Startups really are changing the world… in China at least

This is such a cool story {npr}:

When Cici Xu isn’t working as an accountant, she’s driving around Shanghai picking up passengers for People’s Uber, the American company’s nonprofit ride-sharing service that operates in nine mainland Chinese cities.

Xu, 40, makes about $1,300 a month as a driver, but says she doesn’t really do it for the money.

“I hope to meet different people,” she says, explaining her new hobby at a downtown café recently. She wants to “make life more colorful and get to know a different Shanghai. I’ve now discovered, I’m addicted to this work.”

Friday Link List

1. Now That’s Not Playing Very Nice, Uber {The Verge}

This is such a good illustration of the disconnect between the “we’re changing the world through algorithms and better business models” rhetoric of Silicon Valley and the reality.

Lofty means-nothing stuff like this:
Uber Screenshot

Most of these companies are run by people who think no one will notice the contradiction. And that it’s OK to play a little dirty to get more market share.

Uber is arming teams of independent contractors with burner phones and credit cards as part of its sophisticated effort to undermine Lyft and other competitors. Interviews with current and former contractors, along with internal documents obtained by The Verge, outline the company’s evolving methods. Using contractors it calls “brand ambassadors,” Uber requests rides from Lyft and other competitors, recruits their drivers, and takes multiple precautions to avoid detection. The effort, which Uber appears to be rolling out nationally, has already resulted in thousands of canceled Lyft rides and made it more difficult for its rival to gain a foothold in new markets. Uber calls the program “SLOG,” and it’s a previously unreported aspect of the company’s ruthless efforts to undermine its competitors.

 2. Mining Your Voice for Hidden Feelings & Company Products {new tech city/wnyc}

…Emodi’s company, called Beyond Verbal, is applying 20 years of “emotion analytics” to help us understand ourselves better. These products claim to be able to determine true emotions just from listening to you speak for 20 seconds. It could also determine if a salesperson is using the “perfect sales intonation” or if a given customer calling up is ‘exasperated and furious’ or ‘exasperated and ready to listen’.

[photo credit: uber homepage on 8.28. used without permission. if that’s not OK sorry let me know.]