Archive for : March, 2017

Rise in Cybersecurity Risks Leads to Massive Increase in IT Security Jobs

There has never been more demand for IT professionals with the proper security credentials and experience. These jobs are going to be the main part of the tech industry market for the next five years at least, but it is becoming only more difficult to find professionals in a market short on candidates. There is a big discrepancy between supply and demand in data security, which is only fuelling the creation of more IT data security jobs.

Sudeep Dharan, the chief technology officer for Acendre, believes that the problem boils down to two things. First, there needs to be long-term workforce planning that can anticipate what is needed and find the staff for the job. Second comes engaging and developing talents that are already working for you. You never know; you might have had a diamond in the rough this whole time without realising it.

There is some thought that must be put into planning ahead and getting and retaining the best talent on the market. The modern job trends show us that there is a higher preference for flexible work and the average tenure at a company is lower. Businesses have found themselves struggling with accommodating for these needs. It is up to organizations to be proactive in their approach to workforce planning and should avoid just looking to recruit and fill the available jobs.

There is currently an extremely competitive war for tech talent in Australia at the minute. Things are so rough that many organizations are looking to fill their gaps in critical skills by looking offshore. It takes a lot of effort and resources to pull in the best in tech talent. It also takes a focused and targeted approach. It doesn’t matter how great your recruitment efforts are if you don’t have a great onboarding strategy to support it and bring talent in.

To keep it short and simple; organizations must look for the right talent at all times and grab any good talent they come across. The IT tech market is a buyers’ market right now. Grab all the talent you can as soon as you can, or someone else will get them. This doesn’t mean you should take just anyone. Doug Walker, an employee of One Identity, an identity & access management software company, went through 7 interviews and a testing simulation before being hired. Hiring the wrong talent can cost companies millions of dollars.

The keys to retaining talent once they have been recruited are developing and training them. Training and development programs must be in place to keep employees satisfied and ensure they stick with the organisation for as long as they possibly can. If you aren’t providing them with the satisfaction and growth that they desire, they will find another employer who can do that for them.

Organizations must also consider training to be a continuous and ongoing process. It takes never-ending investment. As the technology an employee uses evolves, the teams using the technology must evolve and adapt to it. Millennials in particular will not stick with a company that doesn’t offer them sufficient training and allows their development to stagnate.

When an employer sponsors and supports training events it shows their staff they are actively investing in the professional development of employees, and it also benefits and protects the organisation as a whole. Continuing to train your staff ensures they have all the skills they need to tackle any challenge that might befall the organisation.

The old days – where employees would spend their whole working life at a single company – are gone. The modern worker prefers to work for the companies that excite, challenge, and reward them. They won’t work for a company just because it happens to be the oldest, largest, or supposedly most desirable organisation in their field. Many people actually prefer working for high-risk start-ups because of the fast pace things move at there.

On the other hand, an organisation will inherently place a high value on an employee that matches their strategic plans. They need employees they know will fit their needs. Sometimes this just isn’t possible without the organisation engaging these employees and creating organisational missions, values, and visions.

It is absolutely vital that the onboarding process of a company clearly states the values of the company and that companies take employees who want to work for them. The next step is to ensure that these employees are satisfied. Check-in on their satisfaction and promote it through processes and activities such as reviews, team-building exercises, and by offering them flexible working conditions. This ensures the staff there to improve organisational performance are the right fit for the company culture.

There are a range of challenges businesses face when they hier local IT talent, but there are also ways to overcome these challenges. One of the big challenges facing Australia right now is that there is a major lack of cyber-security skills. Other countries, like Japan and Mexico, have much more talent available. Even when attempting to entice employees by offering them higher wages, there’s only so much that can be done with a lack of local talent.

The shortage of talent does more than just burden other employees and increase their workload; it also compromises the security of their data. The Australian government recently pledged $1.9 million to universities to combat this shortage, and it is certainly a good start, but it really isn’t enough solve the problems that exist today. It is an investment in the future.

