I Went to Starbucks and Its New Open Door Policy Drove Me Out

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

The hunger got me at the wrong moment, as it turned out.

I’m was in New York, staying in the darkest hotel room in the world. 

Perhaps this affected my mood.

On Wednesday, though, I wandered into a Starbucks because I needed something quick and familiar. And because I wanted to see if the pumpkin scones taste even sweeter than the ones in California. (They do. It’s unbearable.)

What struck me, however, was that there wasn’t a seat to be had. 

The whole window was populated by humans on laptops, prodding away vigorously as if they were sending hundreds of ransom notes.

At the tables, the usual business meetings you expect to see in any big-city Starbucks.

It took quite a while for my order to be completed. I imagined, naively, that just one seat might have become free.

It didn’t.

Everyone was doing their thing. What was striking, however, is that their thing didn’t seem to involve consuming anything sold by Starbucks.

You’ll tell me that this has been a problem at Starbucks for years. 

I wonder, though, whether the coffee chain’s infamous Philadelphia incident earlier this year — when a manager called police on two black men who hadn’t ordered anything and were waiting for a business meeting — has emboldened more of these laptop loungers.

There’s not much shame in New York anyway. Now, perhaps, there’s none when it comes to taking up Starbucks’ space and WiFi bandwidth, given that the chain has instituted an open-door policy that allows anyone to come in and buy nothing.

I confess I walked — discreetly, of course — behind the people populating the window. 

Between the five of them, just one had any evidence of a Starbucks product purchase.

Meanwhile, there were people standing in any corner they could find — myself included — trying to balance a drink in one hand, a sandwich in another and a phone in a third.

I contacted Starbucks to ask whether the chain has noticed an increasing problem with laptop loungers taking advantage because now they officially can.

I’ll update, should I receive a reply.

Humans take advantage whenever they can. Especially in New York, a city built on the joy of taking advantage and loudly crowing about it afterwards. 

I’d had enough of it, though, and decided to leave. 

As I did, I gave the laptop loungers the beadiest of eyes. 

They didn’t notice.

18 True Tales of Ridiculous Performance Appraisals

 “Your greatest strength… your listening abilities. well, there might not actually be anything going on in your head, but you SEEM like you’re listening,” this is a direct quote from a performance review, sent to me by Reflektive, a people management company.

It’s performance review season–many companies do an annual review in December, so October is when people start thinking about writing them. If you’re a manager, you want the reviews to be helpful for your employees. Additionally, never write anything you’re not willing to stand behind in a lawsuit. 

Whatever you do, don’t use the following examples from people’s true experiences. Reflektive shared the following three with me as well:

  • Higher level position years ago – boss spent 70% of PR talking about her husband, 30% was in-the-weeds process recommendations like: “If a team member removed paperclips from incoming documents that’s a big process improvement. Useless info! 
  • In one of the organizations that I worked in, we were asked to fill out pages of answers to open-ended subjective questions. We did. Only to find out later that our manager had already filled in his ratings before he left for a vacation a week before we started writing the reviews. Our painstakingly written answers and response had absolutely no purpose apart from making us feel like we were writing something up.
  •  I went in for my 30-day review all excited about all I’d been able to do in a newly created position. I was told that I hadn’t done anything they had wanted me to do even after he admitted that they hadn’t actually decided what they wanted to measure the position on; they just knew I hadn’t done it. I had been meeting with my supervisor for a 1-on-1 every week and he’d never said anything! I upped my documentation, reporting, project management, asked for more feedback and clearer expectations only to sit down at my 6-month review and get told a similar story – My work was exemplary, but it wasn’t what they wanted. I left that company and the person after me lasted 6 months too.

