Uber Is Using A Game To Recruit Engineers While They’re On A Ride

Uber may be in the news in India for allegedly defacing city infrastructure with its posters calling for drivers, but its recruiting tactics in the home country are getting noticed for the right reasons.

Uber’s employing a creative hack to lure engineers into applying to Uber. In certain areas in the US, the company randomly sends an invitation to a quick coding challenge while the person is on an Uber ride.

If they accept the test, Uber challenges the rider with three coding problems to solve, each with a 60-second countdown, and scores them based on their answers.

The unique recruiting tactic was brought to notice by an Uber user and Microsoft engineer Joshua Debner who was a part of Uber’s pilot.

The initiative is called “Code On The Road”, and according to Uber is a unique activity to spot and get great engineers to apply to Uber. Uber does not use a rider’s personal information like email address, company name or employment details, but rather sends the gaming invitation at random to users in areas that have a dense engineering population.

“The option to play gives interested riders the opportunity to show us their skills in a fun and different way – whether they code on the side or are pursuing a career as a developer.”, a company spokesperson told Business Insider. 

The recruiting hack by Uber is reminiscent of its Silicon Valley neighbour and investor Google which has been known to use many fun and creative ways to hire engineers. Apart from asking potential candidates to solve codes on billboards, Google is known to throw mysterious coding challenges while a user is using Google search on certain keywords.

Sachin Bansal’s Attempt To Embarrass Snapdeal Backfires Spectacularly On Twitter

Sachin Bansal’s having a rough couple of weeks. Two of his top executives have left Flipkart to start their own company together, and there have been reports that Flipkart was in talks to sell to Amazon. 

Today Bansal let out an unprovoked and uncharacteristically venomous attack on competitors Snapdeal and Paytm.

Bansal was referring to Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba’s upcoming India entry. Two of Flipkart’s closest Indian competitors, Snapdeal and Paytm, have investments from Alibaba, and the former Flipkart CEO was trying to imply that Snapdeal’s and Paytm’s underperformance had required the Chinese giant to take on the India market by itself.

But Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl wasn’t going to take this lying down. A mere 7 minutes after Bansal’s tweet, Bahl came up with this zinger.

Kunal Bahl touched on an issue that Flipkart has been avoiding comment on so far. Earlier this year, the company had seen Morgan Stanley cut down its valuation of the company by 27%, causing its implied valuation to fall a full $4 billion. The news had sent tremors around the Indian e-commerce industry, and given more ammunition to skeptics who’d maintained that Flipkart had been overvalued at its peak value of $15 billion. The news had also meant that Sachin’s Bansal’s personal net worth, which is over $1 billion, could take a significant hit.

Bahl’s reply seemed to kill Bansal’s bombast in an instant – he chose to reply with a tame “:p”.

But Bansal’s uncharacteristic attack shows how rattled Flipkart is about Alibaba’s India plans. Right now Flipkart sits comfortably at the top of India’s e-commerce pile, but Alibaba could post a challenge of a scale that Flipkart has never encountered before. Alibaba delivers 12 million packages a day compared to Flipkart’s 0.3 million, and does more sales in one day (on Singles Day, a Chinese sale) than Flipkart does in an entire year. Plus, being publicly listed, it has deep pockets, while doubts are being raised about Flipkart being able to raise more money at its current valuation.

And as Snapdeal CEO’s response shows, Flipkart doesn’t only have to worry about foreign competition – Indian e-commerce firms are no pushovers either, whether in business or on Twitter.

Uber Accused Of Defacing Freshly Painted Pillars In Bangalore [Updated]

Uber’s been credited with playing a role in helping solve Bangalore’s massive commute problem.  By letting people share cars and putting idle cars to use, the company has taken vehicles off roads and kept Bangalore’s pollution levels under check. But it seems that not everything that the company does is for the public good.  

Pictures have surfaced of several Uber posters plastered haphazardly over a Bangalore flyover pillar. The posters bear the Uber logo and seem to be advertising its car and bike taxi services to drivers. 

