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August 26, 2014

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nick s

It means you can fuck off home a bit early, which you can't do if you're on Uber's clock

Seems to me like Uber's gambit is to stay alive long enough until Our Bright And Shiny Self-Driving Car Future, when it can tell all of its meat-puppets to fuck off and become TaskRabbits instead, ka-ching ka-ching. So the backstabbing tactics aren't really a battle for survival, but more like performance art for the benefit of the VCs to show they're the ones who deserve to be bankrolled until the robocars show up (ETA: later) and the meat-puppet problem goes away.

ajay

I am instinctively in favour of Uber because it seems to be angering London black cab drivers, and London black cab drivers are servants of Sauron.

And I am touched - really, sincerely touched - at the image of local minicab firms existing in a kind of prelapsarian innocence until Uber starts its gangsterish behaviour.

ajay

Also:

there's always the hope that a fare to the airport will show up, and that's part of what keeps you ferrying people around all day. It means you can fuck off home a bit early, which you can't do if you're on Uber's clock.

- Does this mean you believe that Uber employs drivers on fixed hours for a set wage?

Chris Williams

Isn't this all about various competing models of brokerage? Black cab drivers are a guild protected from competition who monopolise the top end of the cab market: they are threatened by mincabs and by larger scale brokers such as Addison Lee, and also now by Uber. Outside London, no effective guild system exists, so the mincabs get some more of the plumb markets, even though fierce competition is

Were I a (mini)cab driver I would wonder about my place in part two of Uber's plan, given that part one is 'become the monopoly broker, without even forking out for fixed capital'. I might suspect that part two was 'charge the customer what traffic will bear so as to produce a bit of RoI'.

chris y

There's a duopoly of minicab firms here, whose model in both cases is to rent the dispatching kit to drivers at exorbitant rates. The drivers get to keep the change. It's a fairly living, and many of them hold both a hackney and a private hire license, to maximise their chances. But they do it for the flexibility, and unless Uber offered them a lot more in their pocket, they'd struggle to break in.

john b

The main point of Uber is to exploit the major US (and Australian) cities where the license to operate a taxi sells for six figures, but where the drivers have no more skill requirements than a UK minicab driver.

Uber's return to shareholders, if it makes one, is going to come from destroying that premium (a Sydney cab fare is as much as a London fare despite there being no Knowledge) without it all immediately being eroded by price competition.

The UK is almost entirely peripheral to that, but it's written the software and produced the hardware already so the cost of playing is low, and it has brand awareness and an installed base among foreign visitors that will probably keep it afloat.

Barry Freed

Medallions for yellow cabs in NYC go for just a bit over $1 million. Great post, btw.

Strategist

What wouldn't they have made of that in Rego Park back in the seventies?

Barry, hitting the nite klubs of Noo York Citty, looking for lurve, wearing his white suit and million dollar medallion.

Cian

Seems to me like Uber's gambit is to stay alive long enough until Our Bright And Shiny Self-Driving Car Future, when it can tell all of its meat-puppets to fuck off and become TaskRabbits instead, ka-ching ka-ching.

That would be amusing as Google has massively oversold the capabilities of its cars. That future's a long way off.

dsquared

With my former professional hat on, I would say that this looks like a massive insurance coverage arbitrage, and that Uber's real plot is to get too big for the insurers to viably tell to get fucked, before they get their act together.

MSG

@dsquared explain?

dsquared

Basically, Uber has an insurance policy which covers the drivers while they've got an Uber passenger, but when they're empty they are on their own insurance. This is, of course, cheaper than a policy to cover a fleet of cabs. At some point the insurers will get their act together and go "no, you can't buy half a policy", but they haven't yet.

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