Uber for X

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pages: 371 words: 108,317

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

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3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, bank run, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, cloud computing, computer age, connected car, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Freestyle chess, game design, Google Glasses, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, linked data, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, placebo effect, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, social web, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, transport as a service, two-sided market, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Review

Relying on Uber (or its competitors, like Lyft) is a no-brainer. While Uber is well known, the same on-demand “access” model is disrupting dozens of other industries, one after another. In the past few years thousands of entrepreneurs seeking funding have pitched venture capitalists for an “Uber for X,” where X is any business where customers still have to wait. Examples of X include: three different Uber for flowers (Florist Now, ProFlowers, BloomThat), three Uber for laundry, two Uber for lawn mowing (Mowdo, Lawnly), an Uber for tech support (Geekatoo), an Uber for doctor house calls, and three Uber for legal marijuana delivery (Eaze, Canary, Meadow), plus a hundred more. The promise to customers is that you don’t need a lawn mower or washing machine or to pick up flowers, because someone else will do that for you—on your command, at your convenience, in real time—at a price you can’t refuse.

“Software eats everything”: Marc Andreessen, “Why Software Is Eating the World,” Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2011. Toffler called in 1980 the “prosumer”: Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave (New York: Bantam, 1984). subscribe to Photoshop: “Subscription Products Boost Adobe Fiscal 2Q Results,” Associated Press, June 16, 2015. Uber for laundry: Jessica Pressler, “‘Let’s, Like, Demolish Laundry,’” New York, May 21, 2014. Uber for doctor house calls: Jennifer Jolly, “An Uber for Doctor House Calls,” New York Times, May 5, 2015. sizable bag rental business: Emily Hamlin Smith, “Where to Rent Designer Handbags, Clothes, Accessories and More,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 12, 2012. phone app, such as M-Pesa: Murithi Mutiga, “Kenya’s Banking Revolution Lights a Fire,” New York Times, January 20, 2014.

The promise to customers is that you don’t need a lawn mower or washing machine or to pick up flowers, because someone else will do that for you—on your command, at your convenience, in real time—at a price you can’t refuse. The Uber-like companies can promise this because, instead of owning a building full of employees, they own some software. All the work is outsourced and performed by freelancers (prosumers) ready to work. The job for Uber for X is to coordinate this decentralized work and make it happen in real time. Even Amazon has gotten into the business of matching pros with joes who need home services (Amazon Home Services), from cleaning or setting up equipment to access to goat grazing for lawns. One reason so much money is flowing into the service frontier is that there are so many more ways to be a service than to be a product. The number of different ways to recast transportation as a service is almost unlimited. Uber is merely one variation.


pages: 265 words: 69,310

What's Yours Is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy by Tom Slee

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4chan, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bitcoin, blockchain, citizen journalism, collaborative consumption, congestion charging, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, David Brooks, don't be evil, gig economy, Hacker Ethic, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Khan Academy, Kibera, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Occupy movement, openstreetmap, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, software is eating the world, South of Market, San Francisco, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas L Friedman, transportation-network company, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, ultimatum game, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, Zipcar

“The Sound of Silence in Online Feedback: Estimating Trading Risks in the Presence of Reporting Bias” 54, no. 3 (2008): 460–76. Dempsey, Paul Stephen. “Taxi Industry Regulation, Deregulation, and Reregulation: The Paradox of Market Failure.” University of Denver College of Law, Transportation Law Journal 24, no. 1 (1996): 73–120. DePillis, Lydia. “At the Uber for Home Cleaning, Workers Pay a Price for Convenience,” September 10, 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/09/10/at-the-uber-for-home-cleaning-workers-pay-a-price-for-convenience/. D’Onfro, Jillian. “Uber CEO Founded The Company Because He Wanted To Be A ‘Baller In San Francisco.’” Business Insider. Accessed May 22, 2015. http://www .businessinsider.com/why-travis-kalanick-founded-uber-2013-11. Donovan, Kevin. “Seeing Like a Slum: Towards Open, Deliberative Development.”

