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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

SJWs claim a tech scalp

Rest assured, they wanted this one badly:
Travis Kalanick is stepping down from his post as CEO of Uber, effective immediately.

Kalanick’s exit came after a shareholder revolt reportedly made it untenable for him to stay at the company he founded in 2009. Investors called for the change in leadership in a letter that was delivered to Kalanick in Chicago and obtained by Times reporter Mike Isaac.

The news was first reported by the New York Times and later confirmed by TechCrunch.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Kalanick said in a statement to the Times.

He will remain on Uber’s board of directors. In a statement to TechCrunch, the board called Kalanick’s decision “a sign of his devotion and love for Uber.”
There is always more to this sort of thing than meets the eye. Any CEO who professes love for The Fountainhead and served on Trump's advisory council was always going to be an SJW target in Silicon Valley. Watch as Uber will be praised for its newfound professionalism even as it begins to be converged.

Kalanick's mistake was when he signaled that he was a pushover. The key paragraph:

Kalanick pledged to clean up the company culture in response. He asked former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to lead an inquiry, and got former Huffington Post editor-in-chief (and Uber board member) Arianna Huffington to pitch in.

Once they know you'll give in to pressure, you will never stop feeling it.

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123 Comments:

Blogger Ransom Smith June 21, 2017 8:20 AM  

Over under on Uber's eventual decline?

I've always read their business model isn't actually profitable.

Blogger Desdichado June 21, 2017 8:23 AM  

Given that reports are an increase in diversity and sensitivity is expected, especially at the top, I expect they will decline rapidly.

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 8:24 AM  

Over under on Uber's eventual decline?

I've always read their business model isn't actually profitable.


They lost 2.8bn last year on 6.5bn in revenue.

Blogger Dirtnapninja June 21, 2017 8:33 AM  

Is uber public?

Time to shortsell.

Anonymous Oscar Greenstein June 21, 2017 8:34 AM  

Kalanick is and was a world class scumbag. Glad he got forced out. Treated the drivers like shit. If this is a sjw victory then so be it, but it is a much larger victory for showing CEO's that they have to observe society's rules.

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 8:36 AM  

Is uber public?

No

Blogger Student in Blue June 21, 2017 8:36 AM  

Glad he got forced out. Treated the drivers like shit.

The CEO of such a large company personally treated every small-time, small-town driver like shit?

Color me skeptical.

Blogger Aeoli Pera June 21, 2017 8:42 AM  

The Fountainhead was a poor first draft of Atlas Shrugged (which was very good).

Blogger roughcoat June 21, 2017 8:42 AM  

What on earth do companies like this do to spend all that money? They have a fricking middleman app and drivers have to provide their own vehicles and fuel. Too much R&D burn or something?

Blogger OGRE June 21, 2017 8:43 AM  

At the same time Uber is going to permit the tipping of their drivers. This will likely lead to cash strapped Uber taking the tip credit for its tipped employees so that they can pay them a cash wage of less than minimum, just like how restaurants pay servers 2.50/hr instead of 7.50/hr.

Blogger Stilicho June 21, 2017 8:43 AM  

Uber drivers will eventually be screened for their commitment to diversity and negative reviews of vibrant drivers will be banned or massaged into something other than a negative review.

This is good mews for Lyft if it can avoid such conversion.

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 8:44 AM  

What on earth do companies like this do to spend all that money?

They spend it to recruit drivers and recruit passengers

Blogger Stilicho June 21, 2017 8:44 AM  

@1 don't you mean the uber/unter?

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 8:45 AM  

This is good mews for Lyft if it can avoid such conversion.


Lyft is already more converged than uber

Anonymous Looking Glass June 21, 2017 8:54 AM  

An SJW scalp, but Uber is toast anyway. As I've mentioned to Andrew Torba over on Gab at least once, the role of a Silicon Valley "CEO" is little more than a highly paid whore. Their companies don't make money, so they have to find loads of funding. That's their actual job and, also, how they can keep the ropes around the up & comers so easily.

It's the reason why something like Gab is most dangerous to them, as it's about the 4th most profitable Social Media company of all-time already. Gab is paying its own bills in less than a year, haha. That's unheard of in Valley tech.

Uber will bring someone in to ride them to their IPO, then everyone is peace out. I still don't know how they've burned so damn much money, but they have. And, while it *is* an SJW scalp, he made himself too easy of a target since he seems bad at the actual CEO part.

Anonymous Albert June 21, 2017 9:01 AM  

Uber's always been a pyramid scheme anyway - regular cab drivers barely make enough to live on, and Uber charges about half of the local standard, and have to cover maintenance costs themselves.

No surprise that it'll crash and burn as soon as it has to show a profit.

Blogger Cail Corishev June 21, 2017 9:05 AM  

"The news was first reported by the New York Times and later confirmed by TechCrunch."

Had to laugh at this line, which implies that no one was sure whether to believe a NYT report until TechCrunch chimed in.

Blogger Shimshon June 21, 2017 9:05 AM  

"What on earth do companies like this do to spend all that money? They have a fricking middleman app and drivers have to provide their own vehicles and fuel. Too much R&D burn or something?"

My understanding is Uber heavily subsidizes rides. Apparently, competing against taxis, despite the high overhead, is not a sure thing. Plus, it does sound like they are spending heavily on VERY driverless (R&D), and view the current situation as a short term solution. One additional seat, no driver to pay, and all that. I think this transition is required in their model to make profit. They're doomed to failure.

Finally, as Looking Glass in @15 say hints at, VC funding is pretty much the kiss of death for anyone who has a long term vision for a company. VC means an Exit Strategy, whether IPO or being acquired.

Anonymous basementhomebrewer June 21, 2017 9:09 AM  

I have only casually kept tabs on him but he burned bridges all over the place which was a bad move. He burned his bridge with SJWs really early on when he hired PIs to investigate the journalists who were harassing him. The journalists were harassing him because he was busting the cab companies monopolies and eroding union drivers by taking them out. At that point in time I was supportive of him because he was giving the media taste of their own medicine and it was making them go insane writing hit piece after hit piece about him.

Then he had an armed driver stop and incident (can't remember if it was a robbery or rape). He instantly folded to the anti-gun pressure and barred his drivers from carrying and then extended that to passengers. Burned his support among the gun community while not gaining allies from the Anti-gunners because they already hated him from the prior incidents.

Then about a year ago or so he started talking about diversity and inclusion slowly folding to the the SJWs who already hated him. This alienated any Alt-right support for him. At that point he had no hope. He could have maybe held on if he stuck up for the gun crowd and told the SJWs to take a hike. I bet there were at least a few of his share holders that might have stuck up for him then (possibly enough to have stopped this from happening), but instead they were indifferent because he wasn't really an ally on any of their issues and he showed that he was going to slowly converge the company anyway if he stayed in power.

Anonymous Looking Glass June 21, 2017 9:16 AM  

One of the things that comes with the VC route is actually, and this is strange to explain, WAY too much overhead in the realm of people. It appears most VCs equate higher "top talent" as the CEO "doing his job". Interacting with Torba has been really insightful about just how wasteful that Valley approach actually is. Their "distruptive" model has a lot more "pay off my buddies" approach than people realize.

But, at Shimshon mentions, the real issue is that everyone has an "exit strategy" not a "we'll be here for decades" strategy. Even the most successful of the Internet companies pretty much haven't found any other profitable addition to their income streams until Cloud Storage/Computing became important.

For being so "inventive", the Valley really doesn't actually produce much that's Net Valuable to the country or world. It's a great money siphon, though.

Anonymous Jeff June 21, 2017 9:18 AM  

As a frequent Uber user, a boycott would be a yuge sacrifice, but one I'm prepared to make in this time of war.

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 9:26 AM  

For being so "inventive", the Valley really doesn't actually produce much that's Net Valuable to the country or world. It's a great money siphon, though.

Uber passengers have greatly benefited from investors subsidizing cheaper rides. If VC firms want to burn money that way I'm fine with it.

Anonymous Looking Glass June 21, 2017 9:30 AM  

On business model for Uber/Lyft/AirBnB, they make sense in high-density cities where there's normally a corrupt to semi-corrupt bargin to keep prices pretty high in the markets, but that's really local to those high-density cities.

The systems don't make the most amount of sense in the rest of the world, so they probably have to cross-sudsize the rest of the world just to keep their profit centers of the big cities.

Anonymous Luke June 21, 2017 9:35 AM  

Actually, Uber Cab (their original, or true, name) has been a gleefully-illegal, parasitic, Ponzi scam from day one. Travis "high" Kalanick is an amoral, emotionally tone-deaf noncontributor who deserves every bad thing said about or legally ever done to him, including future bankruptcy/jail/lifelong shunning by anyone worthy of respect. (He backstabbed Trump in less than a WEEK after Trump made a gesture to him, for God's sake.)

Here is the 10th part of a very, very good economic analysis showing that Uber contributed very little to the economy, was mostly a big scam, and never had a real chance of turning a profit: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/06/can-uber-ever-deliver-part-ten-uber-death-watch-begins.html

Anonymous Bz June 21, 2017 9:38 AM  

Kalanick always seemed like a parodic Jewish version of some Ayn Rand industry titan. Part of the Silicon Valley Judeo-network, I presume, and that's why he could keep going so long, even though the media eventually had to deal with him. (Don't worry, as I understand it he still has plenty of Uber stock to tide him over.)

