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Rideshare companies say driver shortage is pushing prices up

It's not just you: Uber and Lyft rides are more expensive, company executives said this week.

Why it matters: Demand for rideshare is roaring back as the economy starts to reopen, but the same can't be said for drivers on the apps. That means fewer cars on the road, causing a supply gap that's pushing up prices.

What's going on: Lyft says stronger rider demand began to outpace driver supply at the end of February.

  • One reason for the driver deficit: safety concerns and fear of contracting the virus, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC on Thursday.

What they're saying: "We've told our investors we are going to lean into driver supply. We are going to put up our capital to bring more drivers into the system" to alleviate pricing pressure, Khosrowshahi said.

  • Uber last month announced a one-time stimulus payment cumulatively worth $250 million to help lure drivers back.
  • "As the vaccine rollout continues, driver availability should naturally improve," Lyft CEO John Zimmer said on a call with Wall Street analysts, though it expects to invest in incentives to help move the ball along.

The dynamic has led to record earnings for Lyft drivers in some U.S. cities, the company says.

  • Lyft drivers in top markets earned on average more than $30 per hour, 85% above pre-pandemic times. The company hopes this will help pull even more drivers onto the platform.

The bottom line: Add rideshares to the list of things that cost more — at least in the short-term, as the economy revs all the way back up and the vaccination campaign picks up pace.

Go deeper: Why it feels impossible to get an Uber in Des Moines

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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