Sunday, June 28, 2015

uber and airbnb are not the villains in this evolutionary struggle...,


guardian |  “Got chased by a mob of taxi drivers who threw rocks,” tweeted the singer Courtney Love from Charles de Gaulle airport. She was caught up in what is becoming a global trend: the backlash against Uber. French taxi drivers were protesting on Thursday at vehicles operated by drivers working for the Californian business, which functions like a taxi-hire company, but via smartphones and without directly employing its drivers.
The taxi drivers were protesting at seeing their livelihoods threatened: it costs more than €100,000 (£71,000) for a taxi licence in Paris. Uber drivers, though, pay nothing, using their own cars and just paying a proportion of their takings to the company for the rides they pick up. There has been similar anger, though not riots, in New York where taxi licences, called “medallions”, can cost a million dollars. And regulators, courts and police have been raising concerns around the world, too.

It’s been a tough week for Uber. The protests in France, where UberPop (as it is called locally) has been declared illegal yet still operates, came just a week after California’s Labor Commission decided that Uber drivers there were employees, not contractors – a distinction that could impose significant costs and responsibilities. Uber had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.
Uber’s troubles signal a troubled birth for a 21st-century concept: the sharing economy. In this brave new world, untapped capacity – such as idle cars and rooms – is made available for hire, increases efficiency and lowers the price of those goods and services. 

It is not just Uber that is facing resistance over the sharing phenomenon. Paris is also the scene of another collision between a company from the sharing economy and the authorities: about 2% of all apartment units in the city are available for rent through AirBnB, which connects apartment owners and short-term renters. With 40,000 listings at the start of April, it’s the company’s largest market in Europe, ahead of London with just under 25,000 and Barcelona with 16,600.