18 votes

Uber's Path of Destruction

13 comments

  1. rkcr Link
    It's a long read, here's a tl;dr before you choose to dive in - the author's argument is that Uber's success is only due to it subsidizing rides with investor money and that it has no competitive...

    It's a long read, here's a tl;dr before you choose to dive in - the author's argument is that Uber's success is only due to it subsidizing rides with investor money and that it has no competitive advantages over traditional taxis besides that. The author then explores how it manipulated the narrative to make it seem like it did have some sort of advantage (besides gobs of investor money), and the resulting problems this manipulation caused.

    9 votes
  2. [9]
    Omnicrola Link
    I found this deeply interesting. I had a vauge idea that Uber had some shady practices, but not the details. The Reddit comments where quick to jump in the fact that a lot of consumers use and...

    I found this deeply interesting. I had a vauge idea that Uber had some shady practices, but not the details. The Reddit comments where quick to jump in the fact that a lot of consumers use and enjoy Uber's services and do they do provide consumer benefit and value. Which I think misses the point of this article.

    The article paints a very detailed picture of a company driven by profit and growth above all other motives. And while they may not have technically broken any laws, even if they haven't something still smells wrong here.

    6 votes
    1. [7]
      stu2b50 Link Parent
      Some of it is just the taxi industry being stupid, ,however. People also want, y'know, predictability. They don't want to wait until an empty taxi passes them, or worry about taxi drivers scamming...

      Some of it is just the taxi industry being stupid, ,however.

      Uber Has Not Increased Taxi Productivity or Solved Long-Standing Industry Problems

      People also want, y'know, predictability. They don't want to wait until an empty taxi passes them, or worry about taxi drivers scamming them, or worry about how much to tip them.

      Uber and other rideshares fullfill the niche of having a way to request a taxi services online, to then have an ETA AND a PRICE set beforehand.

      The other thing that the article does just straight up ignore is rideshares, both lyft and uber, push for car pooling. For short distances, the pooling options are cheaper enough for most people to justify it and of course, pooling creates more efficiency.

      But IMO if traditional taxi services had an app that people could request services and have a fee that is processed BY the app predetermined, with an ETA, then they would use those taxi services. I don't know anyone with particular loyalty towards Uber.

      5 votes
      1. cadadr Link Parent
        Merhaba! From Istanbul. We do not only have such a service in place, we have two of them competing. One by Yandex, called BiTaksi, and another by the metropolitan municipality itself, creatively...

        But IMO if traditional taxi services had an app that people could request services and have a fee that is processed BY the app predetermined, with an ETA, then they would use those taxi services. I don't know anyone with particular loyalty towards Uber.

        Merhaba! From Istanbul.

        We do not only have such a service in place, we have two of them competing. One by Yandex, called BiTaksi, and another by the metropolitan municipality itself, creatively titled after being introduced much later than the rival: iTaksi.

        They suck big time.

        So, here taxi licenses (which are the licence plates themselves) are owned by Rich Guys™, and lent out to taxi stations. Taxi stations work with freelance drivers. These fools need to deliver a base amount of money back to the station, and if they earned more than that, they keep the money. Oftentimes, they are required to pay for the gas themselves.

        The Rich Guys seem to decide whether or not to use these services. The beautiful warm hearted municipality did not want to break their hearts so they did not make it mandatory. So only a part of taxis (in my experience a fraction, but might be where I live) use the app. The municipality's app is a horrible piece of shit, but there are even less taxis on the Yandex one (again, where I live), and I never find one. And I live in a fairly middle and upper class quarter of the biggest most important province of the country.

        When I do find a cab, it is the good old Istanbul cabbie, with the usual dickhead for the driver. It is the same horrible experience.

        They even introduced tiered taxis, the yellow one is the normal, the blue ones are saloon type cars and charge slightly more, and black cabs are like Uber XL I guess and charge the double. And it is still the shame shitty experience.

        People flocked to Uber in Turkey not because of an awe of new tech or something, they opted for it because it was safer. With normal cabs, scams are frequent, drivers are often rude, if not aggressive and intrusive, the online experience sucks big time, and the overall normal is somewhere between a disagreeable ride to a dangerous one.

        I am in no way a supporter of Uber, in fact I never took an Uber ride while it was available, but I fully understand why people opt for it here, and they have every right to do so. Because any fool can taxi, and there are no checks while you're in the stranger's car that got the job w/o any serious checks and is totally incentivised to fully exploit you down to your bone so that he can buy bread to feed his family.

        The thing that the municipality (and the world, really) has to do is to employ the drivers and give them regular salary, instead of letting them out to streets like rabid dogs—and they do drive like rabid dogs, Schumacher would fasten double seatbelts in their cars and grab the handle above the door as if he would fall down from a cliff otherwise—ruining people's days and threatening their lives. Taxi drivers regularly break the traffic code and the traffic police is so fed up with these fucks that they've stopped caring.

        When you have a bad experience with a taxi, you call 153 or go to this website. They send you back a message like "Yeah we dealt with it son. You can stop grinding your teeth" after a few days, and sometimes send some guy to the station, who is really angry because he has to go there and tell these guys off. If the thing makes it to the news, the taxi drivers' guild may terminate the guy's taxi drivers' licence (which is totally different to the licence plate thing that can costs around a million Turkish lira, this is just a stupid piece of paper they give to everyone with almost no procedure, education, checks, etc).

