Uber terminated access to its API for Urbanhail, a startup that compared pricing and availability among ride-hailing apps and taxi companies, after chastising the company's founders for violating its terms of service, which forbid creating competitive uses.
As Urbanhail co-founder Amber James said, it's a moment of sublime irony, given Uber's ceaseless rhetoric about the importance of competition: "They are absolutely a champion of competition when it's them against taxi companies or them against regulators. However, in its own ride-hailing niche of the transportation market, Uber's stance is ironically absolutely anti-competitive."
The startup has at least one advocate in Ben Edelman, a Harvard Business School professor who has made a career researching and exposing wrongdoing among newer web companies like Facebook and Google.
In a blog post earlier this week, Edelman, who informally advised the Urbanhail team, wrote that Uber's API restrictions were designed to limit competition and argued they were "vulnerable" from a legal perspective.
"Uber's purpose is transparently to impede competition —to make it more difficult for competing services to provide relevant and timely offers to appropriate customers," he wrote.
Uber denies access to Harvard startup that compared ride-hailing prices