Some suggest that it is possible to take advantage of the immigration ban issued by President Trump to acquire cyber experts no longer welcome in the US. This approach might sound a little drastic, but it does also highlight an incredible opportunity businesses can take.

Organizations should be considering offering incentives such as visa support and accommodating for team structures based on contractors. There are shortages in talent in places like the UK and Canada as well, which is why Australian companies need to be vigilant and competitive in their approach to recruiting talent while getting government support.

Sidecar Acquires Austin Rideshare Community Heyride; Takes Rideshare Nationwide

Sidecar (, the leading on-demand rideshare community, announced today it has acquired the assets of Heyride, Inc, an Austin-based rideshare community. Sidecar uses smartphones to connect everyday drivers with a car with people nearby who need a ride. The acquisition immediately builds out Sidecar’s operational presence in Austin in time for SXSW 2013. Already popular in San Francisco and Seattle with more than 100,000 connected rides, Sidecar will begin rides in Philadelphia, Austin and Los Angeles this weekend and is actively recruiting drivers in New York, Chicago, Washington, DC and Boston.

“We’ve heard from people across the country and around the world that they want the Sidecar community to take root in their cities and towns,” said Sunil Paul, CEO Sidecar. “Heyride’s talented team has developed a unique design and experience that will help take the rideshare movement we started here in San Francisco nationwide. We are thrilled to welcome Heyride to the Sidecar family.”

Sidecar and Heyride have a shared vision for empowering communities to solve transportation problems. Heyride’s world-class user experience and design team will join Sidecar’s product team to focus on creating an outstanding experience for Sidecar drivers and riders. Heyride’s assets include its critically acclaimed iPhone application for ridesharing available at  Founded in 2012, Heyride was born out of the team’s frustration with the limited transportation options during the city’s SXSW festival.

During its initial launch phase Sidecar will be available for drivers and riders Friday and Saturday nights from 5pm – 3am in West LA, Venice, Santa Monica and Culver City in Los Angeles; and downtown Austin and Philadelphia. Expanded hours and days will follow as the community grows. Sidecar is actively recruiting drivers in New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, DC. Drivers can sign up to be part of the community at

How Sidecar Works

Sidecar matches everyday drivers with a car with people nearby who need a ride. It’s like getting a ride from a friend or a neighbor when you want it. Riders place a request to share a ride by setting a pick-up and drop off location using the Sidecar app. Once the request is accepted, drivers can be viewed approaching in real-time. Riders can make a voluntary donation at the end of the ride.

Sidecar has many features in place to keep riders and drivers safe. All Sidecar drivers are pre-vetted for safety. All rides are tracked and passengers can share their progress and ride status in text, email and social media. Donations are made through the app, so the entire experience is cashless and hassle-free. The Sidecar community sets and enforces high standards for safety and quality. Drivers and riders rate one another and people with low ratings are removed from the Sidecar community. Sidecar’s safety features can be found at

About Sidecar

Sidecar (, the leading on-demand rideshare community, uses smartphones to connect everyday drivers with a car with people nearby who need a ride. It’s a safe, affordable, convenient and fun way to get around the city. Founded in San Francisco in 2012. The company’s investors include Lightspeed Venture Partners, Google Ventures, Spring Ventures, Huron River Ventures, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures and others.
Drivers can sign up to be part of the community at

Under the Hood: A Look at Sidecar’s On-demand Logistics Infrastructure

On-demand deliveries may be the loudest space in tech right now, but they have also become a topic of debate. Fans love the convenience of an instant mobile experience for everyday tasks like getting a ride and ordering dinner.

