Pre-Uber, either the driver rented the car to a middleman who rented the medallion from a rich owner, or said owner was selling and financing (most banks won't touch these medallions!) a medallion at a ridiculous interest rate to a driver that planned to use it as his retirement savings (an extremely volatile asset and not very liquid).
The more I spoke to cab drivers the more it seemed their industry was a pyramid scheme aimed at helping established rent-seeker take advantage of often poor new immigrants. Uber brought a breeze of fresh air: Someone could simply buy a car, calculate the depreciation and it's value on the market (since unlike medallions cars are relatively liquid assets!) do rideshare and calculate their profits or loss. They can get out of the game at anytime, and they know exactly how much they are going to get for the car they have should they sell it.
And I'm not even touching the usual pain points and often discriminatory practices of medallion drivers (refusing card payments, refusing rides to non-white passengers and to non-white neighborhoods...).
However if you go online you would think uber was killing peoples first born child. Internet forums are getting rather stupid over the past 5 years. You are mostly forced to use a few big ones that all have a hive mind of downvotes on anything contradictory to what the majority thinks. Unfortunately being the majority doesn’t make you right or even smart. Often times its the opposite. But i like to write up these posts so someone can downvote me and feel a little power.
Plenty bad things could be said. But I would probably be dead if not for the gig jobs.
Just something that might interest you on the topic of organization.
size (and other mechanisms, like the corporate veil) act to distance decision-makers from the consequences of their actions, so that they can pursue entirely greedy aims without remorse. we need to dismantle such systemic ruthlessness, and replace it with human-centered organization. it’s one of the core issues driving the economic contribution to sociopolitical disunity.
: one of the points of a firm is to solve the coordination problem.
Uber (and Lyft) simply took over as the established rent seeker. At least with medallions, there were caps to prevent overcapacity in the system and your urban cores flooded with rideshare drivers. There is no such restriction with Uber and Lyft, so their revenue comes on the back of the externalities of underpaid drivers and unregulated congestion.
That's a really interesting way of describing an artificial monopoly specifically designed to increase earnings for a specific group of rent-seeking, wealthy medallion owners.
It's sort of like describing the De Beers corporation as ensuring the world is not littered with relatively-abundant diamonds. I suppose it might be true, but it certainly is not the point of the arrangement.
I don't support medallions, by any means, but I do support a fair quota system to balance transportation availability with congestion management.
The alternative is people using their cars and having to park it. Or taking their business elsewhere in more parking-friendly locations.
What does your system improve about the incentives?
You don't need be 500k in debt to get started for uber as you needed to get a yellow cab medallion
Once you made that decsion (to mortgage you house to get a yellow cab medallion), you are bound to that job as a serf....
Modern day serfdom, that's what the yellow cab medallion system became to the large cities.
the only way out, was bankruptcy, or hope another person will pay just as much for that medallion. Often local mafiosi types were entangled with the system, and you had to deal with them as well.
Please, lets not glorify the pervious system, as it was much worse.
We can work and make this new system better, and force the large corps to provide more (benefits wise), but returning to the old medallion system is two steps back.
They would need to make more money for that, and I'm not sure the consumer is ready to pay. Taxi fares in many cities used to be way higher with the medallions and ridership was abysmal.
Really, what you find objectionable is not the presence of Uber or Lyft, but the fact that people are running independent businesses, competing with each other.
Only made possible by the local government who created an artificial scarcity in the medallion system. Sure there is probably a legitmate need for some government regualtion of taxi services, but what they did just set the table for that kind of predatory behavior to exist.
What ever happened to creating something great, sustainable and that makes more than enough money but doesn't exploit for maximum profit.
With Uber it takes maybe 10 minutes max and the fare is 1/4 of the price of a traditional cab. Uber/Lyft have been a godsend compared to what was available before.
I don't know that it sucks just as bad. If a medallion driver wanted to get out of the game he had to find a buyer. And often drivers considered their medallion their retirement naively thinking it could only go up in value. Then the city decides to emit 500 additional medallions and theirs stays on the market for years because if they match the city's price they'll lose money.
