As a 6′ 3″ 190 lb male, there aren’t many situations that will make me feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I’ve had some strange and weird encounters while driving for Uber but nothing that ever made me feel like my body was at risk. I think a lot of that has to do with my stature and knowing that I could protect myself in case anything went awry.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case for a lot of female drivers and passengers. Even though the odds of something actually happening are insanely low, I understand the apprehension to fully embrace Uber. There are over 1 million rides on the Uber platform worldwide each day yet there are only a couple stories here and there about bad things happening. We just hear about every single alleged incident since Uber is in the media spotlight right now. I would even go so far as to say that there are even more bad things happening in taxicabs but those stories just aren’t reported.
But even though there is an extremely low percentage of incidents across the Uber platform, I think this is going to remain a hot button issue. As Uber continues to scale, these incidents aren’t going to go away and you’re already seeing Uber add features like an SOS button in India to make riders feel more at ease.
Some of this week’s top stories all revolve around these safety issues:
This story brought out a lot of interesting discussion on my Facebook page this week. It’s definitely a slippery slope when you start allowing certain groups of people to only associate with/pick-up themselves but I do think there is some room for a compromise that will make everyone feel safe. Women have just as much of a right to feel safe as men do so if women passengers choosing women drivers isn’t viable, then Uber needs to step up its game and make things safer for women.
I think Lyft has done a good job of recruiting female drivers and executives but Uber’s pledge to hire 1 million female drivers reeks of a PR stunt. Similar to the UberMilitary campaign (which was just that, a PR stunt), I’ll be curious to see if Uber actually does anything to entice more women to become drivers (increased bonuses, reduced commissions, benefits, etc).
We’ll have an article coming out next week around this topic but I think a dash cam is a very cheap insurance plan. Insurance is for the unknown and even though this driver was a real idiot, his dash cam saved him from a much more serious offense.
Lots of People Taking On Uber
I always say that more competition is a good thing for drivers and passengers. This seems like a great move by Ford to get into this space early before it’s too late. I actually reached out to the Ford CEO on Linkedin to offer up my consulting services. Still waiting to hear back about that one though.
Apparently this guy was a founder of Uber but I have never even heard of him. Either way, I don’t think Uber has much to worry about. The service seems more like a glorified vanpool than anything, but with an app.
Via just raised $27 million and they compete directly with UberPool and Lyftline. I think there is plenty of room for other competitors in large markets but I can’t see companies like Via ever expanding to smaller or even mid size markets.
Bad Gig – Life of the Law Podcast
I have mixed feelings about the whole 1099 vs W2 situation. I don’t want to be an employee of Uber since I value the flexibility of being 1099 but I do think Uber needs to do a lot more for its workers. Ultimately I think we need some type of hybrid classification but I’m not sure who’s going to push for that.
One of the reasons why I think my blog has been so successful is because I can empathize with drivers since I am one myself. It would be hard for me to write about Uber and Lyft and know everything that I know if I wasn’t directly involved in the industry. This guy seems to get it too (Lyft’s Twitter response is pretty classic too – they just don’t get it haha).
It’s not very often that you see Lyft making a big hiring splash. Usually it’s Uber poaching top talent but this seems like a great hire for Lyft. They get someone with a ton of experience in a very similar industry from one of the most successful companies in the last decade.
A Cool Sharing Economy Story
This week in Forbes, I highlighted the story of a guy named Daniel Chinh who actually bought a condo to rent out solely on Airbnb. He’s doing so well that he recently quit his full time job as a billing analyst and now he’s looking for more arbitrage opportunities in the sharing economy.
Drivers, what do you think about the safety issues surrounding Uber and female passengers/drivers? Should Uber be doing more or are they doing enough?
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-Harry @ RSG