Let me first admit to prejudice. I despise Uber and everything they stand for. They are to ethical business what Trump is to ethical politics.
You can imagine my shadenfreude-fed grin when I read this headline at the BBC today:
In my daily working life, as a management consultant, Uber is constantly cited as the flagship for innovation through disruption. They are applauded for coming up with a business model that uses new technology to deliver services that consumers love and which “overcomes” traditional industry barriers. I suspect some of the applause is really for having thought up a way to make a lot of money for doing very little.
Uber was founded and is run by Travis Kalanick, a working-class kid made good, who is now the 290th richest man in the US with a net worth of $6.2bn. He is known for creating a “must win” culture in Uber that led to aggressive management practices that have often been challenged in courts around the world. He is now one of Trump’s advisors.
On 19th January, he agreed to pay $20m (about 3% of his personal net worth) to drivers who Uber mislead (legalize for “caused to believe something that was untrue”) about how much they would earn at Uber.
In Craig’s List ads, Uber claimed that drivers could earn $90,000 in New York and more than $74,000 in San Francisco. Drivers discovered that the truth was closer to $22,000.
The BBC quotes drivers as saying:
“Uber shift cost, risk, and burden onto drivers and taxpayers when they fail to provide the basic benefits so many Americans take for granted, from health insurance to sick leave.”
“On top of that, drivers are stuck with the bill for their vehicle, gas, repairs, maintenance, insurance, the list goes on.”
I do not see UBER as anything other than an example of corporate greed, unbridled by any sense of responsilbility to customers, drivers or governments. They don’t disrupt, they corrupt.
The next time you need a ride, think about that and call a black cab or a yellow taxi.