Uber

What makes this worse is the flyover was painted by The Ugly Indian, a citizen activist group that cleans up and beautifies Bangalore’s walls and flyovers. The group comprises of ordinary Bangaloreans who take time out of their busy schedules and try to beautify Bangalore’s civic infrastructure for free. 

“300 pillars of Bengaluru’s flyovers have stayed poster-free for over 3 months now due to citizen efforts, and Uber decides to illegally advertise its services on the Anand Rao Circle Flyover. What a shame. We hope they understand the sentiment of the Bengaluru public and remove this poster immediately.”, said Ugly Indian on its Facebook page. 

Uber is no stranger to outdoor advertising and has been seen on billboards and hoardings around the city to popularise itself amongst potential drivers.

Uber billboard India
Image: OfficeChai team

But Uber’s latest campaign hasn’t gone down too well with ordinary citizens.

https://twitter.com/shreemanu/status/712923149239775232

We have contacted Uber for a clarification and will update the article when we hear from them.

Update: Uber has contacted OfficeChai and denied involvement in the activity. “We are so sorry to hear about this and share the community’s  disappointment with this act of damage to public property. Those of you who use our service know that we don’t do this kind of marketing. These posters use the wrong logo, contradict our brand guidelines and employ an ineffective not to mention illegal marketing strategy. We are investigating this on priority and WILL ensure that the individuals responsible for this act face the law.”, said Bhavik Rathod, GM South and West, Uber.

Infibeam IPO Oversubscribed In Spite Of Tepid Response

Infibeam’s much-awaited IPO was fully subscribed on the third day as the company successfully managed to raise the 450 crore that it had set out to do. Though interest in the IPO was muted, Infibeam created history by becoming the first Indian e-commerce company to go public.

infibeam-vishal-mehta-sr_660_031615040440

BSE data showed that the portion reserved for qualified institutional buyers was subscribed 0.86 times and shares reserved for non-institutional investors were subscribed 2.23 times. Shares meant for retail investors filled in 1.31 times.

While e-commerce firms have raised tremendous amounts of funding from private markets and attained sky-rocketing valuations, public markets didn’t seem to be particularly gaga over the sector.  “There was not much excitement for this IPO,” said Amar Ambani, head of research at IIFL Holdings Ltd, which had rated the issue as “avoid”. Infibeam is one of the few e-commerce companies that is profitable, having made a small profit over half of FY 2016.

The IPO had run into trouble prior to its launch with two of the four bankers involved pulled out citing concerns about timing and valuation. Infibeam had also run into controversy after reports had emerged that twitter users were being paid money to tweet favourably about the IPO.

 

After Uber, Jugnoo Too Accuses Ola Of Making Fake Bookings

Ola’s being chewn apart by its competition – but not on the roads. After Uber had approached the Delhi High Court accusing the company of making fake bookings on its app to sabotage its business, Jugnoo has followed suit with similar claims of its own.

Jugnoo is a Chandigarh-based auto aggregator that competes directly with Ola, which also has its own auto booking service. It alleges that Ola employees have been creating fake accounts over the last 10 days to book and make cancellations on Jugnoo’s app leading to loss of revenue for the company and also affecting the income of auto-rickshaw drivers.

Source: www.medianama.com
Source: Medianama

“Jugnoo accuses Ola of employing unethical practices to sabotage their business and aggravate the drivers who are trying to earn a decent living by plying auto rickshaws,” a statement from the company said.

“About 20,000 cancellations through 800 fake accounts have been reported to occur during this period. These accounts are being used to book a Jugnoo ride and then cancel it after some time, sometimes switching off the phone after booking the ride,” according to the statement, adding that this is keeping the drivers engaged unnecessarily, wasting their time and not letting the genuine customers book their ride. “We witnessed this trend almost 10 days back when all of a sudden there was a surge in booking and the cancellation rate was equally high. We started mapping the areas where the bookings were being made from and invariably pointed at places close to Ola’s office premise.”, said Samar Singla, Co-founder and CEO of Jugnoo.

