, the startup company said that it plans to pull out of the North American market entirely, laying off 40 employees and citing the “astronomical marketing spend” required to pursue its mission.

The company had A-list investors and strong momentum. Where did the promising e-hail app go wrong?

Two years ago, Hailo’s U.S. launch was highly anticipated. The company had already gained impressive traction in the U.K., with 2.5 million passengers and the promise of a $100 million revenue run rate. An investment from New York’s most prominent venture firm certainly helped: Union Square Ventures led a $30 million investment in Hailo as it arrived in New York. (The round, which followed another for $17 million from Accel Partners, valued Hailo at $140 million before the investment.)

With fresh capital, Hailo opened an office in New York’s SoHo neighborhood and hired dozens of employees, including Tom Barr, the former head of the coffee business at Starbucks  SBUX 0.76% . The timing seemed right. Union Square Ventures’ Hailo investment came right around the time that Uber, GetTaxi, and other similar car-hire mobile services entered a legal battle with New York’s entrenched livery car industry over whether e-hail apps would be legal in the city.

All eyes were on the field of competitors. Hailo and Uber were squaring off for an “epic NYC e-hail throwdown,” declared Liz Gannes of AllThingsD. Six months later—June 2013—e-hailing was legalized in New York. And so the throwdown began.

Hailo’s strategy was to let Uber take the high end of the market, serving customers with luxurious black cars for which Uber would need to recruit new drivers. Hailo would instead take the yellow cab market, infiltrating a network of existing drivers by having them download its app to connect with potential passengers.

It didn’t work. Former employees say Hailo failed to gain traction with New York cab drivers. In the two years it has been operating in New York, Hailo signed up a tiny fraction of the city’s 40,000 yellow taxi drivers. (The company has said it has 60,000 drivers worldwide.) To compare, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick recently said his service adds 50,000 drivers around the world per month. Anecdotally, I was only able to find a Hailo taxi in midtown Manhattan once in six times I opened the app this summer.

Hailo laid off a number of the engineers in its New York office in November 2013. (Jeremy Parker, a senior software engineer at the company, notes on his LinkedIn page that his position was terminated “when Hailo changed course and stopped building a developer team in NYC.”) Co-founder Jay Bregman told Fortunein an email exchange this summer that the company wanted wanted to refocus its engineering efforts in the U.K.

Then in February of this year, Hailo announced that Barr would be promoted to co-CEO alongside Bregman. The announcement was framed as a promotion for Barr, who now handles day-to-day operations. Bregman was said to be working on “skunkworks” projects aimed at redefining its product. In reality, Bregman was demoted. With today’s announcement, Hailo said Bregman would be leaving to start a new project related to robotics.

According to former Hailo employees, the company struggled because what worked in London didn’t translate to New York. London cab drivers are highly trained and equipped with smartphones. There, cabs are a luxury product. Meanwhile, New York’s grid system–far more regimented than London’s cowpaths—makes it easy for new drivers to learn the streets and take the job with very little training. It’s also not standard for yellow cab drivers to have smartphones as part of their job. Many New York drivers were suspicious of a service like Hailo, former employees say. Besides, it’s not difficult for New York drivers to find new fares, leaving Hailo’s value proposition thin.

Further, when e-hailing was approved by New York, the city’s pilot program was delayed because of an appeal from the black car lobby. Uber’s response to legal issues has been to continue operating, as it did when it met resistance in Germany.

Hailo also faced technical issues in New York. Because the city works with payment processors that use outdated technology, Hailo found it difficult to integrate its services with them, according to one former Hailo employee. At the time, Barr said Hailo planned to enter as many as 50 markets by the end of the year. It is currently operating in 20 markets. Meanwhile, Uber has expanded to almost 200 cities and is valued at $18 billion with a war chest of $1.5 billion in venture funding. Lyft is in 60 cities and is valued at $700 million with $332.5 million in investment.

Adoption is soft on the consumer side, too. The app has only cracked the top 1,000 app download rankings for the U.S. one time since it launched, according to App Annie. (By contrast, it has remained in the top 500 in Great Britain, though its standing has fallen slightly this year.) Uber has been in the top 100 in the U.S. for all of 2014. Lyft, which is smaller than Uber but growing quickly, has been in the top 200 for the last six months.

As if that’s not enough, Hailo’s value proposition was directly challenged by market leader Uber when it rolled out its cheaper UberX service, which sometimes undercuts conventional taxi cabs. Uber and Lyft remain engaged in a bitter price war as Hailo struggles.

Finally, Hailo’s one strength—London—weakened after it began charging a minimum fare of £10 during peak hours. (It later backtracked on that move.) The company raised capital on the premise that it could continue its strong early growth, but it has not. Hailo’s revenue in 2013 did not top $100 million.

None of this has stopped Hailo from attracting further investment. This year, the company raised an unannounced round of $50 millionin venture funding from OCCAM and a group of Asian investors.

Last month, Hailo hired Gary Bramall, former marketer with Microsoft, Skype, Apple, and Orange, as its new chief marketing officer—based, tellingly, in London. In an interview with Fortune, he downplayed issues in New York, noting that it is his challenge to change Hailo’s image as an also-ran in the taxi wars. New York is a complex market, he conceded, where “even the best tech companies like Airbnb have struggled with legislation.”

Even as Hailo exits the U.S. and Canada—save for Toronto, where Hailo Canada president Justin Raymond seems to have taken a stand against today’s decision—the company still faces stiff competition from Uber, Lyft, and local competitors. Bramall said, elsewhere in the world, Hailo won’t be using the aggressive marketing tactics of Uber and Lyft. “We are aware that aggressive marketing, and bashing and trash talking, has a negative effect on customers,” he said. “We want to be positioned in a way that champions for the user.”


    Source: Fortune

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hailo Pulls Out Of North America. CEO Says Impossible To Make a Profit There. Co Founder Jay Bregman Quits.


 Hailo is hitching a ride out of North America, reported by Financial Times.

The company has found it "impossible" to become profitable in the United States as Uber and Lyft wage a cutthroat war to become the premier ride-sharing service. 

Hailo doesn't have its own drivers; instead, its app matches passengers with taxi drivers or licensed black car drivers with a couple quick taps. 

The company first launched operations in the US in 2012 and entered the battleground of New York City last year. But now it's bowing out to focus business squarely on Europe, where Hailo is based. 

"It’s not that we aren’t growing there," said chief executive Tom Barr of North America, in an interview with the Financial Times. "But the profitability of the market and the type of environment that other taxi-app companies are setting up, both on the driver and passenger side, ceased to make sense to us."

Around 20 employees will be out of a job when Hailo shuts down service in Boston, Chicago, Montreal, Toronto, and Washington DC. 

Hailo says it's got 1.4 million registered passengers, but at least in the US, the Uber / Lyft battle is keeping sustainable profits and growth out of reach. 

Barr is now Hailo's only boss; Jay Bregman, a co-founder and (until now) co-CEO, is leaving the company with today's news.

   Hailo, Wastington DC. RIP