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Confusing headline. The story seems to be:

There's a new startup called Pacaso selling timeshares. Like most people who sell timeshares, they loudly claim they aren't timeshares at all. Unlike most people who sell timeshares, they also ignore all laws against timeshares.

Because we live in the dumbest timeline, because they claim to be a tech company and not a timeshare company, this means they are now worth a billion dollars.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised; timeshare promoters are well known for sleazy tactics and lies, so... (Mind you, they might well be an unusually good timeshare company, if you actually like timeshares for some reason.)

> Because we live in the dumbest timeline, because they claim to be a tech company and not a timeshare company, this means they are now worth a billion dollars.

Well, we let the taxi service pretend to be not-a-taxi, and get away with it. We let the hotel service pretend to be not-a-hotel, and get away with it.

Since no one is enforcing any reasonable rule of law, it's only a matter of time until 100% of all businesses follow suit. "We're not a hospital, we're a healthcare sharing service". "We're not a restaurant, we're a meal sharing experience". etc.

Which have more exclusions than a Republican health insurance program.

And John Oliver went as far as doing an entire piece on how ridiculous they are, which kind of proves GP's point.

John Oliver is a good comedian, but I don't value his political opinions above those of a Kardashian.

I don't value his political opinions above those of a political scientist, a historian (if they're good btw), but his opinions on politics aren't in the same level as that of a Kardashian, c'mon. You may not agree with him or watch him, but you know it's not the same level.

His fact checking team is rock solid. Not sure I see a lot of political opinion on the show - unless exposing ideology and broken systems through facts and silly references counts.

John Oliver is a popularizer, explaining tough stuff to laypersons. There's a whole team of writers, researchers, fact checkers, lawyers, producers behind him.

If a team like that is wrong about something, it's not for lack of trying to be right.

I've never cared for the format. Just gimme the bullet points, save the snark.

But I've also understood that I'm not the audience. Leaning into civics and current events is a lot of work. And people are busy.

John Oliver, Michael Moore, John Steward, many others, are quite a bit more accessible for a wider audience. So they are a vital part of our public square.

TLDR: John Oliver is awesome.

Does Uber pretend to be not a taxi? At least in the UK, they are just a private taxi company with an app instead of a phone number, and their drivers are licensed taxi drivers.

Yeah, for years and years they were operating in regulated markets where they didn't have any medallions and didn't follow rules and regulations set out on taxis.

Yeah because in many "regulated" markets the market was fixed so that taxis can have limited supply and hence insane prices. In Croatia they changed the law after Uber came to deregulate taxis and it's way better now than it was before while other countries protected the insane taxi mafias

That the laws/regulations were (effectively? intentionally?) rigged to ensure high prices, doesn't at all invalidate the claim that Uber ignored laws/regulations. They are also accused of ignoring more general laws/regulations around worker pay/benefits/health that are not related to regulations specific to taxi services.

The laws were intentionally created to restrict supply of services. Restricted supply = higher prices.

Uber should not have been buying cars for their drivers... but if Uber is to be forced to have employee/employer relationships - then Uber's value of freedom to choose working hours goes out the window, as they now can mandate working hours... and surge capacity is literally annihilated.

But that also does not invalidate the claim that Uber ignored laws/regulations, which is what was questioned earlier in the thread.

I'm not (in these posts, I may elsewhere) passing judgement on why they did it and if it were right, only stating that it is what they did.

The same is mostly true in the US.

The US taxi system in most cities was an abusive cartel holding on to a market solely through a government protection racket, and that's the nice description of it. Uber and Lyft destroyed the cartels, delivering a far superior service.

This narrative is funny for a couple of reasons. The first being that Taxi companies were never super-profitable nor, generally, did they span multiple metropolitan centres. Uber/Lyft radically centralized Taxi service replacing a supposed "cartel" with a much better capitalized and politically powerful duopoly.

As for the superior service, I'm not sure that will last once the VC funding runs out and these companies have to actually turn a profit. Uber/Lyft is MoviePass writ large.

Taxis and food delivery are rather low margin businesses. I really wonder how much profit they can reasonably extract even if the markets are big.

