🗞️ Taxi & Uber Face Up, Theranos Bites Again, & EU Comes For Big Tech
This week: New York Taxis have made an unusual bedfellow, the Theranos saga continues with a new chapter, and the EU is cracking down on Big Tech. Plus, the slap heard ‘round the world, a California privacy law, and the SCOTUS takes sides on gerrymandering.
Sometimes business makes unusual bedfellows. Case in point, Uber and New York City taxis. After years of a contentious relationship between the Silicon Valley darling and NYC's iconic yellow cab drivers, the two have come together as rising gas prices and a shortage of drivers have put pressure on Uber to strike a deal.
Beginning this summer, customers in New York will be able to call one of the city's more than 13,000 taxis through the Uber app.
According to NPR, the partnership comes as Uber has been struggling to meet demands and taxi drivers were swallowed by debt during the pandemic.
As the New York Times details, New York City taxi medallions had been selling for as much as $1,000,000 by 2014, and drivers were being burdened with massive debts as a result. The rise of Uber during those same years, coupled with a pandemic and lockdowns that hit in 2020, pushed many taxi drivers to the brink. These drivers have long protested Uber and other ridesharing apps' business practices in the face of these financial struggles.
The Uber-taxi deal certainly doesn't fully solve the problems of either party, however, it's definitely a step in the right direction for both. And if this pilot partnership proves a success, it's sure to be a model for markets around the world.
Thought you'd finished hearing about Theranos? Think again. The trial of Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, former president and COO of Theranos (as well as Elizabeth Holmes's former romantic partner), has begun in San Jose. Balwani is being charged with the same slate of crimes as Holmes was in connection to a massive scam federal prosecutors allege he helped her perpetrate at Theranos.
According to Axios, federal prosecutors wanted to try Balwani and Holmes together, but Balwani's lawyers successfully separated his trials from hers.
That separation lends itself to the strategy Balwani's defense will use: Holmes was the founder and head of Theranos, so any crimes committed were ultimately her fault or responsibility.
A Two-Toned Portrayal
Stephen Cazares, Balwani's lawyer, set up his client in the trial's opening statements as a man with past business successes, and a leader that transformed the company into a stronger, more stable one, "but also a naif who was bamboozled by Holmes," adds Axios. It's an image that definitely tries to have it both ways.
So Balwani didn't know, Holmes claims she did everything earnestly, and yet they were running a multi-billion dollar company with some of the most high-profile investors in the country. How many other CEOs in the Valley are watching this saga play out and are taking notes?
The European Union is taking a big swing at Big Tech. With the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the bloc has cobbled together various regulations designed to unravel the "interlocking services and considerable resources" companies like Apple and Google use to block smaller companies from growing and becoming rivals, notes the New York Times. When implemented, it will be the most impactful legislation to hit the tech industry since the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018.
The DMA will target "core platform services" that have a market capitalization of at least €75 billion, or an annual turnover of €7.5 billion, and at least 45 million monthly end-users in the EU and more than 10,000 annual business users, says TechCrunch.
Failure to comply with the new DMA could cost a company fines in excess of 10% of global turnover, and even a company break-up.
The EU is also set to introduce a complimentary law that will require social media companies like Meta (owner of Facebook and Instagram) to "police their platforms more aggressively" adds the Times.
A Global Model
As was the case with 2018's General Data Protection Regulation, Europe's laws may be copied around the world and thus force Big Tech to fundamentally reshape its business practices. “Everyone is watching the D.M.A., be it the leading tech companies, their rivals, or foreign governments,” Anu Bradford, a law professor at Columbia Law told the NY Times. “It is possible that even the U.S. Congress will now conclude that they are done watching from the sidelines when the E.U. regulates U.S. tech companies and will move from talking about legislative reform to actually legislating.”
While the United States has been slow (or completely inactive) in regulating Silicon Valley, the EU has picked up the mantle. The laws it enacts may help break up these digital mega-monopolies but also come at a time when the global economy is in a vulnerable state.
📤 What Else We're Forwarding
Slap And Run: Comedian Chris Rock declined to press charges against actor Will Smith on Sunday following their now-infamous altercation at the Oscars, notes Variety. Though, “If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report,” the police department said.
Scroll Addict: A bill proposed in the California legislature would allow parents to sue social media companies for addicting children to their platforms, reports The Hustle. Parents could seek $25K per child in civil suits and $1K per child in class-action suits from platforms that fail to prevent addiction.
Shadow Docket: The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wisconsin Republicans seeking to overturn a voting map drawn by the state’s own high court, according to the ABA Journal. The per curiam opinion said the race-based map amounted to a “legal error” that invalidated it.
🌧 April showers bring…
More & more events! Here’s what to keep on your radar:
Why Legal Should Lead on Sustainability | 7 April, 3 pm EST:
Join us as we speak to sustainability in legal expert Christine Uri to learn why sustainability matters, what can legal do about it, and take away some tips to get started.
👉 RSVP here!
Marketing Your Legal Team as a Team of Yes | 21 April, 3 pm EST:
What a First-Time GC Needs to Know About Privacy | 28 April, 3 pm EST:
👉 RSVP here!
We’re highlighting knowledge bombs from our latest panels.
Here's a brief snippet from our panel, Forging Inclusive Workspaces For Women In Law To Thrive featuring Viviane Windmiller, Senior Director of Legal at Illumina. She dives into what you should look for when finding your first in-house role.
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See ya next week!