        Uber is way better because 1) there is a camera in the car, 2) there are reviews and 3) there is a company that really and immediately fucks you up if you fuck with the customer and they report. Whereas taxi drivers are basically a gang of crooks.

        An app would not solve anything with this, in fact solves nothing with this. The system is fucked up. And I hear scammy cab drivers are a common feature of many cities, so I imagine similar stuff happens in those. The best solution here is that I pay money to the municipality through an app or something, and the guy gets a wage and is not a private enterprise by himself that is extorted to pay up a debt every day and then make some margins, aaand also lacks basics of humanity. This does not seem to be Uber's solution, who instead just puts an electric leash on the drivers' necks. But that's causing many troubles too, the artificial surges and stuff.

        7 votes
      2. DanBC Link Parent
        I don't know how it works in the US, but in the UK there are two types of taxis. There's the kind you can hail on the street, which cannot be pre-booked and which must use a taximeter to decide...

        Uber and other rideshares fullfill the niche of having a way to request a taxi services online, to then have an ETA AND a PRICE set beforehand.

        I don't know how it works in the US, but in the UK there are two types of taxis.

        There's the kind you can hail on the street, which cannot be pre-booked and which must use a taximeter to decide the price, and there are private hire cabs which you cannot hail from the street, you must pre-book, and they must allow you to negotiate the price before the journey.

        So, over here, Uber just offers a pre-booked cab with a set price but probably worse insurance and no proper criminal records checking.

        5 votes
      3. [2]
        NaraVara Link Parent
        Neither of those advantages are actually hard for taxis to do though. The actual app platform is pretty easy to build up themselves and there were several incipient companies earlier on, like...

        Neither of those advantages are actually hard for taxis to do though. The actual app platform is pretty easy to build up themselves and there were several incipient companies earlier on, like Hail-O, that were doing just that. But they couldn’t compete because they couldn’t afford to lose money on every ride and stay in business. If there was fair price competition though the platforms would show up again.

        4 votes
        1. stu2b50 Link Parent
          Right, that's what I said. Uber does have actual competitive advantages, but it's not like it's hard for the taxi industry to implement. They were just stupid. They got shafted partly because they...

          Right, that's what I said. Uber does have actual competitive advantages, but it's not like it's hard for the taxi industry to implement. They were just stupid. They got shafted partly because they didn't adapt when apps and industry on the internet became more prevalent.

          3 votes
      4. [2]
        Omnicrola Link Parent
        From the consumer perspective I agree, the ride-sharing companies offer some advantages that taxis don't. I don't live in a major city so I don't use ride-sharing or taxis much either way so I...

        From the consumer perspective I agree, the ride-sharing companies offer some advantages that taxis don't. I don't live in a major city so I don't use ride-sharing or taxis much either way so I have no clue as to the state of taxis other that heresay.

        Have people noticed any taxi companies trying to emulate the ride-sharing service features? Eg: phone app, prequoted fares, accurate pickup estimates, etc?

        2 votes
        1. JCPhoenix Link Parent
          Some taxi services were already moving towards this before Uber. When I was living in Chicago in 08-10, I would often "hail" a taxi from my phone via a web-based form, especially if I was at home....

          Some taxi services were already moving towards this before Uber. When I was living in Chicago in 08-10, I would often "hail" a taxi from my phone via a web-based form, especially if I was at home. I'd get text messages from dispatch letting me know the taxi number and the driver, how long it would take, and an estimated cost.

          There's also a service called zTrip that functions as both a traditional, street-hailable taxi service and pre-arranged service. I think Grab in SE Asia works the same way.

          2 votes
    2. NaraVara Link Parent
      It doesn’t sound like there’s any profit involved though. It’s growth at all costs. Megalomania rather than profit motive.

      The article paints a very detailed picture of a company driven by profit and growth above all other motives. And while they may not have technically broken any laws, even if they haven't something still smells wrong here.

      It doesn’t sound like there’s any profit involved though. It’s growth at all costs. Megalomania rather than profit motive.

  3. [2]
    Litmus2336 Link
    While I don't want to be dismissive of the arguments in this article, I can't help but feel that lots of people have rose tinted lenses of how taxi services were. Basically every complaint about...

    While I don't want to be dismissive of the arguments in this article, I can't help but feel that lots of people have rose tinted lenses of how taxi services were.

    Basically every complaint about Uber can be applied to taxi companies, except the 'independant contractor' thing, which obviously is a big deal but does not affect their 'competitive advantage'.

    4 votes
    1. Grand0rbiter Link Parent
      Taxis here in Brazil are really expensive. I never ever used one all my life. Now there's Uber and a competitor called 99taxi. In 99taxi you can call a car like Uber or call the regular taxis....

      Taxis here in Brazil are really expensive. I never ever used one all my life.

      Now there's Uber and a competitor called 99taxi. In 99taxi you can call a car like Uber or call the regular taxis. Nobody ever call the taxis, it's way more expensive.

      I moved from my small city to a bigger one recently. I left my car at my parents because i don't need it anymore. I live close to work and if i need i just call Uber. Having a car sucks. It's almost as expensive as having children.

      2 votes
  4. welly Link
    Apparently we're still calling Uber a ridesharing company not a taxi service as actually is.

    Apparently we're still calling Uber a ridesharing company not a taxi service as actually is.

    3 votes