(Editor’s Note: I’ve had a lot of fun doing the round-ups again for these past few weeks but I wanted to reach out to my readers today and let you know that I’m looking for someone to take over this weekly segment. So if you or someone you know, is passionate about rideshare and likes staying up to date on all of the latest industry news/trends, feel free to reach out to me via e-mail and we’ll see if it’s a good fit.)
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen Uber cut rates, offer ‘enticing’ fare guarantees and lure Lyft drivers away with a $500 bonus. If I had to guess, I’d say all of these moves were in part to continue rapid driver/passenger growth (for a 2015/2016 IPO) but also to try and smother Lyft. Lyft’s response to all this has been to reduce fares in 10 cities and introduce a new type of stache.
I’ve heard a lot of drivers express the sentiment that things will get better once Lyft is gone. But more wrong, they could not be. Competition is a good thing for drivers and although it may not look like it right now, I can assure you that competition will eventually start to benefit drivers. You never want to depend on just one source of income, since as we’ve seen, Uber can lower rates at the drop of a hat, and we are almost powerless to stop them (for now at least).
Lyft has quietly been raising some funding of their own though too and while it’s not in the billion dollar range, they’ve still got a few hundred million to play around with. Heck, even Sidecar raised a few million last year so while it may seem like these two are going to be drowned out by Uber, I think they are both here to stay. They likely won’t ever compete head to head with Uber but I do think they stand a chance and their existence will continue to benefit us drivers.
On to the top rideshare stories of the week…
Uber Had A Good Week
I don’t even think normal people like you and I can comprehend how much money $1.6 billion is, but for Uber it seems like they’re getting billion dollar investments every month at this point. We reported about their last round of funding in December ($1.2 billion) and when I first read this article I thought maybe it was the same story again, but no, it’s a different billion dollars.
Clearly this money will be going to fund all of Uber’s upcoming legal/regulation battles and explorations into new markets and sectors. I don’t think drivers will see any of this money but it will be interesting to see what Uber does with all this money
Oh and PS – that’s my hand and phone in the article from my feature a few months ago in NYT.
Travis Kalanick spoke this week at the Digital Life Design Conference in Germany (which is apparently a huge event). TK talked about all the good Uber could bring if European cities could just help them get over those regulations and taxicab alliances that stand in their way.
I think Uber is a great job creator but as we’ve seen in the US there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of support for drivers from Uber. Maybe that will change when they expand into European markets?
Lyft Strikes Back
While Uber is off raising billions of dollars and breaking into new European markets, Lyft has been changing their logo from a moustache on the front of the car, to a cuddlestache on the dash and now a glowstache. Personally, I think Lyft has more important things they need to be worrying about right now but it seems like their new design guru is on mission to re-brand Lyft into something cooler and hipper a la Virgin Airlines.
I have always found the moustache a bit quirky and I have never put it anywhere on my car. Plus, I normally drive for Uber and Lyft at the same time so it’s too much of a hassle to be switching them out all the time. So to be perfectly honest, this change won’t affect me much at all.
Who Knows Best How Much Drivers Really Make?
Uber actually released some interesting data yesterday on driver earnings, total number of drivers and some other metrics. But the only problem with this data is that it was provided by Uber (and only 11% of those surveyed responded, and they were compensated by Uber). Their in-depth analysis on the driver labor market was also done by two guys that work for Uber. Hardly unbiased if you ask me. I mean do you think Uber is going to release a report that says, “Man it really sucks to be a driver right now, they’re earning less than they were a year ago and they’re unhappier too!”
Clearly there were a lot of issues with this survey so while the results are interesting and certain numbers are useful, I wouldn’t put too much weight in the results.
Most of the media reports on driver earnings are done by reporters who have no idea what it’s like to be a driver and the associated costs. Most ‘data’ released by Uber has that same problem since no one at HQ is actually a driver themselves.
That’s why I generally like to go straight to the source, the drivers, when I want to get some good unbiased information. This driver seems like she doesn’t have an agenda, she just wants to know how much she’s really making with Uber.
RSG Around The Web
A lot of opportunity and interviews came about from my piece in WIRED last week so expect to start seeing some more of me around the web. I’m even partnering up with a mobile app developer and we’ll be bringing you the RSG mobile app (for iOS and Android) in a few weeks!
This week though, I made an appearance on the Intellexual Podcast and I’ll also be appearing for a short segment on Marketplace Tech called Silicon Tally. And if you’re interested in hearing what it’s like to be an Uber passenger, check out my friend Paul’s latest post.
Catch Up On RSG
We had two really popular articles on the site this week so hopefully I didn’t set the bar too high going forward 🙂 If you haven’t read them yet, take a look and let me know what you think. And even if you’ve already read them, check out the passionate comments on each article and feel free to chime in:
Even though both of these articles were very popular, I never really enjoy writing the anti-Uber stuff. I would rather talk about all the good parts about being a driver, looking forward to a brighter future and figuring out how to make the best of the situation.
And speaking of a brighter future, on Monday I’ll be featuring a post with over 35 quotes from rideshare industry experts. I dug deep into my digital rolodex and contacted everyone from reporters and sharing economy professors to industry specialists and even a few representatives from the companies we work for. So definitely stay tuned for that one and if you haven’t subscribed to our e-mail list yet, get on that and you’ll also get a free PDF copy of our Ultimate Guide To Being A Rideshare Driver.
Drivers, what do you think about all of the top rideshare stories this week? Do you think Lyft will ever be able to compete with Uber or will they always be the little brother in the TNC family?
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