The funny part is that the flashpoint apparently was a SV woman getting propositioned by her Indian manager and not liking it. I think the lesson here is something sexism something for all you euro white men out there.

Blogger Desdichado June 21, 2017 9:42 AM  

Looking Glass wrote:For being so "inventive", the Valley really doesn't actually produce much that's Net Valuable to the country or world. It's a great money siphon, though.
What's even worse is how trendy the Valley way of doing business is, so it affects even those corporations elsewhere that DO produce actual things of actual value. It's depressing to see Valley-inspired fads suffusing midwestern OEMs because the CEO's are too stupid and herd-like to understand anything other than that it's the latest trend among their CEO buddies.

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 9:42 AM  

Kalanick always seemed like a parodic Jewish version of some Ayn Rand industry titan. Part of the Silicon Valley Judeo-network, I presume, and that's why he could keep going so long, even though the media eventually had to deal with him.

He's Slovakian and Austrian per IG.

Blogger seeingsights June 21, 2017 9:44 AM  

On a related note, it's not difficult to prevent left wing infiltration of a business. A hiring manager can screen out lefties. Look at the college major of the applicant. An English major is more likely to be left wing than an accounting major. Or examine the applicant's social media activity. And to get rid of a lefty, do it in a non controversial way. A simple lay off. Or if you want to be slick, find an instance of non truthfulness . For example if the employee had called in sick but the employee really had gone to a criminal court proceeding.

Anonymous SkepticalCynical June 21, 2017 9:44 AM  

The SJWs hated Kalanick, but they are going to have to stand in line for their chance at Uber. After Google's done crushing them in court for stealing their self-driving car IP, and various progressive states/countries finish reclassifying their drivers as employees, there's probably not going to be much left of a business that loses $1B per year.

Blogger Cail Corishev June 21, 2017 9:45 AM  

I guess it's proof that Americans still love their cars, that a company is able to convince Americans to drive a taxi -- a job that was taken over by cheap foreigners and turned into a Job Americans Won't Do long ago -- by saying, "This isn't your great-grandpa's taxi driving. With us, you get to beat up your own car and cover your own insurance and other operating costs! What a deal, huh?"

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 9:48 AM  

a job that was taken over by cheap foreigners and turned into a Job Americans Won't Do long ago

That's mostly because the industry is corrupt in almost every city

Blogger Ransom Smith June 21, 2017 9:49 AM  

Forgive me for linking fake news, but Uber is already converged and screwed long term.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/06/02/technology/uber-investment-saudi-arabia.html?referer=https://www.google.com/

They took Saudi money. Which is the kiss of death.

Though that brings up a whole new topic. Nassim Taleb mentioned something not long ago that the Saudis are slowly bankrupting themselves. Investing and buying like made. And praying oil keeps then solvent.

Blogger praetorian June 21, 2017 9:56 AM  

Given the horrific financials of Uber, I wouldn't be shocked if this is Kalanick standing aside before the melt down so he can establish a Jobs-ean narrative.

Enjoy the VC subsidized cab rides in the meantime.

Blogger Wanda Sherratt June 21, 2017 10:00 AM  

"Once they know you'll give in to pressure, you will never stop feeling it."

When will they ever learn?
When will they evvvvvvvvver learn?

Anonymous Looking Glass June 21, 2017 10:01 AM  

@32 Ransom Smith

The Saudis are a culture that looks pathetic by 5th Century BC standards, with First World 21th Century money. They have to buy peace with their subjects, so they buy influence everywhere. (That's just what they do.) And they're terrible businessmen, so they screw up everything they touch.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan June 21, 2017 10:03 AM  

I'll wait for James Kuntsler's take on this, I mostly view Uber as a way to keep the suburban "dream" alive.

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky June 21, 2017 10:06 AM  

I'm a part time Uber/Lyft driver. I am not shedding any tears for Travis.

Anonymous Bz June 21, 2017 10:08 AM  

He's Slovakian and Austrian per IG.

From the IG page:

Parents: Bonnie Horowitz Kalanick
...
Categories: ... American Business People of Jewish Descent

Wikipedia furthermore lists him in the subcategories of
American people of German-Jewish descent, American people of Polish-Jewish descent, and American people of Russian-Jewish descent

Anonymous Causal Lurker June 21, 2017 10:09 AM  

30 Cail Corishev, I checked my car insurance policy at renewal time, and found a new clause in the middle of the other uncovered conditions, for which they can cancel coverage: driving for Uber, Lift, or other similar paid ride services. "Hey, you can cancel your own car insurance and registration, as well as get your own car beaten up!"

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 10:10 AM  

From the IG page:

Parents: Bonnie Horowitz Kalanick
...
Categories: ... American Business People of Jewish Descent


My bad

Anonymous Non-gay Josh with a much bigger penis June 21, 2017 10:14 AM  

so gay josh, how did you screw that one up (saying Kalanick is not a hebe)? the site you reference (IG) clearly states he is jewish.

also, jewish is a religion, slovakian is an ethnicity. lots of work to go, for you...

Anonymous Crew June 21, 2017 10:14 AM  

Marissa Mayer for Uber CEO! Marissa will get the job done!

Blogger Doug Cranmer June 21, 2017 10:15 AM  

Yes. There is an outstanding series of articles on Nakedcapitalism about them.

But it's exactly their culture that grew them to where they are today.

Anonymous fop June 21, 2017 10:17 AM  

SJW logic: "We need advice on ethics. Let's call Eric Holder!"

Blogger YIH June 21, 2017 10:18 AM  

Ransom Smith wrote:Over under on Uber's eventual decline?

I've always read their business model isn't actually profitable.

That, and things like their ''grayball'' to dodge law enforcement, problems with drug/alcohol testing of drivers (all other driving jobs require that by law) and often facilitating insurance fraud.
There's a lot more there than some White Male saying ''good morning'' to a purple-haired, tattooed and pierced woman(?). For Uber, TSHF.

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 10:29 AM  

so gay josh, how did you screw that one up (saying Kalanick is not a hebe)? the site you reference (IG) clearly states he is jewish.

also, jewish is a religion, slovakian is an ethnicity. lots of work to go, for you...


My bad, only read the part about his dads background

Blogger Cail Corishev June 21, 2017 10:29 AM  

Marissa Mayer for Uber CEO!

She'd be perfect. She'd provide all the same virtue-signals that Yahoo hired her for, which Uber clearly needs right now. And she's so good at running unprofitable companies that she gets paid hundreds of millions to do it.

Blogger YIH June 21, 2017 10:30 AM  

From Denninger: Uber Just Committed Suicide.
Since there is no way to prove whether a poor rating for a rider is deserved or not there is no check and balance available or possible on the coercive abuse of such ratings to extract tips from riders and the coercive implied pressure now and will forevermore exist.
Sell that Uber stock... While you still can.

Blogger Otto Lamp June 21, 2017 10:32 AM  

Expenses: $9.3 billion
Revenue: $6.5 billion

That's why he was fired.

Uber is basically Ebay for transportation without the bidding.

Losing that kind of money on that kind of model is inexcusable.

Blogger Ransom Smith June 21, 2017 10:38 AM  

@YIH

I don't have any personal experience with IT/VC money. Only what I've read. But there always seems to be huge flaws and veritable Ponzi schemes involved.

Twitter is, Uber, AirBnB, etc.

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 10:38 AM  

From Denninger: Uber Just Committed Suicide.

The sky has always been falling

Anonymous waynecolvin June 21, 2017 10:43 AM  

Uber was a YCombinator company, so was AirBnB and several others that get caught up in these controverses. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14600873

Blogger Cail Corishev June 21, 2017 10:43 AM  

@39, Casual Lurker, I'm not surprised. Personal auto insurance has always had restrictions about for-profit business driving. It won't cover you if you use your car as a pizza delivery driver, for instance; you have to count on the company to buy a policy that covers its drivers.

The Uber model seems based on the ide that, if drivers were just regular folks hauling the occasional hitchhiker for a few bucks rather than running a real business, company and drivers alike could slip through the cracks of the insurance/license regulations and other restrictions put in place by corrupt politicians, and reap the cost savings as profit.

As if that was going to last. The politicians may be slow, but the insurance companies aren't.

Blogger Cail Corishev June 21, 2017 10:47 AM  

The sky has always been falling

Yeah, it'll continue as long as investors are willing to keep pumping money into it, and as long as they can find new suck^H^H^H^Hdrivers. Given how fascinated Silicon Valley investors are with the prospect of driverless cars, they may be able to ride that promise for a very long time.

If profit were necessary (or even the point), the tech landscape would already look very different.

Blogger Durandel Almiras June 21, 2017 10:48 AM  

OT: Hey Vox, is this the Wired Article on Infogalactic that you wanted?

http://www.wired.com/story/welcome-to-the-wikipedia-of-the-alt-right/

Might need to extend your DTTTM to all things, all the time.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd June 21, 2017 10:51 AM  

a deplorable rubberducky wrote:I'm a part time Uber/Lyft driver.

