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Topic: Strategic deployment of innovative jargon concepts  (Read 18053 times)

jack chick

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Some bullshit from techcrunch

With its heady mix of Horatio Alger rags-to-riches success stories, its emphasis on individualism and privileging hard work and education, no industry is a better poster child for post-industrial American capitalism than the startup world of coders, marketers, and salesman.

I keep reading this sentence and getting more and more angry.

Runic

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There has never been a time when I was not angry at the sentence. Even before it was written I was angry at the raw platonic ideal of it hovering around in the fucking aether waiting for that prick to write it.
Maxine Headroom

jack chick

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Sherlockian

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Hey do you guys like Uber? You're probably a horrible monster!
some metal dude, November 19, 2014, 11:19:52 am

Yeah, I saw the Buzzfeed article. It's less aggressively heartstring-pulling and more "ick".

jack chick

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The key is that this isn't the first or second time Sarah Lacy has written about Uber doing gross shit, and this was specifically a personal attack against her.

That's OK they offered a token apology! All is fine.

Runic

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Uber is the worst thing in basically every way.

A Meat

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This might be derailing this more off-topic, but can I get a proper explanation on why exactly Uber is so terrible? I've heard a bunch of things but I don't know the specifics. Is there more beyond that it's monstrously anti-union and has really shady business tactics? We don't have them here and they've been lobbying aggressively to change the law that makes Uber technically illegal here.

jack chick

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Disclosure: I use Lyft fairly extensively and have used Uber a few times. I think that a number of Lyft's business practices are questionable and I hope that they get things cleaned up. If they continue on the same path they are on I will likely abandon the service.

Uber's business model originally was to summon a black limo to pick up you and your friends for the express purpose of impressing people. This also functioned as a way for rich elites to bypass taxis. This was actually pretty successful. Soon afterwards, a competitor was launched (Lyft) by a company then called Zimride. Lyft was launched as a platform to connect people to people with cars who could drive them places. As this was a 'ride sharing' business, and not a taxi service, they were able to skate around regulations for taxis and avoid paying numerous licensing and taxes. This enabled them to be priced lower than a taxi, and also provide a higher quality of service. Uber then promptly copied this business model and implemented it as well.

I believe that the business model of these two companies is superior to the current taxi model. I would also use these services were they priced the same, or even a little more than a current taxi ride. The reasons are:
  • The companies have your billing information on file. This means you do not have to argue over fares or whether or not you have cash (many cabs in SF refuse to take you if you do not have cash, or will claim that their credit card machine is broken, etc (it is illegal for a cab to operate in SF without having the capacity to accept credit cards)).
  • The drivers are (supposedly) interviewed and vetted before being accepted to the service (see this for an example of Uber failing to adhere to its own corporate policies in regards to this driver, and then failing to follow up until press exposure transpired). Additionally, when I was in Minneapolis for F+ Live, I was chatting with a Lyft driver who had not actually gone through a vetting/interview process.
  • Drivers are rated by passengers after the ride. Drivers who fail to maintain above a certain rating are removed.
  • Passengers are required to have personal information on file, so theft or assault against a driver will have them removed from the system/charges can be filed. 5) Drivers are using their own cars (double edged sword - creates insurance nightmare, ensures that a ride is actually safer).

All in all this results in a cab ride being a safer, more enjoyable experience. It also makes getting a cab easier and safer, as you flag them through the app. The whole concept of the companies not paying regulatory taxes because they are not taxis is horseshit and should be retroactively applied.

So now the reasons Uber is so terrible are articulated in the article pretty well, but to summarize.
  • Uber has launched a "dirty war" against Lyft which has drawn a lot of sharp criticism from a number of different sources. See here.
  • Uber's (and to a lesser extent, Lyft) standard business model is to launch in cities and then use the revenue/support they garner in order to pressure regulators  to then make it legal. Another anecdote, a recent Lyft I took to the airport had the driver relating to me that they used to not be allowed to go to the airport (it was illegal), so they would have to put on a little show as though they were just dropping off a family member.
  • This ad campaign in France, essentially acting like the service is also a prostitution service. This ties into a number of egregiously sexist things that have come out of the company's camp. Lacy's original post on the matter is pretty succinct. Please note, there have been no public disciplinary actions taken against any members of the company for any of the debacles that have happened.

