Tech World: Uber CEO news, Amazon makes $13.7bn acquisition and more


Hello, I’m Emily, welcome to Tech World,
your quick round up of the top technology news stories from across the globe. For this
episode’s hot topic interview, we spoke with Daniel Lyons from EY about how technology
is revolutionising modern transport. First though, here are your top international stories. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced he was
taking time away from the ride-hailing firm following numerous recent controversies centering
on company culture. Former US Attorney General Eric Holder conducted an investigation into
the company and suggested a reduction in Kalanick’s sweeping authority. Britain’s biggest carmaker, Jaguar Land
Rover, invested $25m in Lyft, becoming the latest car giant to pick a side in the battle
between the taxi-hailing app and its arch-rival, Uber. JLR will also provide Lyft with a fleet
of vehicles and work with it to develop driverless car technology. Swedish-headquartered Hexagon AB held talks
about a possible acquisition by an unnamed rival. The Wall Street Journal reported that
the acquisition could value the industrial-technology company at $20bn. Amazon is to acquire organic food chain Whole
Foods Market for $13.7bn. Amazon has long had ambitions to move into the grocery business
and its acquisition of Whole Foods will see it gain around 460 stores, including nine
in the UK. Business communications company Slack is in
the midst of raising a $500m round at a $5bn post-money valuation. The firm is also rumoured
to have attracted a number of potential buyers, including Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Salesforce. That’s it for our top global tech news roundup,
but keep watching to see this episode’s Hot Topics interview. We spoke with Daniel Lyons from EY about how
technology is revolutionising modern transport. Daniel, thanks for joining us today. So our
topic of conversation for today is ‘smart mobility’, what exactly is ‘smart mobility’? So for us, we define smart mobility as the
way to move more people or goods in a way that is faster, cleaner, more efficient and
more economical than the existing modes of transport. It’s about creating a frictionless,
personalised, on-demand mode of transport. OK, so we’re not just talking about driverless
cars – there’s much more to it than that. That’s right, I think driverless cars get
a lot of attention in the media and they grab all the headlines, but smart mobility is a
much broader topic than self-driving cars. We actually think about three groups of activity
within the smart mobility world – the first one is on-demand or autonomous journeys, which
is really ride sharing, ride hailing, car sharing, car pooling – it does include robo-taxis
as well as subscription-based services for car sharing or journeys. The second one is all around technology, whether
it is hardware or software to support vehicles and so within that, that’s where autonomous
vehicle technology exists. Whether it’s deep learning or artificial intelligence technology
or some of the hardware like lidars or sensors and things like that. It’s also connected
cars and it’s also electric vehicles, so fuel cell technology or lithium batteries or in-car
entertainment. And the third group is integrated mobility
solutions, and that would be planning solutions, booking solutions for multi-modal transport,
it might be infrastructure and transport solutions, like smart parking or city planning, and data
analytics. So in the overall smart mobility market, what
kind of activity are we seeing at the moment? So smart mobility is an absolutely hot topic.
I think it’s fuelled by lots of mega deals and exits for early-stage entrepreneurs and
tech startups that we’re seeing almost weekly at the moment, especially as some of the large
automotive companies are desperately trying to face up to some of the disruption that
smart mobility is bringing. That’s also created a lot of interest from the funding and venture
capital side and we’re seeing now dozens if not hundreds of accelerators and incubators
focused almost exclusively on smart mobility, including several here in London and in other
parts of the UK. It’s a topic that’s been embraced by consumers – we’ve seen take-up
of some of the services really rocket, so yeah, it’s an absolutely hot topic at the
moment. OK, so lots of innovation taking place. What
are we expecting to see in the short to medium term? So I think we’re really only just getting
started and some of the things are still being defined. I think we’re in mobility 1.0, if
you like, which is dominated by kind of ride sharing services. Mobility 2.0, which is just
around the corner, will be about more integrated solutions, more sort of multi-modal transport
options and we’re starting to see some of that already. And then further down the line,
we’ll see mobility 3.0, which will be where we really take advantage of some of these
new technologies, like self-driving vehicles, we’ll have fully autonomous cars or blockchain-enabled
technology like fractional car ownership. OK, so lots of potential innovation there. Yeah absolutely. Thanks for joining us Daniel. My pleasure. That’s all for this episode. To get more
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