Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Umpire Strikes Back

Some thoughts on Uber, and the California Labor Commission decision....

In August of 2011, my Twitter pal @pmarca (Marc Andreessen) wrote an article that will still be discussed 10 years from now, maybe longer. The title was “Why Software is Eating the World.” What was important about that article is that it recognized, and spelled out pretty clearly, the destructive power of smart phones with software apps that provide services. 

Not employees, mind you. Software. “Eats the world” was Andreessen's way of describing the death of traditional ways of doing business. 

Of course, one of the key examples of software eating the world is Uber. The company claims that it is not a provider of taxi services, but rather a software platform that helps a willing buyer and a qualified, nearby seller to find each other. 

And Uber is exactly right about that: Uber is not an employer of drivers, and it is not a seller of transport services. Uber is selling reductions in transactions costs: I want a ride, and you have a car and a few minutes. We could never find each other on our own, but with Uber we can make a convenient, mutually beneficial exchange in safety and with minimal fuss on clearing the payment.


Thomas W said...

An interesting essay. I'm not sure traditional taxi services should / will die. There are plenty of people who aren't digitally connected or don't want to who will continue to use traditional taxi type services. Or a service like Uber needs to be extended to provide rides without requiring technology.

The death of taxi services would also result in a major blow to our culture. Can you imagine the hard boiled private investigator hero trying to "follow that cab" when both must use Uber?

Anonymous said...

I used UBER for the first time this past weekend while on a trip to Seattle (my city council is currently banning uber because of the taxes we receive from taxi services).

It is a marvel of modern technology. I see the point Thomas is making about needing a smart phone, but Uber is simple to install and simple to use if you can. I used it four times: It's quicker, just push the button and within 5 minutes I had someone to pick me up. Cheaper, I spent no more than $19 to go places it would cost $25-$35 for a cab ride. And a better quality ride than a taxi. I rode in a Lexus, an infinity and a Mercedez. Only one ride was in a car that I thought was about the same as a crappy taxi.

LOVE Uber!