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Reasons not to use Uber (stallman.org)
544 points by deepakkarki on Nov 12, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 361 comments



Even where he has good points, Stallman so often undercuts himself through overreach. Like, his decades-long attempt to rename things in a "pejorative" way or call them pejorative names when he doesn't like them is...weird. I mean, weird-for-him, not just weird. "Oh, we shouldn't call it Uber, we should call it Goober!" Are we back in fourth grade now? I mean, it's in the same vein as their redefinition of phrases into particular jargon (like, say, "free"), obviously, but then trying to use it in advocacy? Hasn't twenty years of wet-fart responses to the rhetoric taught him--or the FSF in general, who's usually pretty tin-eared too--anything?


I've come to accept the fact that Stallman is just going to be Stallman. Both his virtues and his faults are magnified in person.

His brain seems to be wired up differently: He's frustrating, he's terrible at people skills, and he'd walk 10 miles out his way to avoid bending a minor ethical principle. Even when I disagree with one of his ethical principles, I do admire him for being committed to what he believes. I suspect he could have made a very profitable business off of GCC in the 80s—it was a remarkably good compiler for several chips back in the day—but he preferred to focus on writing more free software.

I've spoken with FSF staff in the past, and their attitude towards Stallman often seems to combine admiration and frustration. They work with him regularly, and most of them are fairly typical free software developers. They generally seem to believe that world has room for somebody like Stallman, who's horrible at PR but who takes principled stands.


> They generally seem to believe that world has room for somebody like Stallman, who's horrible at PR but who takes principled stands.

We need more people like that not less unfortunately they often get creamed by the people who are unwilling to take a stand but pretty good at PR.

In the realm of politics you can see that happening now in the UK with Jeremy Corbyn (principled even if you disagree with his politics) and the way the press treats him.


Totally agree, he is a man or principles with genuine concern for others, when he speaks, others listen.

More of his caliber.


Something that has always rankled me with respect to this view of Stallman as a high-caliber role model is the name calling the original commenter mentioned. Of all the people I look up to and aspire to be more like, not a single one employs that particular childish style of "discourse".


I think it'd be a mix of a couple things, it keeps things lighthearted for him, and it allows him to not have to keep typing out the name of something he dislikes very much.

He ain't writing strict legal discourse, he's writing out his own feelings in the way he feels most enjoyable. Personally I respect that.

For myself: I don't like using words like f*, and I prefer to censor them if I do use them, and I'd rather call someone a goob, instead of an idiot or a moron. My intent isn't to be mean!


You don't think you're being a little over-sensitive with respect to the name calling ?

Uber to Guber isn't that bad?


I consider Elon Musk of a similar caliber but it's interesting to see how different both of them are portrayed: Stallman is weird, frustrating, and an Aspie, and Musk is eccentric, ambitious and a legend. (All real quotes from HN). The difference of course is that one is the father of the free software movement and the other is a billionaire.


Oh man I totally disagree with this.

Elon Musk has almost "manifest destiny" ideas about the inherent goodness of America. He talks about the virtues of unfettered capitalism while his lobbyists keep India from playing in American satellite markets. He donated to Marco Rubio as well as to democrat candidates.

I don't think Musk is particularly principled. We're just lucky that he thinks rockets and alternative energy are cool.


Totally agree. His personal/family life is a shambles which is a real litmus test of character and integrity.

He has achieved great financial, business, and technology successes and is a visionary, but let's not confuse that with being a role model or hero to be emulated.

Stallman on the other hand gets nothing but respect from me for his personal integrity and values.


Musk has a great backing by a few enlightened persons that try to bring ideas that were floating 40-60 years ago to reality as due to technological advances some of them are now possible or viable and no longer need to reside in sci-fi world only.


Just because he subscribes to a different ideology doesn't mean he isn't also very principled. I mean, his "manifest destiny" ideas (as you put it) led him to give his competitors open access to Tesla's patents.


The parent poster gave an example of hypocritical behavior:

> He talks about the virtues of unfettered capitalism while his lobbyists keep India from playing in American satellite markets.


Their principles are just different, man.


One gave world a compiler and a text editor.

Another sells self driving electric cars and may even stop global warming.


The press treats him appropriately. He's a fringe left leader and is derided as such in a wider population. I applaud his commitment to ideology though.


I'd say it's better that it isn't a person, but a shared set of values. Harder for the PR lot to spin and counter.


In a rational world I'd agree but my old boss used to say (he was sales) "People buy People", I think the best case is a shared set of values represented by someone who can articulate them well and with integrity.

Which pretty much sounds like Bernie Sanders/Jeremy Corbyn, alas it doesn't seem to be enough these days.


Jeremy Corbyn calls Hezbollah and Hamas his friends and his associates are vocally anti-semitic.


Yeah, but you know, everyone needs an editor. Anyone who writes stuff should run it by another set of eyes.

Every single piece Stallman writes would be stronger if someone would say "take out the Goober bit" or "take out the Swindle" bit or whatever other goofy names he comes up with.

This 4th grade stuff just weakens his essays. It isn't good, it doesn't need to be there. All it tells me is that he's not running his stuff by anyone who'll challenge him to make his writing stronger.


> I could have made money this way, and perhaps amused myself writing code. But I knew that at the end of my career, I would look back on years of building walls to divide people, and feel I had spent my life making the world a worse place.

One of my favorite RMS quotes. We need people like him to fill out the spectrum.


> I suspect he could have made a very profitable business off of GCC in the 80s—it was a remarkably good compiler for several chips back in the day—but he preferred to focus on writing more free software.

The irony is that if he had made a business out of it, he could have had much more influence.


No need to speculate: Cygnus did make a business out of it.


Doesn't he simply have Asperger's?


I wouldn't say 'simply'. That's accepting labelling as analysis


Labeling is simply creating a reference to a body of analysis that has already been done. (A particular proposed label may or may not be accurate in a given case, but that's an entirely different issue.)


I appreciate posts like this because it gives insight into popular companies that the public adores but might not be so great for the workers or the economy in the long run. Although like you said it could be over-reaching and making the company look like The Dark Side. Like there are people in it conspiring and thinking of the next way to take advantage of it work-force deliberately.

A company like this was born cause Taxi's sucked in the first place. Taxis were inefficient, cab drivers can have racial prejudices and leave someone in a dangerous area cause they don't like the way they look, No feedback on cab drivers etc. So Uber came into a place that needed re-work and instead of people complaining about Uber's world domination and the cost of it, why won't people work to also change Uber the way it changed the world of Taxis?

I think informational posts like this are great, but the tone of it is off-putting.


>>cab drivers can have racial prejudices

So do riders!

I've always claimed that one of the primary reasons Uber is popular is because its drivers are predominantly white or Asian.

In contrast, many taxi companies employ immigrants from places like India and Africa, who often times have their culture in full display in front of the rider (wearing non-Western clothing, talking loudly on the phone in another language, having various cultural/religious decorations/texts around the car, etc.) all of which your average American views with a certain level of disdain.


I think that's more of a location based thing. I almost always get immigrant drivers from Uber and white drivers in taxis. I am in the south in an area where taxis are not as common as the costal cities. I don't have the cultural issues which I know are common in NYC, but this could be that the state of the car is a metric that Uber tracks via user feedback.


Could be. Personally, I don't care about their clothes, phone calls, decorations, etc. I do care when they intentionally take roundabout routes to jack up fares and sexually harass my female friends. This stuff seems to happen a lot less when there's a way to keep track of who the driver is and review them.


> I've always claimed that one of the primary reasons Uber is popular is because its drivers are predominantly white or Asian.

Not in my experience.


100% agree. Overreach combined with childishness is a massive turn-off, even if you think he's right a lot of the time. And it damages the FSF/GNU by association.

If I see that I might have to sign a contributor agreement (often not in some straightforward manner, but involves reading multiple documents, postal mail, is only tangentially related to the core GNU product etc.) my first choice is usually just not to contribute. I hear myself saying internally "I don't want to have to deal with those people". Seems to me that this damages the Free Software world.


You don't sign a contributor agreement with the FSF. You sign away your copyright, but they also agree to only distribute the work under the same terms as the ones you gave it to them (i.e. the GPL in most cases). It is far more equitable than contributor agreements which basically try to remove the right for you to sue the organisation that gives you the contributor agreement. Instead, in exchange for your copyright, you get a promise that your work will remain free.

Also, the process has recently been transformed to be completely over email:

https://www.fsf.org/blogs/licensing/fsf-now-offering-paperle...


I don't think the nomenclature is the important point here. I also don't consider contributor agreements inherently bad.

Great to hear everything can be done electronically now. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I last checked and found the postal instructions.


> I don't think the nomenclature is the important point here.

Only if you already knew the difference between what Google asks you to sign when you submit patches to Chrome and what the FSF asks you to sign. If you want to call them both "CLAs", fine, but at least I hope you understand now how they're fundamentally very different. Not every bit of legalese is the same just because it's annoying legalese that you'd rather not have to deal with.


Do any (many?) of their projects omit "any later version" in the license statements?

They can't use that to retroactively close off submitted works, but project using other licenses can't do that either.


The GPL says that future versions of the GPL will be "similar in spirit". An "or later" GPL that allows non-free derivative works would probably not be viewed by a judge as "similar in spirit". There really is no great danger in the "or later" clause.

> They can't use that to retroactively close off submitted works, but project using other licenses can't do that either.

I don't understand this sentence, can you elaborate? Who can use what to retroactively lock up what, and what other licences do not allow what?