This is not the first time Jugnoo has laid into Ola either. In December last year, the company had said that Ola of trying steal their employee database through bribes in a hard hitting blog post. But Jugnoo’s latest accusation seems to imply something quite extraordinary – that Ola employees are furiously ordering Jugnoos en masse while sitting in their offices. 

But coupled with Uber’s claims yesterday, the accusations could have some merit. There’s no smoke without fire, and such tactics are not unheard of in the cutthroat cab hailing world. Uber itself has been accused by its US competitor, Lyft, for similar reasons.

Ola is yet to respond on the matter.

GoCardless Raises $13 Million; To Expand Into New Geographies

London-based startup GoCardless has announced raising $13 million in a funding round led by Notion Capital to extend its service to new geographies. The total funding received by the venture has now touched $25 million. Set up in 2011, GoCardless offers an alternative to card payments by offering bank-to-bank payments online, also known as Direct Debit. Launched in 2011, besides UK, it now operates in France and Germany and is expanding into Spain, Netherlands and Sweden. The volume of payments handled by it has grown greatly and now touches £1 billion ($1.4 billion) annually.GoCardless

 

GoCardless has created an entirely new type of payment network for accepting recurring payments online by unifying the various Direct Debit networks. Its platform makes it easier for small and large business to accept bank-to-bank payments as an alternative to card payments. It helps in avoiding the pitfalls of card-based payments such as lost, stolen or expired cards. GoCardless payments per transaction can range up to £5,000 in UK while in the Eurozone, the maximum amount for a single transaction is €5,000. The funds are collected from the payer and paid directly into the receiver’s bank account.

It is considered as quite helpful by various businesses. According to the company, over 16,000 merchants are using its platform. These include major brands such as Thomas Cook, The Financial Times, and Trip Advisor.

GoCardless was founded by Tom Blomfield, Matt Robinson and Hiroki Takeuchi. The project, called GroupPay, started out as an attempt to facilitate group payments by making it easier for groups of friends and small organisations to make payments between each other. Later, when they realised that they had built a product with significant enterprise demand, the business was named GoCardless. Co-founder Takeuchi says, “Our vision is to create the first global bank-to-bank payment network.”

Ankit Nagori And Mukesh Bansal’s Flipkart’s Exits Were Connected After All; Duo Launches Startup Together

When Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori had left Flipkart a few months ago, the timing of the exit had left observers surprised. It had seemed unusual for Flipkart to announce the departure of 2 high profile executives on the same day. But the duo had maintained that their exits were unconnected – Nagori had said that he’d be working on a sports startup, Mukesh had said he’d take a break before deciding on what to do next.

As it turns out, the exits were very much connected. Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori have teamed up and put in $5 million of their own money and will launch a startup in the area of healthcare, sports and fitness. And it seems that a lot of groundwork has already been done – they have already started hiring engineers and plan to launch an app later this year.

mukeshbansal-ankitnagori-collage
Image: DNA

“India will be a $3 trillion economy over the next few years, and 7-8% of spends will be on healthcare, sport and fitness, which make them very large categories,” said Nagori, who was chief business officer at Flipkart.

While Bansal and Nagori maintain that their exits were unconnected and they only decided to work together when they had conversations about what they wanted to do after they’d quit, that doesn’t seem very plausible. High ranking senior executives from a firm don’t resign on the same day and just happen to launch a new startup together a month later.

While it remains to be seen how their latest venture will fare, this move will raise questions about Flipkart’s future prospects. Bansal and Nagori would’ve had a first-hand view of the challenges Flipkart is facing as a business. Its valuation has fall from $15 billion to $11 billion since their exit, and while existing competitors like Snapdeal and Amazon continue to snap at its heels, new players like Alibaba are also looking to enter the Indian market. The fact that they choose to leave plum positions at India’s largest e-commerce player and launch something on their own is quite telling.

