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Two month gig: GM loses Sidecar co-founder to Uber

Just two months after GM acquired Sidecar, Uber poaches one of the co-founders

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
April 1, 2016
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4472

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Has GM ever heard of a non-compete agreement?

Jahan Kanna, one of the co-founders of failed ridesharing startup Sidecar, has left General Motors (GM) to join Uber, we've confirmed with Uber.

"We are committed to making it easier for more people to drive with Uber," said an Uber spokesperson in an email. "As part of that, we are continuing to invest in Uber's Vehicle Solutions Program and are excited to welcome Jahan to the team leading that charge."

Kanna officially joined GM in January when the global car company acquired the remaining assets of Sidecar, which had shut down at the end of 2015 after a failed pivot from ridesharing to food delivery.

As one of the top automotive innovator in "telematics" and autonomous driving, according to a recent study by Thomson Reuters, GM has been aggressively making inroads into the technology space to bolster that position. Last month, the company acquired self-driving technology developer Cruise Automation, with reports pegging the purchase at above $1 billion.

And to bring in the new year, GM led Lyft’s $1 billion financing round with a $500 million investment, kickstarting a close partnership that has already begun to bear fruit. In March, the two companies announced the launch of Express Drive, a car rental program for individuals that need access to cars in order to drive for Lyft. Besides benefitting people who want to drive but don’t have cars, the program obviously gives Lyft more traction in its key markets while putting GM cars to work.

With such a focus on the convergence of driving and technology, it’s strange that GM would so easily and so quickly lose one of the Sidecar co-founders it just brought on board. If the Sidecar acquisition was truly about the people, we would have expected (at the very least) for a non-compete agreement to be signed, so that Kanna couldn’t have left GM for Uber.

But this may reveal that the Sidecar acquisition was about something else—perhaps technology or the years of driving data.

For its part, Uber has not been sitting idly by while GM and Lyft eke out new innovations.

Earlier this week, the company announced the release of an update to its API called the Ride Request Widget, allowing third-party developers to smoothly embed Uber's ride request and other functionality directly into their own apps. Additionally, Uber revealed partnerships with Hilton, Zomato, and Citymapper, allowing those companies to display richer Uber content and data directly within their own apps.

Uber also announced this week that its customer support would now be available directly through the app, so customers no longer have to email support@uber.com.

At times, it’s hard to keep up with how many updates Uber puts out every week, so it's safe to assume this rivalry between GM (plus Lyft) and Uber will only heat up in the months to come.


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