This is going to be a busy weekend with all of the Halloween madness and fare guarantees from Lyft and Uber. Heck, even Sidecar got into the mix with fare guarantees up in SF so you know things must be getting crazy. But before you spend your entire weekend driving and making money, RSG contributor Jack Ross takes a look at all of the top stories from the past week. And there were definitely some good ones. It was cool to be featured in Forbes and definitely good publicity for the site so stay tuned for more of those and feel free to hit us up on FB or Twitter over the weekend to let us know how things are shaping up out on the roads. It already sounds like Thursday night was kind of a bust with way too many drivers out and about but I’m sure Friday & Saturday will be a lot better.
Welcome back, y’all. And let’s get straight into answering the 18-billion-dollar-question!
This week on the Roundup: a couple of hot startups you should check out, an important read from Forbes, a Must-See Lincoln commercial, a cross-country trip around the USA at all the relevant TNC news, LA Weekly goes gonzo-journalist on Uber, an Obvious Headline involving Uber’s unicorn, Vice’s Motherboard, and Uber’s PR team is literally everywhere!
But first, FREE GAS!!!
Here’s how Gas4Ads out of Irvine works. You (driver): stick some ads on your headrest, track your miles and let them know. They: pay your gas (?!) Pretty simple, really. For the record, I, for one, am unsure if this maybe kinda sorta violates TNC policies against drivers’ promoting shit while they drive, but great idea either way (and another one of the first of many of the emerging TNC sub-economy). Check ’em out. And get yo’ gas while it’s hot.
Only for Uber to immediately respond 24 hours later by reaching out to LA Weekly with a sugary PR article (entitled “Confessions Of A Former L.A. Taxi Driver”) with a too-good-to-be-true-but-it-is-actually-true story about Cabdi Xuseen, a Somali father of five/Uber driver who loves driving Uber…all the while the PR company pretended NOT to work for Uber (before eventually admitting as much)
To which LA Weekly published a follow-up article two days later about the whole Uber ordeal and the Uther guys’ amazing ability to hunt down bad press, and respond with an smiles-and-sunshine PR offense to turn the public’s frown upside down.
In summary, 1) check out both articles (the first one has interesting takeaways about the fast rise and faster decline of driver life, not to mention a note about Google Ventures estimating that Uber could actually climb to a $200 billion valuation…check out the last line of the article to drive home the irony of that). And 2) like the 2nd article concludes, Uber is really, really good at what they do!
Everyone knows that if you talk shit about Uber, your paranoia is immediately justified—and those dudes will be out to GET YOU. Or fire you from your job with them, asap. (Just ask the RSG himself; though not an Uber-basher per se, he’s quoted in the article)
But is the “talk shit and we’ll can your ass” practice even legal, considering that Uber’s employees are not even really employees?
Maybe not, says Ellen Huet’s intelligent read on the “contractor vs. full-time employee” debate. In sum, she raises an argument (and a compelling one at that) that Uber can’t realistically continue to have their-cake-and-fire-their-employees-too. This is one issue to follow very closely going forward, especially if you have a habit of dropping f-bombs in Travis Kalanick’s general vicinity.
2 REALLY COOL NEW STARTUPS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT
1) Whttl: OK, don’t know if I love their name, but the service — aggregating all shared economy services from cars to food to housing to dogsitting to more — is pretty genius.
2) Shuddle (aka Uber for Kids): OK, don’t know if I like referring to something as “Uber for Kids” as a lot of outlets have taken to (one, the “Uber for ______ is uber-cliche now; and two, it just sounds kind of, I dunno, wrong), but hey, the service — essentially on-demand soccer-mom-and-more travel for overworked and overstretched parents who work 70 hours a week and can’t drive their kids any more — is actually pretty genius.
OBVIOUS HEADLINE OF THE WEEK
OK, so the headline isn’t that obvious, but the premise is: no Uber drivers make more than the $90,766 a year that Uber claims you can make behind their wheels.
Awesome work from Slate, who takes a Michael Moore-style dive into really hoping to find someone who does (and, spoiler alert, they don’t succeed). Hell, even one MBA student (who is beyond confident he could make $2,000 a week if he drove 60 hours a year) had never actually met anyone who made that amount. Is the legend of the $100k-earning-Uber-driver a thing of Bigfoot, Lockness and 2Pac never dying? The world may never know… (but definitely let us know if you bank that!)
Here’s another nice feature on the RSG himself over on Financial Samurai. Some people just have that money making mindset!
Well ahright, ahright, ahright. This dude is the $$$.
THIS IS AMERICA, MAN: LOCAL CITY TNC NEWS ROUNDUP (No, This News is Not Typically Good)
West Coast: Las Vegas police come out guns-a-showing and scare the shit out of some poor Armenian driver (who had the misfortune to be caught in one of many of Sin City’s police-orchestrated stings/crackdowns against Uber)
East Coast: Good news, Philly! Free rides from UberX! (Oh damn, bad news, too, though: it’s kind of still illegal, apparently)
TEXAS: Where Everything is BIGGER… Except for Lyft’s network in Houston, because are yanking operations there, again. Damn you, change-resistant obligatory local gov’t officials!
kinda not least, Utah! The glorious state where Uber passengers are cops… and pull guns on drivers. Someone get that driver a hammer, asap! Thank god the dude was fleet footed.
Same story, same continent, different year. Yes, the Canuck-taxi faithful are not taking kindly to the (inevitable?) Uber takeover, just as they didn’t in the US when the $18 billion big stick wielding
TNC bullies hit the scene.
The saga of Ottawa’s disruption is nothing new: urban sprawl, terrible public transit (only 19% of the entire city in range, tweets Uber — and $3.40 bus fares!!), city politicking on both sides of the fence, lots of uncertainty. What’s to come? Let’s answer in cliches: time will tell, and fortune favors the bold (and for all their faults, Uber is almost certainly that). Don’t bet against ’em.
Good to know the latest global TNC struggles and Motherboard has the market covered, with an almost identical piece on Uber in Sao Paolo, Brazil published two weeks ago that’s also worth a read. Ditto their August profile on “Uber for WEED” if you’re 420-curious (and have grown tired of being an accessory to drug deals, and/or want to join a slightly less (more?) shady TNC).
And let’s leave it there. Til next week, y’all. Until then, keep your Lincoln’s acid-tripping, your gas free and your Uber smack talk to a minimum (or maximum… whatever). Happy Halloween, stay safe and keep on trick-or-driving-on. Much love!
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-Jack @ The Rideshare Guy