Well, the renaming of things would actually be useful. He understands that framing is important, and tries to give the discussions a frame that is advantageous to his ends.

Unfortunately, he just isn't overly successful / good at it. If you agree with him on the points, a better approach would be constructive criticism, i.e. thinking about ways of changing the framing of debates that might be more successful.


Reframing the debate can be useful - I actually agree with him wanting to use the term 'piecework subcontractor economy' rather than 'sharing economy' for example. That is replacing one term with certain connotations with another that is, at least in my view, more accurate. It's pushing people to use a descriptive term rather than a marketing term, and can add to a debate.

Wanting to call Uber 'Goober' or 'Guber' on the other hand, is just childish, and makes it hard to take anything else he says seriously.


I agree it sounds childish, but I think it can be a necessary counterbalance to the marketing-speak which will inevitably frame things in the most favorable possible light.

I mean, just look at the name - Uber. What does it mean? Superior, the best, etc. Ubermensch - "This place is uber cool!". I think if you're using the name and trying to criticize it, the name itself is contradicting and undermining your point every time you bring it up.

Maybe something like "Goober" is too far and silly. Maybe just use something neutral like "Ride-Sharing App U".


But "Ride-Sharing App U" isn't a pun on the concept that drivers are paid peanuts.

Goober is slang for peanut. He was making a joke.


Or, because Goober is slang for a bumpkin. The joke is that it's an inversion of Uber.


Why not both!


The name may mean "superior" but being an adult means recognizing that something named "superior" not necessarily is. By trying to rename it you implicitly admit your failure at that - so that the only way for you to not think about something as "superior" is not to use name that means "superior". I don't think it's an effective strategy in persuading somebody it's not actually superior. Most reasonable people would still see the difference between name and actual qualities.


Being an informed adult also means recognizing the inherent limitations of the human brain that allow for the framing, presentation, context, and social group perception of a thing (as seen in branding, marketing, opinion essays, and many other places) to considerably affect how we think and feel about different aspects of the world.

Some might even call this a feature -- such cognitive shortcuts and heuristics allow us to assess threats in our environment, enjoy the warmth and aesthetics of a newly purchased jacket, or complete a shopping trip to the grocery store in a reasonable amount of time.

Through large efforts of will we can begin to become aware of this in ourselves, and then attempt to mitigate the negatives to a small degree. However, we can't do much beyond that.


To a German, "Uber" means "I cannot spell." (SCNR.)


He's warming up the crowd for his new FOSS taxi service (wait for it):

GNUber


Yes, it is part of the first batch of the FSF's new initiative to provide seed funding for free software startups called YNotCombinator.


GNUber's Not Uber?


  GNUber
Rather:

GINU -- Ginu Is Not Uber


Just GNU: GNU's Not Uber


You'll need to use Emacs and PGP to encrypt your coordinates and then post the message on blockchain. It's free, doesn't require a non-free device and everyone can see the transaction history!


It would be nice to have a ride sharing ecosystem that didn't take 30%. I'd use it.


Juno takes only 10% I believe. It's a worker cooperative where longtime drivers are given shares


Haven't heard of Juno before. I found what seems to be their site: https://www.gojuno.com but there's very, very little info.

What's their deal? Are they just getting started?


Public transit?


Hey I do use that;) But actually I was talking about a peer-to-peer ride selling and ride wanting matching system that cuts out the middle man. I use Uber but I cann't help but think the drivers should get a larger share of the fare.


They take 30% and still loose money. How can you do better?


Yes. I also think his isolation creates a situation where he doesn't understand what makes Uber/Lyft et al, special.

> With real taxis, you can flag one on the street or phone in any fashion; you can pay cash; you can be anonymous.

The problem is that real Taxis only troll popular areas, and when you call for a pickup they aren't incentivized to actually arrive in a timely manner.

Uber/Lyft fixed this problem in a simple and elegant way. It's the value of the service and UX of asking for a car and getting it, unlike Taxis.


Referring to one's opponent in a pejorative way is a common persuasion strategy. The problem is that Stallman isn't good at it.

See: Trump vis-à-vis "crooked Hillary."


I referred to them as The Company Which Cannot Be Named (Harry Potter reference) or 'duper.

I once pulled up to a bar 2 minutes after getting a call. The passenger got in the cab, and the passenger's (male) friend had assumed the pose that marked him as waiting for a 'ride'. (The observation is typically used by scumbags in Scottsdale to trick women waiting for a 'ride' into getting into random cars, which is why the taxi company I drove for lobbied to force ride-vehicles to have some sort of branding.)

Me: is your friend waiting for a 'duper? Passenger: 'duper? (Confusion, then...) do you mean UBER? Me: FRIENDS don't let friends get DUPED by eww-ber! Passenger: LOL.

Really, though... "Ridesharing" is unsustainable for many reasons, the main one being that cars are expensive, and should the economy rebound, people won't be willing to wear out their cars for peanuts.


> The observation is typically used by scumbags in Scottsdale to trick women waiting for a 'ride' into getting into random cars, which is why the taxi company I drove for lobbied to force ride-vehicles to have some sort of branding.

I'm sure that the cost and bother to the competition had nothing to do with that lobbying effort.


The taxi company's lobbying efforts had two main points:

1. public safety. 2. fairness

Rideshare companies had no infrastructure for basic safety inspections, so they didn't think it was important.

Rideshare drivers had no insurance contract for the time they were on the clock. 'Duper said "we've got you covered", but their drivers didn't have any paperwork supporting this claim. The taxi company lobbied to force the ridesharing companies to provide certificates of insurance to their contractors, so that if their driver was involved in an accident they could provide the ridesharing company's insurance information, instead of their personal policy.


> The taxi company's lobbying efforts had two main points: > 1. public safety. 2. fairness

Denying that taxicab companies lobby their own self-interest is completely unbelievable. All that is missing is to get "for the children" in there somehow and it'd be a perfect political BS speech.

No, I mean I get the point where taxicabs, being regulated up the wazoo, think that if they have to del with all that, why competition hasn't. But trying to sell the idea they are just saints looking for public's good and it has nothing to do with their own interest... right. Not buying that bridge.


The insurance industry was on the taxi industry's side in the lobbying effort, so as to reduce insurance fraud.

Freeloading hurts everyone.


Does uber pay less than Pizza delivery drivers? People have been wearing out their cars for many many years for peanuts to get pizza to your door.

Plus, in 10 years we have robot cars and the economics totally shift.


You can deliver pizza in a worn-out old car. 'Duper has standards for their vehicles.

The taxi company I drove for also lobbied to force 'duper's vehicles to be inspected by mechanics... Semi-annually, iirc.

Edit: the inspections were probably mandated every 3 months (quarterly); the taxi company inspected its version of ride-share vehicles bi-monthly (iirc), which just cost their drivers time (because the mechanics were already employed by the taxi company), whereas an inspection was another cost for 'duper drivers.


> I referred to them as The Company Which Cannot Be Named (Harry Potter reference)

I don't get the reference, but then again https://stallman.org/harry-potter.html ;)


I thought Guber was a pretty clever joke. For those not aware, goober is a slang term for a peanut. So a service that pays it's driver peanuts could jokingly be called Guber.


Oh, come on. It was only for a section of the page.

If you really want to discuss semantic I believe the point he raises on the "sharing economy" term being spun is much more worth talking about.


"Only". Raising your "I think twisting names to sound like a four-year-old" flag is not an "only".

I mean, he's totally correct about the sharing economy stuff and I think "piecework subcontractor economy" is a way better description of the --but I literally can't send this to anybody I know because they'll think I agree with the childishness. This is kind of like an amplified version of the LessWrong silliness--when you have an epistemic closure in which you start redefining basic tents, you have to tone it down when you're talking to normal people or you sound like the kind of crazy person who'd you expect to be raving at you in the streets.

PR matters. If Stallman wants to just wave his hands in the air for the rest of his life, more power to him, but I'd think he'd want to actually achieve some of the goals he says he does.

Then again, he thinks taxis are a positive just because you can pay cash, and he lives near me so he has been exposed to the fine (cough hack wheeze) hackney cabs of the Boston area, so I'm not sure we're even living in the same universe at the basic level.


Hmmm. You are right, I somehow definitely missed the PR angle and overlooked it. Which is weird because I could have written your post if someone had used the `Micro$oft` childish spelling in any other conversation. Thanks.


Right on. And I totally hate the Micro$oft thing, too. =) It's not effective.


Argh, stop saying that Stallman is redefining "free". Fine, "Guber" is all that anyone ever hears and the top comment and the most important thing to discuss about all the other points that Stallman is raising against Uber (sarcasm), but there isn't anything non-free about the GPL. Having laws that forbid others from removing freedom isn't itself non-free.

Freedom is always limited by the rights of others. Always. You are not "free" to punch people in the face or "free" to be a harmful member of society. Copyleft is just a way to ensure that you can never take away others' freedom, to secure the rights of people other than yourself. It is not a redefinition of freedom.


In the English language, saying that a product or service is "free" is commonly understood (and has always been understood) to mean "gratis, free as in beer." Stallman has spent the past several decades trying to get people to redefine "free" to primarily mean "libre" in the case of technology, a far less common usage of the word "free" in English.

This is what people mean when they say Stallman is trying to redefine "free."


> This is what people mean when they say Stallman is trying to redefine "free."

I don't think so. I usually hear this argument from weak free license advocates who specifically object to the GPL, not to calling free software "free". Even anti-GPL advocates like OpenBSD and FreeBSD call their software free, because they're both older than the term "open source" and because they think they're free-er than the GPL, and they really do mean "unfettered" when they say "free".