I wish I could say that performance appraisals like these are rare, but they aren’t. I asked on LinkedIn and Facebook for stories about bad appraisals and within a couple of hours had more than I could publish. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • I was dinged on a Performance Review for “causing too much drama.” The drama? Reporting and investigating Discrimination and Harassment Claims by employees who had a legitimate reason to say something.
  •  I got written up for making a typo. Fair enough but it was a fax, and I had put a period instead of a comma. There’s not a fax machine in the world clear enough for someone receiving it to catch that kind of error. My boss was gearing up to fire me for political reasons but sadly for her, I quit before her plan could come to fruition.
  •  I got lower than average rating for initiative, with the criticism that I take initiative Micromanaging boss thought it was a negative quality. Same person who, hand to God this is LITERALLY true, corrected my thumbtack positioning on a piece of paper hung on a bulletin board and DREW ME A DIAGRAM of optimal thumbtack placement.
  • Involved in a car accident while driving to a scheduled evening meeting, called from the ER to let the team know I wasn’t going to make it. The next week, I was called into the main office and written up for “allowing personal drama to interfere with my responsibilities.”
  • I once was written up years and years ago for organizing my stockroom horizontally and not vertically. Mind you all my staff were under 5ft tall and we had a completely empty room except cleaning supplies and shopping bags.
  • I was told in one job that I was “too direct” in my communications. To this day I still have no idea what that meant. When I asked for clarification as to what I was supposed to do differently in communicating with people — was I supposed to be more indirect? — they couldn’t tell me specifics. I got the feeling asking directly for clear, unambiguous feedback rubbed them the wrong way.
  • I was once told that I was too friendly with our law firm’s admins and that they wouldn’t respect me.
  • I was told that “someone” at “a meeting” “somewhere, sometime” didn’t like my facial expressions, and that I needed to make sure my facial expressions were nicer. She could not define which meeting, who said it, where it was or when.
  • A performance review stated that my number of “corrective actions” (mistakes) had increased for the year. Well, it had…from 1 to 2. Very low when you consider tens of thousands of opportunities to make an error in the course of a year. I complained and my supervisor added a note that the total remained very low. (At least the review didn’t say my number of errors doubled!)
  • My performance review was taken down because of attendance. I had influenza and missed 5 days of work. Why have sick days and get docked for using them?!
  • When I was student teaching I think my supervising teacher was looking for ways to criticize me because the students liked me better. He told me that I needed to walk backward in front of the line of fifth-grade students when we moved down the hallway. My typical place to walk was near the front of the line but to the side of the line so I could see all of the fifth graders in the line at once. I am 4’10” tall, and backward in front of the line allows me to see one or maybe two kids at the most. I failed to understand how that would be effectively managing them. Also, nothing about my instructional practices or lesson planning, just how I walked down the hall. Also, no complaints about my management of said students or them being loud or unruly in the hallway, just physically where I stood.
  • I didn’t smile enough and my “brand” was being damaged.  Mind you my manager wrote “manor” instead of manner.  She should have put eye rolling after that meeting.  When I asked for specific input to improve she said it would really hard for her to write that down.  She said she had a very hard time writing the first one.  There was never a question about my work product.
  • After 6.5 years, and 5 strong/positive reviews my company made some changes and hired a new person as my manager, while my former manager had another role. After 4 months he gave me my review which what not even close to my historical reviews. I asked if they had consulted my former manager and was told: “After a few months I’m comfortable I know you well enough to not have to consult anyone”.
  • I had a manager complain about how slow I was catching on to a task for which I was never trained on and the only one who knew how to do the task was her.

Published on: Sep 30, 2018

Honda and Acura Recall 1.6 Million Cars Over Faulty Airbags and Backup Cameras

If you own a Honda or Acura car from 2001 or later, you should check right away to find out if you’re affected by not one but two new recalls which together affect more than 1.6 million cars, one for faulty airbags on older vehicles, and another for faulty backup cameras on newer ones.

Honda, which owns the Acura brand, is recalling 1.4 million cars due to concerns over a faulty air bag inflator. If exposed to high heat and humidity over long periods of time, the air bags are at risk of exploding during a crash sending shrapnel into drivers and passengers. Drivers with affected cars should contact their dealerships immediately so that the airbags can be replaced for free.

The recall is part of a truly massive recall effort initiated by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to replace air bags made by the Japanese company Takata. Takata airbags are used in some 19 car brands–nearly every brand you can think of, including American and European cars as well as Asian ones. So far, at least 23 people have been killed worldwide by these exploding airbags, and at least 180 have been injured.

Overall, about 100 million cars worldwide will need to be recalled and have their airbags replaced by the end of 2019. Perhaps not surprisingly, Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in both Japan and the U.S. as a result of the prolonged recall.

The recall appears to affect some Honda and Acura cars sold between 2001 and 2014. You can check here to find out if theirs is one of them. For the most accurate information, have a VIN handy.

And then there are backup cameras.

If your Honda is newer than 2014, you likely don’t have to worry about an exploding airbag, but you should be aware of another recall of 232,000 2018 Accord and 2019 Insight hybrid models due to faulty backup cameras. It turns out these cameras might not accurately show what’s behind you, meaning that a driver could collide with an unseen obstacle. A free software update will fix the problem.