How do you handle insurance? Do you make enough to cover insurance, fuel, maintenance and vehicle replacement? Is there anything left over for you after you have covered those expenses?

Driving pizza wagon, and now uber/lyft, have always looked to me like a way to turn your car into cash - like selling your car but more time-consuming.

Anonymous Canada is Cucked June 21, 2017 10:52 AM  

Diversity causes movies to make more money:

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/la-et-mn-caa-diversity-study-exclusive-20170622-story.html

Blogger Ransom Smith June 21, 2017 10:54 AM  

Here's one question I wish someone had data on.

What are the generational demographics of Uber's drivers?

Almost every one I've met has been a Boomer. Gen Y and Z often don't own cars or are unable to afford nicer ones.

If boomers are a significant portion of the work force, Uber is banking on an aging horse.

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 10:57 AM  

https://www.uber.com/drive/insurance/

Contingent collision and comprehensive coverage
This insurance covers your vehicle in case of an accident whether it was your fault or not, as long as you maintain auto insurance that includes collision coverage for that vehicle while not on an Uber trip. The coverage amount is up to the actual cash value of your vehicle. There is a $1,000 deductible.

Anonymous franklinjennings June 21, 2017 10:58 AM  

Hating Uber is for SJWs and statists, and the Uber trashers in this comment thread are no exception.

The taxi industry is a clear example of political corruption and crony capitalism. The licensing is done specifically to protect rich campaign donors who pay off corrupt city officials who in turn deliberately hurt their constituents in order to give their donors monopoly benefits.

In every municipality in the country, laws and/or regulations and/or licensing rules exist specifically to create artificial scarcity of taxis and artificially high pricing. The politicians burn their own constituents to help a few connected donors. The amount of extra money and wait time extracted from Americans over the past 50 years staggers the mind. The country is vastly poorer because of this deliberate inefficiency.

Uber is clearly on the side of right, on the side of freedom. It is VASTLY better for consumers than the corrupt taxi industry.

And the evidence is quite clear that inflated taxi fares don't go to the drivers, they go to the medallion holders.

Uber drivers are often happier than taxi drivers. If they weren't, they would BE taxi drivers.

Uber has its problems, including the crazy cash burn, but the idea that Uber is "bad" and "must be stopped" to protect the corrupt old taxi industry is ridiculous.

Blogger Out of Nod June 21, 2017 11:00 AM  

Every uber driver I've met has been from some African state or the greater India-Pakistan area

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 11:01 AM  

What are the generational demographics of Uber's drivers?


http://therideshareguy.com/rsg-2017-survey-results-driver-earnings-satisfaction-and-demographics

Despite passenger demographics that favor the young, driver demographics are skewed the other direction, with 54% of drivers indicating they are 51 or over and 77.5% of drivers indicating they are 41 or older.

Blogger Ransom Smith June 21, 2017 11:05 AM  

@josh youre amazingly fast with that linking.

As I expected.

Anonymous BBGKB June 21, 2017 11:08 AM  

At the same time Uber is going to permit the tipping of their drivers.

Forcing people to pay taxes on tips. The same reason they want to do away with cash & go to all electronic transactions.

OT but Silicon Valley:If you think the black lesbian saving a congressman's life was exaggerated, when the Sanders Supporter likely ran out of ammo first just wait until you see what GOOGLE is financing. A movie about the Stonewall Riots.

http://www.towleroad.com/2017/06/google-stonewall-story/

Blogger The Z Blog June 21, 2017 11:10 AM  

The emergence of the SJW in a company tends to mean the smart money has left the building. That does not mean the company is about to fold, but it always a sign that the insiders have moved onto more promising ventures.

I've long been a skeptic of Uber. Like on-like gambling, it works until they are forced to abide by the same rules as everyone else. In the case of Uber, they found a clever way around insurance and licensing laws, but that could not last forever.

Blogger Out of Nod June 21, 2017 11:12 AM  

On the Wired article:

Look out, he's angry!

Anonymous BluePony June 21, 2017 11:14 AM  

"Plus, it does sound like they are spending heavily on VERY driverless (R&D)"

That was probably their biggest error. The more I look at the self driving car efforts, the more I think it's a chimera.

Although I do want to watch potential buyers being told that shiny new auto-auto they're considering is programmed to sacrifice them if the computer's "get-it-the-hell-to-market-first!" beta software deems that to be the most moral choice.

Anonymous BBGKB June 21, 2017 11:15 AM  

box office success of films with diverse casts such as “Hidden Figures” ($230.1 million worldwide) ...is inevitably deemed a “surprise.”

Given that school kids were taken to see the pure fictional movie even more than the fictional Redtails the movies are in effect the $200,000 yr salaried black govt worker that can't figure out a mortgage.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd June 21, 2017 11:18 AM  

franklinjennings wrote:In every municipality in the country, laws and/or regulations and/or licensing rules exist specifically to create artificial scarcity of taxis and artificially high pricing. The politicians burn their own constituents to help a few connected donors. deliberate inefficiency.

Certainly.

franklinjennings wrote:Uber is clearly on the side of right, on the side of freedom.

I think you are assuming that because there is a bad guy, his opposition must be a good guy. This is probably one of those times there aren't any good guys.

The enemy of my enemy ... can also be my enemy.

Anonymous Red Sector June 21, 2017 11:19 AM  

"but the idea that Uber is "bad" and "must be stopped" to protect the corrupt old taxi industry is ridiculous."

Don't think anyone is exactly saying that here in the wilds outside the Land Of False Dichotomies.

So... replace a bad system with another bad one. You should run for office. :)

Anonymous franklinjennings June 21, 2017 11:21 AM  

I agree with Denniger that tipping is a death blow for Uber. As a customer, the last thing I want is tipping on Uber. It turns this little luxury of your own private on-demand limo into something much more awkward and less appealing.

This change feels to me like an overreaction to accusations that Uber is too stingy with drivers. It's an SJW-driven attempt to appear friendly to labor. Huge mistake.

If the company wants to pay the drivers more, they should just....pay the drivers more.

Their other mistake, in my opinion, was spending a ton of money on R&D into driverless cars. What a joke. That's something the statists want, too. Your freedom to drive bugs them. They want total control. But the people don't want driverless cars. They may get them in the end, enforced by the barrel of a government gun. More importantly for uber, the technology is way off. Electric car technology has been around for decades, but the wholesale switch hasn't happened. Similarly, a world of mostly driverless cars, which is necessary to get many of the purported benefits of driverless cars (smooth, steady traffic, not slowed by human breaking and accelerating, for example), is many decades off. There's just no payoff to Uber for doing early R&D into this.

Anonymous Jeff June 21, 2017 11:22 AM  

Last time I ordered an Uber, an Asian kid showed up in freaking Tesla. I figured he borrowed it from his Dad. Probably told his Dad he was going out with his buddies but instead is making money on the side.

Blogger roughcoat June 21, 2017 11:33 AM  

Cail Corishev wrote:The sky has always been falling

Yeah, it'll continue as long as investors are willing to keep pumping money into it, and as long as they can find new suck^H^H^H^Hdrivers. Given how fascinated Silicon Valley investors are with the prospect of driverless cars, they may be able to ride that promise for a very long time.

If profit were necessary (or even the point), the tech landscape would already look very different.


Something I've been wondering for a while now: are these tech types so blinkered and sheltered that they actually can't understand why most people are not going to give up their personal vehicles... or do they grasp, consciously, that they're pushing toward a statist nightmare? Oh, I know the billionaires know what they're pushing because they think they're gods who can dictate how the mere ants under their feet can live their lives while ignoring their own dictates, but what about the rank and file?

Driverless cars aren't the issue quite so much as the logical follow-on idea techies seem to love: shared cars, where you don't have your own car, but have to call a driverless car to you whenever you need one. The cars are to be owned by third parties, and just rented by the users. And of course, they think it should be mandatory because "computers don't make mistakes" and point to the 30k US traffic deaths every year to justify their position. "It's for the children. Why do you hate children?" Or they bluster on about climate change or whatever other bullshit excuse comes to mind.

Handing control of individual travel to a third party that will surely have state hooks deep in it: what could go wrong?

They're usually the same people who cry about a free internet and how encryption is a right and so on. How do they juggle that sort of cognitive dissonance?

I was in a discussion over on Hacker News about encryption not too long ago and gun control came up. I said it was bad for the government to have a monopoly on encryption the same way it was bad for the government to have a monopoly on violence. Not only did I get downvoted into oblivion, but several people said plainly that the government having a monopoly on violence is a feature, not a bug.

This sort of thing is what I was referring to when I said in another comment thread that I just don't get along with typical SV-indoctrinated tech types at all, despite being a developer/techie myself. They seem to want to destroy everything I like about modern life to establish a fucking nanny-state technocracy. I suppose they think they'll be on top, instead of purged the way such people always are after the revolution.

Note, I'm not actually worried that they'll achieve their goal of killing private vehicle ownership and shepherding everyone into cities. But they apply the same control-freak mindset to everything else, too, and it's outright disturbing. I just can't tell if they know how arrogant and psychotic they sound. I presume not.

Anonymous franklinjennings June 21, 2017 11:47 AM  

"The enemy of my enemy...can also be my enemy."

In what way is Uber your "enemy"?

