When I try to balance the elements, it frankly looks like an enormous grift. Some key early investors have probably made out really well, but at what cost to others involved?
Not that the taxi industry didn't need disruption - it desperately needed a modern ride calling and fare estimating feature. But being well regulated and having to compete with a maverick service that simply ignored rules meant that the taxi industry lost while Uber gained.
Drivers for Uber have come out losers as well, earning much less than expected.
Passengers did well at first, but surge pricing and eventual regulatory costs eroded that gain as well.
Late investors? The jury is still out on them, but likely they will be losers too.
I think you're way too pessimistic here:
(1) A whole industry of rent seekers (medallion owners) was mostly run off
(2) The taxi experience in cities other than NYC, Chicago, and SF got a million times better. Before Uber in a city like Nashville you call for a taxi and maybe one shows up at some point. Since Uber you can reliably get a ride whenever you want. And that's not even talking about discrimination.
(3) Uber caused a dramatic decline in drunk driving. Likely because of (2)
(4) It allowed people to make some money with a flexibility that traditional jobs don't offer
For me, Uber/Lyft has definitely had the biggest positive impact on my life out of any tech company in the last decade. The only close competitor would be Android/iPhone. I don't know if Uber is worth the ~60 billion that they were last valued at, but they definitely fill a legitimate role.
That is a good point I hadn't considered until now.
I remember back in my college days in Champaign, IL right before Uber's debut, I would have to call three separate cab companies a day ahead of time and then the day of to get a ride to the airport, and only one would maybe show up.
I ended up befriending an Ethiopian cab driver that was really kind and responsible and only then this challenge came to an end.
It wouldn't be fair to NYC and Chicago to compare them to SF. In my mind, the completely horrible broken experience of the SF taxi system was what created Uber & friends. I've been living in SF pre-Uber and having moved from a big city, the taxi system just drove me nuts, I could not understand why it was that fucked up. If it were as good as it is/was in NYC, prob we would've never seen Uber.
For black cab service, yes, you did. For medallion (yellow) cabs, it's always metered (except for the airport flat rate).
I get a lot of flack for that position, my response is we heavily subsidize private cars.
An Uber company that still took calls but actually accepted a cross street in downtown seattle would still be a million times better the yellow cab's "Sorry, but we can only dispatch to a full street address"
When I moved back my drivers license had expired and since I live in a different state now I will have to take the driving test all over again. I've been here for almost three years now and I never bothered buying a car because I can get anywhere in town for less than $15 within a few minutes of requesting a ride. My monthly rideshare costs are about $450, which is comparable to the cost of owning a car. There are some inconveniences but it has totally changed how I get around and where I choose to live.
I travel a lot internationally, and in so many countries I have been able to just get out of the airport, open my app, and hop on a ride—it's fascinating and amazing what a revolution it has been in barely 5 or so years.
>Based on our main findings, along with the above summary of the general habits of people who use rideshare services, the data seems to suggest (emphasis on “seem”) that many rideshare customers are opting to hail a ride home after an evening at the bar or club, rather than risk driving intoxicated.
If Flywheel and similar taxi apps were priced the same as ride-sharing apps there would be greater competition with Uber and Lyft.
Another aspect that's not discussed much is the drastic reduction of cognitive load. Earlier moving around in a city would require lot of planning - route planning, parking etc,. All of that is now a thing of history. And don't get me started on how ridiculously inefficient is car ownership and how mentally and physically taxing commute driving is!
That's a unnecessarily simple reading of this situation, don't you think?
Lyft's innovation was "regulatory arbitrage".
Uber's innovation was burning investor money.
There are times when I've pondered, "Gee, what could have happened if I had finished that POC?" But I don't think I would have ever thought to break the law, burn investors, or exploit drivers.
You could also talk about how it disrupted the taxi medallion market, which was an older solution to the trust problem of getting into a car with a stranger, but for many cities that wasn't really in need of disruption, just optimization.
