Is the Party over for Uber?

The NMA Foundation presents The Car of the Future weekly feature:

The obnoxious frat boy culture that was Uber came to a head this week when investors ousted founder Travis Kalanick. Recode.com wrote in the aftermath that one person and one blog post can make a difference. Perhaps the blog post was the tip of the iceberg but the rest of the mess has quickly surfaced. Scandal on top of scandal has riddled the ridesharing giant.

The company’s valuation at $70 billion, even though it has never turned a profit, is twice as much as Ford or GM. Uber grew at one of the fastest rates of any company ever but the start up/male dominated culture never had to grow up until now. The firing of Kalanick is the turning point. Can Uber survive the utter chaos it is now under or will some other giant come in, buy it up and clean house?

One thing that I always wondered about Uber is the drivers. Since 2014, Kalanick said over and over again that Uber’s future would be autonomous. Up until this week, drivers could not even receive a tip from riders.

A New York labor judge ruled this month that Uber drivers should legally be employees with benefits.

To me, drivers are the company and since the drivers have been treated so poorly, why would anyone want to drive for Uber or let alone ride with Uber?

Techcrunch this week wrote about the fact that even if and when Uber goes driverless, the company still has to deal with people—passengers inside the car and pedestrians/ bicyclists/drivers outside the car. Up until now, the brand Uber seemed they could do no wrong but in the future will Uber just be another brand no one respects?

Driver or driverless, Uber still has an image problem. Many ridesharing companies are now out there and a company like Lyft who is making all the right moves and finding all the right partners is poised to take over Uber’s gains.

If Uber grows up and detoxes from sexual harassment, driver harassment, local official harassment, lawsuits and just plain obnoxiousness, the company might have a chance. Right now, though, why would anyone want to drive for Uber or even hail an Uber.  The best medicine is sometimes abstinence.

Here are some additional articles that you might find amusing that came out in the past few weeks:

From New York Post: Uber wants Sheryl Sandberg to be its next CEO

From Forbes.com: Uber needs a grownup in charge: Ex-Ford CEO Mark Fields could be the right pick

From International Data Group’s CSO website: Yes, Uber can – and will – get worse discusses Uber’s problem with hiring the data engineers and what they will do with all of their data now that no one is there to parse it.

From Wired.com: As Uber crumbles, Lyft builds its Future

From San Francisco’s KTVU Fox News:  Clogged Streets: 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers in San Francisco grab lawmakers’ attention

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One Response to “Is the Party over for Uber?”

  1. Rich Koch says:

    Another factor that is rarely mentioned is the cost of being a ride-share driver. People think that they’re making $30/hour but they’re spending most of that to drive and insure their car. Most people don’t seem to realize that it costs over half a buck a mile to drive their car, and that’s before their insurance company finds out that they’re using the car for work. Run the numbers honestly and you’ll find that most ride-share drivers are netting $5 to $10/hour, and paying income tax on a much higher figure if they don’t keep track of all expenses, including the capital cost of the car.