"Replace a bad system with another bad system."

Uber is not a system. It is a single private company in a competitive market.

Uber helped to break the corrupt arrangement where corrupt politicians work directly against the interests of constituents and force us all to wait longer and pay more for taxis so that license holders can extract monopoly rents and kick back a portion of those rents to the corrupt politicians.

Uber has demonstrably helped consumers by vastly improving "taxi" service, reducing wait times, reducing fares, and inspiring more competitors.

It's typical SJW to declare single companies your "enemy" just because you don't like something about them. You're free to use one of their competitors. Heck, call a yellow cab if you want a more expensive service. And if you want to get paid to drive a car, there are lots of ways to do it other than Uber.

Even the greyball thing was good for consumers. The "law enforcement" Uber was "evading" was conducting sting operations, not on behalf of the people they were sworn to serve and protect, but on behalf of corrupt politicians trying to do favors for their donors with taxi medallions.


Blogger Shimshon June 21, 2017 11:52 AM  

@74 franklinjennings, you're missing the point. Uber is not profitable and has no viable path to profitability. That's regardless of whatever benefits it confers on its customers.

Anonymous Looking Glass June 21, 2017 11:54 AM  

@54 Cail Corishev
@73 roughcoat

Driverless cars have a deep Geek/Techie reality that'll always pull interest from those folks. (Sci-fi + they're not normally Car guys, so there is a level of envy attached. Though it's also a *doable* engineering issue.)

Now, that said, the actual technical issues were figured out a decade or more ago. (Check out the "Desert Challenge" that DARPA put on.) That's not what this is about. It comes from the same place as their obsession with High-Speed Rail comes from.

They. Do. Not. Want. To. Think.

Periods for emphasis. But that's the core issue. They want a system that caters to them, thus removing responsibility and the need to think about things. They want to be sheep, as it's a reflection of their soul. I worked this out over about a year chatting with a few Blue Dog Democrat friends. It's a reflection of the Boomer "Free Rider" effect, but it's basically they want the State to act as something like their Parent. Regardless of how grown up they are, it crops up in a few places, and this is one of them.

They're not lying when they say they want these systems, but they're also incapable of being honest about why they actually want them. They really don't know, but it's something close to a religious experience to them. Though the more they *don't* have to use it, the far better the system is for them. (You can also blame the Japanese & Swiss for being Japanese & Swiss and using advanced train systems.)

Anonymous Looking Glass June 21, 2017 11:56 AM  

@74 franklinjennings

The corrupt Taxi system in a major city doesn't mean the local cab service in the middle of Kansas is over-charging their customers. As a profitable venture, Uber would only be limited to about 10 major cities in the USA, and a number of large cities around the world. They functionally subsidize their drivers in the rest of the world to produce market share.

Uber & Lyft look to be dead letters pretty soon.

Anonymous franklinjennings June 21, 2017 12:06 PM  

Praetorian said: "Given the horrific financials of Uber, I wouldn't be shocked if this is Kalanick standing aside before the melt down so he can establish a Jobs-ean narrative."

Great thought. And would be hilarious and genius if true.

At a $70 billion valuation, Uber likely is at its peak. The insiders want out. Some of the investors think that pretending to care about diversity and culture blah blah will protect their investment as they push for an IPO, even as they know on some level that pushing out the guy who built this and caving to SJWs is a mistake.

Travis is making the same bet that now's the time to get out, but he's playing a longer reputational game. The investors are willing to go SJW if it will help them unload stock on the public with the help of the approving liberal press. But Travis is protecting his legend by getting pushed out at the peak. Absolute genius.

And if this plays out the way it's likely to, it will redpill IPO investors left holding the bag and enjoying the "results" of replacing a swashbuckling founder with SJW "leadership."

Anonymous BBGKB June 21, 2017 12:24 PM  

Looking Glass They. Do. Not. Want. To. Think... They want a system that caters to them, thus removing responsibility and the need to think about things. They want to be sheep, as it's a reflection of their soul.

Thinking is painful when it goes against the narrative.

Anonymous franklinjennings June 21, 2017 12:25 PM  

@lookingglass You say, "The corrupt Taxi system in a major city doesn't mean the local cab service in the middle of Kansas is over-charging their customers."

You are mistaken. Obviously the scale of the corruption is much bigger in the big cities because they have the biggest governments. But the licensing schemes all have the same effects. You'll wait a long time for a taxi in Kansas, and you'll pay an hourly rate for a ride that significantly exceeds the average income in the area. There are onerous licensing restrictions explicitly designed to cause exactly these effects.

There are people in Kansas who would happily give you a ride for less money than the taxi charges. And there are rules and regulations designed to prevent them from doing that.

Uber subsidizes the drivers outside the big city because customer density is lower, not because there is too much low-cost taxi competition in Kansas.

You're not wrong that the business model is best in the big city or that Uber spends too much money or that Kansas government is less corrupt than NYC government.

But you are absolutely wrong to think that Kansas lacks competition-restricting, price-inflating taxi licensing regulations.

Blogger Johnny June 21, 2017 12:27 PM  

@60
In every municipality in the country, laws and/or regulations and/or licensing rules exist specifically to create artificial scarcity of taxis

Greyhound Bus Co has been able to act in a non competitive manner more or less forever. Even in poor old Mexico they often run better for the riders busses.

Blogger Cail Corishev June 21, 2017 12:33 PM  

are these tech types so blinkered and sheltered that they actually can't understand why most people are not going to give up their personal vehicles...

The tech world has its own ivory towers and information bubbles, yes. Sites like Hacker News tend to be dominated by a certain type: very smart boys who think anything can be made to work as long as very smart boys throw enough cool technology at it. They would love to ride around in a driverless car -- and would pay a premium to do so.

They also tend to be people who don't have much experience with the nitty-gritty of brick-and-mortar businesses and all the regulations and complications and hidden costs of selling real things in the real world. If you create a web-based game and charge people to play it, you don't have to deal with sales tax, for instance, or a ton of stuff that a brick-and-mortar arcade deals with. Your potential audience spans the net with no worry about borders or tariffs. You don't have to run your content past the FCC or a ratings board, unless you want the rating for marketing.

So business seems pretty simple to them. They look at an industry like taxis or hotels and see a lot of waste and corruption and regulation, and think, "If we could refactor this to get around some of those rules, and use our tech to eliminate the middlemen, we could make the difference in big profits." And that's not necessarily a bad thing -- no one's crying for the taxi industry except some politician friends. It can even be a good thing; but it tends to be less easy than they assume it will be, when they venture outside the virtual world into the real one.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd June 21, 2017 12:46 PM  

franklinjennings wrote:In what way is Uber your "enemy"?

You are missing the point: I see no good guys in this fight.

Does Uber seem good to you? Do you remember Google's slogan? Don't be evil, wasn't it? Did they ever live up to that? Does Google seem like good guys now? If you think Uber is somehow on your side, just wait.

Anonymous Avalanche June 21, 2017 12:46 PM  

@67 "Although I do want to watch potential buyers being told that shiny new auto-auto they're considering is programmed to sacrifice them if the computer's "get-it-the-hell-to-market-first!" beta software deems that to be the most moral choice."

My new car (2017 KIA Niro: I'm averaging 55 mpg in local driving; reached 59.6 on a 30-mile, surface-street, round-trip to Costco! Aggressive raised-in-NY driver, too!) has a LOT of "we think for you" stuff. Thankfully most of it it CAN be turned off!

It uses its side cameras to watch the striping on roads, and it beeps if you cross the sidelines. (Amazingly: IF the sidelines are the VERY short 'dashes' that signify entry to a turn-lane: it does NOT beep!)

It watches the rear to both sides and warns you, say, when you're backing out of a parking space if there is car or pedestrian coming from either side. Rear-view "back-up" camera, of course; that flips on the computer screen with a you're backing up in these lines; your wheels are turned to go into these lines; and red "holy crap STOP!" lines.

Front bumper camera that watches traffic ahead -- this one is quite annoying. Not just the car in your lane, but in other lanes, too, if you're on a highway. If IT thinks you're getting too close, it puts the brakes on! (Shocking! And annoying; I recognize it thinks I'm not paying attention -- but I am!)

Cruise control does it too -- if the traffic ahead of you slows down, the CC slows you down, by either releasing the gas or actually braking.

ALL of this WILL help prevent (some) accidents. But whenever anyone says "self"-driving car: my response is always "blue screen of death"!

Anonymous andon June 21, 2017 12:52 PM  

5. Anonymous Oscar Greenstein June 21, 2017 8:34 AM
Kalanick is and was a world class scumbag. Glad he got forced out. Treated the drivers like shit. If this is a sjw victory then so be it, but it is a much larger victory for showing CEO's that they have to observe society's rules.


what rules are those, greenbergstein?

Anonymous EH June 21, 2017 12:56 PM  

"Kalanick's mistake was when he signaled that he was a pushover."

His problem was that he was an incompetent, a crook and a complete asshole who could be trusted only to screw over anyone he could, including passengers and drivers. Those problems transferred to Uber and they're now compounded by a severe SJW infestation.

Lyft is a better choice for riders, drivers, and investors.

