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It’s official: one of the biggest players in the sharing economy was at war with the biggest city in the United States, and the outcome determined the staying power of one of most disruptive movements of our time. In the fight between Uber and New York City, Uber has won, signifying a major paradigm shift in city governing.
The California Labor Commission ruled recently that drivers who work for the ride-finder app Uber are technically employees, not independent contractors as the company has claimed. Uber has stated that its app merely connects drivers with passengers, that it is more of a middleman, rather than manager. However, the ruling cited many instances where Uber operated as an employer.
The sharing economy has arguably never been driven purely by altruistic motives, and its success has more likely rested on “people’s practical needs and their ability to save or make money.” Tellingly, 52% of Leo Burnett survey respondents said they agreed with this statement, “I think most people would rather own than share, if they can afford to.”
USAA, Uber and the state of Colorado have all taken actions that not only protect consumers but also facilitate the continued growth of sharing economy firms. Their actions demonstrate how Transportation Network Companies (TNCs, such as Uber and Lyft), states (including lawmakers and regulators) and insurance companies can innovate and collaborate to resolve the issues of risk and protection that hinder growth, acceptance and adoption of ridesharing.
The sharing economy has thrust the concept of paying purely for what you use firmly into the mainstream. Whereas historically we would regard buying a car, and then not using it for 95% of its life, as very much the norm. Now though, we regard it as perfectly normal, and infinitely more sensible, to pay for a car as and when we need it.
This is a growing problem in other areas of the online marketplace, as tech start-ups designed for the share economy are being encroached by commercial interests looking to increase their own profit margins