It went from super extreme suck to extreme suck.
Genuine question: have you ever lived in NYC?
capitalism, eventually: creating something g̶r̶e̶a̶t̶, s̶u̶s̶t̶a̶i̶n̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ a̶n̶d̶ t̶h̶a̶t̶ m̶a̶k̶e̶s̶ m̶o̶r̶e̶ t̶h̶a̶n̶ e̶n̶o̶u̶g̶h̶ m̶o̶n̶e̶y̶ b̶u̶t̶ d̶o̶e̶s̶n̶'t̶ e̶x̶p̶l̶o̶i̶t̶ for maximum profit.
Just because the taxi industry wasn’t perfect in your eyes - who are you by the way? What skin in the game do you have? - doesn’t mean that Uber and Lyft aren’t orders of magnitude more exploitative.
My father drove a taxi before Uber/Lyft and that shit was way more exploitative. He was paid shit ($600/week was considered good), didn't get any flexibility (once you're on the clock, you're on the clock), he didn't get to choose his hours (they would assign times and fares by seniority, he mostly worked from the evening well into the night), he had to drive the company's disgusting cars that were constantly falling apart (which were also assigned by seniority and then he had to clean them, before and after his driving, usually because the previous driver left the car trashed), he had no recourse for shit customers that either wouldn't pay or would trash the car, and the taxi company gave zero shits about any of this because they had their medallions and that's all that mattered.
It was the worst job he ever had to subject himself to and this is a man that grew up in the Soviet Union (where he actually drove taxis part time to make extra money).
I'm sure it was nice if you were a taxi driver that happened to acquire your own medallion, got to work for yourself, providing dog shit service, and for rates of your choosing since the competition was artificially constrained. But that is a minority of the taxi drivers out there.
Uber has left numerous drivers in its wake with criminal records as a result of their illegal and sometimes criminal operations. As bad as it was for your father it doesn’t sound like the taxi driver paid him to commit criminal acts he was otherwise unaware he was committing.
> I'm sure it was nice if you were a taxi driver that happened to acquire your own medallion, got to work for yourself, providing dog shit service, and for rates of your choosing since the competition was artificially constrained. But that is a minority of the taxi drivers out there.
Yes and I’m sure being an investor in Uber pre-IPO without ever having to actually work much less drive and dump that dog shit on the public to cash out was very nice. But that is a minority of people under US capitalism.
Just like 99.999% of Uber drivers haven't experienced that situation either. Do you really think that taxi companies of the past aren't guilty of even worse crimes? At least Uber is a big enough target that you can seek some sort of justice, good luck getting any sort of justice from the scumbag taxi companies.
I think you're assuming a zero-sum rule of the world where the only way Uber or Lyft can benefit is by taking away from their riders and drivers. That's not how any of this works.
The average HN user - usually in the upper middle class - are certainly on the beneficial side of this. They've received a cheap private chauffeur service, albeit decentralized, that they use to a greater extent than they would ever use taxi because of its affordability (ofc made possible by VC money and offloading costs to the drivers). The self-interested confirmation bias in HN threads about the gig/ride taxi industry must be seen in that light.
The cost of renting was often so high the car had to stay on the road for 24h a day for it to maybe make a profit.
Now I'm looking for ways to make money off the failure of these companies ("brain dead" as Steve Jobs would say)
It's not that Lyft is brain dead, they aren't a car manufacturer and they can't wave their hands and make more cars available. Even car manufacturers can't make enough cars available.
short them and/or buy puts. it's risky though. the market can remain irrational longer than you can involve solvent, and as the recent meme stocks have shown, the market can be very irrational.
I think buying puts is too expensive given that you've got to get the timing just right (and your upside is capped) and shorting Uber/Lyft is too fraught with "as the COVID recovery story changes good and bad, transportation companies are going to whipsaw some".
Bet with the macro trend, not against it.
Is Uber the perfect short?
That's on you, then, for not understanding current market conditions.
The used car market right now is insane and rental agencies bounced off bankruptcies if they didn't actually go bankrupt.
All this means that renting a car is going to be quite expensive. I'd be surprised if anyone can make a profit doing rideshare with one.