It seems ironic to say the least that airbags and backup cameras–two features that so greatly increase safety that both are required by law–could actually make driving more dangerous. Although you’re still better off with a Takata airbag than no airbag at all, as the NHTSA makes sure to say on its website

It’s even more interesting to note that, over the past few decades, cars have gotten safer and safer, thanks to the growing use of backup cameras and airbags, but also sensors that tell drivers when they’re drifting out of a lane, hands-free mobile phone use, and any number of other improvements. At the same time, the number of cars recalled has been mostly on the rise. That’s because cars are getting more and more complicated as manufacturers add more options and–yes–safety features.

U.S. auto recalls hit their highest level (so far) in 2016 with 53 million vehicles recalled, thanks in large part to the Takata airbags. In 2017, recalls dropped to 30.7 million. That’s still a very huge number, particularly when you consider that only 17.6 million new cars were sold that year. In other words, manufacturers are recalling nearly 75 percent more cars than they’re selling. Which doesn’t sound like any way to run a business.

3 Upcoming Dividend Increases, Including A 42% Raise


I love stocks that grow their dividends year in and out. Hopefully, you do too! If so, you are in the right place.

I’ve created a list of stocks that grow their dividends and happen to be increasing them next week. This list is a trimmed-down version only covering dividend increases. A full upcoming dividend calendar is available here.

This week, in particular, is rather light on increases, but I think the JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) hike more than makes up for it.

If you know the caveats, feel free to jump down to the lists themselves.

How It’s Assembled

The information presented below was created by combining the “U.S. Dividend Champion” spreadsheet hosted here, with upcoming dividend information from Nasdaq. This meshes metrics about companies with dividend growth history with upcoming dividend payments (and whether those payments are increasing). These companies all have a minimum 5-year dividend growth history.

Why Should I Care?

Dividend increases are one of the most outward signs by management as to how business is going. Dividend yields also don’t live in isolation; share prices tend to follow increases, as investors will move into a stock to claim the new payments. All else being equal, a 10% dividend hike should see an approximately 10% share price appreciation over time as the market adjusts to the higher payment. This produces a great flywheel effect whereby an investor can increase their income and see the face value of their investment increase.

Especially for retirees not receiving paychecks, dividend increases help cushion the never-ending force of inflation. As an added bonus, companies that grow their dividends by a rate greater than inflation can help investors improve their wealth over time.

What these lists provide is an opportunity for an investor to buy more shares prior to the dividend increase. An investor could start a position or increase their position size prior to the market readjusting to the new and higher dividend rate.

What Is The Ex-Dividend Date?

The “ex-dividend” date is the day you are no longer entitled to the dividend or distribution. You need to have made your purchase by the preceding business day. If the date is a Tuesday, you need to have purchased (or already owned) shares by market close on Monday. Be aware that for any stock going ex-dividend on a Monday (or Tuesday, if Monday may be a holiday), you must own it by the prior Friday.

Dividend Streak Categories

Here are the definitions of the streak categories as I’ll be using them throughout the piece:

  • King: 50+ years
  • Champion/Aristocrat: 25+ years
  • Contender: 10-24 years
  • Challenger: 5+ years

Fun Facts

Category Count
King 0
Champion 0
Contender 0
Challenger 3

The Main List

The data is sorted by the ex-dividend day (ascending) and then the streak (descending):

Name Ticker Streak Forward Yield Ex-Div Date Increase Percent Streak Category
Healthcare Trust of America, Inc. Class A HTA 7 4.71 1-Oct-18 1.64% Challenger
Terreno Realty Corporation TRNO 8 2.59 4-Oct-18 9.09% Challenger
JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM 7 2.75 4-Oct-18 42.86% Challenger

Field Definitions

Streak: This is years of dividend growth history sourced from the U.S. Dividend Champions spreadsheet. Here are some definitions to clarify the fields.

Forward Yield: This is the new payout rate divided by the current share price.

Ex-Dividend Date: This is the date by which you need to own the stock.

Increase Percent: This is the amount by which the dividend is being increased.

Streak Category: This is the overall dividend history classification of the company.

Additional Metrics

Here are some additional metrics related to these companies, including yearly pricing action and the P/E ratio. This table is sorted in exactly the same way as the table above. The value investor may find stock ideas with those companies near their 52-week low.