Critics however, pan companies in this space as unregulated VC-funded fictions or Webvan 2.0.  To be fair, more than a little of that sentiment is deserved. However, I think the following quote (and the stature of its author) illustrates how split we are on the long term outlook here perfectly:

“I think there’s just an urban mythology out there that an [on-demand delivery app] somehow changes the basic cost input of the logistics business or changes the patterns or the underlying business situation and that’s just not–that’s just incorrect. So great company, great concept [in reference to Uber], but I don’t think it’s…likely to be a major player in the logistics business”  – Fred Smith, CEO, FedEx

This is certainly a very damning statement from someone who ought to know. So what’s the root of the disagreement here? After all, it is uncontroversial that on-demand delivery services are about half the cost (and half the time) of the quickest comparable delivery from FedEx. You can get food from Caviar, EAT24, DoorDash, Postmates, etc. (some of which are actually delivered by Sidecar Deliveries) for about $7, but a FedEx same-day delivery will cost you $16.

But is that simply because VCs love losing money to buy growth?  Are these prices a fiction?

Mr. Smith is correct in stating that our delivery app doesn’t change the cost of taking something from point A to point B, no more than our ridesharing app does. However, once there is a network of such app users in place dispersed around a city at all times, they are able to do wonders, especially when the cloud can predict, observe, and optimize every step of the way. When everyone is connected to the Internet all the time, people can work together in shockingly more efficient ways than was previously possible.

As I intend the newest iteration to our logistics infrastructure to demonstrate, the on-demand economy represents a fundamental change to how much these services cost, the reliability and speed with which they can be deployed, and in general, what is possible when it comes to getting things on-demand.

With that, let’s take a closer look at what’s going on here:

A Multi-modal Delivery Network

Despite our roots in peer-to-peer ridesharing, our fleet is not exclusively made of cars. As we began to scale deliveries, we realized that cars are actually not optimal for many deliveries in an urban environment. Today, depending on a number of factors, when you place an order with one of our partners, it is delivered to you via some combination of cars, bike couriers and walkers. Each of these modes has predictable strengths and weaknesses: bike couriers can’t carry a huge volume of food or drink, but are FAST over short distances, walkers take zero time to park but can’t move distances greater than 0.25 miles (they must hand their goods to a different mode at one point or another to get the item to its destination). The ability to intelligently decide which mode works best at which time, and path-find between multiple modes, is a powerful cornerstone of the Sidecar network. While other startups also do this type of optimization, Sidecar recently announced we combine walkers and cars or bikes for a particular delivery, which was even greater impact on efficiency.

Yield Prediction and Location Efficiency Management

The next piece is more subtle, but equally important. Every city we operate in is broken up into 0.25 x 0.25mi “grids”, and our data and operations teams work together to predict how many orders are going to come in over each grid, each day, every 15 minutes.

Additionally, the data group observes the locations at which parking is difficult (i.e. any restaurant along Market Street), which our algorithms then take into account to determine routing and which delivery mode(s) to effectively utilize.

Our Routing Algorithm

The routing algorithm is the heartbeat of our on-demand infrastructure. In compsci terms, it is solving a new class of problem: a traveling salesman problem modified with ordered pickups and dropoffs and deadlines. Most importantly, however: in our context the problem is not static. An optimally-routed system will become sub-optimal once the next person orders a ride, or some a burrito, an emergency auto part, etc. This obviously has tremendous impact on complexity of solution, and continued optimization on this front is where we spend a LOT of time.

This is the stuff of an algorithmist’s dreams (or nightmares). Every car, bike courier and walker on the Sidecar network is not on one ride, or one delivery per se. Rather, they are assigned to an ordered set of multiple waypoints each with individual deadlines. They might be picking up two orders at the first location, dropping one off at the next, picking two more up at the third, and so on and so forth.

These waypoint sets can be assigned or reassigned on the fly, as optimality is recalculated.

As new orders come into the system, the algorithm assigns or reassigns them while taking into account prescheduled orders still needing to be dispatched.  The goal of the system is to maximize driver efficiency and minimize confusion due to reassignments, all while targeting a 95% on-time percentage.