Presumably if everyone else is striking, rates will be really high and the drivers not striking will be making decent wage (ironically part of the reason to strike).
There's a legal definition of a strike, union and employment vs contractor. Just like there's a legal definition for prisoners and torture.
You can't get the rights associated with an unionized strike (anti scab laws) without the consequences of being unionized (dues for instance).
"Scab" is a hate term that has been used to justify violence against so-called scabs. Epithets for gays have served a similar purpose in the past and are now considered to say more about the speaker than the target.
"Worker" is treating people as resources and not people
I was willing to pay a premium to drink without risking a DUI. I don't know how many others would make the same decision, but with things opening up I suspect the number will be growing. Conversely, In the begining of the pandemic I had many medical visits that were super cheap and fast because the only people on the road were uber drivers.
I think surge pricing is almost perfect free market, and the only thing that could be better is more competitors in the app side of it. Most drivers already drive for uber and lyft, and choose whichever they think is the best deal for them at the moment. If there were 4 or 5 viable competitors then it would be perfect. Not as great from a user perspective, but also not awful. Many people I know have uber and lyft and check prices/times on both before picking one.
I am really surprised all of the traditional taxi companies have not got together and made an app yet. Uber made things so much better in every way that matters from a rider's perspective. They didn't even need to compete on price, all they needed was a way to get a ride, and know how long it was going to take to get to you, and trust that the price was the price. Anyone who ever needed a taxi in anywhere but a classy urban area hates taxis.
That said, I think operating at a loss on purpose to drive out competition should be illegal. I'm not sure how that could be enforced while it's happening, but it's usually obvious after the fact. In which case I think jail time is warranted.
The problem uber and lyft set out to solve was not solved. Maybe it was corporate greed, government regulations, bad marketing, whatever, in the end it seems the rideshare industry will end up with unions and medallions. Whatever the case, they were on to it until it became this whole big thing.
So how do you solve this problem? That's easy. Let people with cars give rides for money if that's what they want and find a way for them to network to make that efficient. A FOSS uber like network would solve it. The drivers that wouldn't be happy wouldn't be able to strike, they'd just quit. The drivers that liked it would keep doing it. Everyone would be happy and nobody would rent seek, government or corporation or cartel or guild or union or anybody, the supply and demand for ride sharing and pricing would solve itself naturally. But how do you market that when everyone finds the services they use from YouTube ads? Hmm I wonder.
I drove purely for fun but that rubbed me the wrong way so I wrapped it up.
Edit: I don't blame the people at Lyft. I blame their AI, which is designed by people, but can operate in ways they haven't anticipated.
Source: work there.
Edit: It was a pickup at the Golden Gate National Cemetery around 10 PM. I have an alt email in my profile. Contact me if you need more information.
We match drivers with riders based on some algorithms and heuristics that try to optimize for some metrics which I won't go into for obvious reasons. In order to match a driver with a rider, there must be a real ride request from a real user account. It's that simple. What you claim simply does not exist, and would be so blatantly unethical that someone even suggesting such a thing would raise a ton of eyebrows immediately and might get them fired, and persisting to push such an idea would almost certainly get them fired.
You reference an "AI" in your other comments. That's not how AIs work. It is not a Skynet-level artificial intelligence that decides what the policy is, but rather an optimization problem that is solved with certain constraints. There is no system on Earth with anywhere near the level of agency and intelligence that you're implying it would have to have in order to be able to modify the source code of a system to create the concept of fake users and riders.
Also, we value driver privacy as much as rider privacy, so the same privacy guidelines apply there. The only way to get someone to look at a specific event is to file a support ticket and have the support agent go through our system. Any other method of access is basically forbidden.
So I followed up. Ohh they said, it's actually get $XXX when you do 5 rides or whatever.
Fine, I did that. No payment.
Then they said it's actually $XXX if ... at that point I was just like peace out. This was ages ago so they may have cleaned up their act, but I was not impressed.
That would be fraud. I strongly doubt they're creating and cancelling fake rides.
Though I've been taking Metro buses as they aren't currently charging for that.