Only 35% of Uber/Lyft riders always tip

The problem with tipping is that employers pay employees less than they should. I much prefer the way things work in Japan, where there is no tipping and no uncertainty. That said, until restaurants, delivery services, and ride hailing apps in the US start paying their workers a fair wage, it's best to tip workers. This Vox video explains why tipping for ride-hailing services remains confusion and contentious.

Image: Vox/YouTube Read the rest

Uber general counsel threatens California: pass a law that makes drivers into employees and we'll spend $60m on a ballot initiative to overturn it

AB5 is about to pass the California legislature: it forces companies like Lyft and Uber to comply with the longstanding Dynamex decision and treat their employees as employees. Read the rest

Rideshare companies' effort to kill California employment bill is failing miserably

California's Assembly Bill 5 isn't radical: it merely affirms the obvious fact that Uber and Lyft drivers (and other "gig economy" workers) are employees, something that the California Supreme Court already made obvious in the Dynamex decision. Read the rest

Interview with author of Super Pumped, an expose of Uber's chaotic inner circle

Brian Feldman of The Intelligencer interviewed New York Times reporter Mike Isaac about his new book, Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.

I haven’t read too many start-up histories but Super Pumped is the only one I’ve read that has a significant amount of violence. Uber drivers are pressured to keep driving in adversarial conditions and subsequently murdered. Medallion owners whose prices are undercut by Uber regularly commit suicide. On rare occasions, passengers are assaulted by drivers who slipped through Uber’s lax background checks. Do you think it’s fair to say that Travis Kalanick has a body count?

I don’t know if I want to tag him with that, but what I will say is that Uber is one of the first start-ups that really crashed into the real world in a very different way than Facebook or Snapchat or whatever. That said, you know, you could argue Facebook has a body count, too: People spread anti-vaxx information, for instance. Uber literally changed how cities work and in a very short period of time. Deep, quick cultural change can often come with pushback, and violent pushback. Brazil is a key reflection of that. Uber parachuted into Brazil at one of the country’s worst economic points in its history. They’re in the middle of this deep recession, unemployment is skyrocketing, and folks would resort to committing violence in order to stay afloat. Add drivers in Uber cars with a bunch of cash, because it’s a cash-based economy, and in a lot of ways, you have a recipe for disaster.

Read the rest

Uber and Lyft gouge their drivers

I hear endless stories of grief from the friends I have who try to make ends meet working for these services.

Jalopnik's Dhruv Mehrotra and Aaron Gordon share the terrible economics:

But Dave, who was granted anonymity out of fear of being deactivated by the ride-hail giant for speaking to the press, had no real choice but to wait. The passenger had requested the stop through the app, so refusing to make it would have been contentious both with the customer and with Uber. The exact number varies by city, but drivers must maintain a high rating in order to work on their platform. And there’s widespread belief among drivers that the Uber algorithm punishes drivers for cancelling trips.

Ultimately, the rider paid $65 for the half-hour trip, according to a receipt viewed by Jalopnik. But Dave made only $15 (the fares have been rounded to anonymize the transaction).

Uber kept the rest, meaning the multibillion-dollar corporation kept more than 75 percent of the fare, more than triple the average so-called “take-rate” it claims in financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Had he known in advance how much he would have been paid for the ride relative to what the rider paid, Dave said he never would have accepted the fare.

“This is robbery,” Dave told Jalopnik over email. “This business is out of control.”

Read the rest

Uber and Lyft slashed driver pay in recent years more than publicly reported: Report

It's rough out there for Uber and Lyft contract drivers. And getting rougher. Read the rest

As Uber's stock craters amid billions in unanticipated losses, a hiring freeze on engineers

Uber -- a bezzle -- projected $8b in losses this year; but it lost more than $5b in a single quarter, and despite an initial stock price rise (dead cat bounce?) the company's shares have tumbled by more than 10% since, hitting an all-time low. Engineers who were scheduled to interview at Uber have had those interviews canceled by the company's HR department, who told them the company now has a tech-worker hiring freeze. (Image: Tarcil, CC BY-SA, modified) (via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest

Uber projected $8b in losses for 2019, but it just booked $5.2b in losses in a single quarter

Uber says it can be profitable someday: all it needs to do is corner the "total addressable market" for all transportation and food delivery, which will give it $12t in annual revenue, which is 15% of all global transactions. Read the rest

Uber drivers in Toronto unionizing to take on The Man

Working for a ride-sharing company like Uber or Lyft can be a tough gig that offers low pay, long hours that keep drivers on there road and away from the people they love and, at times, wheeling under dangerous working conditions. In some parts of the world, pissed off drivers have walked off the job and protested their crappy working conditions and demanded--and I know this is crazy--a living wage. Up here in Canada, we tend to do things with a little more of a socialist flare.