So where does this leave us? We have a company that is one of the fastest growing in history (possibly the fastest ever) that has a number of extreme disciplinary and tone problems, and has done nothing to correct them. This can be taken as a good example of the dangers of the modern technology industry. Make no mistake, Uber is a company that is celebrated for its success. It has become a cliche in SF that any given startup's pitch is "the Uber for ____". This is creating a benchmark of how companies and their founders are to behave going forwards.
Lemon chai tea latte Baldr

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Despite that growth though, it's fucking shocking that nobody has seriously taken them to court over the "It's your friend with a car" business pitch. The taxi business has its own share of systematic problems, and the new competitors are forcing them to be a little bit less stupid, so that's a good thing for everybody. Cabs are slowly adopting to new distribution policies and hopefully people will be raped by cab drivers less often. But as an alternative, Lyft and Uber have morality problems they aren't correcting. It's a problem that's endemic in San Francisco Tech1: We make a shitload of money with a short-term plan and nothing bad will ever happen because our corporate slogan is "nothing bad will ever happen". It's on a plaque in our loft office. Fixing structural problems would mean acknowledging those problems exist, and that's very much against our Brand Guidelines.

If I started an $18 billion restaurant empire, edged out every competing restaurant with lower prices, and told everybody that I didn't to worry about health code violations because my restaurants are "just your friend with a kitchen", I would be fined before going to jail.

Then again, how long did it take for Amazon to finally get forced to process sales tax? Like 15 years?

1: tech in general, but we all know where the problem is the worst.
nigeline

jack chick

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Oh that reminds me that they also hire all of their employees as independent contractors so they can skirt around labor laws that protect other full time employees.

Lemon, it isn't actually that they don't think anything bad will ever happen, it is because our society (and the technology industry in particular) has collectively agreed that the mantra of "It is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission" is an acceptable way to handle things. So thus these companies are able to skirt regulations until such time as they are enforced. I'm firmly of the belief that in cases like this all regulations should be applied retroactively, but that doesn't happen because all hail dystopia! :D

I do recall there were some lawsuits about the business pitch early on, but nothing stuck as far as I remember.

jack chick

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HAHAHAHA so my apologies for my incomplete piece above, see I hadn't actually read the news today

Apparently Uber decided to randomly track people's information and display it at parties, then used it to stalk journalists.

meanwhile this opinion piece came out over the debacle. BTW you should all read the apology by the CEO because holy shit what a lack of understanding what the issue was

5/ We should tell the stories of progress and appeal to people’s hearts and minds

I agree, your PR should be better than comic evilness.

nigeline

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HAHAHAHA so my apologies for my incomplete piece above, see I hadn't actually read the news today

Apparently Uber decided to randomly track people's information and display it at parties, then used it to stalk journalists.

meanwhile this opinion piece came out over the debacle. BTW you should all read the apology by the CEO because holy shit what a lack of understanding what the issue was

5/ We should tell the stories of progress and appeal to people’s hearts and minds

I agree, your PR should be better than comic evilness.
some metal dude, November 20, 2014, 01:43:49 am
Basically all of Uber's statemnts boil down to "women, amirite guys?"*.

*or "girly-men" or "pussies" or "big gubment", depending on who's demanding of their precious time

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What a perfect example of how the line between "San Francisco Tech culture" and "literal sociopathy" is razor-thin.

jack chick

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Now I know that I've been pretty one-sided in my reporting of this issue.

Have a look at the other side of the coin!

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Now I know that I've been pretty one-sided in my reporting of this issue.

Have a look at the other side of the coin!
some metal dude, November 21, 2014, 11:31:27 am

Two things stand out to me here as potentially significant:
So where the tech industry has to grow up, the tech press has to earn its keep. There are plenty of stories that never get covered. Why is Chrome such a buggy slow browser? Maybe the web would do better if someone in tech loved it. Why will Google go to such lengths to smear a blogger (me) who reports on it?
and
How would you feel if an editorial series blasted you for being an "asshole," literally -- that's the word they used to describe Uber management. Not just in passing, as the key idea in a campaign. If we want the industry to grow up, the press has to grow up too.

Anyone can say anything, and should, but you still have to be nice about it. ugh.