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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.
A couple of days go, Uber French executives got arrested, on the ground of illegal taxi practices. Two days before, François Hollande declared he wanted Uberpop dissolved (sic). Everything happens as if Uber had no chance in France: the local biggest taxi company has some kind of monopoly and pressures the government to enforce the status quo. The thing is, in only in couple of days, the advertising for Uber couldn’t be better. The government and the French taxi lobby can threaten anybody they want. The truth is, even if they don’t realize it, they already lost.
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.
Ironically, it seems that along with taxi companies, ride-sharing start-ups will also have something to worry about, with the growing anticipation of self-driving cars hitting the road within five to ten years.
Uber is providing impacted drivers with one year of f ree credit monitoring services and will be filing a “John Doe” lawsuit so they can more effectively gather breach-related information in order to determine the responsible third-party.
Given Uber's prominence in the early days of the collaborative economy, it may seem odd for me to suggest, but I believe a significant decline in Uber's business may be terrific for the long-term interests of the collective consumption movement. My reasoning is that the sharing economy is not simply about more collaborative products but more collaborative companies. Viewed through this lens, Uber simply has not earned its premiere status in this new business movement.
There are a lot of jobs I wouldn’t want in PR – helping North Korean leader Kim Jong-un or promoting cigarette companies. But head of PR at lift-sharing company Uber has catapulted itself to the top (or should that be bottom) of my list.
As of September 2014, the San Francisco and app-based Uber ridesharing network of private car and peer-to-peer drivers was available in 45 countries and more than 200 cities worldwide. Lyft, which also parks their headquarters in San Francisco, is in 63 U.S. cities. True, Uber had a head start on Lyft, but still! Talk about accelerating brand growth!
Although an increasing number of taxis are equipped with embedded telematics units, this is being overshadowed by the rapid rise in popularity of smartphone-based taxi apps, which enable passengers to order a taxi and the driver receiving pick-up requests directly via their smartphone.
Celebrity endorsements have traditionally been a crude but fairly effective technique. Take a person who’s famous enough and consumers will grant them some authority. But as audiences become savvier, it becomes harder to sell.