Uber in particular has tried for some time now to have it both ways—citing “jobs created” by its operations (and the supposedly high earnings of its drivers) to generate good publicity, and describing itself as a “peer-to-peer” service when it needs to avoid onerous taxi regulations. These cases may force it to finally pick a side—or at least articulate a compelling middle ground.
Slowly but surely, more of the major U.S. auto insurers are rolling out custom products designed to cover the unique risks presented by the emerging market of transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. Latest to the party is Progressive Corp., which is offering a pilot ridesharing program in Pennsylvania.
TALLAHASSEE — The cost of hailing a ride with your cellphone or booking a private-home room for the night could rise under bills pending in the Legislature this year, even as lawmakers struggle to adapt state laws to new business technologies and innovations. Ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, which use cellphone apps to connect riders to available drivers, and Airbnb, which matches homeowners with vacationers, have become the poster children for “disruption” — shorthand for a spate of new tech companies that challenge traditional modes of business.
Before you open up Uber Louisville on your smartphone to get out of the house, though, you should know the company is charging 3x surge pricing during what it calls the “state of weather emergency” in Kentucky. Uber’s surge pricing policy often prompts a backlash when the company implements it during emergencies. It’s one thing to pay a premium on, say, New Year’s Eve, when rides are in high demand. It’s another thing entirely to be forced to pay a premium during the Australian hostage crisis last December.
Startups like Uber and Airbnb, which form the core of the new “sharing economy,” can have a particularly positive effect on people with lower incomes, according to a new report. The study, from New York University professor Arun Sundararajan and research scientist Samuel Fraiberger, analyzed data from two years of transactions provided by Getaround, a peer-to-peer car rental startup. While consumers across various income levels saw a positive impact, people who made less money experience a particularly big boost, the study found.
Uber is buying a mapping startup called deCarta for an undisclosed amount, Mashable reports. Right now, Uber uses Google Maps data to power its apps for drivers and riders. This new acquisition hints that that relationship might not last. The acquisition might also play into the Advanced Technologies Center that Uber’s building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that will research and develop mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology. The move focuses on talent and technology: about 30 of deCarta’s 40 employees will join Uber.
Uber is an agency for freelance minicab drivers. Its technology allows anyone with a licence to make money from driving people around. AirBnB allows anyone with a home to make money from letting people sleep in it. In both cases, the founders have got rich by providing ordinary people with opportunities to make money — and then taking a cut. These businesses operate in an increasingly freelance society.
Just like other sharing economy brands, Uber has attracted legion of customers not because it is technologically innovative. The sharing economy excels at customer experience — and that is what inspires customer love and loyalty. According to Vision Critical, more than 90% of sharing economy customers would recommend the service they most recently used. Airbnb, Lending Club , and Rent the Runway and other firms that comprise the $100+ billion sharing economy earn this extraordinary level of endorsement by obsessing over the quality of the experiences they deliver.
Even though Uber stopped service in Boise last week, the city is moving forward with a law that would regulate online transportation businesses like it. The last few months have seen some tension between Uber and city government. The company started service in the fall but did not charge for rides, allowing it to operate without business regulation. But after Uber started charging late last year, the city cited a few drivers, leading to Uber’s decision to stop charging.
The rise of Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services has rightly been hailed as a triumph of private-sector innovation. But the growth of the industry also has created an insurance glitch that could harm Oklahomans unfortunate enough to be in an accident caused by a ride-sharing driver.