Ticker Current Price 52-week Low 52-week High PE Ratio % Off Low % Off High
HTA 25.95 24.06 31.69 66.56 8% Off Low 18% Off High
TRNO 36.63 31.56 39.27 33.67 16% Off Low 7% Off High
JPM 115.02 94.58 119.33 15.34 23% Off Low 4% Off High

Tickers By Yield (With Growth Rates)

Some investors are more interested in current yield, so this table is sorted descending by yield. This also includes some of the historical dividend growth rates as a bonus. Additionally, the “Chowder Rule” has been included (the current yield + 5-year dividend growth rate). That is the current yield plus the 5-year dividend growth rate.

Ticker Yield 1-Year DG 3-Year DG 5-Year DG 10-Year DG Chowder Rule
HTA 4.71 1.7 1.5 25.7 30.4
JPM 2.75 10.9 9.4 12.1 3.5 14.8
TRNO 2.59 7.9 14.9 13.3 15.9

I want to highlight here the 1-year growth rates are still stale (as they are on the “CCC” list currently). I’m still working to calculate these myself.

Bonus Charts

It’s slim pickings this week but I will call out JPMorgan. Obviously, a big part of the story goes back to the recession days. Bank shares in general have been extremely out of favor until the past two years as interest rates have slowly started to tick up.

Going back to this time in 2010, shares of JPM have beaten the market, generating alpha of about 3% per year over the S&P.

The value of the investment lagged the market for many years until the election in 2016. From there, shares have steadily risen above the market return, and now there is a 42% incoming dividend hike coming. That puts the forward yield at right around 2.8%, which isn’t too shabby these days.

(Courtesy: Custom Stock Alerts)


I hope you are able to find this information valuable. Let me know if you want to see additional data points or what may help make this more useful.

As always, do your due diligence on any stock before buying or selling.

Disclosure: I am/we are long JPM.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Daily Insider Ratings Round Up 9/26/18

InsiderInsights’ Daily Round Up articles rate the “significance” of the top 10 dollar value insider purchases and sales filed at the SEC on the Title date. Dollar value is only the most basic metric to assess the significance of an insider transaction, however, and there are many more “Significant” insider trades with lower dollar values every day in our comprehensive Daily Insider Ratings Reports, which also reach clients before the market opens each morning. In contrast, these free Round-Up articles are delayed.

We employ over a million lines of code programming our decades of experience analyzing insider transactions to harvest, analyze, and profitably rate insider transactions in real time. When a new insider transaction occurs, our programs mathematically score the significance of the company’s 3-month insider profile based on numerous criteria.

Stocks that achieve an InsiderInsights Company Rating of “Significant” and “Nearly Significant” have been independently validated to generate alpha as a group.

The intention of our Round Up articles is to both separate real insider investment intelligence from time-wasting noise, and to educate investors that — though insider transactions are indeed an excellent source of investment intelligence — it takes much more analysis than screening by dollar values to make money from insider data.


On Today’s Tables:

Insider trades were rated Significant at :

  • Macquarie Infrastructure (MIC).

Insider trades were rated Nearly Significant at:

  • Odonate Therapeutics (ODT), and;
  • AgroFresh Solutions (AGFS).

Insider trades were considered Insignificant at:

  • Select Interior Concepts (SIC);
  • Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF.B);
  • Natera (NTRA);
  • Wayfair (W);
  • Veritiv (VRTV);
  • Twitter (TWTR);
  • Intl Seaways (INSW);
  • GlobalSCAPE (GSB);
  • Garmin (GRMN), and;
  • Globus Medical (GMED).

There is a Conflicted Insider Signal (both purchases & sales) at:

  • Spark Energy (SPKE), and;
  • Lilly Eli (LLY).

There is an IPO or Known Corporate Action at:

It’s difficult to argue significance for most transactions made during IPOs, or when insiders make trades during a known corporate action.

Don’t agree with our Rating? Click the Company Name links in the tables below to analyze a company’s or insider’s full insider history yourself and reach your own conclusions!