Take for example a San Francisco driver with someone’s groceries in her backseat who is headed to deliver them in Lower Nob Hill. An order is placed for a hot food delivery and the pickup is roughly along the driver’s route. The algorithm now has a decision to make: offer this order to an available driver in another neighborhood, or dynamically insert it into the occupied driver’s itinerary. In this case and in many like it, the already-busy driver ends up being the best choice for this new work as they gain efficiency while only adding marginal incremental drive time to make the pickup.

Putting it All Together

So what’s the punchline here? Well, efficiency translates into price, and a low price for on-demand deliveries means that you can get more and more things delivered on-demand without being cost prohibitive. Let’s walk through a peak demand evening and see what happens:

Let’s say a particular 0.25 mile x 0.25 mile grid has a number of on-demand enabled restaurants, bakeries, medical marijuana dispensaries, etc. on it. Let’s also suppose that, over 60 minutes, the sum total of all orders placed to locations inside this grid is 20 deliveries.


If this isn’t a first time spike in demand, our forecasts would indicate that walkers should be placed in this zone in anticipation of this volume. In this situation, let’s say that eight of the orders were headed north of the grid in a relatively clean group, and eight were headed south in another clean group.

In this case we should expect two walkers each to pick up eight orders as quickly as they can, and hand each batch of eight to a different driver, who will arrive once the walkers are projected to complete their last pickups. Additionally, for the outliers, one or two bikers will come and pick these up and drop them off.


All this works with the labor economics of the local market. In San Francisco, walkers need to make $16/hour, drivers make $22/hour and bikers make $19/hour (and they are all in the area already). At peak, a fully loaded car can drop off six packages/hour while a biker can do four/hour. Therefore, fully loaded everyone gets paid including our 20% commission at $6.90/delivery. It seems too cheap to be feasible, but it’s not;  the key is that 0 effort is wasted by any person in the network, and additionally, no vehicle spends ANY time doing something inefficient for that particular type of vehicle. Drivers don’t park, walkers don’t move large distances, bikers don’t take too many packages, etc.

Now that these pieces are all stood up together, all of sudden, you can transport things across the city from any point in the city to any other point under the right circumstances for $7, in under an hour, which despite what my colleague at FedEx previously stated, is a marked reduction (again, the cheapest two hour FedEx delivery in SF is $16), in cost. These costs aren’t a fiction, they come from increased efficiency of all parts of the network, as well as being able to utilize a network of drivers, bikers, and walkers that are ALREADY in the area for simply the portions of the deliveries they are suited best for (i.e. making the pickup, driving a batch, etc). Contrast this with the status quo of driving dedicated cars into the area and then driving them (a “dead-head”) all the way back and it is clear what is happening. Simply put, the on-demand contractor model, especially when different types of contractors are working in tandem, is a much more efficient one when it comes to these kinds of hyperlocal deliveries.

This is far more than a convenient experience with a slick interface. Sure, some of the fundamentals are the same. People need to make the same amount of money for the same amount of work. However our technology enables us to work together more efficiently than was previously even imaginable. When we take a moment to look, we can see that the changes in our technological capabilities are driving a fundamental shift in what is possible in the on-demand logistics world, and therefore consumer behavior at large.  The larger question is, once this kind of network exists everywhere in the world, what breakthrough services will the world build on top of it?

Ride on!
Jahan Khanna, co-founder and CTO of Sidecar

Why we sold to GM

Yesterday news broke of General Motor’s acquisition of Sidecar assets. Why the sale? In short, we were forced to shut down operations and sell. We were unable to compete against Uber, a company that raised more capital than any other in history and is infamous for its anti-competitive behavior. The legacy of Sidecar is that we out-innovated Uber but still failed to win the market. We failed – for the most part – because Uber is willing to win at any cost and they have practically limitless capital to do it.

When it was clear we needed to sell the company, it was important to the board and me that we continue Sidecar’s spirit of innovation and land Sidecar employees in great jobs. Finding a buyer like GM fulfilled our goals. Once the term sheet was signed with GM in December and the strategy was clear, we ceased operation of our ride and delivery operations and focused on closing the deal.