Are we forgetting that taxis often refused to serve minorities and minority neighborhoods?

Yeah, that worked out great. The Taxis are all out of business and Uber’s magical robot taxis didn’t appear.

So now I pay 3x more to have an experience often shittier than cabs.

Well in Croatia the taxis aren't out of business. They just lowered prices, introduced an app for requesting rides and introduced rating of employees. They also service smaller cities where the volume is too low for Uber to operate so they can keep the higher prices due to low volume.

Uber is never shittier than a cab.

My Uber ride in the cigarette-stained car driven by a woman watching Netflix begs to disagree.

Got out after 2 blocks (a few seconds after she hit “unpause”)

Depends on the city. I still hold high regard for London's cabbies, NY's ones not so much.

"The law was bad, so we did crimes until they changed it."

What is civil disobedience.

When you phrase it like that, it actually sounds like a noble protest. Perhaps a tad generous for Uber.

> ... didn't follow rules and regulations set out on taxis.

And were hailed as "disruptors."

Because they are...

Have you ever had to haggle about the cost of your trip with a taxi driver?

Have you ever ordered a taxi and one never showed up?

Have you ever missed your flight, because a taxi - that was scheduled to pick you up at 5AM just didn't arrive?

I used to do consulting work all over Europe and literally spent 5 years of my life flying every single week. Pre-Uber taxis were horrible! In fact, they still are!

Also having the taxi driver intentionally taking indirect routes to run up the meter. Crazy how much better rideshares serve there customers just by setting the rate before you get in the car

Not to mention taxis refusing to serve minority neighborhoods. If you're actively preventing a significant proportion of your potential customers from using your service, you shouldn't be surprised if a competitor is able to swoop in and "disrupt" your business. (that's not to say Uber doesn't have their own problems with rideshare redlining, but they're certainly better than traditional taxi companies)

I got on a taxi at a taxi stop (in my country there are designated spots where only the registered cabs for each specific spot can park) and the driver was speeding, hitting all the bumps on the road, zig-zagging, etc. My wife and our baby was in the car with me. I complained, didn't work, then I went back to the stop a couple of days later and complained to the other drivers of said spot. They all said they constantly received complaints for that guy, but since he was "one of the oldest drivers here, can't do nothing about it".

These stories is literally the reason why I will fight for Uber/Lyft at this time.

In many countries the market is regulated, but the regulations are pretty slim (requiring commercial insurance and the driver to be completely sober).

Yes, in many (most?) cities in the US, you need a special license to spontaneously pick up passengers (e.g. when you wave a taxi over to come pick you up). However, town-car services, where you pre-arrange to be taken somewhere ahead of time operate under looser rules. Uber's loophole was making an app so you technically prearranged to be picked up a few minutes before you were picked up.

Can't speak for the US, but in a UK city it wasn't exactly difficult to get the equivalent by ringing up at short notice (or indeed get one straight away by turning up at their city centre office, or spotting one illegally touting for business on the streets at pub closing time). Often they were cheap too. Even a phoneline which became an app attempting to aggregate the firms existed (I knew the guy who ran it... which is probably why I knew it existed!). All Uber brought to the party was VC money, the social expectation to award every driver 5 out of 5 and more aggressive surge pricing

Continue the erosion of laws and regulations in the name of tech. I wonder what the world will look like in twenty years.

It exists, it's called Zoomcare

Uber provides a different service than a taxi.

Airbnb provides a different service than a hotel.

Both of these narrowly scoped, heavily regulated antiquated services were failing to meet the needs of most, and the world is better that there are additional options.

Taxis and hotels are still there and still sucking, if you prefer those.

What is wrong with hotels (and B&Bs, etc.)? I stayed in them maybe 100 nights per year pre-pandemic and they're mostly fine.

There was a time when airbnb was mostly unique, quirky, and in places like NYC, vastly below market rate. Now, the only benefit that I see is the "rental cottage" style for vacations where you're willing to pay a premium for staying in a detached home with a reasonably equipped kitchen.

I never pulled the trigger but last fall I was thinking of going up to New Hampshire for a week but was only going to do so if I could avoid dealing with restaurants so I looked at AirBnBs.