Insider Purchases

#: Filer Name Insider Titles Company Name Ticker Trans
Dollar Value


Tyagi Ashu


Y Mabs Therapeutics





Solace Capital


Select Interior Concepts





Burns Michael Raymond


Lions Gate Entertainment







Macquarie Infrastructure





Tang Kevin C


Odonate Therapeutics





Simmons Jeffrey N


Elanco Animal Health







Agrofresh Solutions





Lin Sarena S


Elanco Animal Health





Travis Thomas L







Maxwell W Keith


Spark Energy




Insider Sales

#: Filer Name Insider Titles Company Name Ticker Trans
Dollar Value


Bain Capital







Paul David C


Globus Medical





Williams Evan Clark







Rabinowitz Matthew







Kao Min H







Lilly Endowment


Lilly Eli





Brown Thomas W







Haines William B







Bluemountain Cap


Intl Seaways





Conine Steven






Source: InsiderInsights.com | Key to Insider Title and Trans Type Codes :
B =Open-market Buy; AB=10b5-1 (automatic) Buy; JB*=Buy indicated as being open-market, but not confirmed by trading price range and volume for the session. S =Open-market Sale; AS=10b5-1 (automatic) Sale; JS*=Sale indicated as being open-market, but not confirmed by trading price range and volume for the session.

Did you miss our Previous Daily Round Up?

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Virtual Singapore project could be test bed for planners – and plotters

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – With the click of a button, Singapore’s security forces could soon use a digital version of the city-state to simulate a bomb threat at a sports stadium – and learn how to respond if there was a real attack.

Yet officials worry that “Virtual Singapore” – available soon to state agencies before an eventual public rollout – could also aid would-be terror plotters which the government says have their sights set on the wealthy island.

This is just one of many security conundrums facing developers of the 3D model that will be fed by big data and could assist in everything from urban planning to disaster mitigation in the city of 5.6 million people.

Developers and experts say the scheme is one of the most ambitious of its kind and will be watched by other cities hoping to use new technologies to improve the lives of citizens.

“This information will help our daily lives, but it could also fall in the wrong hands and create problems for Singapore,” said George Loh, director of programs at the National Research Foundation, a department in the Prime Minister’s Office which has been leading the project’s development for over three years.

“We need to think about that. We need to be two or three steps ahead,” Loh told Reuters.

He said some officials considered the system “too dangerous” because militants, for example, may try to access details like the height or view from buildings to plan sniper attacks.

Cybersecurity was also a concern after the country suffered its biggest data breach this year in which 1.5 million people including the prime minister had information stolen.

Virtual Singapore will be restricted to computers not connected to the worldwide web, so-called ‘internet separation’, when it is rolled out to government offices in the coming months.

George Loh, director of programmes at the National Research Foundation (NRF), showcases Virtual Singapore, a detailed 3D model of the city-state that will be fed with big data and could assist in everything from urban planning to disaster mitigation, at the National Research Foundation offices in Singapore September 21, 2018. Picture taken September 21, 2018. REUTERS/John Geddie

The problems become more complex when deciding on the amount and accuracy of the data that will be available to citizens using the 3D model at a later date.

“If it is not accurate enough, nobody will use the platform. But if it’s too accurate, then there’s a problem. The question is the tradeoff and how we address the threats that we would face,” Loh said.


With a stable, centralized government, Singapore is seen as an ideal testing ground for new technologies. But some plans, such as a network of surveillance cameras with facial recognition software, have stoked privacy concerns.

Scott Hawken, a lecturer in urban development and design at the University of New South Wales in Australia, said Virtual Singapore was among “the most advanced and comprehensive” 3D mapping projects and was seen as a model by other countries.

However, he cautioned that such technologies also raised serious questions about privacy, surveillance and security.

The S$73 million ($53 million) Virtual Singapore scheme is part of the government’s “Smart Nation” plan to use cutting-edge technology to improve people’s lives. The government has pledged to be sensitive to privacy, and Loh said some data on Virtual Singapore may be anonymised to address those concerns.

Alexandre Parilusyan of Dassault Systemes, a French software firm working on the project, said other cities have used 3D modeling to address problems like transport planning, but the scale and ambition of Virtual Singapore makes it unique.

Among its future uses, the 3D model could predict the spread of flash floods in the city, or simulate how microwaves travel through high-density areas and certain building materials to help detect dark spots in cellular network coverage.

“When you look at what Singapore is doing today, you are already looking to the future in the crystal ball,” he said.

Alexandre Parilusyan of Dassault Systemes showcases Virtual Singapore, a detailed 3D model of the city-state that will be fed with big data and could assist in everything from urban planning to disaster mitigation, at the National Research Foundation offices in Singapore September 21, 2018. Picture taken September 21, 2018. REUTERS/John Geddie

Reporting by John Geddie and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Darren Schuettler

5 Ways to Beef Up Your Cybersecurity Right Now

Cyberthreats are a clear and present danger for every business. As sudden as a heart attack, a cyberattack can compromise your computers or highjack your wire transfers — leading to rapid loss of cash, data, records, leadership credibility, employees and customer trust.