Blogger roughcoat June 21, 2017 12:56 PM  

@76 Looking Glass
@82 Cail Corishev

Interesting insights; you've reinforced some of the stuff I was already thinking. I hadn't thought of the "they don't want to think" bit though, perhaps because it seems so alien to me.

Anonymous andon June 21, 2017 1:02 PM  

44. Anonymous fop June 21, 2017 10:17 AM
SJW logic: "We need advice on ethics. Let's call Eric Holder!"


yeah, that was good for a laugh

Blogger roughcoat June 21, 2017 1:07 PM  

Avalanche wrote:@67
My new car (2017 KIA Niro: I'm averaging 55 mpg in local driving; reached 59.6 on a 30-mile, surface-street, round-trip to Costco!


That's close to as good as my old 650cc motorcycle that only weighed 440 pounds wet. Impressive.

I've been quite pleased with my ~32 mpg Subaru and I wouldn't say no to better fuel economy. But, what I really want is a lot more range. I got used to long bed pickups and having ~700 miles of range with the stock tank(s). I never got around to it, but my intention was to weld up some tanks to run along the sides of my diesel truck's bed so I could at least drive all the way from the lower 48 to Alaska without having to pay Canadian fuel prices at all.

Front bumper camera that watches traffic ahead -- this one is quite annoying. Not just the car in your lane, but in other lanes, too, if you're on a highway. If IT thinks you're getting too close, it puts the brakes on! (Shocking! And annoying; I recognize it thinks I'm not paying attention -- but I am!)

Cruise control does it too -- if the traffic ahead of you slows down, the CC slows you down, by either releasing the gas or actually braking.

ALL of this WILL help prevent (some) accidents. But whenever anyone says "self"-driving car: my response is always "blue screen of death"!


So does that mean you can't run people over in self defense? Is there an "I need to commit vehicular manslaughter button right now, so fuck off computer" override button?

I'm serious. I would never want a vehicle that wouldn't let me use it as a weapon if I needed to. A group of attackers could just swarm the vehicle and I would be trapped in place, with the vehicle obligingly stopping for them! Madness.

Anonymous a deplorable rubberducky June 21, 2017 1:36 PM  

Ominous Cowherd wrote:How do you handle insurance? Do you make enough to cover insurance, fuel, maintenance and vehicle replacement? Is there anything left over for you after you have covered those expenses?

Driving pizza wagon, and now uber/lyft, have always looked to me like a way to turn your car into cash - like selling your car but more time-consuming.


Originally I had the standard-issue personal auto insurance. Uber and Lyft rides are underwritten through their own arrangements, so that if an accident happens you, your car and the riders are supposed to have a certain level of insurance. Details vary from market to market.

Then, insurers began to offer new ridesharing policies. I picked up one of these, they are roughly 3x the price of personal insurance but they do cover ridesharing incidents. Details again vary.

I drive a Prius for rideshare which I bought used for the purpose. It gets 50 mpg and it has been very low maintenance. I make about $20/hr these days. That quite easily beats my costs. The IRS allows a pretty sweet deduction per mile, it's like $0.40 (i forget exactly). With a Prius you can very easily slide in under it.

In the early days it was insane and you could make double that, easily. But they began relentless rounds of rate cuts.

Very, very many drivers, though, got into it as full-time job. Especially in the beginning that seemed feasible. And they have been sorely disappointed. There are a tons and tons of very, very bitter Uber drivers out there. Legions. I always looked at it as a part-time thing to help me pay for college educations for my children (it seems you can never, ever save enough! It's criminal, but that another story). Rideshare driving is ready made for that purpose, if you're simply looking for extra spending money.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd June 21, 2017 1:59 PM  

a deplorable rubberducky wrote:I drive a Prius for rideshare which I bought used for the purpose. It gets 50 mpg and it has been very low maintenance. I make about $20/hr these days. That quite easily beats my costs. The IRS allows a pretty sweet deduction per mile, it's like $0.40 (i forget exactly). With a Prius you can very easily slide in under it.

Twenty five years ago in the cab business we used to figure that the driver and the owner could each make about $60 per 12 hour day. The driver paid a $60 lease plus gas, the owner paid for dispatch costs, maintenance, insurance and so on. Insurance was around $4,000 per year and the used cars (generally 10 year old Impalas) lasted about a year before major work or replacement (roughly the same cost either way). The driver was eating, the owner was making a little profit after expenses if he could keep enough cars on the road.

Uber/Lyft are obviously giving the driver a much better deal if you have $20 per hour after accounting for the operating costs including eventual replacement.

I suspect that for most vehicles the IRS mileage deduction is lower than the actual cost per mile to operate, counting depreciation/replacement, insurance, maintenance and so on. It's great if your Prius is really cheaper than that.

Anonymous Nobody in Particular June 21, 2017 2:38 PM  

"Kalanick is and was a world class scumbag. Glad he got forced out. Treated the drivers like shit. If this is a sjw victory then so be it, but it is a much larger victory for showing CEO's that they have to observe society's rules."
This is not what this event shows and this is not the message most CEOs will take from it. The message is that if they want to cheat, steal, and lie with impunity, then they have to pay the dime to the diversity-industrial complex. They need to appoint a Chief Diversity Officer, bribe some higly-paid lawyers and retired prosecutors and judges to write a favorable diversity report, donate some cushy jobs and some money to the cause du jour, etc..
Moreover, they need to do it on their own initiative, not wait until pressure is brought to bear. Probably, if they start sufficiently early, they can even get away with much less, like giving public support and organizing some fundraising dinners for Democrat candidates.
All the press reports I have read imply this quite clearly.

Anonymous franklinjennings June 21, 2017 2:56 PM  

@Ominous Cowherd

"You are missing the point: I see no good guys in this fight. Does Uber seem good to you? Do you remember Google's slogan? Don't be evil, wasn't it? Did they ever live up to that? Does Google seem like good guys now? If you think Uber is somehow on your side, just wait."

Uber has delivered real value for us by taking on a corrupt system and dismantling it. They struck a blow against corrupt government and unlocked massive value in the process, saving people millions of hours and billions of dollars. They SHOWED people in a tangible way what the actual effects of government regulation and licensing are.

Obviously Uber is just a corporation, not a friend. I expect nothing from them except what I pay them for. I fully expect them to exploit their platform, their network effects, and their market share to the fullest for their own benefit. And to hypocritically start lobbying FOR regulation when it suits them.

But the fact remains that they've been a force for good. They are the first entity to successfully attack a problem that has been widely known for 50 years.

And whatever you find distasteful about the company or its culture or its former CEO may actually be RESPONSIBLE for some of their ability to do what no-one ever could before.

I'm not claiming that Uber will never be evil or that you have to like its ex-CEO. But in the fight so far, they actually ARE the good guy. The taxi industry was serving people poorly, extracting monopoly rents, and adding unnecessary friction to the economy by systemically limiting taxi availability. Uber slashed wait times, slashed prices, enabled willing drivers to make money in a flexible way, and by the way reduced deaths from drunk driving. In no way are the two sides "equally bad."

It is naive and unreasonable to expect the vanquisher of your oppressor to be perfectly angelic. That only happens in fairy tales. In the real world, it took Travis Kalanick to break the taxi monopolies.

It's just like the God Emperor Trump. He may not be your perfect ideal dream politician, but he's the guy who could win. Whining about Travis Kalanick "not being a good guy" is like complaining about President Trump's tweets and yearning for John Kasich.

Blogger Josh (the gayest thing here) June 21, 2017 3:06 PM  

Obviously Uber is just a corporation, not a friend.

Corporations are people my friend

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd June 21, 2017 3:27 PM  

franklinjennings wrote: They are the first entity to successfully attack a problem that has been widely known for 50 years.

Yes.

franklinjennings wrote:... they've been a force for good.

Not so much.

On one side we have corrupt politicians and the corrupt taxi industry. On the other side we have the ride sharing industry.

Neither side is my side.

Blogger tublecane June 21, 2017 3:28 PM  

@44-"SJW logic: 'We need advice on ethics. Let's call Eric Holder!'"

Aside from being a Magic Negro, with all the charm of the Caribbean to boot, this wasn't a case of SJW logic. More like high political culture logic. You bring in someone with connections, as well as someone who looks respectable to the type of morons who find Holder-types respectable. They're a little club, our elite. Same deal with bringing in Huffington, except instead of political connections she has connections with everyone she's ever given a blow job.

Anonymous A.B. Prosper June 21, 2017 3:29 PM  

Johnny wrote:@60

In every municipality in the country, laws and/or regulations and/or licensing rules exist specifically to create artificial scarcity of taxis

Greyhound Bus Co has been able to act in a non competitive manner more or less forever. Even in poor old Mexico they often run better for the riders busses.


Artificial scarcity is a good thing as it pushes up wages and back before mass immigration, a person could make a decent living as a taxi driver and that job could be decently stable

All this economic "efficiency" brought on by computers is a huge reason why people are having less kids, you have no guarantee of some kind of stable employment or ability to feed your kids, a decent person will have less of them and use that same tech to live life a different way.

Stability means regulation and this can mean higher prices or guild price controls or unions or a host of things that are annoying and inefficient and costly.

Tough. Long term, you want your low time preference neighbors to have sizable families and you have urban societies, its going to cost you.