From Gizmodo:

First announced on Monday, Uber drivers based in Toronto expressed their intention to join the United Food and Commercial Workers, a 250,000-strong trade union which operates in both Canada and the U.S. The actual number of drivers who had signed cards was not released, but during a press conference this afternoon, UFCW Canada staffer Pablo Godoy claimed their support had hit the “high hundreds” and were growing rapidly.

The move comes at a time when Toronto's city counsel is attempting to sort out a balance between cab companies and the ride share operations that have been drinking their milkshakes. With this in mind, there couldn't be a better time for Uber drivers to invest in the power of a union. That said, there's still a number of legal issues to be ironed out before Toronto's Uber drivers are rubber stamped as a bona fide part of the union and afforded the protections that membership in UFCW provides.

Given the amount of trouble that Uber has had in recent years in locales like New York where the city has implemented strict living wage laws for ride share drivers and in Cancun, where they were forced to suspend operations to keep their people safe from pissed off taxi and colectivo drivers, its possible that the company might just consider not giving it's Toronto employees a tough time, at least in the short term: even giant, plundering corporations need a breather from all the bullshit they generate, every now and again. Read the rest

Federal judge rules Uber calling its drivers independent contractors may violate antitrust and harm competition

A federal judge has ruled that alleged misclassification of drivers as independent contractors by the ride-hailing service app Uber could harm competition and violate the spirit of America's antitrust laws. Read the rest

Now that Uber and Lyft are public, their inevitable financial collapse is much clearer

Veteran transportation economics Hubert Horan has consistently published the best-informed, deepest critiques of Uber and Lyft, explaining how the companies can never, ever be profitable, and warning investors away from becoming the "greater fools" that allow Uber/Lyft's early investors to cash out at their expenses, while cataloging the many ways that Uber and Lyft's legislative strategy, coupled with predatory pricing, is destroying the cities they operate in. Read the rest

Supreme Court of Canada to rule on the enforceability of arbitration clauses

Back in January, an Ontario court ruled that Uber's arbitration clause couldn't keep its drivers from suing it; Uber has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has taken up the case and will hear arguments about whether arbitration clauses (through which the parties surrender the right to sue in court) are enforceable in "adhesion contracts" (contracts that are not negotiated, where one party has much less power than the other, such as in click-through agreements). Read the rest

The empirical impact of Lyft and Uber on cities: congestion (especially downtown, especially during "surges"), overworked drivers

Mike Moffitt sums up the empirical work on the impact of rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft for cities: an increase in congestion, especially downtown, especially during "surges" (Uber and Lyft insist that they reduce congestion, especially in downtowns, and especially during surges!); lower wages, longer hours and more precarious work for drivers (accompanied by the slow death of the taxi/limo businesses); huge losses for car-rental companies; and less walking, cycling and use of public transit (awithnd accompanying cuts to transit). Read the rest

Buried in Uber's IPO, an aggressive plan to destroy all public transit

Uber is a wildly unprofitable company with no conceivable path to profitability in any universe, under any circumstances, but the company's founders and early investors (having already taken massive write-downs on their investments) are hoping to get at least some of their money back through the time-honored "greater fool" methodology. Specifically, they're floating the company on the stock market and hoping that naive investors hoping to wring above-inflation gains out of their 401(k)s and avoid being made into dog-food in their old age (we're waaaaay past the era in which impoverished old people get to eat dog-food) take their shares off their hands. Read the rest

Uber drivers across America are going on strike -- UPDATED

Update: Shona from Gig Workers Rising clarifies: "Gig Workers Rising isn't organizing the national day of action. Drivers in each of the 6 cities taking action are coordinating the day of action together. Drivers in LA with Rideshare Drivers United Los Angeles called a strike and asked other cities to take action on the same day. Gig Workers Rising supports and educates drivers who are organizing across the state. We are not organizing drivers."

On May 8, Uber drivers are organizing a nationwide shutdown of Uber, with drivers turning off their apps in protest over low pay: so far, seven cities' drivers are signed up: Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Minneapolis, LA and DC. Uber and Lyft have both slashed pay for drivers and raised prices as they try to assuage the capital markets. Read the rest

IPOs have sent Uber and Lyft fares skyrocketing, while driver pay plummets

The public markets are hungry: as Uber and Lyft look to IPOs to let their investors -- who have been subsidizing 40-50% of every ride -- redeem their shares through sales to the public capital markets, the companies are desperate for ways to reduce their unprofitability and increase those share prices. Read the rest

"I am an Uber employee and I support the drivers’ strikes."

“The authenticity of the following anonymous op-ed has been verified by Medium’s editorial staff.” Read the rest

More posts