Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×
Transportation Businesses

GM Buys Failed Uber Rival Sidecar (bloomberg.com) 20

An anonymous reader writes: The major automakers have several new technologies to fear, ridesharing services and self-driving technology chief among them. Both of these could dramatically affect how consumers buy cars. So it's perhaps not surprising that after investing $500 million in Lyft, GM has now purchased the assets of Sidecar, a ridesharing service that failed at the end of last year. GM wants to use Sidecar's assets to bolster Lyft — presumably in an attempt to keep Uber from becoming too big. "Sidecar helped introduce the concept of peer-to-peer car-sharing when it launched in 2012 and essentially allowed anyone who passed a background check to offer rides to smartphone-toting passengers." GM will certainly keep the gained knowledge for themselves, as well: "GM is preparing to introduce its own set of transportation services, which it has dubbed Maven, the source familiar with the matter said. The initiative may allow owners of GM vehicles to give rides to other passengers who are commuting in the same direction."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

GM Buys Failed Uber Rival Sidecar

Comments Filter:
  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @07:04PM (#51332991) Journal
    What assets have they acquired, exactly? An office, a handful of employees (who might leave or be laid off anyway), and some software that's probably cheaper to rewrite from scratch? There's also this:

    The person familiar with the deal added that as part of the transaction, GM will also get a license to a patent that was granted to Sidecar CEO Paul in 2002: “System and method for determining an efficient transportation route.”

    Sidecar executives believed the patent covered the essential intellectual property behind ride-sharing, though Uber and Lyft never responded to Sidecar’s repeated attempts to enforce the patent, this person said.

    It seems a poor deal for GM that they won't get ownership of that patent so they can whack Uber around the head with; all they get is a license to use it. But perhaps there are more patents owned by Sidecar? Seems hardly worth buying the company at all, otherwise.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe they're hoping the big cash injection and removal of any actual business activity will enable the patent holder to fully power up their patent trolling while GM smirks along, fully licensed.

      • Taxi companies with many million dollar tokens: We can't handle competition! Fire up FUD and the usual useful idiots.

        Big government leftists: Insurance and licenses and Windex bottles! >:-(

        GM: Hey, we will help, buying these guys out, the way we bought out street cars a century ago!

        Captain Kirk: Nomad-leftist, you hate when big companies push competition out of business, especially collective enterprises.

        Nomad-leftist: I hate it wne GM puts the little guy out of business. But I hate this little g

    • And part of the agreement with the CEO of Sidecar is that he will spend x number of years aggressively pushing the patent.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      It seems a poor deal for GM

      Sounds like you're unfamiliar with the way GM works.

      In all likelihood, all this started a while ago when Uber was still the darling company and GM said... "lets get in on the ground floor... who can we buy". Anyone with a chance in hell of becoming profitable (not that anyone in the "gig" taxi industry has) would have had an artificial value way too high so they picked up a failing company hoping to get something. However as the company continued to fail, GM refused to cut its losses and kept throwing go

      • Sounds like you're unfamiliar with the way GM works.

        Yup, a failed company should fit right in at GM.

  • The initiative may allow owners of GM vehicles to give rides to other passengers who are commuting in the same direction."

    I'd be careful about something like this. Consider situations like VHS vs Betamax. The more 'open' standard nearly always wins.

    If non-GM drivers have the choice of Uber, while GM drivers have Uber and Maven, but Maven only works for people who own GM vehicles, that's something like 75% of potential drivers and customers gone. Nearly always you can't simultaneously restrict your user base AND achieve market dominance.

    Not that I expect GM to realize this.

    • Possible but they might tie it through onstar which has aftermarket installation abilities too.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      The initiative may allow owners of GM vehicles to give rides to other passengers who are commuting in the same direction."

      I'd be careful about something like this. Consider situations like VHS vs Betamax. The more 'open' standard nearly always wins.