Everyone knows that "free" has two meanings, and free software isn't even a term that Stallman coined. It was called that before he came along, because there was no other name for open source. He just insisted on it.


The top comment in an article is often a digression when HN does not like the article.


RMS might not be very good at coining phrases, but words matter, brands especially. I wouldn't dismiss the idea entirely.


I thought the "goober" comment was passable considering that it's old-timey American slang for a peanut.

It's the same spirit that led him to use the word "copyleft."


It could be his way of determining his reach and effectiveness. If other people start using his original dumb, childish terms, then that might serve as a metric of some kind for him.


Has this ever worked? How many people call the kindle a swindle?


I don't think the instinct to rename things in a suggestive way is a wrong one -- consider the success of Frank Luntz -- but he hasn't got an ear for it, that's for sure.


"Are we back in fourth grade now?"

This country just elected Trump. Yes, I think we are back in fourth grade now.


Why don't you rewrite this without the Stallman-isms? That might be constructive.


Like much of hckrnews, I've stopped supporting AirBnB. Though we are usually extremely supportive of disruptive startups, the tide is starting to turn [1]

AirBnB and Uber are both profiting from "disruptive innovation," or rather facilitating illegal actions. Both benefit the consumer but damage the community. It's like buying a stolen bicycle.

AirBnB: Transforms residential housing into (in most jurisdictions) illegal hotels. Ask a local renter in NY or YVR how that's working out for them.

Uber: Losing crazy amounts of VC cash to [often illegally] compete against traditional companies that must be cashflow positive. It's not a level playing field. Laws exist so that drivers could make a livable wage; Uber is devaluing the medallions they've invested in.

Is this really how we want the world to see us?

Real disruptive innovations already have huge social implications: autonomous vehicle fleets, mobile phones, data collection/mining, machine learning, CRISPR, cryptocurrency - the list is very long.

Why do we elevate companies like AirBnB and Uber that circumvent laws for profit to be our champions and unicorns?

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11930080


> or rather facilitating illegal actions.

This is a very disingenuous statement, because it is illegal only because it's made illegal to kill the service model they are using. It's like GM sponsoring a law banning Toyotas and then saying - well, look at those criminals - they are making illegal stuff! How shameful of them! No, it's shameful to use the law as a club to bash competition and prevent innovation instead of what it was meant to - to protect people from harm.

> Losing crazy amounts of VC cash to compete against traditional companies that must be cashflow positive.

So borrowing money from investors to compete with somebody is now a despicable thing, maybe even a crime?

> It's not a level playing field.

Sure it is. Level playing field does not mean everybody has the same sum of money.

> Uber is devaluing the medallions they've invested in.

The value of medallions was created by artificially choking the market until what was supposed to be simple permit issue to open a business now is a million-dollar investment way out of the reach of a common person. On the way creating a severe shortage in services and severe price distortions, since drivers now have to cover the costs of there million-dollar medallions.

> Is this really how we want the world to see us?

As people trying new things instead of just doing what always been done and letting incumbent interests tell us they are there for our own good and don't dare to question them? Sure thing!


> So borrowing money from investors to compete with somebody is now a despicable thing, maybe even a crime?

Running at financial loss just to drive prices down so you can kill competition is at least unethical in my book. Also I believe it is illegal, for good reasons, in some countries.


Agreed and I think this should be handled under anti dumping Law anyways?

It's idiotic to allow these unicorns to destroy existing businesses only to screw customers later on. They are not moving the world forward in any manner. It is just a power grab.

At best we will end up replacing many small businesses with behemoths with a virtually limitless lobbying powers.


Can you provide three most prominent examples of a "unicorn" doing such thing - destroy existing businesses by low prices and then stop providing good service and low prices and instead "screwing the customers" and still surviving as a company for, let's say, 5 years? And of course aside from patents, copyrights, etc. being involved - in a free market.

I don't believe such strategy can work. Screwing you customers is an extremely bad business practice, and it only works if your competition faces very high entry barriers or prohibited altogether, e.g. by law or regulation. Otherwise you'd either have to lower your prices each time new startup comes around, or you quickly get your market share eaten, as it happens now to taxi monopoly.

> At best we will end up replacing many small businesses

Taxi medallions are not controlled by small businesses. With their prices (before Uber), they can't be. Small business doesn't have that kind of money.


> don't believe such strategy can work. Screwing you customers is an extremely bad business practice, and it only works if your competition faces very high entry barriers or prohibited altogether.

1. Once they are big enough they can sell at loss or razor thin margins at the expense of employees(see Amazon) which in itself becomes a barrier to entrry. Most of the new small competition will die out during this phase of being discovered by customers or will face a constant cash flow crisis since incumbent can wait them out.

2. Do not underestimate the power of inertia. Let's take an example of Microsoft. For how many years IE was left to rot once they destroyed Mozilla?

Did Microsoft go out of business or fail in anyways? I guess no and don't forget it took another behemoth Google to fight the it out in the form of first supporting Mozilla and then coming up with their own browser.

> Taxi medallions are not controlled by small businesses. With their prices (before Uber), they can't be. Small business doesn't have that kind of money.

Probably they are their own local monopolies not but how replacing them with with one big all encompassing entity is a solution?

This is an anecdote but it happened to me few months back. I ordered an Uber but when it didn't arrive in time, I canceled it. Next time when I took Uber they just added a charge to my current bill silently without any intimation. I had to call them and go though half an hour of explaining. After that only they agreed to adjust the amount in my next bill. There was no option to get my cash back if I wanted my money. In my view this is no different than taxi nexus and once they are the o


I already replied to this comment but would like to highlight this:

> At best we will end up replacing many small businesses with behemoths with a virtually limitless lobbying powers.

Small business has had a hard time for a while now, suffering under corporate business models, greatly helped by the government. I always seem to come back to banks as examples, but they are a good example. These financial institutions that got bailed out... if they weren't bailed out, if the government allowed the market to correct itself and let those businesses fail (these behemoths), it would facilitate or at least allow for the rise of many small businesses to replace them.

That's just one example of how the current government/corporate business model hurts small business. How many small businesses were bailed out? Trillions spent to save the institutions that created the crisis in the first place.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Too_big_to_fail


Absolutely and yet we are happy to create more of them all the time. I bet cloud providers will be next such institution. Once a big chuck of Industry is dependent on them, they will be too big to fail.


The laws you refer to concerns a manufacturer's export of products to another country; specifically products sold at less than 'fair value'. I.e. international trade. It's not applicable to Uber in this regard. And as Uber does not employ their driver's, you have to look at laws regarding the use of freelancers/independent contractors and anything concerning fair wage. What about minimum wage?

> The Fair Labor Standards Act does not apply the minimum wage payment requirement to independent contractors. However, merely classifying a person as a contractor instead of an employee does not automatically keep the worker from being considered an employee entitled to minimum wage. Since improperly classifying a worker as a contractor carries with it legal repercussions, you must fully examine the work a person will take on for your company and compare it to labor standards.


From the sounds of it a Trump Presidency would be for removing red tape that effects Airbnb but against the dumping practices that Uber does.

There are a lot of talk that Trump is going to break up some of the Silicon Valley companies up. Especially the ones who don't care about American jobs.


Yes I actually watched [1] this and seems like Trump's view aren't formed now just to cash on the sentiments. He is talking these ideas for a long time. So let's hope he keep his insane side in check and does something good.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCabT_O0YSM


No one knows what Trump will do until he does it. Even his long-held beliefs are unreliable, because he is beholden to the mainstream Republicans and religious right that got him elected.


> he is beholden to the mainstream Republicans and religious right that got him elected

Just my opinion, but these are two groups that appear to have contributed less to Trump's success than to previous Republican candidates' (in the case of mainstream Republican politicians - actively attempting to thwart him). I think he is actually less beholden to these groups than past Republican presidents were.


Undercutting, even at loss, is a very common market tactic, I don't see a reason to highlight Uber for this.

It is certainly not illegal. That would only happen in an extremely regulated market.


Why it's unethical? Do you mean when a store announces a sale they doing an unethical and illegal thing? Or it's only when you borrow money it becomes unethical? When a startup works for years in the red it's unethical and illegal? Or only if somebody has higher prices - in that case they should immediately jack up their prices too or to jail with them?

Which ethical principle does it violate?


If ethics is a major concern in business, how could a company survive in such a battlefield?


One part is driving prices down because you've got a good IT optimising system, real time tracking, ease of use,etc. Ans another part is driving prices down artificially without making money just to choke the concurrence.


Perhaps but it is the defacto unicorn approach since Amazon made it popular.


Unlike in your metaphor, though, both Uber and AirBnB were breaking the law at the time they were founded; those laws were not written in response to them, but to prevent things like them from cropping up.


It doesn't matter. If GM sponsored a law that won't specifically target Toyota but all cars competing with GM cars, not naming Toyota by name - the argument "it's illegal" would be as disingenuous. It's subverting the meaning of the word to make it serve special interest. We think illegal things are bad, because we assume there are just laws that ban bad things from happening. So if we make a law banning somebody from competing with us, they'd be "illegal" and thus bad. But it's easy to see through this - sometimes "illegal" means just "bad law" and not "bad thing". US has a history of many extremely bad laws, I won't list them because I am sure you can name them by yourself, and even more laws that aren't as bad as those but merely self-serving and protecting some special interest. Laws against Uber and Airbnb usually are of this kind.


> So if we make a law banning somebody from competing with us, they'd be "illegal" and thus bad.

You're still missing (or strawmanning) the order of the events parent is referring to.