And note ye olde "bring in people from the country" ploy isn't working nearly as well, we are running out of country to tap. The real way people live is getting closer to Trantor or the like than any traditional way people live , its over 80% and that means that nearly all of your population is subject to urban population pressure

Worse, the economies of most rural and small towns are so drained that the human capital isn't there. People leave and this means that the human "seed corn" is taken by the cities

This leaves basically foreigners who aren't working out well. And not the TFR rates of them drop fast too, technically the rate of decline is faster than natives

Reach farther out and the harder diversity bites you in the ass

The thing is , it can't be fixed with the usual measures . Its structural to modern capitalism

Baring a political revival and a regulated market economy that we won't find recognizable complexity costs will continue to get higher , the better people will generally breed less and in time it will reach its social carrying capacity

At that point?

Bets case scenario. Brazil

Blogger RobertT June 21, 2017 5:08 PM  

Total tragedy. Kalanick's one of my favorite people. But he's not gone forever. When you are in the eye of the storm, it's not easy to see the big picture. Never-the-less, his stock votes at ten votes per share. He went voluntarily, and he can come back when he wants. He has the same vice grip on Uber that Zuck has on Facebook.

Blogger Happy LP9 June 21, 2017 5:27 PM  

Holder and Huff are monsters, there was no need for an investigation.

Anonymous SigOther June 21, 2017 5:29 PM  

As I understand it, Uber has a corporate fleet policy, combined single limits $1m per occurrence. They cover any use by their drivers from when you get hailed until the rider disembarks. But you need your normal state required minimum policy between drop off and next hail. Idk if they charge the drivers for that, though. I'd be surprised if they did, or if it was more than $100/month.

Anonymous SigOther June 21, 2017 5:44 PM  

Is Soros investing in Lyft? Cause the shills be shillin'.

Anonymous SigOther June 21, 2017 6:07 PM  

Looks like grandpa Boomer got lost on his way to complaining about the kids in his yard.
Have you forgotten in your Boomer dottage that the AFLCIo, teamsters, teacher's union, and seiu are second only to the Banksters in financing the destruction of America by the globalist judeo-christians?
Why the heck would you not cheer on attacks against the medallion and union systems, the profits from which institutionally finance our opposition with billions of dollars to the FAR left? Drink your Ensure and remember to shoot left, and the financiers (and literal foot soldiers) of the left - the unions.

Anonymous Allan June 21, 2017 6:50 PM  

Except that AR made John Galt appear to be a stalker who orchestrated a coup d'etat against the central government of the USA in order to replace the Fascists' materialist despotism with his own materialist despotism of obsessive money grubbing and power grabbing. Recall, if you will, Galt's strange impatience to return to the world he's just turned upside down, and bear in mind also the stable of experts in law, banking, etc. which he's gathered. Of course, Galt has much bigger plans than merely scooping up the distribution networks of the bankrupt power companies, who have generation overhead which he doesn't need to corner the electricity market.

It's by the way also that Galt, though educated in physics (esp. elctromagnetism) and philosophy, still managed not to become enlightend by known facts like the relativity of simultaneity, time, and distance. This is just what we should expect of someone who, like Galt, has emerged recently from the lower levels of Christian Europe but who now an atheist with nary any interest in ideas contrary to his materialism.

So, it's difficult not to interpret AR's most famous work as unintended caricature of a known and common personality type.

Anonymous Looking Glass June 21, 2017 10:46 PM  

@87 roughcoat

The Train stuff took me a while to sort out. As I mentioned, I know reasonable people that are big on the Train stuff for honest though no clear reasons. It's why it took a lot of thought to sort out. It's a bit akin to trying to figure out why someone prefers a flavor of ice cream over another.

It's one of those issues where a deep desire crops up in a place you wouldn't expect. At some level, they just want to be that 6-year old child that gets driven around by their mother and can just enjoy not worrying about the world. That's the best way I can explain, currently, what really drives the high-speed train & driverless car issues.

There's a specific place for high-speed rail (see Western Europe, China & Japan: specific levels of population density & fairly close distances, with pre-existing transit systems at location), but that exists pretty much no where in the USA. Driverless cars have an even lower use case, but they are cool tech.

Anonymous Luke June 21, 2017 11:41 PM  

Uber basically just ran a server with a fairly simple app -- THAT was the extent of what good they did. Far outweighing that is how they basically used computers to STEAL cars and wages from disproportionately relatively poor people, while risking lives, health, and finances of unsuspecting passengers. The latter is via using largely unscreened and essentially uninsured drivers.

There are convicted FELONS driving for Uber Cab. Also, I read somewhere that Uber Cab's "insurance" company has NEVER paid a single claim for them, shades of the Great Benefit company in the Matt Damon movie "The Rainmaker". Rather, instead of timely paying valid claims in full, Uber Cab just runs out court delays as long as possible, then secretly pays partial settlements years later.

This outfit makes MF Global look good. I would love to see its entire management bankrupted and jailed longterm. (Oh, and Lyft is only a little better; they shouldn't charge more than 5% of fares or a flat fee of 50 bucks a month to drivers, instead of mimicing Uber Cab's fee structure.)

Anonymous Luke June 21, 2017 11:49 PM  

Oh, and the taxi medallion system that so many people spaz over so much only operates in and significant form in around 3 U.S. cities AFAIK. It's arguably less important in the U.S. than are unions for people with graduate degrees.

Blogger Dirk Manly June 22, 2017 12:22 AM  

Regarding driverless cars...

You'll NEVER see any of the major automakers actually sell them.

Reason: Every driverless car that an automaker produces and is driving around on the road is a HUGE potential liability.

If GM sells me a car, and I cause an accident, the victims can sue me/my insurance.

If GM sells me a self-driving car, and its programming drives the vehicle in a way which causes an accident, well you can sue me for putting this dangerous vehicle on the road and operating it; you can ALSO sue GM for the programming which caused the accident.

This is the path to bankruptcy. Accounting and Legal departments will NEVER, EVER, EVER approve such a vehicle for sale to drive on the public roads in the U.S.

China and other southeast asian countries, maybe, but certainly not the U.S, Canada, or any part of Europe, including Russia.

The R&D idiots love this crap. But in the real world, its only realistic use is military vehicles (because where the military is concerned, the fed gov, as sovereign, is immune to lawsuits that it doesn't want to entertain, and it has the power to protect its hardware suppliers -- which it has strong incentive to do -- so that those suppliers will keep on supplying the hardware).

Anonymous Luke June 22, 2017 12:33 AM  

Agreed that the driverless cars are pie in the sky for city driving within the next decade. Uber Cab's head scammers are pushing this I believe solely so that their investors wouldn't pull the plug on a company that was never going to show a net profit quite as soon. Travis "High" Kalanick liked being a CEO; "it's GOOD to be king!", and all that.

Anonymous Siobhan June 22, 2017 1:19 AM  

The folks in silicon valley who sing the praises of driverless cars on demand replacing private car ownership don't have kids.

Once you have kids, you develop a completely new relationship with your car. Because it's half full of kids crap all the time. Infant seat, convertible seat, booster seat. Spare boosters in the trunk for carpooling and playdates. Spare clothes. Gymnastics clothes. Soccer gear. Ballet gear. The huge project Jimmy just brought out of school right before you drive him and Janie to swim. Endless, endless, endless kid crap. You need to be able to have it with you when you arrive, you need to be able to leave it in the car during parkour/doctor's appointment/gymnastics/swim/ballet/playdate/etc. My car is a mobile parenting center. Plus, it's San Francisco, so I need the disaster kit in the trunk, etc. You can't have my car. I need it.

Anonymous Ominous Cowherd June 22, 2017 11:37 AM  

Luke wrote:Oh, and the taxi medallion system that so many people spaz over so much only operates in and significant form in around 3 U.S. cities AFAIK. It's arguably less important in the U.S. than are unions for people with graduate degrees.

I never drove cab there, but I'm told that Anchorage, AK licenses the individual cab, rather than the cab company. That's the medallion system, right? So, now we are up to four cities in the US.

Anonymous franklinjennings June 22, 2017 3:22 PM  

Luke, you're totally confused. People don't spaz over the medallion system per se. They spaz over the licensing system. In which incumbent taxi company owners bribe politicians to limit competition via onerous hurdles and costs and red tape and inspections and on and on. The result being that it's always harder than it would be in a free market to: hail a cab, get a cab to your house in a timely fashion, or get the low price you could get in a totally free market. There are lots of people sitting idle in every town who would love to give me a 10 minute ride just for the cost of a $3 beer. Instead, taxis cost $15 and up for a ten minute ride. Not in 3 cities, but in ALL cities. This is very simple. This is how it works in many industries. This is why big incumbents, contrary to conventional wisdom, often WELCOME excessive regulation. The big guys can afford the lawyers and they've been in business long enough to understand the regulations (and know some friendly regulators). The goal is to keep upstart innovators OUT. Which is bad for consumers. Thanks to similar licensing in the medical industry, you can fly back and forth to Japan for 4 MRIs for the cost of getting a single MRI in the U.S. The MRI machine owners claim the anti-competitive restrictions here exist for "safety" reasons. LOL.

