Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Probably Not Much Of A Future Then

Nobody listens to me.

Looking beyond the immediate damage of a campaign like #deleteuber, there’s something else to consider for the long term: A big part of Uber’s perceived value has been attached to the notion that autonomous vehicle technology will enable the company to slough off its (human) driver cost-base entirely, i.e. not just by (as it does now) minimizing employment costs by using — some would say exploiting — low paid, ‘freelance contractors’ who do the actual work of driving people from A to B.

As far back as 2014 Kalanick has been saying Uber’s future lies in driverless cars.

“When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle. So the magic there is, you basically bring the cost below the cost of ownership for everybody, and then car ownership goes away,” he said three years ago, when Uber was valued at around $17BN, and without apparently a thought for the thousands of “dudes” he planned on leaving in the dust down the road.