An analogy would be closer to the US deciding headlights were a required safety feature. Then at some point after that Chrysler realizes they can duct tape glow sticks to the bonnet and cut costs.

Doing so is illegal, they knew it would be illegal, and they still chose to make it their business model.

Whether the laws being broken serve a societal purpose is another question, but one that can't be hand waived away by saying "Some laws are bad. AirBnB has legal troubles. Therefore the laws AirBnB is breaking are bad."


In this case Chrysler is using shiny new high-tech glowsticks of a sort that nobody had imagined when the laws were written, and they actually do a better job than the legally-mandated electric headlights.

Forcing the law to change and catch up with the times can therefore be seen as an important public service.


It's possible that glowsticks are a better solution to the problem and that the laws should change. After all, glowsticks weren't a technological possibility when it was written.

I think the exasperation I (and others) seem to have with AirBnB/Uber/their supporters' sometimes-arguments are that they skip right over the "changing the law" piece. That's a pain in the ass and a lot of drudgery to be sure. But personally, I prefer to live in a society with a moderate amount of respect for the rule of all laws. Because the alternative of getting into a front-on collision at night with an unlit car sucks.


The Law is the expression of the People. If they're not happy with the Law, then they just got to get a new one. Good luck to them.


The usa already have a 500% tarrif on Chinese steel.

I dont think were gonna get rid of that in the next 4 years.


Yeah, those are the laws that shouldn't exist.


> Yeah, those are the laws that shouldn't exist.

I absolutely agree. I'm no fan of Uber or Airbnb but I still side with them on a lot of issues (except Uber or airbnb requiring you to accept any and every customer in the name of anti discrimination).

I reject the idea that traditional taxis are safer than Uber. I reject the idea that Airbnb makes our communities less secure. My understanding of Airbnb is bringing someone to share my house where they have their own room but I'm still in the building. YMMV when it comes to most Airbnb use cases where the host is in a different state and uses Airbnb full time.

The reason I support these companies even though I don't like them is that I feel helpless against the regulatory capture. Taxi service doesn't exist to promote employment of taxi drivers. I think the medallion holders should ask TLC for their money back they paid for their medallions. Screw this whole charade about employment. If the only way to fight against regulatory capture is big companies breaking laws, I fully support big companies breaking those stupid laws. If I were in a jury about any such case, I'd likely vote to acquit.


I recommend going to Panama City, Panama, and finding out what life is like when those laws don't exist. Traffic is miserable, most taxis are in extremely poor repair, the taxi drivers are making next to nothing, and half the time they will either not pick you up if you want to go across town, and/or overcharge you because you don't sound like a local.

One of the bigger reasons for medallions is congestion control. For-hire private transportation provides a financial incentive to have more cars on the road. This system will only begin to self-correct after the point of gridlock (assuming that taxis lose money while in gridlock), or not at all (if they get paid to sit in traffic). If that sounds like a future you want, you can go down to Panama and enjoy it any time. If it's all the same to you though I'd prefer not to import third-world living conditions.


Then convince people that they shouldn't. Laws aren't written in a vacuum, so clearly other members of your community disagree with you; the right way to approach that is to engage with those who disagree and convince them you're right, not to flagrantly violate the rules.


Laws absolutely are written in a vacuum called government.


When someone buys a condo in my building like in many, many (most?) such buildings, they agree to bylaws saying they will only ever rent their units out for a minimum of 6 months at a time.

It's meant to avoid overuse of some shared facilities (loading dock, etc), having to reexplain the rules we all agreed on every other day, improve the sense of community, and all around make it nice for everyone to enjoy their apartment and live with each other.

If they go out and airbnb their unit out, it's not the hotel industry they're hurting. It's their neighbors, community, and they're breaching rules they specifically agreed to.


>> Losing crazy amounts of VC cash to compete against traditional companies that must be cashflow positive.

> So borrowing money from investors to compete with somebody is now a despicable thing, maybe even a crime?

That's considered economic dumping and is likely a net negative in the end. They ruin the competition by operating at a loss and then collect rent when they are the only ones left.


Does that work for airlines? Let Uber give it a try. They are unlikely to gain a monopoly.


> This is a very disingenuous statement, because it is illegal only because it's made illegal to kill the service model they are using.

Business models which are based on undercutting the competition by ignoring the regulation concerned with safety of end user.


Ensuring that the housing stock of a city serves residents over visitors is protecting people from harm.

The analogy in your case would be GM sponsoring a law that says that if you want to build cars, you have to e.g. include seatbelts or not pump carbon monoxide into the air. That is a perfectly good law for GM to be sponsoring, even if it does inhibit competition.


It doesn't serve residents. It serves hotel lobby. They don't even hide it too much:

http://reason.com/blog/2016/10/31/hotel-workers-union-gave-1...

http://reason.com/blog/2016/11/04/hotel-exec-celebrates-new-...

It's not about safety or interests of anybody else, it's about who the money goes to.


Why are these mutually exclusive?

(Can we use Airbnb celebrating the other side as evidence that Airbnb's preferred laws don't serve visitors, they serve the VC lobby?)


If aribnb reps would say something like "we're glad this law got passed, now we can charge more and not be afraid of competition" then yes. But I don't remember Airbnb sponsoring any exclusionary laws, it's the hotel lobby that does. And they don't even bother to put a transparent screen of saying "great day for safety!", they just plain go out and say "great day for us charging more!".


> This is a very disingenuous statement, because it is illegal only because it's made illegal to kill the service model they are using.

On the contrary - Uber likes to say that it's fighting against the unjust laws in London that require drivers to take an obsolete test of all roads in the city.

In reality, they would have been exempt from that law as long as they provided fixed price quotes in advance. (Uber provides "estimates", but not fixed quotes).

They actively chose to structure their business model this way because providing estimates instead of fixed quotes allows for better customer acquisition, and they'd rather compete against medallion cars because it's an easier market to undercut if you have the VC cash to spend tens of millions in lobbying and lawyer fees just in that one city (as they have).


But why legislate such an absurd distinction? Why not let consumers choose whether they want fixed fares or taxi-style pricing?

London minicabs are terrible compared to Uber (unreliable, unavailable, no QA), while black cabs are absurdly overpriced. There's an obvious gap in the middle which is caused by protectionist legislation.


So borrowing money from investors to compete with somebody is now a despicable thing

To compete "in all cases", no. To compete against mom and pops -- that's a different matter altogether.

maybe even a crime?

That's not what the commenter was saying.


Hotel business is not exactly "mom and pops" - at least not the majority of it. Neither is a taxi one when medallion is valued in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Moms and pops then are no more than hired labor for holder corporations. And deregulating it so they maybe can become owners instead would be great, but that's not happening. Uber is going around it because going directly against the medallion laws is not possible.


I was just attempting to clarify that the situation is more complex than simply "pro-" or "anti-competition". For example, medallion-based taxi services are both, simultaneously, soulless megacorps and franchises of (within a given association) many thousands of de-facto "mom and pops".

If you have any doubts about this, ask a medallion holder how they go into the business (which I've done a fair amount of in various cities, in the past couple of years since Uber/Lyft got big). In effect a "medallion" is a lot like a permit to park your food truck in a certain place, or a lease on a corner store. And a lot of these people either invest their life savings (or sometimes the life savings of extended family members), and/or go very seriously into debt in order to purchase one of these "permits". And whose nest eggs Uber et al would very much like to "disrupt", at massive scale (literally in all corners of the globe) in order to validate their Weltanschaung (and of course, get stinking rich).

Yes I know these services also bring (significantly) greater efficiency and experience, and perhaps better working conditions and financial security -- for some current medallion holders.

But it would be naive to suppose that all of them stand to benefit; most likely there will be many losers as well -- by which I mean: bankrupted, in middle age, with a laughable pension and no savings -- before the dust settles.


Well Law is meant to bash competition and prevent innovation when it's dangerous to the community. It's the voice of the People against individuals or companies that will pursue their own interests.


> or rather facilitating illegal actions.

This is a very disingenuous statement, because it is illegal only because it's made illegal to kill the service model they are using. It's like GM sponsoring a law banning Toyotas and then saying - well, look at those criminals - they are making illegal stuff! How shameful of them! No, it's shameful to use the law as a club to bash competition and prevent innovation instead of what it was meant to - to protect people from harm.

Yeah, no.

Various jurisdictions may be tightening up laws, and the original intent of AirBnB may not have been anything illegal, but the way it has developed it does promote activities that were never legal to begin with in most jurisdictions. And renting your home out via AirBnB can void your homeowner's insurance because it is commercial use of a residential property. Many people do not realize this and do not notify their insurance company and only find it out if an AirBnB tenant damages something, they try to file a claim and get told "You aren't covered for that and, now, you aren't covered at all."

I have not paid real close attention, but my understanding is that this started as more like a paid form of couch surfing or a means to find a short term roommate and then someone eventually asked "Can I just list my entire property for rent, rather than just a portion of it?" and now that format is most of their listings.

So, as I understand it, they kind of slippery sloped their way into their current model. But their current model is basically illegal in most jurisdictions and always has been.

Some jurisdictions may be tightening up laws to make it easier to combat and perhaps that is the wrong way to handle this because it fosters misconceptions of the type you have. But residential property was never meant to be treated like a hotel and the fact that the internet makes it possible to do so in ways that were never before possible does not change the fact that rules concerning residential property is intentionally different from rules for commercial property and always have been.

I generally try to stay out of discussions about AirBnB. I don't think the founders are nefarious people who intentionally tried to do anything bad. I think this very much was a case of slippery slope. Like a lot of slippery slopes, it started out as not necessarily a bad thing but has gradually turned into something seriously problematic.

