Calling out Uber for what it is
Disruptive technology or destructive disruption? What is Uber and what does it say about us??
My suggestion of “we should hail a cab” was met with derision by my younger brothers who said they would pick me up. 10 minutes later a black 7 series BMW pulled up with them hanging out the back window saying “get in”.
What is Uber to us and what does it say about us?
The illegal origins
Conveniently swept under the carpet, the 7 series demonstrated the provision of an illegal service. A limo driver should not be hailed by the public. If it wasn’t Uber black, it was outright illegal.
In Australia, our convict origins love the slap in the face to the law. In France, the slap in the face was more like teargas fired at taxi drivers looking at losing their livelihood.
Political correctness, convenience and reform
Whether it’s the global marketplace or the proliferation of drugs on the dark web, it is tough for the law to keep up with emerging technologies.
With the taxi industry pressuring the government, an illegal ruling seemed possible as the value of those taxi licenses headed to zero. The taxi industry fined drivers, Uber paid the fines. A big company with deep pockets beating law. We clapped and said “taxi man – you have been ripping us off for years”.
The law and politicians, now under weight of a public saving money and having jobs created through Uber, used it to drive reform and state by state legalisation.
We partied in progress and common sense. It all seemed good.
“Greyballing” – we were being duped
Uber went through a period of marketing driven normalization, paying fines and sheer weight of numbers to drive reform.
In a number of global posts, we learned Uber had created software “greyballing” software which sent false results to government regulators trying to prevent the company from operating and places they were not allowed. Software posting false results. Uber admitted it.
Our opinion was swayed by deception. They admitted it. It was used in Australia. They admitted it.
The laws remained. We still clapped, but only if the person next to us did.
Employment below the poverty line
I love talking to drivers as they meet lots of people and can be a great wealth of knowledge and information about what’s going on in the world.
Drivers absolutely loved Uber with religious fervor. They could work when they wanted it. They could earn extra cash. The pay was good. Then the commissions went down. Fees went up. Too many drivers.
One UK judge said “Uber resorted to “fictions, twisted language, and even brand new terminology,” in its contracts.”
Now worth $80 Billion, Uber was starting to look like another company just ripping off its workers.
Awkward smiles replaced the claps.
Awkward times at HQ
Complaints against the CEO, troubling accounts of alleged sexual harassment in workplace, allegations they had stolen valuable IP from competitors.
To offer balance, this sort of stuff is regularly levelled at emerging disruptive companies.
A lot of smoke obscuring the hand clap. Just a little bit of fire?
Uber 2.0 – cars without humans
New technology, disrupt the world, create jobs en route to a fleet of driverless cars and make humans redundant to drive profit. Drivers of today are offered freedom, flexibility and control, working for a company who plans to take away their future.
What does Uber tell us about ourselves?
What is it we love about Uber? The cool factor, that it’s a little bit disruptive and the short-term convenience and cost savings.
$10 and 10 minutes saved getting to the airport.
By using a service that started off illegal, made legal through disruption and openly stating it plans to take jobs away from those people filling its coffers.
Disruptive or destruction? Progress or powershift?
Care factor, I can save $10.