One of the most multifaceted and careful is an account by Philadelphia journalist Emily Guendelsberger of her time as an Uber driver.58 After meticulously tracking her own expenses and those of other drivers who shared them with her, she made about $17 per hour gross, and after Uber’s 28% cut and the 19% that went to expenses she ended up with just $9.34 an hour. Uber is not going to end the era of poorly paid cab drivers any time soon. If the pay is really so poor, why do so many people drive for Uber? For those who have a car, driving for Uber is a way of converting that capital into cash; some underestimate the costs involved with full-time driving; for some the flexibility is a boon; for many, driving for Uber offers what taxi driving has offered for years—a job that requires little skill and has a low cost of entry is better than nothing. And as Uber has cut into the demand for taxis in many cities, individual taxi driver income has fallen, leaving Uber as the best alternative.

The companies’ responses to these events is always to emphasize their rarity, but rare events can change a practice for good. Rates of hitchhiking in the UK, for example, plummeted in the 1990s in the wake of two ­highly-publicized murders, even though the danger to any individual hitchhiker remained very low.23 When an Indian woman sued Uber in India after being raped by her driver, the city of Delhi banned Uber for failing to carry out adequate driver checks. Terrible things happen to people in hotel rooms and taxis too, but there is a mechanism to hold hotels and taxi companies responsible for these events, and that mechanism provides a lever that can improve safety over time. Sharing Economy platforms retreat behind the language of their terms of service agreements to claim that they have no legal responsibility for the events.


pages: 375 words: 88,306

The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism by Arun Sundararajan

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, call centre, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, corporate social responsibility, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, distributed ledger, employer provided health coverage, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, housing crisis, Howard Rheingold, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, job automation, job-hopping, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Lyft, megacity, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transportation-network company, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, universal basic income, Zipcar

Today’s sharing platforms facilitate sharing among people who do not know each other and who do not have friends or connections in common.” http://www.greattransition.org/publication/debating-the-sharing-economy. 13. See, for example, Zimmer’s participation in the “Wheels of Change” panel at the 2014 CityLab conference at http://bcove.me/1i8kqj02. 14. http://www.fastcompany.com/3038635/my-week-with-alfred-a-25-personal-butler. 15. Geoffrey A. Fowler, “There’s an Uber for Everything Now,” May 5, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/theres-an-uber-for-everything-now-1430845789. 16. See TrustMan at http://www.betrustman.com. In the summer of 2015, Mazzella and I, along with others including NYU’s Mareike Moehlmann, started collaborating on an academic study of why people trust each other on the BlaBlaCar platform. None of our findings are available as this book goes to press, but many will be released in 2016. 17.

A high point of the visit was the opportunity I got to try on a Lyft employee’s Halloween costume. He had dressed up as a Lyft car, using a skillfully constructed cardboard contraption. Three years later, Lyft had raised over a billion dollars in venture capital (including $100 million from the legendary investor Carl Icahn) and was in 60 cities around the United States. Although often in the news because of the bruising battles it has waged with Uber for market share, Lyft projects a decidedly kinder and gentler feel than their larger competitor, even as they have graduated from the giant pink mustaches to a more subtle branding strategy. Their co-founder and president John Zimmer, with whom I have had many fascinating conversations over the years, has famously said that he doesn’t see Lyft as competing with Uber, but rather, as competing with “people driving alone.”13 “For me, personally, it was my interest in hospitality,” Zimmer told me, when I asked him about his motivation for starting Lyft.

(Of course, unlike the original Alfred, as noted by journalist Sarah Kessler in her delightful 2014 article about the challenges of making one’s apartment butler-worthy, this modern-day platform based version is “a butler that doesn’t have to live in your home.”14) And Alfred is just the tip of the on-demand personal service iceberg. In a May 2015 Wall Street Journal article titled “There’s an Uber for Everything,” Geoffrey Fowler describes a subset of the dizzying array of new and narrow personal services, starting with his favorite, Luxe: A marvel of the logistics only possible in a smartphone world, Luxe uses GPS to offer a personal parking valet. It’s magical. When you first get in your car, you open the Luxe app to tell it where you’re going. Then Luxe tracks your phone as you make your way, so that one of its valets meets you at your destination just in the nick of time.


pages: 421 words: 110,406

Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy--And How to Make Them Work for You by Sangeet Paul Choudary, Marshall W. van Alstyne, Geoffrey G. Parker

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3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Andrei Shleifer, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, buy low sell high, chief data officer, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, data is the new oil, discounted cash flows, disintermediation, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial innovation, Haber-Bosch Process, High speed trading, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, market design, multi-sided market, Network effects, new economy, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pre–internet, price mechanism, recommendation engine, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Coase, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, the payments system, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, winner-take-all economy, Zipcar