As they say: The devil is in the details. Law is very often all about insidious details. When the people who run AirBnB agreed to something that was not part of their original vision and then that happened to work to rake in the dough, well, they are responsible for what they agreed to without apparently really thinking it through carefully enough. I get the appeal of that, but it doesn't make it right that they were just trying to make money and not intentionally trying to fuck up entire cities. I am totally fine with the existing war on AirBnB.

Rather than acting all surprised and like cities are being unreasonable, maybe they should rethink their business model and stop behaving like Theranos and basically demanding that the world rise up and drag them out of there kicking and screaming because the allure of the all important goddamn dollar is too fucking strong for them to care about what their business model does to the fabric of entire cities. "Not their problem -- LA LA LA NOT LISTENING" all the way to the bank.


Their new PR stunt is to pretend that the People are behind them. They're asking their customers to defend them as if they were a social movement. Well... they will discover the hard way that they're not Wikipedia. I am ready to defend Free Software as much as I can, but I don't give a shit about the stock options of Brian Chesky.


Had my first bad experience with Airbnb just recently. The property turned out to be in a horrible state (I could write a long list) even though it had very good reviews. I did book three months in advance. Bad idea. When the issues started becoming apparent, I was already behind the one-day limit for the Guest Refund Policy to be applicable (that is, if you encounter any issues, you must inform AB on the check-in day, or the policy doesn't apply).

So I lost a lot of money. Long term policy specifies that you must pay 30 days starting from the cancellation day.

And I was stuck in Morocco with my 12 month old.

Luckily we found a better property. However, Airbnb not refunding me showed that 1) They have no actual understanding of the state of the property 2) They don't care.

The disproportion between the reviews and my experience and their unwillingness to be fair totally ruined my faith in Airbnb.


This is likely to protect landlords from tenants who would break shit during their stay and then claim it was broken before they showed up to get a refund.


Maybe. The main thing is that Airbnb keeps the payment for 24 hours after check-in, then it's released to the host. That means any complains within 24 hours will result in the payment being frozen. At the point it reaches the host's end, it's impossible to get the payment back without the host's approval.

Some things you simply don't notice at first sight (e.g tiny painting particles falling from the roof, cockroaches, a broken dishwasher..).

If Airbnb's review system were honest, this wouldn't be an issue, probably. In my experience, hotel reviews are magnitudes more reliable.


Uber: Losing crazy amounts of VC cash to [often illegally] compete against traditional companies that must be cashflow positive. It's not a level playing field. Laws exist so that drivers could make a livable wage; Uber is devaluing the medallions they've invested in.

This is two separate points. The one about dumping / running at a loss to remove competition makes sense.

But the one about taxi medallions and a "livable wage"? Yeah, that one's bullshit. Limiting supply (of anything!) to jack up prices is not a good-for-society practice.


Drivers are defacto employees, integral to the business of Uber, but are treated as independent contractors, which shafts the tax burden to uber drivers.


That is the same for all taxi companies! All taxi drivers are contractors, not employees.


How? It is not like employees don't pay taxes.


Society doesn't have an interest in assuring a predictable supply of anything?


Predictability is overrated, especially if you have a system based on adaptability (like, say, the way markets work) rather than making and following long-term plans.


> AirBnB: Transforms residential housing into (in most jurisdictions) illegal hotels.

Huge part of this is actually state over-regulation. People just can't build houses. If local folks can earn some money on the side by renting out their houses, this is a good thing. Why tourists should be forced to pay for over-expensive hotels? Instead of pressing companies like AirBnB, people should press governments to remove regulations that are not necessary only serve to hire civil servants out of family members of ruling parties (not to mention pocketing bribes to give permissions to build) and make the money for the privileged.

By asking for even more regulation, you are just tightening the loop on your neck.


> Why tourists should be forced to pay for over-expensive hotels?

Because the costs of those tourists being is not on the owner of the flat, but their neighbours - who've bought or rented their homes with the expectation of a residential area, not living next to a hotel.

Zoning laws are not arbitrary rent-seeking enablers; they're protection against damaging behaviour that is difficult to enforce on a case-by-case basis.


>ho've bought or rented their homes with the expectation of a residential area, not living next to a hotel.

Who cares as long as the tourists are respectful? I never understood this line of reasoning. You could end up living next to a nightmare neighbour too and the suffering would be long term as you're stuck with them.


Zoning laws are not arbitrary rent-seeking enablers; they're protection against damaging behaviour that is difficult to enforce on a case-by-case basis.

They're also am excellent way to separate people out according to social class / lifestyle.


> who've bought or rented their homes with the expectation of a residential area, not living next to a hotel.

Well, if you are xenophobic then maybe you should buy a farm somewhere nowhere when you won't be seeing strangers.


I don't think there's necessarily a xenophobic component to not wanting to live next to a hotel. In fact, that explanation seems pretty unlikely -- I don't typically see concentrations of minorities when I'm at hotels in the US... most customers are your average middle class professional on business, or vacationing middle class family.

I wouldn't want to live next to any hotel, including a 5 start resort catering to mostly domestic customers.

Hotels bring a lot of problems -- bursts of foot/auto traffic at weird times of the night, public drinking/drunkenness and loud groups of pedestrians on week nights, etc.

Nothing wrong with any of that -- vacations should be fun! -- but when it's happening every other Tuesday night in the next-door apartment, it can get super annoying.


As xenophobia I meant fear of strangers in general. What you listed really sounds like you should have a farm. Those things in residential areas are unavoidable.


Those thing occur sometimes, but rarely, in a purely residential area. someone has a louder party every couple of months, people travel now and then... Compare to basically every week with a flat that's being airbnb'd constantly.

They're entirely avoidable. I live in central london, and I've never had any issues with neighbours until I moved to a flat where the landlord upstairs decided to just full-time airbnb the place, rather than rent to someone permanent.

Tourists are way more inconsiderate of neighbours. It makes sense - they're never going to meet us, they're just here to have fun. But pretending it has no impact on the quality of the area is silly.


There are already laws in place if neighbour is noisy. Also if you move to a flat you have to factor in that such situation might happen. That is just a nature of flats. If not Airbnb, flat above could be bought / rented by party students or family with 10 kids. You never know and that's why flats are considerably cheaper than houses where you can have more certainty.

> Tourists are way more inconsiderate of neighbours.

You cannot generalise. If tourists are making noises then there are anti social reporting services that you can use.

Airbnb is not only for tourists, but it is used by people who just moved in and are looking for a place to rent and don't want to spend fortune on hotels or for example it is a great alternative for contractors - having for example 1 month assignment, why spend money on hotel?


> Those things in residential areas are unavoidable.

This is not my experience. Even in urban areas I've lived places that are not like this.


Or maybe I dislike being woken up at 5am every week by people banging around with their huge bags on the staircase.

I'm sure that's some sort of xenophobia.


That's a different problem. Don't ban all guests just because you don't like loud guests at 5am.


No, it is exactly the same problem. It's impossible to police whether a particular short-term guest is a loud one or a quiet one. So we separate the areas where tourists stay, where hotels are, from the residential ones where people live permanently.

It's a great solution, until people start defecting and creating things like airbnb.


"Impossible" is a bold claim. There are all sorts of things that condo associations regulate.

To put it another way: some people drive while intoxicated, but drinking alcohol is still legal.


Alright, maybe there is some way of doing it on a lower level. But in most cities I've lived 'condo associations' aren't a thing, and this is simply resolved with zoning laws.

Once a replacement solution is implemented, I'm happy to start arguing for airbnb to be legal. Though it seems like it would likely eliminate the price advantage that airbnbs currently enjoy.


How would you deal with a neighboring homeowner that was noisy every weekend at 5am?

(not a rhetorical question)


Some would call the cops, but this still isn't the same as having different people in there from weekend to weekend.

In the AirBNB situation, the police could be giving a citation to a different person from weekend to weekend. If it were a traditional rental, the landlord could force the offenders out: But I'm not sure if there is much legal recourse for a series of short-term rentals being loud.

And some of the noise isn't such that you can get legal help. Loud vehicles and people banging luggage up and down stairs is one of those disturbing things that is over by the time you call the cops. What then?


The landlord/owner is responsible regardless of whether there's a single long-term tenant, many short-term tenants, or the owner resides in the home.

I'm thinking of all the annoying neighbor situations I've had over the years. Luggage banging in the hallway at odd hours is mild compared to a modified motorcycle coming home at 2am.

A tenant has a right to "quiet enjoyment" so if everyone is part of the same apartment complex, you can force the landlord to take care of things. However, if you're in a row of single family homes... Didn't they make a couple movies recently about fighting with bad neighbors? Also, I don't think the cops are going to help if the neighbor slams their door when they leave home every morning at 5am or if their yappy dog is lonely most of the day.

I think we should try to create some standards for being a good neighbor. If an AirBnB host can ensure their guests meet that standard, then there's no problem.


Except, some of that regulation is important. If you're in a hotel, and there's a fire, you know to follow the signs out. There are exit signs, emergency lights, and maps showing you where to go. In someone's house, they don't have any of that, which isn't an issue for the person living there, because of course they know how to get out of their own house. But when it's being rented out, there are certain regulations to make sure that someone unfamiliar with a building can still exit in a fire.

Driving up rent is something that's probably unavoidable, but safety is something AirBNB could try to enforce if they wanted to.


Is it hard to figure out how to get out of a house in an emergency? I mean, houses are only so big, and are typically one to two stories tall. They're not a large hotel with windows that don't open and halls that are nothing but doors.


