Technology Now
The business and culture of our digital lives
Uber will cap surge pricing during East Coast blizzard

Uber is taking a less frosty approach to the epic blizzard bearing down on the East Coast.

The ride-hailing app has announced that it will cap its controversial surge pricing -- when the cost of a fare soars during periods of heavy demand -- during the megastorm.

"Uber is committed to getting riders safely and reliably to where they need to be, and we urge everyone to use extra caution when out on the roadways today," the company said in a statement. "Per our national policy, during states of emergencies, dynamic pricing will be capped and all Uber proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts."

Uber said that when a state of emergency or disaster is declared, surge pricing will be capped at a price that excludes the three highest-priced, non-emergency days of the preceding two months. The company also noted that it had reminded drivers to drive safely during poor weather.

It's a smart PR move for Uber, which has been contending with a wave of criticism...

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NFL launches YouTube channel featuring highlight videos

The National Football League and YouTube launched a new video channel Monday that will bring just about everything except live games to tablets, smartphones and computers.

The channel will feature “game previews, in-game highlights, post-game recaps as well as clips featuring news, analysis, fantasy football advice” and other content, the NFL said.

YouTube has proved a popular spot to find unauthorized clips of games, though they're typically taken down quickly.

The deal comes weeks after a similar deal between the NFL and Facebook, which has been seeking to attract more high-quality video content.

A four-minute preview of Sunday’s Super Bowl was the YouTube channel’s featured video Monday morning.

Hans Schroeder, the NFL’s senior vice president for media strategy, said in a press release that the partnership "further expands fans’ ability to discover and access NFL content throughout the year."

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Sling TV: High-quality video streams, with some notable trade-offs

Dish Network's new Sling TV service, which starts rolling out this week, is an unapologetically niche product. If you're looking for a streaming video service that's a perfect substitute for cable or satellite TV, Sling TV isn't it. At this point, nothing is.

What Sling TV does, and does well, is deliver a stripped-down sampling of the pay-TV universe -- the basic package includes only a dozen cable networks, plus an on-demand movie service and some original online programming -- to a TV, laptop or mobile device. I've been playing with the service for the last few days, and was pleasantly surprised by the picture quality (with some exceptions) and the nimble user interface.

Full disclosure: I'm one of the small but growing number of Americans who doesn't subscribe to a pay-TV service. I can pick up all the local broadcast stations with an indoor antenna, and I stream a lot of programs through Netflix and Vudu.

That makes me the target audience for Sling TV, as well as HBO's forthcoming...

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California DMV retracts memo requiring commercial plates for Uber, Lyft

The California Department of Motor Vehicles on Friday night revoked an earlier memo that implied that drivers for ride-hailing services such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar are required to carry commercial license plates.

In a statement released late Friday night, DMV officials said “there remains uncertainty” about the effect of the law described in the memo and “recent regulatory and statutory changes affecting ride share operators.”

“We jumped the gun, and we shouldn’t have,” the statement continued. “The matter requires further review and analysis which the department is undertaking immediately.”

The agency had issued a memo earlier this month citing the California Vehicle Code, saying “any passenger vehicle used or maintained for the transportation of persons for hire, compensation, or profit is a commercial vehicle.”

“Even occasional use of a vehicle in this manner requires the vehicle to be registered commercially,” the memo read.

The “reminder” of existing law, as a DMV spokesman...

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As Box shares soar in IPO, CEO Aaron Levie explains why he left L.A.

USC gave Box Inc. Chief Executive Aaron Levie a spark, but it's Silicon Valley that's enjoying his success.

On Friday, Box went public, issuing shares on the New York Stock Exchange to raise $175 million for the young company.

Shares of Box, priced at $14 in the initial public offering, closed up 65.9% at $23.23, lifting the company's market capitalization to $2.8 billion. That's in the realm of tech companies such as food-ordering service GrubHub and game maker Zynga.

Box — an online file storage and collaboration system aimed at business customers — began as a part-time project at Levie's apartment north of the USC campus in 2004. A year later, the company moved to the San Francisco Bay area, eventually setting its headquarters in Los Altos in Santa Clara County.

Levie, 29, dropped out of USC midway through his junior year in 2005. He pushed Box north to his uncle's garage in Berkeley, where the then-20-year-old decided he needed to be to find investors, mentors and a deep supply of...

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California DMV says Uber, Lyft, Sidecar cars need commercial plates

Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and other ride-hailing service drivers make money with their cars. So should they be required to carry commercial license plates? The California Department of Motor Vehicles says yes.

In a memo issued this month, the DMV cited the California Vehicle Code and said “any passenger vehicle used or maintained for the transportation of persons for hire, compensation, or profit is a commercial vehicle. Even occasional use of a vehicle in this manner requires the vehicle to be registered commercially.”

A DMV spokesman said the memo is a “reminder” of an existing law on the books since 1935. It appears to address transport network companies (TNCs), whose drivers use their own cars, most of which are registered as personal vehicles. Passengers and drivers link up using mobile apps from the ride-hailing companies, which also contract with the drivers and handle the financial transactions.

The business implications could be huge, said George Wilk, an insurance agent for America...

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