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Uber could buy Bird, makes key hire as 2018 winds down

From developments in its autonomous vehicle offerings to electric scooters to food delivery, here’s a look at the latest news involving Uber.

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Leave it to the most valuable VC-backed company in the US to give the tech world something to talk about. Yes, we’re referring to Uber, which has had a pretty eventful past week.

From developments with its autonomous vehicle offerings to electric scooters to food delivery, here’s a look at the latest news involving the ridehailing giant.

Continued interest in scooters

Uber is currently pondering a multibillion-dollar acquisition of electric scooter company, Bird, with competitor Lime serving as a possible backup, per The Information. This won’t be the first time that Uber has gotten involved with methods of mobility that involve two wheels. The ridehailing giant participated in Lime’s GV-led $355 million financing in July, which valued the company at $1.1 billion. And in April, it acquired Jump Bikes, a creator of both bikes and scooters, for a reported $200 million. That deal was the company’s first M&A transaction since Dara Khosrowshahi was named CEO in August 2017, per the PitchBook Platform.

One step closer to the autonomous transportation dream

Uber has brought on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) veteran Nat Beuse to bolster the company’s efforts to commercialize self-driving vehicles, per Reuters. Beuse, who joined the NHTSA in 2007, was responsible for directing agency research programs focused on occupant crash safety, automated vehicles and driver assist technology in his previous position.

The hire reportedly comes about six months after Uber retained Christopher Hart, a former chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, to advise the company on autonomous vehicle safety.

In March, one of Uber’s self-driving cars struck and killed a woman who was crossing a street in Tempe, AZ. After the accident, Uber suspended testing of autonomous vehicles tests in the Phoenix metro area, Pittsburgh, Toronto and San Francisco. Now, however, Uber is reportedly awaiting approval to resume self-driving car testing on public roads in Pennsylvania, after requesting permission from the state’s department of transportation last month.

A growing Canadian presence through food delivery

In what appears to be an effort to further its presence in Canada, Uber Eats is looking to hire a head of grocery product in Toronto, according to a new job posting by the company.

Uber Eats has quickly become the most profitable arm of Uber, with the company’s food delivery services profitable in at least 27 of 108 cities, per a New York Times article from September. The company’s food delivery unit is said to outpace its ridehailing services in cities including Tokyo and Seoul. According to the company’s self-reported financial data from earlier this year, Uber Eats makes up $2.1 billion of the company’s overall gross bookings for 3Q, up 150% YoY.

Your ride to Manhattan may soon be more expensive

With intentions of leveling the playing field between Uber and the taxi industry and preventing companies such as Uber and Lyft from artificially lowering their rates in congestion zones, New York City council member Ruben Diaz Sr. proposed a bill last week that would establish a base fare of $5.80 on rideshare trips south of 96th Street in Manhattan, per the New York Post. If approved, the bill would reportedly go into effect in January.

Check out more of our Uber coverage.

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    Written by Priyamvada Mathur
    Priyamvada Mathur writes about venture capital at PitchBook.

    She is an Indian chartered accountant and has studied economics and journalism.
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