Biz Break: Uber protests hit Cairo

Top Of The Order: 

Welcome To An Eye-Watering Ride: Riding in a taxi can be a, well…depending on what the traffic is like and what mood your driver is in, it could be a cross between being in the pole position at the Indy 500 and Disneyland’s Space Mountain.

Or, it could be an invitation to getting tear-gassed by the military. Which is what happened Tuesday when taxi drivers in Cairo decided to block one of the city’s most important roads to protest the business of one of the Bay Areas most-industry-disrupting companies: Uber.

While it doesn’t happen everywhere, lately, it certainly seems like “Uber” could be a synonym for “Taxi drivers doing their best to mess up everyone’s commute.” It happened in Paris earlier this year, when the city’s taxi unions staged a strike (complete with the requisite burning of tires and police tear gas) to protest Uber drivers cutting in on their business. And on Tuesday, it happened in Cairo, a city of 20 million people, where getting across town on a good day takes only slightly less time than the presidential primary system.

It may come as a shock, but Cairo’s taxi drivers put their cars in park to protest Uber, which has seen its popularity in Egypt grow over the last few months. And as the protest dragged on, local “security forces” did what “security forces” often do best during taxi driver protests and blasted the area with tear gas.

It’s not hard to understand why Uber has found a willing market in Cairo: the city’s taxis are said to be notorious for broken meters, drivers who overcharge and general unreliability. The taxi drivers claim that Uber drivers don’t have to pay licensing fees or taxes to operate their vehicles That might be why Cairo’s traffic police have clamped down on Uber drivers and slapped them with fines if they catch them driving for the popular ride service.

But spraying tear gas? Maybe in addition to its app, Uber needs to provide its drivers with gas masks, just in case.


Middle Innings:

Pandora Gets Pushed Down: Pandora Media saw its shares slide by 6.5 percent Tuesday, to close at $10.42. It was a rough day for the Oakland-based Internet radio company, and it might have been made rougher by a report from Bloomberg in which Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren suggested Pandora plans to remain independent. Tuesday’s stock decline may be a sign that investors who had been betting on Pandora being up for sale have decided to not hedge their bets on that possibility. Last month, reports surfaced around the same time of Pandora’s earnings results that said the company was considering putting itself on the block.

Style Online:  Amazon is expanding its online programming, but with something different from its traditional Prime video offerings. Starting Tuesday, Amazon will launch “Style Code Live” a live TV show focused on, you guessed it, style and fashion. The show will be similar to programs on the QVC network, in that consumers can purchase products that are being promoted on the program.

The “F” May Stand For “Facebook”: The National Football League is negotiating with a lot of potential partners for the streaming rights for NFL games. And it looks like Facebook might be in the huddle, working up a plan to score the rights to the NFL’s weekly Thursday night contests.

Bottom Of The Lineup:

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley tech stocks did Tuesday…

Movin’ On Up: SolarCity added to Monday’s gains by rising another 3.7 percent. Gains also came from ServiceNow, Netflix, Equinix and Gigamon.

In The Red: Oclaro shares slumped by 15.4 percent, GoPro gave up 10.6 percent, and Extreme Networks, NeoPhotonics and Nimble Storage each fell more than 8 percent on the day.

The SV150 Index of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies fell 1.5 percent to 1,535.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index pulled back by 1.3 percent to end the day at 4,648.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6 percent to 16,964.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gave up 1.1 percent to finish at 1,979.

Quote Of The Day: “No more CDs from me.” — “Musician” and crazed tweeter Kayne West, saying he wouldn’t put out any new music on CDs. And yet, the world managed to make it through the day.

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Photo: Uber offices on Market Street in San Francisco. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)



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