Small and midsize companies are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Hackers consider them soft targets because they tend to hold valuable data but lack sufficient security measures to thwart a cyberattack. In fact, a recent study conducted by my company Vistage revealed that nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of CEOs do not currently have an active cybersecurity strategy in place. More than one-quarter (27 percent) have no plan at all.

If your company is one of those, take measures to beef up your cybersecurity right now. I interviewed three cybersecurity experts on how to get started; this checklist can help you get started.

1. Assess your cybersecurity.

To gauge the strength of your cybersecurity, use a reputable tool — such as the Cybersecurity Framework offered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology — to perform an assessment. As part of this process, gather your senior leadership team, investors and board of directors to perform an informal audit. Review, value and prioritize your assets and decide what cybersecurity measures you want to manage internally versus outsource.

2. Bring awareness to employees.

Train employees to abide by basic security principles. This includes enforcing the use of strong passwords, maintaining appropriate internet use and handling customer information and data with care. It’s a good idea invest in a stock test package or use phishing simulations to teach people how to spot common signs of an attack.

3. Implement robust policies, processes and procedures.

At the very least, have an acceptable use policy. Limit employee access to sensitive data and information, tailoring access according to each person’s role and responsibilities. Put someone in charge of checking firewall logs, antivirus logs and anti-malware logs on a routine basis. Create simulations for cybersecurity attacks and figure out your game plan, including who you’d call in an emergency.

4. Make smart technology choices.

Don’t rely solely on antivirus software to keep you safe; most companies require something more robust. Consider you truly need from the full range of security options, including antivirus software, endpoint security systems, firewalls, data back-up solutions, encryption software, two-step authentication and password-security systems.

Get application controls so that your company’s computers only run a preapproved set of business-essential programs. Finally, uninstall the free, lite and trial versions of programs on your company’s computers, which can serve as toeholds for hackers.

5. Call on experts.

Even if you have IT resources, you should meet with a cybersecurity expert on a biannual basis, much like you would a financial planner. If you don’t have an IT resource, consider using a fractional model (i.e., contract or third-party service provider) to engage IT experts when you need them. Finally, conduct an external review of IT to ensure that your company’s data and network is secure and current.

Grab halts late-night car-pooling in Singapore after driver complaints

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Ride-hailing firm Grab said on Wednesday it would stop offering car-pooling services during late-night hours in Singapore after drivers complained about some passengers being drunk and argumentative.

FILE PHOTO: Commuters wait for a train next to Grab transport booking service app advertisements at a train station in Singapore February 10, 2016.REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo

Citing feedback from drivers who described intoxicated commuters vomiting in their cars or arguing with them during the ride, the company said it would stop its GrabHitch service between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. from next month.

GrabHitch enables private car drivers to offer a ride to passengers heading in the same direction for a fee.

GrabShare, the carpooling service offered by Grab’s commercial drivers, has been suspended during the same overnight hours since June.

The company’s other ride-hailing services are still available during those hours.

“Grab has always taken a proactive approach to ensure that our driver-partners and passengers will have a safe and positive driving/riding experience,” the company said on Wednesday.

Ride-hailing firms in Asia have faced questions about safety after incidents involving drivers and passengers this year.

China’s biggest ride hailing firm, Didi Chuxing, implemented safety measures after a public outcry over the murder of a 20-year-old passenger by her Didi driver in August, the second such incident since May.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Darren Schuettler

Instagram Co-Founders to Leave Facebook

Instagram’s co-founders are leaving the popular photo-sharing app, raising questions about the future direction of what has been a growth engine for parent company Facebook.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said Monday evening in a corporate blog post that he and chief technology officer, Mike Krieger, would step down from the social networking giant and are “planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again.”

Systrom did not say when he and Krieger would leave, but The New York Times reported earlier on Monday that it would be in the coming weeks. The executives notified Facebook’s management of their plans to leave on Monday, the Times report said, citing unidentified sources.

“We’ve grown from 13 people to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion,” Systrom wrote. “We’re now ready for our next chapter.”