It's not that I always stay in a chain hotel either. Outside of metros, I'll definitely give B&Bs and Inns a look.

I've always found them great for weddings/reunions with groups of 4-6 renting a small house, which usually ends up being much better value for the price than hotel rooms and suites, and much more convenient than traditional house rentals.

They are very lucrative, so landlords take apartments off the market to turn them into AirBnBs. This raises rent prices in touristic areas.

Beyond that, it means you might have loud neighbours you can't control or a constant traffic of visitors in your building. They are not regulated like hotels, nor taxed like them.

Hotels are commercial property, in commercial districts.

Staying in residential property, in residential districts is way preferable to me for my style of travel (3-6 weeks in a city at a time).

I appreciate that on mobile the line wrapping of your comment text resulted in:

There's a new startup called Pacaso selling

timeshares. Like most people who sell

timeshares, they loudly claim they aren't

timeshares at all. Unlike most people who sell

timeshares, they also ignore all laws against


Thanks for sharing. It's like a beautiful poem about a teenager with identity issues. Except its about Pacaso's denial of being a timeshare company.

Thanks for sharing. Not on my phone, but this is known to vary between phones!

The business model doesn't seem honest. I doubt they really want to buy 3M homes and sell that to 6 people at 500k each. There isn't much of a market for that.

More likely they want to find a way to circumvent short term rental laws and then charge a premium over Airbnb for short term rental access in locations that Airbnb cannot rent. On paper that company could be worth billions. Then they sell it before investors realize the legal tricks they used only work for a short while.

The "homeowners can 'gift' stays to 'friends and family'" [second scare quotes added] quote in the middle, plus the app to organize bookings hints at the direction they're going to take this. You're not buying a very expensive timeshare, you're buying a 1/8th share in a revenue-generating asset. These aren't paying guests, they're friends of the owners who have been gifted a stay.

Turns out, though, that a neighborhood of (by definition) multi-millionaires can mount a more effective defense than the markets airbnb started in.

> app to organize bookings hints at the direction they're going to take this

Can you elaborate why the app hints at this?

It’s definitely no substitute for AirBnB. They’re buying houses worth millions and assisting groups of people to buy them together. The truth is that most people don’t spend that much time in their second home, so a 1/4 or 1/8 share is likely more than enough.

In Whistler, BC, such fractional ownership is common. And it’s true ownership on title, rather than a form of rental like a time share.

But you don't buy a second home to timeshare it... you buy it so it's yours, filled with your stuff when you come there and always accessible.

500K for basically an airbnb, where i have to pack all my stuff, to go there for a week, then pack stuff, to go home is pretty useless to me.

There is a huge market for this.

People have been doing informal versions of this for a long time.

ie, a well off family will have a second home, but it's actually shared between 6 families in the family (second generation) who use it in various ways. Grandparents go up, kids visit with grandkids, then kids and grandkids stay etc.

Boats are often bought in a partnership - and frankly it's more fun becuase your budget for ownership is literally 4x - so you can do / pay for whatever, cleaning, maintenance etc.

Various forms of fractional aircraft ownership.

Folks with money are not total idiots. A fixed asset sitting is a waste.

In the house case, you want a place that becomes a regular part of your routine, a place your kids know, a place your friends start to know. 1/4 ownership is not 1 week a year. It is months in the year. You know the local restaurants, the hikes and bike rides etc.

I've independently been sent hey, look at this place, from two different people now who are on this app. You can get a MUCH nicer place than you can get alone for $400K. A place you could have a big group over to visit etc, a place for families to get together.

> You can get a MUCH nicer place than you can get alone for $400K

You can also get a very nice place for 44 days in a year (the offer discussed in the article is 44 days, no more than 14 consecutively, first come first serve for timeslots) for $4k on a vacation rental site, have approximately as much say in how it's run, and have more choice over which days you spend there, and whether you spend more time there next year or not. Of course, you don't get a theoretical opportunity to sell appreciating property on at a profit which I'm sure the Pacaso sales team talks about a lot, but how real is that opportunity when most property investors and wealthy homebuyers are looking for whole houses, not a timeshare (and people who want timeshares are going to Pacaso.com to buy the new properties it takes a ~14% fee to subdivide and sell, not whoever's willing to shift the share you want rid of)

Sure, there's a real market for it, but there's a real market for other types of timeshare that sound like better (or less worse) deals...