Sachin Tendulkar Builds An Off Pitch Partnership; Invests in IoT Startup Smartron

Cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar may have retired from the world of cricket a couple of years ago, but he has just got into a partnership off the pitch. Tendulkar has just made his startup debut by investing in an Internet Of Things (IoT) startup called Startron recently. This move comes close on the heels of  fellow sportsmen, Olympics winner Abhinav Bindra launching a startup fund and Yuvraj Singh investing in Rahul Yadav’s startup Intelligent Interfaces under his venture firm, Yuwecan.

sachin invests in smartron

“Smartron has been operating in stealth mode since August 2014 and is set to launch a slew of smart devices and Internet of Things (IoT) products for consumer and enterprise markets in the first quarter of FY 2016-17.”, the company blog says.

Commenting on the association, Sachin said, “I have always been fascinated by technology. Smartron’s founding vision for the need for a robust product ecosystem in the country to grow is very impressive. We need to support brands that are “designed and engineered in India” by our Entrepreneurs and Engineers that ably compete in the global markets. I look forward to being part of the growth journey of Smartron buoyed by tremendous growth opportunities offered by IoT worldwide.”

The startup investment may be Sachin’s first, but he’s no stranger to the world of business. Sachin is a known foodie and he owns a chain of eponymous restaurants in Mumbai. He also recently teamed with textiles brand Aravind to lend his name to the brand ‘Trueblue’. Investing in, an Internet Of Things startup, a field that’s touted to be the future of technology, Sachin sure is investing his billions wisely. May this be a successful inning.

Directi Has Some Serious Employee Perks And A Funky Office

Organization especially startups are now moving towards reflecting their modern beliefs and flexibility towards employees through their work culture. The emphasis is on creating a cool working environment that enables the employees to feel positive and more productive towards their work. 

Directi, owner of technology and web products companies such as Ringo, Flock, Zeta, Radix and Media.net and previously BigRock, Logicboxes and ResellerClub, Skenzo, started by Bhavin Thurakhia in 1998 is one such company. It may be almost 20 years old, but the company retains a startup culture that on one hand is all things innovative and cool, but like the successful and progressive company it is, boasts of employee perks and work culture that can rival the likes of Google and Facebook. For starters, every new employee at Directi is made to feel special with a big welcome kit and a complimentary Kindle with a free Amazon account. Directi is also known for sending heartwarming letters to the parents of its campus recruits.

When it comes to its office, Directi has pulled out all stops to make the office a fun, relaxing, and seriously indulgent place that feels like home. Below pointers are a testament into the company’s cool work culture.

1. Some fun props to mark the entrance of a great office inside. These autos are a part of the decor, and are flanked by other transport props like buses and carts.

Floor with street theme 4 - Richshaw stand with actual auto rickshaws

2. The employees are free to stick with a chair or bring in a bean bag or whatever they find comfortable at their desks.

Bean bags and X-Box Fifa for breaks

 

3. The company takes leisure time and breaks very seriously! It’s a common sight at Directi to have people playing games on the Xbox, foosball, table tennis or carrom. There are also inter company competitions that Directi employees regularly participate in.

Canteen with various recreational activities -Pool table

 

Canteen with various recreational activities - Table tennis

 

4. The company has invested into creation of an inspiring and open area for conducting jamming sessions for the musically inclined and employees can play guitars, keyboards, cajons. Other recreational activities include free dance classes.

Live Jamming sessions in the evenings

 

5. Women employees can get their kids to office.

Foosball for short breaks

 

6. Friday Night chill sessions and Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF) meetings every Friday with beers and breezers are a norm for Directi-ians. Other than that, there are fun, snack corners on each floor.

Floor with street theme 6 - 'Chai ki Tapri' in office canteen

 

7. What’s more? Just in case you’re too busy or lazy to fetch those snacks, there’s an in-house butler to get them to you. The whole company communicates on Flock, a Directi brand and a chat application for enterprises. The butlers too are by default available on Flock. There are separate chat windows on Flock for butlers of each floor. Depending upon which floor you are at, you may message them and they will come back with your food. 

Butler service to feed you as you work

 

8.  The employees have meals at this five-star restaurant lookalike canteen. (And burn off the calories at the in-house gym later)

Different themes for different areas 1