Do you think the public markets are going to allow Uber to keep bleeding this much cash year over year?
Prices will go up on consumers just as Uber has completely dominated the market and effectively has no competition. They’ll be able to charge whatever they want.
Passengers won for a while, and may keep winning, but nobody expects them to win to perpetuity just like nobody expects a market to remain static. If anyone is going to end up worse than before ridesharing, it's the people who put the money into the VC funds propping up the market.
Taxi regulation was so comprehensively captured and rider hostile, and this was true for so long, that there was never any reason to believe it would improve. If all Uber achieved was coming close to burning that entire industry structure to the ground Uber is a massive boon to everyone who wants a ride and doesn’t want to deal with lying, cheating, lying, racist taxi service.
What about areas that had little to no taxi dispatch service before Uber/Lyft?
And what about regions where supply of cab driving licenses was artificially constrained?
- could refuse service based on factors like customer's race without repercussions.
- accept nothing but cash as payment.
- take the "scenic" route when they realize you're from out of town.
I'm not happy about the way Uber got here but I also don't want to go back to the world before it.
Before Uber, traveling abroad in another country meant getting scammed by taxi drivers. After Uber, there is now a safe, trustworthy, and familiar mode of transportation when in a foreign place.
Note: Lyft is only domestic.
Uber has revolutionized transport in all of the areas it has disrupted. Bad comes along with the good, but for consumers, the good outweighs the bad (at least for now while the prices are VC subsidized).
Uber, for example, sucks from your phone access to your camera, all of your contacts, your location at all times, your microphone at all times, and the ability to dial or text from the phone itself.
At the same time, all of the people in your contacts have their privacy productized as well, involuntarily and silently.
The ride isn't the product. The riders are.
It's sad how easily people can be duped transparently.
If you don't have Uber installed, Maps doesn't even show you the option.
Are you sure you’re outside the bubble? Because the taxi industry could have done with some improvement, but it didn’t “desperately” need “disruption”. People got from a to b just fine, and drivers got paid.
The only thing that desperately needs disruption is the destructive influence SV has on societies that were doing just fine before its “disruption”.
It was heavily unionized and the only people winning were at the top of unions, everyone else was losing. Yes, it desparately needed disruption.
Edit: VC is actually not passing to VC, but larger investment funds like PE.
This is very unlikely.
I would strongly recommend that you not ride an electric scooter. Consider the diameter of the wheels. If you hit any pothole or rail or anything which has a lip higher than HALF the diameter of that little wheel, you're going to go flying over the handlebars. If you ride it every day for months or years, you're going to crash, no matter how careful you are, at least on SF streets.
Also, separate question, my understanding is that potholes are mainly formed by freeze/thaw cycles -- weather not typically found in SF. Have you lived in Chicago or NYC? Can you contrast the pothole density between those three cities?
Potholes in asphalt can be caused by pressure from tires too. I've never tried biking or scootering in a different city so I can't compare the quantity of potholes.
Or, there's no hills, and you go your own pace, and it's fine.
Having tried both I do feel bicycles are safer - those tiny scooter wheels shake me to pieces.
One point important mentioning though is that once you put a motor on the bike you kind of have to use it all the time, because 1/ you lose the front derailleur, 2/ motor + battery weight around 6-8 kg, and 3/ the engine is always engaged.
It's possible to use the bike with zero assistance, on flat ground, if you need it (for example if the battery dies), but it's not something you want to do all the time.
So, it's not really a sport anymore. Yet it's extremely pleasant.
Also: you can buy Bafang motors on Aliexpress or Alibaba; I find sellers on Alibaba much more professional, and most will agree to sell just one item.
This isn't true, I misspoke. The engine isn't always engaged, it has a freewheel mechanism, but it's not as smooth and friction free than if there was no motor.
The usability of the bike with the motor off rests on the size of the plate you choose; if you want to be able to ride the bike easily without the motor you should select a small plate (<=42T probably).