The generational house is probably different from something like this though. Even if all the second cousins don't necessarily really know each other, a lot of the owners will have grown up going to the house starting as kids. And, as you say, families will get together etc. That seems a rather different situation from buying a luxury timeshare with strangers.

You don't always hang with family, but you get a part time use of a house that is a consistent place - that really is very nice and I think a lot of folks laughing at this idea do not understand either the market or attraction in what they are offering.

Do you pay $3M or $500K. That is the question you need to ask. Is it worth $2.5M to have more than your standard locker of crap at the vacation house?

Even family houses - generally you need to keep your personal crap to a minimum, everything is shared. You can buy a bogie board for everyone, but the folks on here talking about how they need to fill a $3M 6 bedroom house with their personal crap - this is not for you. Most of us can get buy much more simply.

This is why I'm glad we can let market decide not folks on HN. Almost every neat thing, from iphone to this would just be poo poo'ed away.

>$3M or $500K

Alternatively, renting or staying in a hotel/resort is _significantly_ cheaper than $500k, even amortized over 10 years. TBD how much you can sell your timeshare back for at the end, but I'd argue the risk + the significant upfront capital + not getting to put your crap in your expensive rental™ makes it a tough sell for all but a small niche.

>let market decide not folks on HN

I'd point out that a number of the threads on this are more upset that this seems to be a timeshare system that dodges regulations around timeshares, just as Uber is a cab system that dodges cab regulations and AirBnB is a BnB/home rental. It's more anger that these startups raise massive cash to distort the markets in ways that have some advantages but aren't always long-term positive, and it takes regulation too long to catch up. Comparing regulation dodging timeshares to iPhones feels disingenuous.

There's definitely the principle of the regulation dodging. That said, aside from the existence of a matchmaking company, I'm willing to bet that the legal structures around a large shared extended family home probably doesn't look a lot different.

Yep, with family, you can live your stuff there... clothes, fishing poles, boat, even your toothbrush, and not be afraid, someone will do something really wrong with it.

Even if that's probably a somewhat idealistic view of many large extended families :-), there is shared context and history which makes it at least feel different.

If you own it, you can keep a few sets of cargo shorts there and some at home. That is the nice part of multi-home living. A boy can dream....

Ugh, I'm trying not to be cynical, but:

> There's a new startup (...) selling $Thing. (...) Unlike most people who sell $Thing, they also ignore all laws against $Thing. Because we live in the dumbest timeline, because they claim to be a tech company and not a $Thing company, this means they are now worth a billion dollars.

It's becoming a kind of a recurring pattern.

Makes me want to lose my scruples, figure out the next $Thing, get fantastically wealthy from it, and retire.

Pick some laws and regulations and find a way to ignore them at scale

Title of pitch deck: Uber for Timeshares

That writeup gives really strong WeWork vibes. Guess we know where this is heading...

I wonder what the property tax implications are, I guess the 'co-owners' all split it up somehow. I would have thought that even without any laws against timeshares per se that zoning laws would prevent what on paper are 'corporate offices' from being plunked down in residential neighborhoods.

I will say it gave me the idea to turn my own house into a corporation. Or maybe I should go the "my house is actually a church" route. Oh, the possibilities.

heh, great summary, thank you.

Thanks for the tl;dr.

I love NPR, but this click-bait title rubs me the wrong way. Actually the whole article rubs me the wrong way. I wonder if Pacaso paid the writer and this is really just marketing disguised as news. Ugh, NPR, why?

NPR tries too hard to come across as neutral, responsible journalists sometimes. Once in a while I'd like them to just call something bullshit outright. But I guess that's what got us to this age of incivility, so maybe NPR's way is better.

The best way to deal with BS is to not cover it at all. However controversy is a story that sells, so even seemingly neutral journalists will manufacture controversy just to get a story to be neutral about.

You see it in all the vaccines stories that manufactures anti-vax sentiment in various groups.

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