Uber’s Algorithmic Monopoly: “We are not setting the price. The market is setting the price. We have algorithms to determine what that market is.”
That’s a remarkable quote from the CEO of Uber.
Uber of course is a cab service that lets you order a cab from your smartphone via an App. It’s really neat, you get to watch the cab approach on a map, the payment is automatically applied so you don’t have to even deal with the transaction itself. The company is now taking its approach to logistics, and moving to ‘disrupt’ the delivery industry as well, competing with courier services, UPS, Fedex, and the Post Office. It’ll be interesting to see what happens there.
Fantastic analysis. I believe that Uber drivers will ultimately be classified as contractors to Uber––as opposed to employees of the company or contractors hired by the passenger––and that Uber will be help liable for what happens inside its cabs.
Uber is a great service, but it is not marketplace.
VCs aren’t unintelligent. Nor are VCs evil (not all of them anyway). They’re not even necessarily misaligned with you. What they are doing is optimizing for a very specific outcome.
Share that alignment, or don’t take their money.”
“There is no place with more experienced mentors than Silicon Valley.”
He started spending one-on-one meetings talking to his reports about their lives, instead of their tasks, and productivity shot through the roof. “When you sit across a table from someone, ask them ‘What’s going on in your life?’ That will always remove more hurdles than asking them ‘What’s blocking you at work?’” he said. He started taking his reports out to lunch, to drinks, to coffee to see what was up. How was their wife settling into her new job? Did escrow close on their new house? This is the stuff that people bring into work with them but never talk about, Stirman says. As soon as you ask, the pressure starts to dissipate.
This more human approach starting paying off in other, less expected ways too. “I’d hear that someone on my team had a problem with someone on another team that brought everything to a standstill – just because they didn’t like each other. I thought, what if I just got them in a room together and we all talked about everything except the problem at hand? When we did, we got some casual conversation going, they discovered some similarities, and by the end of the hour they were talking about how to solve their issues. This was a conflict that literally kept me up at night, and as soon as there was space for them to connect as people, it was fixed.”
Sad but true.
Without Oakland, Pandora founder Tim Westergren doubts his company would have survived.
The Internet radio startup left San Francisco at the apex of the dot-com boom and when times were lean in Oakland, his landlord let Westergren pay what he could afford.
"We might have been out of business by 2003 or 2004 if we had to stay in San Francisco," said Westergren.”
It’s been done before, sorry.
It’s never been done before, too risky.
It’s too obvious.
It’s too obscure.
It’s too easy, everyone can do it.
It’s too hard to launch, it’ll never work.
Too indy, why can’t you get backers?
Too mainstream, the man has polluted you, you sold out.
It’s never been practiced, you’ll do it wrong.
You’ve practiced it too much, it can’t possibly be fresh.
Not here, this city/market/audience is too jaded.
Not here, this city/market/audience is untested.
The market has peaked, nothing goes up forever.
The market is dead, it’ll never catch on…
Most bestsellers are surprise bestsellers, because there’s no sure thing, at least not where we want to look for it.
Japan is facing such swift demographic collapse, Eberstadt’s essay suggests, because its culture combines liberalism and traditionalism in particularly disastrous ways. On the one hand, the old sexual culture, oriented around arranged marriage and family obligation, has largely collapsed. Japan is one of the world’s least religious nations, the marriage rate has plunged and the divorce rate is higher than in Northern Europe.
Yet the traditional stigma around out-of-wedlock childbearing endures, which means that unmarried Japanese are more likely to embrace “voluntary childlessness” than the unwed parenting that’s becoming an American norm. And the traditional Japanese suspicion of immigration (another possible source for demographic vitality) has endured into the 21st century as well. Eberstadt notes that “in 2009 Japan naturalized barely a third as many new citizens as Switzerland, a country with a population only 6 percent the size of Japan’s and a reputation of its own for standoffishness.”
These trends are forging a society that sometimes evokes the infertile Britain in James’s dystopia. Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the developed world, and there were rashes of Internet-enabled group suicides in the last decade. Rental “relatives” are available for sparsely attended wedding parties; so-called “babyloids” — furry dolls that mimic infant sounds — are being developed for lonely seniors; and Japanese researchers are at the forefront of efforts to build robots that resemble human babies. The younger generation includes millions of so-called “parasite singles” who still live with (and off) their parents, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of the “hikikomori” — “young adults,” Eberstadt writes, “who shut themselves off almost entirely by retreating into a friendless life of video games, the Internet and manga (comics) in their parents’ home.”
If there’s any reason for real optimism in this picture, it’s for Americans, rather than for Japanese. Twenty years ago, when declinists predicted that the United States would soon cede global leadership to Japan, they cited the same domestic trends that pessimists (this columnist included) often cite today: our unsustainable deficits and our fraying social fabric, our decadent culture and our uncompetitive economy.
These problems are still with us, and some of them are worse than ever. But they haven’t left us in anything like the plight the Japanese are facing. Our family structures are weakening, but high out-of-wedlock birthrates may be preferable to no births at all. We assimilate immigrants more slowly than we should, but at least we’re capable of assimilation. American religion can be shallow, narcissistic and divisive, but our religious institutions still supply solidarity and uplift as well. Our economy is weak and our deficits are large, but at least we aren’t asking the next generation to bear the kinds of burdens that today’s under-30 Japanese will someday have to shoulder.
There is one modern world, but every civilization takes a different route through it. For all our problems, 21st-century Americans should be thankful that we aren’t headed toward the same sunset as Japan.
Q: What is it like to be a Startup Founder?
A: You’ll actually really understand a business, a company, a category, as a whole, how it all really works — probably for the first time in your life. Whatever you did before, as an individual contributor, or a manager — you only understood a slice. Now, you’ll understand how your space and company works at every single level, in every way, how it all really comes together. This will give you holistic insights forever that non-founders can never understand.”