Over the past few months, Uber has faced a slew of bad publicity. They’ve had to deal with everything from rape allegations and issues with inadequate background checks to things beyond even their own control: like riders who are too dumb to know how surge pricing works.
Uber’s laissez faire attitude towards the media has never really been a problem though. Sure, they get lots of bad press, but it’s never affected their growth (that statement is backed up by 40 billion of their friends), until now.
Uber has always been a growth-focused company and when things get in the way of that growth, they tend to take notice. This week, Uber hosted a media only event at a swanky bar in downtown San Francisco where they embarked on their journey of trying to win the media over (my invited must have gotten lost in the mail).
It’s probably a smart move by Uber because we all have an image of a faceless corporate entity but in reality there are lots of likable people that work there. We just don’t get to interact with them and Uber doesn’t let them out of their cages until after dark 🙂
So with all that being said, can you guess how the media treated Uber this week?
Ok first story, not so good. It looks like Uber is totally going to take the fall for this situation in India despite this case likely having more to do with India’s societal problems towards women.
Let’s be honest about background checks in India too. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that in countries like India background checks have a much different meaning than they do here in the US. I’m not going to name any names but I know someone who once bribed his way out of a DUI and a hit and run in Mexico for $200, pretty sure a background check is gonna be a lot cheaper than that.
Instead of focusing on improving the quality of their service, taxis are now resorting to a Pablo Escobar-like taxi cartel. These guys just don’t get it and I don’t feel bad for them since they had 15-20 years on top of the mountain and completely squandered it.
Ok different group of taxis, but these guys are sorta kinda starting to get it. I have never been one to abide by the law, I abide by common sense and that’s what I like about the disruptive nature of rideshare. Do what’s best for society and don’t let government stand in the way of innovation.
Ok we finally got to a good story about Uber. They are working with the city of Boston to help alleviate some of the city’s congestion problems. I think this is a good first step between Uber and city officials since Uber likely has a lot of data that could be very helpful for making city life better for people like you and I.
Groove just opened up in San Francisco and it sounds like a really cool idea. I don’t know how many drivers are willing to pay for this service but I do think there will be plenty of opportunities for sponsorship and advertising that could make the clubhouse free for drivers. If you’re a San Francisco driver, I would definitely check it out and tell Manny RSG sent you!
I posted about this on Thursday and in case you missed it, this may be the last time this deal comes around. The $500 bonus ($1,000 in certain markets) is available to Lyft or Sidecar drivers who have never driven for Uber before and gave at least one ride with Lyft/Sidecar prior to 1/8/15. If that’s you, sign up and collect your cash!
RSG In the News
A lot of you likely found my site this week through this awesome feature from WIRED magazine. Big thanks to Jessi Hempel for profiling me and if you’re a new reader, I’m glad to have you aboard. On Wednesday, we had over 12,000 page views and signed up over 200 new people to our e-mail list. So thanks!
PS – If you really want a kick, check out the comments on that WIRED article. See how many you can find that actually have something to do with me 🙂
Readers, what do you guys think about Uber’s media strategy? Do you think it’s fair that everyone is piling on or does Uber deserve it?
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