I just got back from an airbnb in Amsterdam, where the windows in the bedroom literally had keyed locks on the inside on the windows. They look like normal window sliders until you look closely and happened to notice a tiny keyhole. I never found any key the entire week I was staying there.

Could I have gotten out in a fire? Probably. But it's definitely less obvious and less well-equipped than in a hotel for Directing unfamiliar residents out of the building


So you have never heard of apartments.


If you sleep at your friends or ONS's place you won't know how to get out either.


And that should be up to you to decide, not the state. Nobody forces you to use Airbnb. Also you can just ask how to get out in case of fire.


In a pure libertarian society this might make sense in theory. But when people are injured we all get to pay either through socialised health care or health insurance increasing. This is part of the reason why seat belts are mandatory, your injured sorry ass hurts us all. Thus we should get a say in you not hurting yourself.


That's not the way the law works though. You don't get to decide which ones are worth following.


"That's not the way the law works though. You don't get to decide which ones are worth following."

You do. See: civil disobedience.[1]

Also, just because something is illegal doesn't mean it's wrong. A simple example were the laws against helping runaway slaves in the US. Many today would agree that helping runaway slaves was the right thing to do, but yet it was illegal. There were similar laws against helping Jews in Nazi Germany. Once again, just because you broke the law by helping a Jew wouldn't mean you did the wrong thing.

That's not to say there's any sort of moral equivalence between people (allegedly) breaking laws by participating in Uber or AirBnb and those who helped runaway slaves or Jews in Nazi Germany. They're just examples to show that breaking a law need not automatically be wrong, and that doing the right thing can be more important than obeying the law.

Finally, there are plenty of examples of stupid laws and outdated laws. Laws against sodomy or against dildos over a certain length spring to mind. Both of these existed relatively recently in the US (and possibly still exist), but they were pretty much ignored, and few people would have considered themselves to be in the wrong if they broke those laws.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_disobedience



> Uber: Losing crazy amounts of VC cash to [often illegally] compete against traditional companies that must be cashflow positive. It's not a level playing field. Laws exist so that drivers could make a livable wage; Uber is devaluing the medallions they've invested in.

It never was a level playing field, not as long as Uber has been around in any case. Taxis are propped up artificially by city laws and airport regulations and that has resulted in low competition and poor service. I don't see why Uber or its customers should have to respect the unfair city+industry collusion.


One of the reasons I'm using Uber is that it's quite safe. Otherwise, most of the times you try to get into a cab, they try to rip you off. There are rigged meters, long routes, switching bills when you are paying, etc.


Because, no matter what their shiny marketing materials may tell you, SV is a purely profit driven machine where only money is sacred. It is no different from the banking, health care or consumer goods companies that have been extracting wealth from our society at any cost. Sure, there might be some marginal trickle-down benefits, but be certain that has little to do with their actual goals.


While I agree with you about AirBnb, I think Uber is still doing a good thing and improved the way I use taxi/limo services, gone are the days where I have to guess how much the trip will cost or if I can make it in time to destination without calling at least couple limo companies or being screwed up by a driver in a city I visit for a first time.

Uber use of technology is what I think separates it from airbnb and even tho they are burning investors cash they at least doing something great to improve customer experience.


>Is this really how we want the world to see us?

It doesn't matter.

It's always important in these sorts of arguments to understand that opinions don't matter; only whether something makes economic sense or not. If indeed you're right and that what these VC funded corporations are doing is not right or 'illogical', then all you have to do is wait and watch them collapse under their own weight. However, if what they're doing is not just economically feasible but that in the process they're creating enormous value for the entire ecosystems in which they operate, then they will thrive no matter what you and I think.

Somewhat tangentially, you can extend my thoughts on this issue to clean energy solutions. Government subsidies and foundations won't provide the clean energy solutions that we need to shift away from fossil fuel. Only the private sector acting on self interest will provide clean energy solutions that will be so cheap that everyone will be forced to shift to clean energy alternatives - again due to their own self interest.

The bottom line; all actors will be lured towards what serves them best economically no matter what we feel about those choices! This reminds me of a story I read a while back about how union leaders who were protesting against Walmart and everything it stands for but because Walmart is so affordable, even they(union leaders) would go and do their shopping there as opposed to anywhere else.


"It's always important in these sorts of arguments to understand that opinions don't matter; only whether something makes economic sense or not."

Opinions matter because they affect consumer behavior. Advertising wouldn't be effective otherwise. You can take a step back and say that it makes economic sense to take into account human psychology, but it amounts to the same thing. Opinions and values have economic value.

As for economics related to clean energy, one could argue that the Clean Air Act of 1970 is comparable. Assessments in 1990 of the economic impact of the legislation provided economic benefits many times the costs. I'm not arguing for a command economy or that everything should be regulated. I do think that sometimes a governmental push can be useful.


If you're actually asking and interested in an opinion - I support Uber because it has absolutely been a net positive to my daily life. As a freelancer who has to hop around a bit during the week to meet with different clients, occasionally on short notice, being able to consistently get a ride from wherever I am to wherever I'm going is a very big deal.

More so, and this is potentially even more impactful, this experience doesn't change if I'm in Boston, or Melbourne ,or Shanghai. I don't need to research what the most reliable local cab company is, I don't need to worry if they're going to refuse me service because I only have a US mobile number, I don't even need to try and find a phone number - I just open the app and typically have a car in less than 10 minutes.

This is one thing that I feel often gets lost in discussions around Uber, is that it flattens the experience globally. I love this.


I think because in our heart in soul we wish to destroy. And like to see things to be destroyed.

As long as we save money.

And at the end we, as consumer, basically don't care.


> Why do we elevate companies like AirBnB and Uber that circumvent laws for profit to be our champions and unicorns?

because it worked very well for paypal and we all must love everything elon musk touch/ed.


Stallman is right on many points.

Uber, Airbnb, delivery services and the like are nothing more than glorified communication and payment tools.

These services can only be called "sharing" economy if they operate at zero profit and their app code is open source.

I think they should and pretty soon will be public services, developed by the community and run by local non profit organisations, like Firefighters.

Furthermore, these should be local services, catering to the specific circumstances of the city or town they operate in, obeying the local customs and so on.


I think the "sharing economy" is one of the most impressive rebrands of an idea. It sounds all nice and friendly, who doesn't like sharing? And so new! I've not heard of the sharing economy before!

And it's just people selling things to other people. The same thing we've been doing as a species since we understood the concept of trading, something it seems chimpanzees have a grasp of.


Uber basically figured out how to be a cab company without having employees and without following laws. No overheads on salaries, employee benefits, taxes, or regulations. This is the "sharing economy", really: a libertarian dream. It appears that this has garnered Uber and Airbnb a lot of goodwill because whenever they're discussed online, they always seem to be portrayed as some champion against the evils of the cab or hotel industries. I personally have never felt as slighted by cabs or hotels as everyone seems to be whenever they are discussed online.


> Uber basically figured out how to be a cab company without having employees

Take a look around and you'll find that basically every company has been trying to do that in America for a long time.

The administration staff at many businesses is all outsourced to staffing agencies.

Hiring almost everywhere is outsourced to recruiting agencies.

I know a number of multi-billion dollar corporations pumping hundreds of millions into their tech divisions, where > 95% of the employees are staffed from IT staffing agencies/consultancies.

Nobody employs a landscaper, unless they're a landscaping company.

It appears to be a big secret, but everyone contracts out everything these days. Uber is doing it on the most individual scale, in the most streamlined way I've ever seen. I don't happen to think that's as bad as everyone else does.


Traditional cab companies don't have employees either. I feel like all the critics of Uber must live in a different universe from me, where cab drivers are never mistreated, are paid wonderfully, and consistently provide an on-time and courteous service.


The sharing economy started as a monetization of underutilized assets, which is different and useful.

Then through economies of scale people became dedicated suppliers with dedicated assets, and it's now no longer that unique or altruistic.


How is that different from normal trading? Swapping something you don't need much for something you do, while your trading partner does the same. It's always been done, but some players (ebay for example) made it a bit easier. "Pay people for stuff more easily" doesn't sound as new and trendy as "the sharing economy" though.


The difference is that ebay only deals in assets for sale. The shared economy is more about services for assets that are underutilized.


I really don't understand how this is any different from regular trading. I've been able to pay people by the hour for jobs for a long time. I've been able to find small flatshares (for short periods too) in the past.

AirBNB are different, but the way I think that they're different is not what most people think. The thing they solved which was a real problem was insurance. Sure, there's a site for booking, some scheduling and payment transfer but they're not really key. It's the fact I can go to someone's house and say "Someone has checked my identity and here's a guarantee that if I break/steal things you'll get reimbursed" that smooths over the risks.

Uber, in the UK, is virtually identical to other taxi firms.


AirBnB, Uber, Lyft, etc. are all using assets that were not intended for paid services, whereas the people you are paying for services are using assets that have such intention.

The shared economy is (or was) more about accessing assets that were locked up by personal use, but still being underutilized. From an ethical perspective, it's maximizing value from something that wasn't easily accessible before.


Sharing economy is certainly a lot more catchy and friendly than more accurate descriptions of airbnb or uber like "monetising surplus capacity".


A more accurate description would probably be "pretending to monetize surplus capacity while actually enabling misallocation of scarce resources"


How are Uber and Airbnb a misallocation?


Uber perhaps not, but the main problem with AirBnb is the transformation of homes into de facto hotels. Long-term residential rentals are misallocated as short-term when the supply of the former is already tight.