* $100-500/month car payment or depreciation
* +$100/month in gas
* $60-120/month in insurance
* $100/month in amortized maintenance costs
= $360/month minimum base cost
And if you work/live in SF or need to go over the bridge:
* $100-200/month in parking space rent
* $100/month in toll bridge costs
Plus adhoc parking costs as you use your car.
Also if you buy a used car for $15k, then sell it 5 years later for $9k, that is equivalent to a $100/month car payment, which I call car depreciation.
And the context of this subthread is about Uber as a full solution for commuting. So my original claim still holds. If things like always riding alone or always transporting luggage are impacting your daily commute decision and making you believe that paying the premium for Uber is cost effective, then necessarily it’s even more cost effective for you to buy and maintain your own car, and satisfy those unusual commute preferences in a way that amortizes the costs of operating your own car even in a dense urban area.
Any charges made against any payment card or account that you don’t recognise should be swiftly investigated.
If a bad actor charges a bunch of cards a few dollars each, and some portion of them don’t investigate / dispute the charge that could net them quite a sum.
It reflects how distant some are from reality of majority of people. 5 * 2 * 5 * 4=200. For many 200 dollars per month can be a quite significant cut in their paycheck. Recurring and continuous costs like these are exactly what makes the difference
Anyone in the western world workforce has the opportunity or chances to change that. This is not a privilege. And certainly not luck.
I agree that for many, $200 a month is significant. That's why I'm saying - don't try to save $5, try to MAKE $5 (and much more).
There are so many ways to make money these days, you don't even need "proper" education, luck, access, none of that.
But you do need mindset and will. Most people choose to be complacent. Their mind doesn't see beyond the 9-5, beyond the concept of being a mere employee. They rather spend hours per day watching dumb Netflix content, Twitch crap, gaming, whatever it is that people do other than GROW. Just about anyone can spend a few days watching Youtube and teaching themselves the ins and outs of such things as Facebook ads, Shopify, Dropshipping, Social media management, and of course... Clickfunnels. Anyone can pick this up. You don't need to be a PhD or CS major. In fact, those are often times a hindrance. IF people only spent half the time they waste on Twitch with consuming actual knowledge - they would not care if a Starbucks cup was $5, or $50.
Dangerous in what way? By what measure?
> public transit
How does the previous danger measurement compare to your average ride on public transit?
He apparently accepted the ride before cancelling it, because the pickup and drop-off addresses were different. I got a $6.50 charge instead of the normal $5.00 cancellation charge. I wrote into Uber about it, and instead of refunding me $1.50 they refunded to full $6.50 amount.
Sometimes my Uber fares are super cheap. I paid $3.00 to go a mile in snowy weather in Denver the other day. It was a shared ride but nobody picked up.
I think Uber is spending lots of money, and could probably make their numbers better by tightening up. They'd lose some of my rides, but probably less than half of them. In more than half of them public transportation is inconvenient or unavailable for the full route (the last mile problem is relevant to me).
Shared rides (Uber Pool) is different. In that case, you're making other riders wait and, unlike the driver, there's no reasonable way to compensate them for the time. Thus, being late is rude.
You've succinctly distilled the differences informing our perspectives - in my opinion, the contract sets the floor: following the letter of the law (or contract) is necessary, but not sufficient for common human decency. YMMV.
If I knew the ETA was accurate, I would be more vigilant about being roadside at the correct time.
Also, there is absolutely no recourse if a driver starts driving in the opposite direction of you. I had a 3 min estimate, then driver drove 15 mins away. Called driver and he had the audacity to ask me to cancel the trip (so I'd still be charged). Was 30 minutes late and had to contact support to get the cancellation fee waived. Uber used to be the faster way to get to work than walking/bussing, but no more.