Systrom did not say why he and Krieger are stepping down from Facebook, which is facing one of the most turbulent times in its history. In recent years, the company has had to deal with problems like the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its failure to prevent Russian entities from spreading propaganda on its service during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

“Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do,” Krieger wrote.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the executives in a statement, but he did not elaborate about the departure or who would replace them.

“Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents,” Zuckerberg said. “I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it. I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.”

Technology analysts generally consider Instagram, which Facebook bought in 2012 for $1 billion, as one of Facebook’s most important services, especially in light of the parent company’s recent scandals. While Facebook’s user growth appears to be slowing down, Instagram’s growth is booming, with analysts from Bloomberg Intelligence recently estimating the service to be worth over $100 billion if it were an independent company.

In April, Jan Koum, the founder and CEO of Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp announced that he would step down. Koum did not say why, but the Washington Post reported that it was due to disagreements with Facebook executives over data privacy and encryption policies that they wanted to enforce on the messaging app.

Instagram co-founders resign in latest Facebook executive exit

Rockville, MD (Reuters) – Instagram on Monday said co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have resigned as chief executive officer and chief technical officer of the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook Inc, giving scant explanation for the move.

FILE PHOTO: Instagram founders Mike Krieger (L) and Kevin Systrom attend the 16th annual Webby Awards in New York May, 21 2012. REUTERS/Stephen Chernin/File photo

The departures at Facebook’s fastest-growing revenue generator come just months after the exit of Jan Koum, co-founder of Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp, leaving the social network without the developers behind two of its biggest services.

They also come at a time when Facebook’s core platform is under fire for how it safeguards customer data, as it defends against political efforts to spread false information, and as younger users increasingly prefer alternative ways to stay in touch with family and friends. Concerns over Facebook’s business sparked the biggest one-day wipeout in U.S. stock market history in July.

Systrom wrote in a blog post on Monday that he and Krieger planned to take time off and explore “our curiosity and creativity again”.

Their announcement came after increasingly frequent clashes with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg over the direction of Instagram, Bloomberg reported.

In a statement, Zuckerberg described the two as “extraordinary product leaders”.

“I’ve learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it. I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next,” Zuckerberg said.


Koum’s departure in May followed the exit of his WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton.

That led to a reshuffling of Facebook’s executive ranks, increasing Zuckerberg’s ability to influence day-to-day operations. Zuckerberg ally Chris Cox, who leads product development for Facebook’s main app, gained oversight of WhatsApp and Instagram, which had been given independence when Facebook bought them.

Adam Mosseri, who had overseen Facebook’s news feed and spent a decade working closely with Zuckerberg, became Instagram’s head of product.

Instagram and Facebook have operated independently and the two services barely mention each other. But as regulators have pushed Facebook to improve information safeguards for individual privacy, to combat addiction to social media, and to stop misinformation or fake news, Zuckerberg and other leaders have been under more pressure to monitor units beyond the core social network.


Systrom and Krieger notified the photo-sharing app’s leadership team and Facebook on Monday about their decision to leave, Instagram said. Their departure would be soon, it said. The New York Times first reported the move.

Systrom and Krieger met through Stanford University and worked separately in Silicon Valley before forming Instagram in 2010.

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion. The photo-sharing app has over 1 billion active monthly users and has grown by adding features such as messaging and short videos. In 2016, it added the ability to post slideshows that disappear in 24 hours, mimicking the “stories” feature of Snap Inc’s Snapchat.

The photo app’s global revenue this year is likely to exceed $8 billion, showed data from advertising consultancy EMarketer.

Increased advertising on Instagram has seen the average price-per-ad across Facebook’s apps decline this year after a year of upswing. A new privacy law in Europe also has affected prices.

Instagram had been hailed in Silicon Valley as a flashy acquisition done right, with the team kept relatively small and Systrom having the freedom to add features such as peer-to-peer messaging, video uploads and advertising.

“I see Mark [Zuckerberg] practice a tremendous amount of restraint in giving us the freedom to run, but the reason why I think he gives us the freedom to run is because when we run, it typically works,” Systrom told Recode last June.

The app’s latest product, IGTV, has been slow to gain traction. Offered through Instagram and as a standalone app, IGTV serves up longer-length video content, mostly from popular Instagram users.

Video content has been a major emphasis for Facebook as it seeks to satisfy advertisers’ desire to stream more commercials online.

Reporting by Paresh Dave and Subrat Patnaik; Additional reporting by Bhargav Acharya; Writing by Peter Henderson; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Christopher Cushing