My definition of hotel is multi-unit building with service workers. It sucks if your neighbour now has 500% more foot traffic, but it's not exactly opening a lumber yard next door.


That's where all the real innovation is going on: marketing terms. I'm amazed at the effect it has on perceptions.


If freedom respecting public services are destined to replace proprietary platforms that demonstrated markets where you can use a communications platform to replace business, than facebook and twitter would be losing to gnusocial and diaspora.

In practice, consumers are ignorant about the consequences of the businesses they do business with. This exists way beyond tech to how companies consumers will spend money on for goods or services will take that money to then lobby government to harm those citizens, yet the vast majority of people are apathetic to taking responsibility for that behavior.

Hopefully we see state intervention to stop Uber for simply breaking regulations, like we saw in Austin, where in the aftermath of knowing about Uber more open communication tools were used instead because the citizenry realized they didn't need an app to have a network of drivers and customers who could rate and pay one another.


> These services can only be called "sharing" economy if they operate at zero profit and their app code is open source.

That's a very weird claim. It's like saying information economy can be called so only if everybody uses open source and nobody is making profit from information. That's just nonsense. Making profit is part of the economy - in fact, a vital part, an engine that makes the economy move, and using open source has nothing to do with this at all. I get that Stallman wants everybody to use open source - but it has nothing to do with economy. It's a moral ideal Stallman strives to, and it's fine, but economy can be economy with or without it, so can sharing economy.

> I think they should and pretty soon will be public services

They won't, unless the government forces them to and kills them by that.

> Furthermore, these should be local services, catering to the specific circumstances of the city or town they operate in, obeying the local customs and so on.

Nobody prevents you from doing that, but it's harder than you think. And on local level taxi lobby will swat such service like a fly. Uber can resist it because they are big enough to put up a fight. Volunteer non-profit service won't stand a snowball's chance in a volcano.


> It's like saying information economy can be called so only if everybody uses open source and nobody is making profit from information.

No it's not. Sharing is a word that has a meaning. What it's like is saying that you can't call the trade in oranges the information economy, because trading oranges has little to with information. Selling is not sharing.


>> Uber, Airbnb, delivery services and the like are nothing more than glorified communication and payment tools.

Let's focus on transportation services. Yes, their technology wasn't that big of a deal. But their largest contribution is building a thriving market. And that market could be used to offer interesting services like real sharing(UberPool).

Can communities build that market on their own ? well there's little effort and in general the results aren't encouraging. Even places who put a serious effort in such services(kutsuplus service in sweden), didn't seem to sucseed , and old services like dial-a-ride didn't seem to do so well with regards to scaling or sustainability.

Of course , it's hard to speak of the sustainability of current ride services(hopefully they wouldbe), but at least they seem take us a bit further.


Kutsuplus was in Finland. Some of the reasons it didn't succeed is that employing people in Finland is very expensive, there are a lot of regulations to be met, and Helsinki area a very small market so the payback period for any new investments is long (such as the information systems required).

Meanwhile Uber is successful in Finland alright but it's illegal and not really profitable for the drivers. (It's legal if the driver has a taxi permit which is very rare.)


>> not really profitable for the drivers

Maybe(altough why do people still work? ) . But again, if they(or some other model) sucseed in scaling true sharing , maybe than would be the time to intervene a bit in behalf of drivers ?


A young man made the headlines driving Uber with his dad's car, where his dad paid for the gasoline and all. I don't remember the exact profit he made but I calculated that wouldn't cover the cost of servicing and fueling the car.

Someone else will make a better profit, of course. But enough to pay taxes, insurance, required employer costs? I don't think so.


> Furthermore, these should be local services, catering to the specific circumstances of the city or town they operate in, obeying the local customs and so on.

Please no. I have precisely zero interest in downloading a new app every time I go to a city.

It's amazing how ignorant of basic economics people on HN are. Have you ever heard of economies of scale? Uber pays literally millions of dollars to their developers every year. I sure as hell don't want my taxes going to pay for my city to develop its own Uber knockoff.


Then they'll soon get as effective and well developed as typical public services. Thanks, but no - I'd rather pay a little extra to someone who has a real incentive to do a good job than rely on charitable motivations of strangers.


And the workers of that non-profit organisations will work for free or use taxes for that ?


Non-profit organizations can pay salaries and choose business models appropriate for their services.



I respect his views. He's been consistently right in the long term. Many of the problems he predicted are currently with us. I recently discovered the StallmanWasRight subreddit as well. https://www.reddit.com/r/StallmanWasRight/


I haven't seen much in the way of specific predictions from Stallman. Basically his "predictions" amount to that closed source software allows corporations and governments to do bad things to users. We fairly regularly see evidence that this is the case, so hurray, the predictions were right. But it's not really a point I've ever heard someone argue against. Pretty much everyone agrees that yes, closed source software makes these bad things possible/easier and sometimes they do happen. Kind of reminds me of all the armchair economists predicting that the tech bubble will burst without ever providing a timeframe.

Anyways, people trot out the "Stallman has consistently been right" thing for every new Stallman article, as if the fact that a guy has made a series of uncontroversial, vague predictions is some sort of defense against the rest of the comments discussing the article's acerbic tone and/or starkly impractical conclusions.


> I haven't seen much in the way of specific predictions from Stallman.

Try The Right to Read[1], which predicted ebooks, DRM, restrictions on reverse-engineering, electronic marketing profiles and hardware which refuses to run free operating systems — in 1997. When I first read it, I thought it was well-intentioned hysteria, but it was completely, 100% correct.

[1] https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.en.html


Those things existed in 1997. What the article predicts is "the fact that you could go to prison for many years for letting someone else read your books" which is every bit as hyperbolic and unrealised as Ray Bradbury's book-burning "fireman", and that hardware wouldn't run free operating systems because free operating systems were illegal. These predictions are not in any sense "100% correct".


Yeah, and he also predicted that libraries would disappear, and... last I checked, still here.


The long term trend doesn't look good, though.


The building is there, but the number of books is much less.


Moving goalposts.


Oh hey, it's the Fallacy Man!


Citation?



Some libraries provide free access to eBooks -- handy.

In SF: http://sfpl.org/index.php?pg=2000005001


I dont think it's fair to characterize Stallman as an "Armchair Economist". FSF/GNU are active efforts in response to the Stallman world view. It's the opposite of armchair IMO.

There is a distinction between frameworks, theories and models.

Stallman is probably not offering models that contain the real predictive juice you're after because he has seen the same story unfold over and over. I give Stallman credit for referencing events that support his general theories/framework.

Edit:Grammer


> He's been consistently right in the long term.

Examples?

From what I can tell, he's sometimes right and sometimes wrong, which makes him as effective for predictions as a coin toss.


Thanks, I was missing that!


My cousin is an Uber driver and comes from a more troubled past you could say. He drives a more basic type of car and tells me how it isn't so great to drive for Uber anymore and how he wants to quit but is having a hard time finding something better. I had similar drivers tell me the same in the more basic type of car rides I had. When I took the more luxury experiences, the drivers seemed much happier and satisfied with Uber, even saying things like "I love my job." which I never got from the base-model car drivers.

So this would lead me to guess the lower model drivers are being marginalized in order to get passengers an easier ramp (cheaper) into the Uber lifestyle. It is addicting once you start doing it, not having to park or worry about your car is pretty awesome, freeing actually as you can abstract transportation like a commodity. The company I consult for bought into Uber pretty deeply and gives some employees accounts to use whenever they need to for perks so Uber has deeply rooted into Business as well as something you should just do. But I do think the reason for this popularity has a lot to do with taking advantage of drivers' economic situation at the base-level on a thin razor line of it being just enough to be worth it to them. That's business I guess and I'm sure the line will bump up and down in response to the quality of the base-line drivers' service to keep profits strong.


This is a good point. Once Uber/Lyft are deployed in most cities/stop expanding, it will be interesting to see what they do to maintain their revenue. Right now, they can borrow like crazy since they are "expanding" (and keep prices fairly low); but once that stabilizes, it will be interesting to see if it can remain profitable without increasing prices.

If Im being honest though: your cousin needs to plan to actively get out right now. Driving uber may be OK now, but they've made it pretty clear that they will rely on autonomous vehicles and are doing everything they can to get there first.


Yes, I've told him the same and he already realized before I told him. He happens to be an aspiring programmer in his early 20s but never seems to have the time to actually learn programming, chasing his tail to keep rent going and helping his partially employed mother. I imagine other Uber driver's having similar or other reasons of being locked into a cycle of just getting by. I was luckier as I had plenty of time to read and do homework working at a very unbusy gas station in my youth. Driving Uber takes up too much of your attention and time, definitely making you sleepier and unhealthier, sitting all day and eating fast food on the road in an often stressful environment.


I would add:

It allows foreign corporation (uber) not paying taxes in your country to effectively taxate working people with 20% ubertax.

Big one: uber tax is proportional to ride while their cost is fixed.

Also these days in sankt petersburg or other cities in europe, uber "driver" is a guy leasing 5 cars and hiring 10.. 15 drivers to drive them 24h. Similar to waht airbnb "shared" economy became: buying bigger flat, remodellibg it to three small " studios" and try to rent 365 days a year. It would be fine if openly told and admitted, but its not what airbnb/ uber tells what it does. Also normal driver/hosts can not compete ( economy of scale) with uber/airbnb middlemen.

Also airbnb taxate country's real estate while avoiding taxes itself. Also on proportional scale while having fixed cost.

They (uber/airbnb) should be banned.

*this would ruin their business model, so they choose to lie instead.


