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.