I would very much like to have an option for the driver to simply be fairly compensated for their waiting time so that if I want to leave at 12:00, I can order it at 11:45, and they'll just wait until I'm ready to go. Higher end traditional car services will often show up half an hour or more before the scheduled time so that they can be absolutely sure to be ready when their customer wants to go. It would be nice to be able to get this level of service from Uber (for a fair price) without the driver being upset about waiting.
an option for the driver to simply be fairly compensated for their waiting time
So yes, they are being paid. And even so, it wouldn't be so much of a concern if uber just paid drivers fairly.
I don't think they have hit true market dynamics yet (rides are subsidized), so comfortable might be a strong word here.
There have been a number of "Uber is cheaper than taxis because they are losing money" newspaper articles, but they usually point to the loss of the company as a whole.
A duopoly the likes of which not seen since that of Yellow and Checker.
It's just as easy to rent a self-driving Camry from Toyota.
Oh and then there's the thing where Google and Apple and probably a hundred startup hopefuls scraping APIs will try to disintermediate them at the device.
Think credit cards, collaboration with last-mile transportation (Uber + Bird), discounts on restaurants, things of that nature. They can and are working towards building more of a brand ecosystem.
Who is going to pay for these discounts? Uber's investors?
Given the money the entire industry has spent on self driving cars and gotten little reward for, I don't think anyone is getting replaced for a very long time.
The two scenarios I can see are
1). That their ride-matching platform will still play a role in a self-driving world. However, I think a worst case for Uber is Waymo gets there first and then Google can almost trivially replace Uber with their own matching platform.
2.) They acquire a startup that has a successful direct self-driving play.
Either way, the economics of their core offering changes drastically. I have a hard time believing investors in Uber aren’t pricing this in at least somewhat accurately.
I don't see how this business model even works.
How fast will you be gone once the nice rewards give way to price increases necessary to reach a sustainable business covering expenses, let alone profitability?
Not sure who they hypnotized to establish that edge, but it became strangely durable.
(1) the “reimbursement” for the full cost isn't all bona-fide reimbursement, since you are getting reimbursement for more than you paid after the discount, and therefore should be taxed like any other compensation from your employer, or
(2) The rewards you get in that case simply aren't discounts, and should be taxed as normal, but not employment compensation, income.
(These differ, because #1 has payroll tax implications that #2 does not, as well as the income tax implications.)
The fact that neither of these send to happen is either a legal loophole with no strong theory or just an administrative failure.
OTOH, that makes it an unstable thing to build a business model on expanding, since the more significant it becomes with entities other than credit card firms exploiting it as a marketing and loyalty tool, the less it remains the case that it is efficient to let it slide.
So there's a pile of points growing, which must be accounted for in the balance sheet, but which are essentially worthless to the company. And being a trustee is a legal hassle nobody wants to deal with if they can avoid it.
So the companies just hand those points and rewards over to the employee contractually, which dissolves the trust (since the employee now beneficially owns and legally owns the points). Much easier. And you can spin it as benevolent generosity to boot.
(Of course, I am not a lawyer.)
It's not worth our controllers time to worry about something so insignificant.
Making me take anything but United means no business class upgrade, making me take anything but Uber means im waiting way longer to be picked up from anywhere, making me not stay at SPG means no room upgrade or check-in/checkout perks.
He famously missed the dot com boom. And in the middle of it, gave a private speech about exactly why, about how few of those companies were likely to be around in a few years even if the internet were exactly as successful as hoped for.
He was widely derided as being behind the times, out of date, and so on for a couple of years. But looking back now, he looks prescient.
If you are a value investor and don't understand how to value it, don't invest.
I don't think he regrets his conservatism. From 1990 through now, BRK.A is up 4,200%, while the NASDAQ composite is up only 1,500%.
But as https://alphaarchitect.com/2016/10/10/value-investing-got-cr... points out, it looked rather different when Berkshire lost 44% while the NASDAQ gained 145%. Buffett stood by the strength of his reasoning. But the rest of the world didn't.
- facebook and google sure, but how many are there of those who didn't make it?