I completely agree. The word sharing economy basically means "regulation loophole".

For Uber "sharing" is a way to get around employment laws and taxi regulations.

For AirBnB it is a way to get around zoning laws and hotel regulations.


What are you talking about? Drivers in any country are still taxed on their income, and, since Uber is CC-only, it's harder to conceal this income from the tax authority. What do you think the under-reporting rate is on cash fares?


> Also these days in sankt petersburg or other cities in europe, uber "driver" is a guy leasing 5 cars and hiring 10.. 15 drivers to drive them 24h.

Was in St. Petersburg last month. Most Uber rides were around $4-$6.

Many of the drivers drove taxis during their regular shift.


Reasons to use Uber:

- I take out my phone, enter an address, and five minutes later a car picks me up.

- I take out my phone, enter a time and an address and right at that time a car arrives and picks me up.

It isn't that complicated. Could taxi companies adopt these innovations? Sure, and now they are. Why didn't they before? Because they are government protected and didn't need to.

If we all just accepted the economic structures the government licenses and supports France's minitel would still be the coolest network on the planet.


So far, the vast majority of people I have heard complain about Uber are people that don't rely on public transportation.

Fortunately, I think we've gotten past the point in the argument where everyone realizes that it's great for the consumer (Uber running a loss to make it so) right now, but few people are talking about what it's like for the drivers as well. There's valid arguments made about how much/little they're making, at times, but that's not an inherently Uber thing. Talk to anyone in a warehouse, corner store, gas station (and a seemingly uncountable many more occupations) across the country and you have the same conversation. Market forces are driving wages down, everywhere, for everyone, doing unskilled work.

One of the key differences I'm seeing is that Uber appears to be the pinnacle of voluntary, elastic, labor - at the discretion of the laborer. If the driver doesn't want to work today, or tomorrow, or all next week; they just don't turn on the app. I'm not aware of any backlash from Uber when drivers don't log in. Try finding any other job that allows that level of autonomy. That's the most free kind of work environment I can think of, and that's value that shouldn't be ignored.


Exactly. I make a habit of chatting up the Uber drivers I ride with, and I haven't heard many complaints. Far more typical is the guy who picked me up in Seattle yesterday after a great week at Kubecon. He's retired after 22 years of driving for UPS and loves to work the overnight shift when things are quiet (he was fetching me for a scheduled ride at 6 AM and arrived at 6 AM). The attractions for him are the flexibility and independence. He works when he wants and for as long as he wants, and is able to add a nice bit to his pension in the process.


Also, this:

> Uber plans to do away with human cab drivers. It would be easy for a non-plutocratic government to prohibit this, and that's what every country ought to do, unless/until every person gets an adequate basic income so people don't need to be employed.

This looks like complete Luddite statement - i.e. Uber must employ humans as drivers and government must prohibit driverless cars until there's no need to work for anybody at all. For me this sounds insane. Why don't ban bulldozers then or ATMs or factory automation or, for that matter, power looms? Until everybody gets basic income and nobody needs to be employed?

I mean I know it's Stallman, but I didn't expect him to also be a technophobe...


The man browses the web by sending email requests to a special gateway and reading the replies when they come back. The only real difference between him and a more run-of-the-mill technophobe is that his cutoff for acceptable technology is around 1985 rather than 1950.


Stallman does use his own brain, rather better than average. But some other, richer, people have come to the same conclusion about the 'basic income' bit.

Actually, the fight about it seems to be that it would be a boon to "tech billionaires" more than to other sectors.


I don't know about tech billionaires but I know my life, as a consumer, has become much better since Uber/Lyft and Airbnb has been available. I remember how I visited some US city on a business trip in early 90-s and got stuck because no taxi wanted to go where I wanted to go and had to call my coworkers and drag one of them from his family and beg him drive me (I still feel guilty about it). I remember how much it costed me to visit the same place without and with AirBnb, and how I rented a very nice cottage in a rich neighborhood for half a price I previously paid for a so-so hotel. So for me, a non-billionaire, it's a very obvious benefit.

I don't mind discussing the basic income idea. What I mind is the idea that all technological improvement should cease before we have basic income because it could put some people out of their jobs. That sounds like pure technophobia and Ludd worship.


As far as privacy goes, I agree.

However, I think the context in a country like South Africa is different. Apart from Uber in big cities, we don't have any reliable taxis (minibus, shuttle or car). Our taxis are notoriously unroadworthy and cause many accidents and they take part in violent taxi wars.

Our car taxis at places like the airport are known to exploit unaware customers. Minibus taxis are a standard way of getting to work for many poor people, but I don't see any plans Uber has to compete with them yet.

In South Africa, Uber drivers (seemingly) earn quite a bit more money than they would be able to otherwise and they are generally very entrepreneurial people, in stark contrast to the taxi gangs.

Finally, I should point out that in many places in SA there simply were not any traditional taxi services (in the US sense), we generally only have minibus taxis. So Uber is performing a very convenient and otherwise unavailable service. Cape Town is perhaps a partial exception, and some other central city areas. But they are nowhere near Uber's efficiency.


When I saw the title and author, my first thought was... "Oh golly, another RMS rant about fundamentalism free software"... However, that wasn't the case. He presented a reasonable argument, with sources backing up his claims. I agree with many of his arguments..... but i'm still going to use Uber :(


That's okay, boycotts don't really work. Network effects and economies of scale are real. You are NOT a hypocrite for saying "I'm going to keep using this convenient but problematic and unethical service". It's admirable to make the sacrifice, but don't kid yourself. These issues are system-level and not about individual choices, even though that's what it is just aggregated.


This is all well and good. However, it doesn't matter if every person who is every heard of stallman never sets foot in an uber, because statistically no one has heard of stallman. Regardless, I think it's been pretty well shown at this point that as long as people are getting something for their lack of privacy (such a slimy but convenient taxi service) they're OK with it. Short term convenience trumps basically anything else.

Recently I was stuck outside of Rome with no way to get into the centre city because I made the (understandable) mistake of trying to use public transport on a public holiday, and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with no trains running. Or taxis. Uber, to the rescue.

I really feel these days the only way to win is to compete. To build a better product that happens to also not invade your privacy. And I'm not sure there are market forces that make that possible.


Linux and Android has arguably made inroads with non-techs, not because of Stallman advocating Free Software, but because people who echo Stallman's words.

RMS is not expecting everybody to read this and go "Oh, OK, I won't use Uber". He's expecting a few thousand people to read it, choose not to use Uber and then explain to their friends the reasons why echoing his own words. If convinced, those friends will pass it on, and so on, in a network effect.

You forget just how close Linux was to being ousted from the enterprise back in the 1990s and early 2000s - if it wasn't for a similar network effect (specifically arguments around security), Microsoft would now basically be "the computer company", and we'd all be screwed.


Sure, so what I'm saying is: there has to be a "correct" alternative to uber (as linux was to ms) and then you're providing an actual reasonable proposition for switching.

I do not think telling people "don't use uber" when it's clearly cheaper and more convenient is going to be hugely productive.


There is, it's taxis. Where I live they're getting close to Uber in terms of convenience of ordering one.


Android has made inroads because it is the operating system on your phone if you can't afford or choose not to buy an iPhone.


I thought it was because a multi-billion dollar firm pushed onto other multi-billion dollar firms with long-term expectations of them making billions more if they made targets of market share. And this occurred for both sides.

Average VC startup isn't going to be a Linux or Android as one is an outlier (like Red Hat) and other happened due to investment by corporate behemoth that was pro-OSS. Probably also an outlier given most aren't pro-OSS.


Linux made inroads because of economics. Case in point 15 years ago Free Software and Open Source were competing slogans. Today Open Source won not Free Software.


>as long as people are getting something for their lack of privacy (such a slimy but convenient taxi service) they're OK with it.

There are more options than "use it or leave it".

We, as a society, can value Uber's service, and use it, and agree to pass privacy laws that would force them, upon user request, to delete every record of their transportation history from their servers. And they would be audited. Technically it is not hard.

The tech industry lobby would fight against it, the NSA and the FBI too, but I don't see why we the people would not support that.


So, why is there no GNUber?

Most of what Stallman complains about would go away if there were no profit-seeking corporation sitting in the middle. If no one were trying to collect a 20% tax on taxis, you wouldn't need to pay with a credit card and you could have anonymous cash rides. Heck, without the need for a company to have something to take a 20% cut of, you could have actual ride-sharing.

A free, open-source app could be written and verified to not track its users, beyond the need to provide location services at the moment a call for a cab is placed.

So why haven't I ever heard of the free, open-sourced alternative to Uber & Lyft?


How about safety? I wouldn't get into a vehicle (esp. at night and / or in a dodgy neighborhood) driven by a stranger without any record, vetting, or background checks and where the premise of our interaction was that no one would know they had picked me up, and no one would be able to track me from there.

And I'm a man; I can imagine many women would be even more skeptical.


There's en ex-con artist working on decentralized ride sharing: https://arcade.city/


That's similar to an idea I had a while ago. A cryptocurrency based open source application, using a margin generated on rides to fund maintenance and insurance, but I decided to pick something else (which I thought could be more helpful) as a startup idea.

I'd love to see if there's been any work on something in this vein regarding any company in the sharing economy. Traction/Marketing would be hard though.


Getting trust is the hardest step. An interesting idea that sadly seemed to lose traction:

http://www.shareable.net/blog/lazooz-the-decentralized-crypt...


rideaustin.com isn't exactly what you're looking for, but it's a push in that direction.

Cell411 has decentralized ride-sharing, with payment via cryptocurrency


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