If one side becomes disproportionally large, coupons or discounting to attract more participants to the other side becomes good business. In some cases, the growth of a platform can be facilitated by an effect we call side switching. This occurs when users of one side of the platform join the opposite side—for example, when those who consume goods or services begin to produce goods and services for others to consume. On some platforms, users engage in side switching easily and repeatedly. Uber, for example, recruits new drivers from among its rider pool, just as Airbnb recruits new hosts from among its guest pool. A scalable business model, frictionless entry, and side switching all serve to lubricate network effects. NEGATIVE NETWORK EFFECTS: THEIR CAUSE AND CURE So far, we’ve been focusing on positive network effects. But the very qualities that lead platform networks to grow so quickly may also lead them to fail quickly.

This led to complaints from both producers and consumers. Facebook’s enormous network effects enabled it to survive this course correction, but for many lesser platforms it might have been fatal. • Instead, when transitioning from free to fee, strive to create new, additional value that justifies the charge. Of course, you must ensure that, if you charge for enhanced quality, you control for it and guarantee it. Critics have assailed Uber for charging a Safe Rides fee to pay for drivers’ background checks and other safety measures while apparently cutting corners on those same steps. • Consider potential monetization strategies when making your initial platform design choices. From the time of launch, a platform should be architected in a manner that affords it control over possible sources of monetization. This directly impacts how open or closed the platform is.

Perhaps equally significant, the reputation of online labor platforms has already taken a serious hit in the unofficial “court of public opinion”—as reflected, for example, in more than a million Google results, many from respectable mainstream media outlets, in response to the query “Internet sweatshop.”46 In the long run, public disapproval of business behavior can have a meaningful impact on the value of a company’s brand—which means that the court of public opinion operates, at times, as an unofficial regulatory body that business leaders are wise to heed. Similarly, there are limits to the extent to which labor platforms will be able to evade responsibility for their practices in hiring, screening, training, and supervising workers—even when those workers are technically classified as independent contractors. Uber, for example, has experienced significant criticism for alleged sexual assaults committed by its drivers on passengers.47 At a time when Uber is engaged in a fierce battle over regulation with the traditional taxi industry, it can ill afford the suspicion that its labor practices are shoddy. On a very different front, the emergence of online labor platforms is creating new challenges for regulators tasked with monitoring and measuring the national and local labor markets.


pages: 302 words: 73,581

Platform Scale: How an Emerging Business Model Helps Startups Build Large Empires With Minimum Investment by Sangeet Paul Choudary

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3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, Clayton Christensen, collaborative economy, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, frictionless, game design, hive mind, Internet of things, invisible hand, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, multi-sided market, Network effects, new economy, Paul Graham, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, social software, software as a service, software is eating the world, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, TaskRabbit, the payments system, too big to fail, transport as a service, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, Wave and Pay

(Note: The platform may act as the producer in some cases, but most platforms will allow for external production in some way or other.) These are the two fundamental shifts that we need to be aware of when designing platforms. Against that context, platform design should follow the following principles. 1. Start With The Core Value Unit The design of all platforms should start with the core value unit. (see Figure 8a) Start with the unit. When designing Twitter for X, look at what the tweet for X looks like. When building Uber for Y, focus on the equivalent of the ride. What is the unit of supply on the new platform? What will it take for the platform to encourage its repeated and regular production? Start with the core value unit – and build out from there. 2. Build The Core Interaction Around The Core Value Unit In the case of pipes, one starts with the unit and then moves on to designing the process of production and distribution.

The canvas should first be laid out for the core interaction and subsequently for all edge interactions. Leveraging the 15 questions above, platform builders can design and architect a platform business centered around an interaction. For a platform with multiple interactions, the same process is repeated for the edge interactions after the core interaction has been designed. 2.9 EMERGENCE The Philosophy Of Building Airbnb For X, Uber For Y, Or Twitter For Z Moodswing started as a platform allowing users to express their moods. Its founder called it “Twitter for moods.” It went nowhere for some time, until it found traction among a group of users who started using it to express depression and insecurity. The founder realized that the platform needed to move in a different direction and layered an edge interaction: allowing users to connect to psychology students and practitioners for help.