- sounds like a fear of missing out.
- Buffet didn't invest in Microsoft because he didn't "get it". His idea, I believe, is: "it's ok to pass on investments". He's looking for "sure things".
Personally, I think the entire thing is ridiculous. 120B ? for what? 2 of my friends are uber drivers and hate every second of it, that's worth that kind of money? or the fact that they have an app. What do they have?
Market share? As soon as somebody gives me the same or slightly less price, I'll push a button on that app instead.
Why didn't they go public for so long? Are they trying to rescue their investments now? I don't know. Don't care.
It's not the type of product I would miss. it's just a taxi.
If Uber really, really believed that self driving was such a sure thing for them, their optimal strategy would be to wind down the rideshare business, the food delivery business, and all its other businesses that aren't self driving, so that it could redirect its mountains of capital toward developing self driving even sooner. Because as soon as cars that really can operate fully autonomously hit the scene, it's not going to matter who was incumbent in the rideshare space or how dominant they are. The company with the self driving cars will take over just about as quickly as they can manufacture new cars.
The fact that they're not playing it this way implies that they're not so confident that they're well positioned to be first past the post with self-driving cars. Which means we probably shouldn't be, either.
Or, at least, has spent a lot of money failing to be in that business.
> They burnt through cash to get market share, because when self driving becomes a thing, they'll have a huge swing in margins/profits as self driving will get rid of their greatest expense (human drivers).
Established relationship with human drivers and the acquisition cost to overcome that is a big part of Uber’s moat, which is potentially erased when self-driving from anyone but Uber is real.
Using self driving car to justify their valuation is very risky - it's huge project, tons of competition, no idea about when it could even become a product, etc.
Alternately, Uber attaches their public messaging to external hype cycles and, in fact, is just a taxi business.
When Facebook IPO'd did they already have the self serve ad product rolled out? I believe Google did not and if you could imagine that future then it might have been easier to see a bright future. I didn't see Android coming until the iPhone came out as another example.
at the moment of their IPO
I remember getting so much joy out of requesting an Uber back in the earlier days. Nowadays I get about as much joy out of Uber(pool) as using the bus, sometimes less because the wait time has increased so much.
i get that you want to equate homeless folks on transit with violence but you did a really bad job of it.
There are a lot of problems with Uber, but one thing it’s not is the cheapest and most convenient climate-controlled shelter for the city’s destitute mentally ill.
i can appreciate this point, but you're still insinuating that destitute people are bad, rather than realizing the complexity of the human condition as embodied in that other living being.
why not try to find and express some empathy, or even just some sympathy, for these folks? is there any gain for you to further put them down this way? are you so afraid of the homeless that you need to make sure random people on the internet don't associate an anonymized you with them?
1) He probably has been abused and harmed many times, perhaps in his childhood.
2) He probably expects the worst from people, and thinks that everyone is out to get him.
3) He may be suffering from schizophrenia and literally thought I was attacking him somehow (I was sitting across from him with earbuds in reading a kindle).
4) Becuase there is not enough housing to go around here, the standards are higher, in terms of having an agreeable personality/job skills/overall shit-togetherness to secure a place to live, whether by earning a salary or staying on a friend’s couch or in a homeless shelter.
5) Feedback loops mean that once you are homeless, you suffer a lot and all of the above issues probably get worse.
My personality is such that I end up caring about and loving people that I spend time around or think about a lot. But I’ve learned the hard way that even if you love someone, you need to look out for yourself when trying to help them.
It seems that transit in the Bay Area serves multiple purposes.
1) Getting you from point A to point B.
2) Mobile climate-controlled shelter for homeless people.
My claim is that purpose 1 is at odds with purpose 2. I’m all for solutions to the problem of not enough shelter. I don’t think the SFMTA is the solution, or if it is, then we should accept that companies like Uber are going to take its market share for purpose 1.
This guy wasn't even making a generalization.