      If non-GM drivers have the choice of Uber, while GM drivers have Uber and Maven, but Maven only works for people who own GM vehicles, that's something like 75% of potential drivers and customers gone. Nearly always you can't simultaneously restrict your user base AND achieve market dominance.

      Not that I expect GM to realize this.

      Although I dont expect GM to do anything with this, surely the logic is that GM owns the cars and just rents them out to a driver. The idea is that you can use economies of scale to save on maintenance, purchasing, fuel and what not whilst not having to actually employ anyone and making money of the hours they work.

      If it works (which it wont because GM cant do anything right) it would take the wind out of Uber's sails because they'd be able to rent their cars out to cheaper drivers and offer lower prices

    • I was going to write a scathing post about the awful experience I had driving a GM car recently, but thought I'd better check.

      Turns out the Chrysler GM300 is made by Chrysler, a FIAT company.

      Whoops, still awful experience, would not recommend.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Last century GM and friends bought then shut down public transport in Los Angeles forcing people had to buys cars instead. They were convicted and fined, but the massive profits they covered the cost of the fine. Apologists say GM did it because public transport was losing cash. So what does that mean? GM is a publicly spirited liquidator of unprofitable companies? OLRY?

    Uber and Driverless cards if they really takes off could bite the car industry. Are we seeing a repeat? http://www.straightdope.com/co... [straightdope.com]
    • Specifically, if cars are shared, then the whole several cars per family (1 car per adult) will come to an end. Then you only need enough cars to transport everyone during rush hour, and there will be even more pressure to kill off rush hour.

  • GM has missed the boat on this one. Uber already went in and poached all of CMU's top robotics individuals [theverge.com]. The same CMU team that failed to finish DARPA 2004. [cnn.com] GM has had the last decade to hire away self driving car experts but decided to make deadly design decisions instead.

    Uber can find a body builder easier than GM is going to find Uber's expertise.

    We're going to see a major shakeup in transportation across the board in the next 15-20 years, I wouldn't be surprised if GM didn't survive (or got broken ap

    • Patents? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gatfirls ( 1315141 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @09:07PM (#51333589)

      I don't know what/which/who but if history has taught me anything when the big boys are two steps behind the next best thing, the move is to buy up all of the companies with the patent portfolios and/or IP and use their wallet to crush the competition or maybe crush the service if it's not beneficial to their bottom line.

      Cursory search shows Uber and sidecar are the only game in town when it comes to patents.

      • I don't know what/which/who but if history has taught me anything when the big boys are two steps behind the next best thing, the move is to buy up all of the companies with the patent portfolios and/or IP and use their wallet to crush the competition or maybe crush the service if it's not beneficial to their bottom line.

        Cursory search shows Uber and sidecar are the only game in town when it comes to patents.

        While patents are important the barriers to entry to becoming a significant player in the car manufacturing business are big. It's not easy to scale up manufacturing like it is technology. The big guys have one major advantage: a dumb decision won't sink the company. They can watch how the market develops and step in when they see an opportunity. If the goof, the have a lot of other assets to carry them through since they aren't betting the company on any particular product launch; and they can roll out the

  • Why is GM buying these assets and Lyft assets? Didn't they just get $80 billion in taxpayer money in the form of a bailout 8 years ago? All the people who got screwed with pension loss and job loss due to GM filing for bankruptcy and getting out of paying those contracts should be furious. Furious that GM couldn't keep its contractual obligation to those pensioners and couldn't afford to keep the jobs in the US. Furious that taxpayers had to bail GM out. Furious that after getting tens of billions and
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SydShamino ( 547793 )

      That's the thing about bankruptcy, after a debt is written off you aren't required to pay it back, even if you make a bunch of money almost a decade later. If it worked any other way, then it's not really bankruptcy, is it?

      And they paid back all the taxpayer money. And those pensioners ended up owning much of the new GM. It's the suppliers to the old GM that lost out the most.

And on the seventh day, He exited from append mode.

Working...