With the acquisition of Sidecar assets, GM gains the team and technology to accelerate their mobility plans and grow their new mobility offering into a world-class transportation service. The key component to the transaction is a license to Sidecar patents*. Sidecar retains ownership of those patents.

What’s next for me?  I’ve chosen not to move on with the GM team, and instead take a break before starting my next thing. It feels almost unbelievable to me that four years ago ridesharing didn’t exist. I’m proud to have led the team at Sidecar. Together we profoundly changed transportation for the better, inventing the technology that enabled the entire category like instant peer-to-peer ridesharing, shared rides, back-to-back rides, shared ETA, driver directions, and so many more.

I wish every member of Sidecar all the best. GM now has one of the most innovative, fastest-moving teams in Silicon Valley working for them.

Sunil Paul

Co-founder & CEO, Sidecar

* Sidecar holds the US Patent #6356838 for “System and method for determining an efficient transportation route” and has other patents pending.

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National Driver Spotlight: Meet Ralf

Ralf is a day-trader who drives for Sidecar to help pay for his son’s college education.

San Diego is known for having some of the most beautiful destinations in the United States. As for Ralf, he knows some of the great local spots. “There are a ton of great local spots I like to share with riders. One of my favorite spots is La Jolla Mesa. Other great local spots is North Park and Downtown San Diego, both offering great entertainment options and culinary experiences.”

In addition to sharing some of his favorite local spots with riders, Ralf has learned a great deal from them too. “I show riders San Diego and they show me humanity.” One of the greatest things he has learned from his riders is looking at things in a different perspective.

Thanks for sharing Ralf. Ride on!

National Driver Spotlight: Meet Drew

Drew has not only been a Sidecar driver for one city, but three. Drew has been a driver in Washington DC, San Francisco and currently in Seattle. When Drew is not driving, he’s bootstrapping a startup with six friends and also works in IT consulting for companies like Microsoft.

Driving for Sidecar has helped Drew earn more money for his startup. “I was in a bit of a stall, having nearly exhausted our seed money and still a ways from our next likely raise and we were low on options.” He began asking other Sidecar drivers how they enjoyed Sidecar and they all said they couldn’t have been happier. He gave it a shot and is still driving a year later!

While his startup is doing extremely well, he continues to drive for Sidecar because it’s great to get out and be social. He networks with riders and has met some great friends along the way.

Dave’s Cross Country Sidecar Adventure

After ten years of nonstop work, Sidecar driver Dave decided he needed a vacation. And so he did it in a big way – he hit the open road! Dave recently wrapped up a cross country road trip from San Diego where he hit major cities such as Washington DC, Boston and Chicago before wrapping up in San Francisco.


While he was in Boston, he came upon a fellow Sidecar driver honking at him at a stop light. They pulled over to share stories, tips and what it’s like being a Sidecar driver in Boston.

What was more interesting was that Dave actually met Beyonce and Cher! Dave had the pleasure of driving two celebrities in his 2014 Ford Focus and he didn’t even get their autographs. “To this day I really do wonder what Beyonce would think if she knew there was a white English Bulldog in La Jolla that carried her name and has a dog sister named Cher.”

Golden Gate

His last stop during the road trip was visiting the Sidecar team in San Francisco where he’s become a bit of a celebrity. “You know, it was interesting for me to walk into the Sidecar office and have people recognize who I was without having to say a word.” Dave had been on the road for three weeks by the time he got to San Francisco and sometimes drove for 20-30 hours to get to the next city. “The energy was infectious!” The Sidecar team welcomed Dave and gathered to learn more about his exciting Sidecar adventure.

So, would Dave do this again? “I am going to do this trip again, next month. This time I am going from San Diego to Long Beach, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, DC and Charlotte.” Riders in these cities, keep a look out for Dave!