One must be stuck in the 50s to think that individual buyers have any power over corporations.
To what degree does Uber's main business have seasonality? Are people going more places when it's nicer out in the Northern hemisphere?
This is if my two options are walking or staying dry/warm in a car.
Is 1 or 2 spikes in a season that lasts months going to carry you, especially when supply is limited?
Every winter India witnesses a massive influx of westerns to its popular beach holiday locations of India (Goa, Pondicherry, etc.,). Similarly to the hill-stations of north India during summer.
Regulatory capture seems like the only real route to sustainable profits with their existing main product. What they really need is something where they are the only one or two legal providers for a locale.
A different model of what they are doing is using their massive revenue growth (not profit) to raise money to fund a search for real pricing power with food delivery, shared bikes, and Uber freight.
that's nowhere near the cost of acquisition for a driver. having worked on driver acquisition, i can tell you it's hundreds of dollars, not $5.
Uber trying to raise it's fees is an invitation for someone else to jump in with lower fees and compete. You don't need any kind of national reputation, taxi companies never did. You can just compete city by city.
That is lack of pricing power.
To mitigate that, Uber and Lyft heavily subsidize launches in new cities by pre-signing up drivers well ahead of initial demand, to ensure low minute order fulfillment. This is done by giving drivers activity bonuses in the initial new-city market formation stage, no matter the actual orders. This ensures order low latency fulfillment for early adopters in new locales, which leads to customer satisfaction, word-of-mouth advertisement and soon enough full marketplace formation (and lock-in).
If you were trying to compete with Uber in New York City, the main problem you would have is that you'd need a lot of capital to have hundreds/thousands of drivers to ensure order fulfillment on average under 5 minutes by having a driver as close as possible to any new order being placed.
Convincing people (using money) to stay idle despite lack of initial order demand (until the marketplace is formed) takes more than $5 per driver.
People aren't desperate enough to hustle for $5. Even $200 is low. I'd consider that the minimum to even have a program worth running.
"A different model of what they are doing is using their massive revenue growth (not profit) to raise money to fund a search for real pricing power with food delivery, shared bikes, and Uber freight."
I suspect this isn't far from the truth.
Though they are really offering higher driver pay for a limited time on signup. To compete I'd just offer that higher driver pay all the time by taking less fees than Uber. Not correcting you or anything, just embroidering.
Over 10 years or so, this devolves into the taxi business, which without medallions is very low margin. 
Grocery stores, restaurants, and taxis (especially without medallions) are famously low margin, highly competitive business. 
Single passenger ride hailing looks a lot like a low margin business.
Uber can offer those drivers $10 not to switch and their capital will last longer than yours.
They can't actually do that because it messes with the contractor thing, but they can do what they are doing with the rewards for a certain amount of availability.
But still I could just halve the amount I take from the transaction and give it to drivers. That's surely better for the drivers.
Moat is about them having a long term advantage that makes it hard to compete against them. Lots of capital isn't enough in 2019.
Long term it seems like the restaurant business, where most are just scrounging for minimal profits all the time.
They also have the moat of providing a reasonably good service with network effects. How would you come in and beat the Uber/Lyft duopoly? They can copy any innovation you come up with and have the capital to beat you in a price war.
(2) They won't actually have to burn capital. No one is going to get into a price war they obviously can't win.
2) Yes! As long as Uber/Lyft act like low margin businesses no one will compete with them. This means they have no pricing power.
And, I'm not knocking that that how business works, I just think we probably acknowledge that many businesses have little interest in actual market competition and letting the best overall product win. Free markets are discussed and desired in theory, but people don't really want free competition in practice.
It's more of an "emilinate burdens on me as a business, but don't make me actually compete" economic system.
Furthermore, having a large network of riders and drivers enables lower wait times and better carpooling utilization.
If they hadn't, the entertainment companies would have just taken all their profits.
I don't know what Uber's equivalent moat is, but they are desperate to find it.