Anonymous Luke June 22, 2017 8:58 PM  

Sigh. More people posting upon a subject in which they haven't done even minimal research. (I drove a cab for a year while oilfield was in the toilet, so have some direct experience working in the professional livery business. Do you?)

1) Having to get a business license is NOT an indicator of the medallion system being in effect. That just means you're in an American state. "Medallion system" means a limited # of taxis can legally operate in that area in street hail/other pickup mode not arranged significantly in advance (typically an hour or more lead time), with those licenses often exorbitantly expensive and transferable. Take out NYC, and secondarily Chicago and Boston, and the medallion system hardly is a factor in the taxi business in the U.S.

2) The historical reason (you've heard of this "history" concept, I hope) for limiting the number of taxis operating in a town (or otherwise requiring driver background checks, real insurance, clear signage, etc.) dates back to what happened in the Great Depression in cities with no regulation. It was kind of a Gresham's Law of taxicabs, a race to the bottom. The saying is that in a totally unregulated taxi city, "The desperate drives out the good". Vehicle and driver safety vis-a-vis passengers plummeted, where disproportionately the criminal and inept remained, and honest, safe, competent drivers (who commonly had other options or would refuse to become corrupt to compete) largely left the business. Convicted felons (often for theft/assault/rape previous crime patterns) with continuing illegal drug habits (including while driving) in positions of TRUST (money, driving safety, getting sleepy/inebriated lone young women home from bars at 2 in the morning) didn't seem like a good idea then, any more than it does now. Uber Cab hires felons, while legal taxis by law can't, with fingerprint-based background checks run by the state police bureau prior to licensing preventing legal cab drivers from being known criminals. Uber Cab will refuse to operate in a city if the city's regulatory board with authority over all livery operations (yes, including Uber Cab) requires fingerprinting, as opposed to Uber Cab's "let's not and say we did" "background" checks.

Look, if Uber Cab wants to run a taxi business, let them. They just need to obey all the rules for running a taxi business: a) have the required state police-performed fingerprint-based background checks on all drivers prior to driving (with criminal behavior preventing permitting); b) REAL corporate insurance (Uber Cab's has never paid a single claim for them, I understand); c) have the appropriate permits for picking up at airports, military bases, carrying underage passengers, etc.; d) have clear and permanent signage painted on; e) obey the regulations on fares per mile/waiting time (no more "surge" $250.00 for 9 mile trips on New Year's Eve or during hurricane/terrorist attack evacuations, so they have to start obeying the anti-gouging laws); e) have the vehicles both inspected and licensed by the local agency that oversees livery operations in their jurisdiction.

I would like to see all taxi medallions legally ownable only by the primary driver of a a taxi, with the ones outstanding not currently owned free and clear by drivers being bought back up at last purchase price by the city, but that's properly the decision of those few cities that use them. I don't live in NYC/Boston/Chicago, any more than Travis "high" Kalanick does, so neither of us gets a vote on how those cities operate.

Blogger Scott Birch June 22, 2017 11:01 PM  

What about Gen X?

Anonymous Luke June 23, 2017 3:16 AM  

Gen X is welcome to drive taxis A/A, if they do so legally (how to do that is described in part, above). Or, if they want to "share", then they can't charge.

Anonymous franklinjennings June 23, 2017 10:22 AM  

@Luke I love your claim of argument-ending "credentials"--"I drove cab for a year while oilfield was in the toilet." LOL. I guess that settles it, then!

Apparently that experience didn't help with your reading comprehension. I clearly stated that the nationwide problem is not the medallion system, but the licensing requirements.

Then you haughtily "corrected" me with, "Sigh...Having to get a business license is NOT an indicator of the medallion system being in effect."

Across the country, the licensing requirements are onerous and competition limiting. Some small percentage of them have to do with safety, but their true purpose is the limiting of competition.

And the results are clear as day. Uber and Lyft are easily able to offer a vastly better service for lower cost than the taxi companies. And, even while skirting the taxi regulations, they offer a service that has been proven to be statistically SAFER than the taxi industries offerings.

I get it, you "identify" with the drivers, and you'd be happy to have the whole world waiting half an hour for a taxi pickup that might never come, happy to have taxi company owners bribing politicians, happy for everyone to overpay for a commodity service, just so the drivers you identify with can make an extra couple bucks an hour. Noted.

Anonymous Luke June 23, 2017 9:53 PM  

No, Lyft and Uber Cab do NOT "offer a vastly better service for lower cost than the taxi companies". The cost to have a vehicle with a driver remains essentially the same, despite Uber Cab, etc., using a phone app instead of phone voice for dispatching, a minor cost difference. Uber Cab (usually, during nonsurge times) charges pax considerably less than do legal taxis, yes. The difference is made up partly by running through the >10 BILLION dollars of investment capital they've been handed by VCs, the Saudi government, etc., and partly by paying the drivers a net amount easily as low as 40% of the real cost of operating a motor vehicle for pay. Legal cabs have to charge (and the cities in which they operate set fees accordingly) at a rate that covers those expenses, and offers the driver some semblance of a living.

Two questions:

1) Do you, or do you not, believe that it is reasonable public policy for a local government to require that anyone operating a livery business within their jurisdiction have REAL (e.g., that pays claims) corporate insurance to protect passengers and other people against loss from that business operation, and to have REAL (e.g., not Uber Cab's pretend version) criminal background checks on drivers?

2) Did you take the time to read ANY of the 10-part economic analysis of Uber Cab I posted a link about? It would really go a long way towards bringing you up to speed on this topic.

Anonymous franklinjennings June 24, 2017 12:34 AM  

By lower cost I mean lower price to the consumer. And to the consumer Lyft and Uber do indeed offer a vastly better service for a lower price. It's not even close. And the lower prices aren't really due to burning capital--a lot of that has been spent on breakneck growth and on tech development, including a bunch of stupid and wasteful R&D on driverless cars.

The vastly better service at a lower price is mostly enabled by the fact that the highly regulated cab industry restricts competition, which props up prices, lowers innovation, and lowers service quality. The cab industry left a ton of room to be outperformed on service and undercut on price.

Your question 1 is kind of disingenuous, because you imply that the regulations are just minimum light touch regulations to protect people. When in fact there are tons of expensive regulations designed to limit competition. Which is why the quality of taxi service has stayed so bad for so long, with the entire country wasting lifetimes waiting for cabs. Funnily enough, taxi service is finally improving now that they have more competition.

Uber's success hasn't come from employing felons. Uber has a huge global brand to protect and a bunch of government enemies, unlike the coddled cab companies. The result is that in my experience and obviously the experience of millions of satisfied customers, the driver quality with Uber feels safer, better, more courteous, etc. than the average cabbie. This is borne out statistically, too. There have been far fewer safety or crime issues per capita with Uber than with the taxi industry. And that's not even counting the classic form of taxi theft...running up the meter by taking the long way, something that almost every taxi customer has experienced at some point but which is entirely eliminated in the Uber model.

I have no complaints about the tactics Uber had to use to fight a hostile and corrupt system. I want the freedom to get a ride for a fair price without the government ruining it for me. If Uber and its drivers were underinsured, that's their problem.

You should read Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. He makes the point that for any government intervention, you need to look not just at the short term impacts but the long term ones, and not just at the impact on specified beneficiaries of the policy, but the impact of everyone impacted by the policy.

Licensing schemes to limit competition in "the livery business" do more harm than good overall. Consumers shouldn't be deprived of a quality service at a fair price because drivers want higher salaries than the free market would bear. That's a net negative to the economy.

I have been studying this issue my entire life. Your snarky suggestion that I'm "not up to speed' is embarrassing...for you.

I am disgusted by politicians who deliberately hurt their own constituents, the taxpayers who pay their salaries, in exchange for bribes from taxi company owners and support from bureaucrats staffing the inspection process. Pathetic. Judging from behavior any money flows, local governments aren't really in the reasonable public policy business.

And you sound just like a corrupt local politician yourself. You think people who just want a ride from A to B owe drivers "a living" in spite of their lack of specialized skills. You try to B.S. the riders that your regulations are for their safety, when the statistics suggest that people are safer without them. You try to pretend that you care about working people trying to make a living, but you only care about the ones at "livery businesses" and you'd like to keep all their potential competitors out of work so your favored beneficiaries can charge more.

Anonymous franklinjennings June 24, 2017 12:35 AM  

You argue that Uber drivers are getting ripped off, but Uber's size clearly demonstrates that drivers like the deal enough to take it.

You argue that livery businesses do good work, but Uber's success clearly demonstrates huge customer demand for an alternative.

You argue that the only reason people prefer Uber is that wasteful spending is subsidizing the low prices. But even if the prices were identical, people would prefer Uber.

You argue that Uber built nothing special...just an app and a server. And I agree. So why did taxi companies never employ that simple tech to offer a better service. Why does everyone have to wait 15-45 minutes for a cab compared to 5 minutes for an Uber? Why does everyone worry and wonder whether the cab will EVER show up while Uber shows you exactly where your driver is? I'll tell you why they never took sufficient innovative steps to address customer complaints--they were protected from competition by bribed politicians.

