At its inception, Uber touted itself as a shining example of the “sharing economy” described by Jeremy Rifkin, in this now famous book, The Third Industrial Revolution. As time has passed the reality has been radically at odds with a sharing economy. Among the many issues that have emerged has been the legacy of Uber’s ugly corporate culture, secret apps used to confound regulators, and to intimidate journalists, a Justice Department investigation of illegal practices, including 200 Uber employees conspiring together to attack Lyft’s operations. The proverbial chickens have come home to roost, as municipalities around the world have begun to regain control of transportation policy within their jurisdictions, and the inflated valuations of these unicorns begin to deflate.
UPDATE: This February 3, 2016 post on Uber deserves an update. This week Uber announced that it lost $800 Million in its 3rd quarter. That’s correct, $800 Million in only three months. The Uber announcement tries to spin the loss as good news for Uber as ” increased by only 25% over the third quarter last year. An $800 Million quarterly loss is right up there in the same league with Trump lost money. I guess we need to remember Trump’s admonition that debt is good, and it’s ok to lose other people’s money. Uber’s announcement goes on to project continuing losses projected to be greater than $3 Billion next year, as Uber continues its plans for an apparent IPO for brain dead investors.
So Trump is Uber and conversely, Uber is Trump. This comparison has been made by both supporters and opponents, so as they say, there must be some truth in it. Both Uber and Trump have based their strategies on disrupting the status quo and the establishment with politically incorrect behavior. My argument here is simply that while the disruption fostered by both Trump and Uber may appear attractive at first glance, and desirable to many, in both cases, there are much deeper ethical issues that are only now coming to the forefront.