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Top Texas Senator Announces Ride-Hailing Legislation

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[gdlr_notification icon=”fa-flag” type=”color-background” background=”#ffcc20″ color=”#000000″]This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune[/gdlr_notification]

The debate over regulating companies like Uber and Lyft looks likely to move from the local to the state level in Texas, although how big a discussion it will be remains to be seen. 

On Sunday, the day after Austin voters soundly rejected a measure to overturn city protocols for ride-hailing companies, a top Republican state senator announced he will file legislation next year “designed to establish consistent and predictable statewide regulation of ridesharing services.” 

The Legislature convenes in January. 

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[gdlr_tab title=”Sen. Charles Schwertner” position=”R-Georgetown” author_image=”#” ]
“Texas’ ridesharing companies can no longer operate effectively through a patchwork of inconsistent and anti-competitive regulations.”[/gdlr_tab]

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“It has become increasingly clear that Texas’ ridesharing companies can no longer operate effectively through a patchwork of inconsistent and anti-competitive regulations,” said state Sen. Charles Schwertner of Georgetown, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, in a statement. 

“Any legitimate safety or liability concern regarding ridesharing clearly deserves to be addressed, and I welcome all parties to engage productively in that discussion,” the statement read. “But as a state with a long tradition of supporting the free market, Texas should not accept transparent, union-driven efforts to create new barriers to entry for the sole purpose of stifling innovation and eliminating competition.” 

Uber and Lyft have said they will cease operations in Austin on Monday following the failure of Proposition 1, a referendum that would’ve overturned rules the City Council approved last year that — in part — will require drivers to undergo fingerprint-based background checks by next February. The companies, which have pulled out of other Texas cities that have passed similar regulations, spent $8.6 million on their Austin campaign, making it the most expensive in city history.   

Other state GOP officials expressed similar free market-based concerns on social media Sunday, indicating that Schwertner’s measure may not have a hard time finding traction in the Republican-dominated Legislature. 

“Liberalism has consequences,” Land Commissioner George P. Bush wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday, becoming the first statewide official to weigh in on the outcome of the Austin vote. “Austin claims to be a forward-thinking city … This is what happens with liberalism — the government wins and the people lose.” 

Disclosure: Uber and Lyft have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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[gdlr_notification icon=”fa-camera” type=”color-background” background=”#999999″ color=”#ffffff”]Top image photo credit: Pro and against signs of Austin’s Prop 1 ride-hailing vote posted along voting centers on University of Texas at Austin’s campus on April 28, 2016. / photo credit: Shelby Knowles / Texas Tribune[/gdlr_notification]

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Chinese Tech Company Completes Acquisition of Grindr

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One of the largest mobile gaming companies in the world now has full ownership of the world’s largest gay social network. Kunlun Group Limited closed on its purchase of the remaining stake of Grindr LLC from founder Joel Simkhai.

In January 2016, Kunlun Group, a Hong Kong-based subsidiary of the Chinese video game company Beijing Kunlun Tech Company, acquired a majority interest in Grindr when in acquired a 61.5 percent stake in the company for US$93 million, or 601.8 million yuan. In May 2017, it announced that it would acquire the remaining 38.5 percent stake in the company for US$152 million.

Grindr CEO and founder Joel Simkhai at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco in 2012 / photo credit: TechCrunch / Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Joel Simkhai, the CEO and founder of Grindr, will exit the company now that the Kunlun Group has completed its acquisition of the company, and Yahui Zhou, the chairman of the board of Grindr, will serve as the interim CEO. Additionally, Grindr’s current vice-chairman Wei Zhou has been named as executive vice-chairman and CFO, and former Facebook and Instagram veteran Scott Chen will join Grindr as CTO.

“I’m beyond proud of what we’ve built as a team and how Grindr has been able to make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the global community,” said Joel Simkhai, “We have achieved our success because of the strength and global reach of our community. I look forward to Grindr and Kunlun’s continued commitment to building tolerance, equality, and respect around the world.”

“On behalf of everyone at Grindr, we would like to thank Joel for his inspiration and service as the founder of Grindr, and wish him all the best in the future,” said Yahui Zhou, “Looking forward, we are extremely excited about the excellent work Grindr is doing in becoming a leading global technology company, serving and supporting our users no matter where they are in the world.”

Founded in 2009 as a gay hookup app, Grindr currently has over 100 employees and 3.3 million daily active users in every country in the world and is the largest LGBTQ mobile social network. Recently, it has begun to grow itself into a lifestyle brand, complete with an online magazine INTO.

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Mobile Google CEO Promises 11 Daydream-compatible phones

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Ford’s 2018 Mustang GT can do 0-to-60 mph in under 4 seconds

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