Home' acuity : Acuity Sept 14 Contents can earn comparable fares driving
UberX passengers in his private car,
without paying a lease fee.
"Without the drivers, we're dead, we
have no money," says an owner of 50
medallions. With lease fees uncertain,
financiers are retrenching in Chicago.
"This is going to be a self-fulfilling
prophesy: the less liquidity, the less
activity; the less activity, the less
liquidity. It's a horror show. And it's all
because we're losing drivers."
The Uber revolution is being allowed
to roll out in some cities and is being
opposed in others. London is being
Uber-ed despite taxi opposition. The
Victorian government is fining Uber
drivers for not having hire car licences.
Auckland authorities are maintaining
that Uber will have to meet their
The defenders of plate owners claim
Uber is a danger to passengers -- but
the disruption of the Uber app is that
it rates drivers and removes cash from
Meanwhile, a taxi driver gang in
Sydney reportedly has been skimming
credit cards, violence by and against
taxi drivers is not unknown and many
a taxi I have stepped into seemed less
There's nothing new about bed-and-
breakfasts, but Airbnb has put the
power of BnBs and holiday rentals into
everybody's laptop. Or phone. It's a
darling of the "sharing economy" set.
Some cities are fighting it, most
coming to get you
In August's Acuity, futurist Hugo Garcia explained the virtues of "consumption 2.0"
and the sharing economy. This month, we present the counter view.
BY MICHAEL PASCOE
IN THE POLITE world of hipster
conference speakers and trend spotters,
they call it the "sharing economy".
Sure, sharing in the way a crocodile
shares a riverbank with his dinner.
"Peer-to-peer business" is an
alternative title, but from Uber
"sharing" rides to Airbnb "sharing"
rooms, what's really happening is
another chapter in the technology-
enabled revolution that's overthrowing
the established order, destroying
fortunes, trashing business models.
And it's coming to get you, if it
"Digital disruption" is another
euphemism. Schumpeter's "creative
destruction" is more like it -- and a
quick check of whether the Austrian
economist deserves credit for that term
throws up an example of the waves of
The CD-ROM severely damaged
Encyclopaedia Britannica, its salesmen
and printers. Then the internet wiped
the latter two out -- after 244 years.
Britannica now is primarily a "learning
Wikipedia at least is something that
is genuinely shared, a cooperative
resource. The most obvious early
victims of the revolution -- physical
newspapers, bookshops and record
stores -- are being killed or degraded
by others eating their lunch. And
breakfast. And dinner.
Failed newspaper boards and
management had neither the vision nor
gonads to cannibalise their own rivers
of classifieds gold, and thus allowed
others to devour them.
The newspaper publishers have had
no government licensing authority that
might protect their investments in plant
and people. That's not the case with
the latest high-profile battle field -- the
global taxi industry.
From London to Chicago, Berlin to
Sydney, the owners of many billions
of dollars' worth of taxi licences are
calling up all the government favours
they can muster to be saved from the
Uber business model that is better for
consumers and drivers, but severely
damaging for them.
Politicians who allowed taxi licences --
whether Melbourne's "plates" or Chicago's
"medallions" -- to appreciate with all
the rent-seeking stupidity of an artificial
government-run market, must now decide
to whom they owe their allegiance.
There is very big money at stake.
Sydney, for example, last year had
5,647 plates each worth the better part
of A$400,000 -- call it A$2.2 billion. A
Deloitte study for the NSW Taxi Council
put annual NSW taxi revenue at A$1.3b.
According to a Washington Post
story on Uber's Chicago fight, that
city's medallions were worth about
US$350,000 each, but an attempt to
auction new medallions recently found
no buyers. The Post reports the threat
to medallion owners isn't that they'll
lose passengers to these services, it's
that they'll lose drivers. A taxi driver
acuity | SEPTEMBER
Links Archive Acuity Oct 14 Acuity Aug 14 Navigation Previous Page Next Page