Your list of regulations you want Uber to follow is hilarious. "They just need to obey all the rules for running a taxi business: a) have the required state police-performed fingerprint-based background checks on all drivers prior to driving (with criminal behavior preventing permitting); b) REAL corporate insurance (Uber Cab's has never paid a single claim for them, I understand); c) have the appropriate permits for picking up at airports, military bases, carrying underage passengers, etc.; d) have clear and permanent signage painted on; e) obey the regulations on fares per mile/waiting time (no more "surge" $250.00 for 9 mile trips on New Year's Eve or during hurricane/terrorist attack evacuations, so they have to start obeying the anti-gouging laws); e) have the vehicles both inspected and licensed by the local agency that oversees livery operations in their jurisdiction."

I'm sure that it would feel more "fair" to incumbents if upstarts could be deterred by all these barriers. But these regulations obviously weren't written for my benefit. Those things don't help consumers. The Uber service is faster, cheaper, safer better without all that crap.

Sorry, bud. The genie is out of the bottle. And the "livery business" will never be as crappy for customers and as lucrative for local politicians again.

Anonymous Luke June 24, 2017 3:19 AM  

FJ, if pure numbers participating in something all by itself made it a good thing those in it were happy about, then you would have justified the Soviet Union and the PRC. Uber Cab has managed to obfuscate (that's "mislead and LIE to") economically desperate drivers into not understanding the difference between revenue and profit. Take out vehicle costs including depreciation, and the 61 cents a mile that Uber Cab pays drivers as a base rate in Detroit is actually driving at a LOSS.

Re your thinking that Uber Cab wouldn't employ criminals because they have their name to protect:
have you not kept up AT ALL on who manages the d*mned company?!? They engage in criminal behavior as SOP! That's just about their main competitive advantage.

Oh, and your disdain for commercial livery insurance for people in the commercial livery business, for fingerprint-based background checks run by someone that doesn't have motivation to let felons through -- please try and defend that. I don't see how you can.

If Uber Cab doesn't like a law, they can get it overturned BEFORE breaking it. Else, everyone involved in breaking it needs to go to jail until they're rehabilitated (defined as "permanently lost all desire to break said laws in the future".)

Read the fucking analysis of Uber Cab's fundamentals before you post again. Reading your B.S. is for me a similar experience a geologist would have being berated about how the Earth is only a few thousand years old by a 12-YO creationist, e.g., someone without a right to an opinion worthy of being taken seriously.

Here is the link to part Ten (post-flushing Travis "High" Kalanick as Uber Cab's Scammer-In-Chief), figuring that your attention span to read the rest of it is far too deficient:
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/06/can-uber-ever-deliver-part-ten-uber-death-watch-begins.html

Anonymous franklinjennings June 26, 2017 5:37 PM  

Okay, I read it. I usually like Naked Capitalism, but I didn't like this piece that much. I thought from all your kvetching that this would be more about the unit economics of Uber, but it focused more on other things like bad publicity and high valuation. I don't disagree that Uber is in trouble because of those things, but that's different than saying that the business model or ride-sharing apps can never work.

I agree that the $70 billion valuation is probably the high point. Not only will many investors not get healthy returns, they'll get negative returns.
I agree that Uber's strategy pretty much is as described in the article. Take advantage of access to capital at ridiculous valuations to try to BUY market dominance that can later be exploited.
I agree that the bold tech claims (driverless cars, etc.) were there to goose the valuation, but are not really central to the microeconomics of the business they are really in.
I agree that the bad publicity and SJW attacks are real things that can do real damage. (Lots of people now use Lyft instead of Uber as a form of progressive virtue signaling.)
I also agree with you that the drivers are not always acti

But here's where I disagree:

1) Even if Uber goes bankrupt someday due to overspending, there's clearly a market for ride-sharing apps. They are here to stay. The service is faster, better, and cheaper than taxi service. It's ridiculous for you to deny this obvious fact. And there's no reason to think this won't continue to be the case, especially in dense population centers, even without investor subsidies.

2) My point about Uber being statistically safer than taking a cab remains true. You sound like a hysterical woman when you whine that management are criminals so the drivers are likely to be dangerous criminals too. Statistically, ride-sharing app users have enjoyed safer travel than cab users. Sorry that your beloved regulations were so ineffective at achieving their stated safety goals (while being quite effective at keeping wait times and prices higher than they should be). And again, it’s worth noting that Uber has eliminated the prevalent petty theft of cab drivers “taking the long way” for unsuspecting out-of-towners.

(con't)

Anonymous franklinjennings June 26, 2017 5:49 PM  

I don't disagree with you that the drivers are not always acting in their rational self interest. Sometimes they are, especially the ones who are doing it part-time and choosing the most lucrative times to drive. But you are right that others are in effect eating their cars by ignoring depreciation in their calculation of net pay.

But here's the thing: that's not my problem. It's what the market will bear. Lots of Americans burn thru their savings and assets to keep current income/consumption going. If you care so much about this, you should start an education campaign for drivers, teaching them about depreciation. And while you're at it you should teach them to pack lunches instead of eating fast food. And you should teach them that real skills command higher wages.
As someone who just wants a ride, thought, it's not my job to educate them or pay them more money than they are demanding because you think they should get a post-depreciation profit!
This is really what it comes down to. I want freedom for consumers. I want better service and lower prices. Uber has delivered what the taxi companies never did.
You, on the other hand, want to extract more money (and time) from people like me to satisfy some social justice goal of higher wages for low-skilled drivers. Sorry, drivers just aren't my preferred charity.
I'm happy to provide a safety net for the truly needy. But I have no obligation to fund "an income that can support a family" for a low-skilled taxi driver. You think I should have that obligation and you want law and regulation to enforce it. Because neither the free market nor the charity market nor the welfare state will.
But I’m actually giving you too much credit. The taxi drivers make a few bucks more than Uber drivers in many cases, but the real beneficiaries of the corrupt regulations and artificially high taxi costs are the taxi company owners. And the owners DEFINITELY don’t deserve my charity.
The other place we disagree is on the benefit of the regulations. You make a blatantly false assumption that taxi regulations are there for safety. In fact, the money flow to the local politicians is quite clear, and the competition-dampening impact of the paid-for regulations is clear too. I consider the bribes-for-regulation merry-go-around more morally repugnant than Uber violating regulations that were explicitly written to keep competition out.
Will Uber fail? In their boldest ambitions, absolutely. But for my purposes, they've already succeeded. They have revealed without question that 50 years of "competition" in the livery business couldn't deliver the same value to riders that these ride-sharing app companies are all offering already.
You pretend to care about safety, but really you're on the side of cronyism and protectionism. And you think consumers should in effect pay a tax to low-skilled taxi drivers and taxi company entrepreneurs so they can make more money. If these guys are in need of welfare, let them apply for it, instead of adding a bunch of net negative friction to the entire economy to artificially boost one group’s wages.
As I said, the genie is out of the bottle. The urban millennial progressives are in love with ride-sharing apps. Five years ago they might have professed some sympathy for the notion that taxi driving should pay enough to “support a family,” but now they would mostly FIGHT any regulations that would increase prices for Uber and Lyft.
Your golden age of taxi drivers ripping fares off with impunity is over, friend. You can’t fight progress.
But apparently people like Travis Kalanick CAN fight City Hall. No matter what happens, he outmaneuvered your corrupt industry, showed the world a MUCH better way to get a ride, and became (and will remain) a multi-billionaire.

Anonymous Luke June 27, 2017 5:10 AM  

FJ, just two questions: a) did you read all ten parts of the essay, or just the tenth (last) one?

2) Please comment on how Uber Cab goes nuclear on its drivers being required to get fingerprint-based background checks performed by the state department of law enforcement, as all livery drivers (which Uber Cabs certainly are) are normally so required. Uber Cab will pull out of a city, rather than spend the 50 bucks per driver (or let their drivers pay for those). If Uber Cab drivers are "as safe as legal cab drivers", that would seem a massive overreaction. (BTW, the Mayor of Houston said that HALF the Uber Cab drivers in his town have criminal records(!))

Oh, and not a question, but a comment: bribing and/or threatening local government functionaries to look the other way when a safety regulation is being violated is not normally seen as an advance, but as a corrupt regression. Otherwise, Nigeria and the like would be considered world leaders in social and economic systems (hint: they're not).

Anonymous franklinjennings June 27, 2017 11:03 AM  

Go Luke! You've got a great future as a corrupt livery company boss or a corrupt city councilman.

As for me, I'll enjoy the great, safe, affordable Uber service, and thank my lucky stars that I don't have to wait around for a cab driver to rip me off.

You're silent on the main point, which is that taxi service has long been crappy and overpriced relative to what Uber, Lyft, and others now offer.

Instead, you keep feigning outrage over Uber's lack of respect for corrupt regulations that were explicitly designed to BLOCK providers of affordable, high-quality service.

You pretend not to know that the regulations were bought and paid for with livery lobbying dollars paid to corrupt politicians in exchange for crony-protecting, citizen-screwing red tape regulations.

And you pretend not to know that the regulations don't help with safety in practice, as shown by the fact that the livery companies have WORSE safety and theft records than Uber and Lyft.

Your campaign slogan can be "If we don't stop Uber, we'll turn into Nigeria. Bring back 45 minute taxi waits and higher prices! Bring back meter tampering and taking "the scenic route." The voters won't like it, but you'll surely attract campaign donations from cab companies!

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