Last week, the “alternative newspaper” LA Weekly published an expose written by a current Uber driver about his experience working for the increasingly popular ridesharing company. Protected by anonymity – he asked the publication to withhold using his real name – the mystery writer expounds on what initially persuaded him to seek employment with Uber (“I came to the startling realization that, in fact, money does not grow on trees. Not even my parents’ trees”) and how, during his tenure as a driver, he has come to some startling realizations about the company’s underhanded business tactics.
In the article, the writer says that before he began driving for Uber, he was employed by their direct competitor and fellow ridesharing company Lyft. “Upon comparing the Uber and Lyft websites, the former struck me as pretentious while the latter seemed corny but fun,” he says. “When Lyft responded to my application immediately, I figured we’d be a match, pink mustache and all.” Having no prior experience as a professional driver, ridesharing or otherwise, he says he was impressed with the functionality of Lyft’s app, and liked the rapport he developed with his passengers. “Lyft’s M.O. was clearly to make [the experience] fun. I even made a friend or two.”
The shady dealings began, he explains in his LA Weekly article, when a passenger climbed into his car with the sole purpose of “bringing him to the dark side” – “He said I’d get $500 for leaving Lyft and joining Uber, and would also make another $500 for referring a Lyft driver or $250 for referring a non-ridesharing driver to the company. Also, I’d have zero commission on rides for the first month.” Though the writer admits that Uber’s ruthless, free-market monopoly-creating practices – which include evading taxi regulations and systematically dismantling their competition – wade into ethically-murky waters, he couldn’t pass up the payday. “There are so many starving artists in Los Angeles, and Uber has the funding to incentivize drivers. In a city like LA, Uber knows how to work the system to its advantage.”
But where is all this money coming from? How does Uber, a startup, afford the generous bonuses that keep pulling drivers away from other ridesharing companies? The answer is, apparently: Google. “Of the $1.2 billion Uber has raised in capital, Google Ventures [the venture capital investment arm of Google Inc.] has invested $258 million,” the expose’s writer explains, a fact that he stumbled upon after his own curiosity led him to do some independent research. “Although the latest valuation estimates the company’s worth at $18.2 billion, the long-term market value of the company could be $200 billion or more. That’s half the annual GDP of Austria!”
In short, Uber wants to be No. 1, and with the 4th-largest company in the world by market valuation – only Apple, Exxon Mobile, and Microsoft outrank it – bankrolling the ridesharing company’s dodgy practices and “scorched-earth” business strategy, it doesn’t seem like anyone will be able to stand in its way.[Source material taken from LA Weekly. To read the original article, click here]