Airbnb and Uber fight employee-driven organizations with ecosystems. Apple and Android created ecosystems of developers around their respective platforms to disrupt an entire industry. Increasingly numbers of companies are turning to crowdsourcing to solve problems that they traditionally solved in-house. The user-employee distinction is probably least stark in the case of a host of labor platforms that try to be Uber for X. Platforms like Homejoy, MyClean, and SpoonRocket create ecosystems of contract workers who might as well be employees. While some of these platforms are still negotiating the regulatory structures governing these new business models, many others have already demonstrated the power of producer ecosystems to drive value creation in a networked age. INTERACTION REPEATABILITY AND EFFICIENCY Producers and consumers should be encouraged to participate on the platform in a manner that maximizes the repeatability of the core interaction.


pages: 309 words: 114,984

The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age by Robert Wachter

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, Airbnb, Atul Gawande, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, computer age, crowdsourcing, deskilling, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Firefox, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Google Glasses, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Internet of things, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, medical malpractice, medical residency, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, pets.com, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, the payments system, The Wisdom of Crowds, Toyota Production System, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Yogi Berra

In the “Health 2.0” office near San Francisco’s CalTrain station, a London-born healthcare impresario named Matthew Holt and his staff spend their days analyzing healthcare IT start-ups for a series of publications and conferences that they produce. In the corner of the obligatory whiteboard in the cramped office, I noticed a list of companies under a heading that read, “Uber for Healthcare.” I asked Holt about it. In his charming accent, he said, “We’re running an office pool. To make the list, either a company has to say that they are ‘Uber for Healthcare’ or they have to have the word ‘Uber’ in their title.” On the day I visited, there were 12 companies that qualified, which gave Holt a narrow lead in his office sweepstakes. Notwithstanding the hype and the easy-to-mock sense of cool, one has to admit that hanging around in this ecosystem (another favorite Silicon Valley word) is exhilarating.

The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture From a Journey of 71 Million Miles by Astronaut Ron Garan, Muhammad Yunus

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Airbnb, barriers to entry, book scanning, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, global village, Google Earth, Indoor air pollution, jimmy wales, optical character recognition, ride hailing / ride sharing, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart transportation, Stephen Hawking, transaction costs, Turing test, Uber for X, web of trust

The ISS collaboration was built on the deep personal trust that A W e b o f T r u s tâ•…    153 comes from having meaningful relationships with other team members, but Project X would be based on provisional trust, which emerges only for as long as it’s needed. In both cases, trust leads to the belief that each side will do what they say, provide what they promise, and not take advantage of the other. Provisional trust was not really an option in the early days of the space program, but applications are arising today that make provisional trust possible. Uber, for instance, is a ridesharing platform that pairs drivers of private cars with passengers looking for a ride. Uber can locate a passenger and find the nearest available car. The app also offers information about the driver and details about the car. It certifies that others have ridden in a particular car, that they were safe and comfortable, that they gave the driver a good rating, and that the company has done some level of filtering.


pages: 270 words: 79,180

The Middleman Economy: How Brokers, Agents, Dealers, and Everyday Matchmakers Create Value and Profit by Marina Krakovsky

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Al Roth, Black Swan, buy low sell high, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, experimental economics, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, income inequality, index fund, Jean Tirole, Lean Startup, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market microstructure, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Menlo Park, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Network effects, patent troll, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social graph, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, ultimatum game, Y Combinator

It so happened that the night before I spoke to Chopra, the water heater in my house had broken down, and therefore the repair business was already on my mind. The plumber who had installed our water heater didn’t work evenings, so I had to wait until the next morning to schedule a repair. Then I had to wait several more hours for the technician to arrive. Having to carry a kettle of boiling water to the bath, as if living in the nineteenth century, left me wishing for an “Uber for plumbers.” If no individual plumber gets enough calls in the evening to justify a regular late shift, couldn’t a middleman pool this sporadic demand and match it with the available supply? Indeed, Chopra agreed, this is a business opportunity for a middleman because the high unpredictability of demand enables the intermediary to provide real value. Researchers who study waiting times have a name for this class of problems: they call it “the repairman problem,” whose challenge is to minimize waiting for a repair while minimizing the number of idle repairmen.


pages: 268 words: 74,724

Who Needs the Fed?: What Taylor Swift, Uber, and Robots Tell Us About Money, Credit, and Why We Should Abolish America's Central Bank by John Tamny

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Airbnb, bank run, banks create money, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, Carmen Reinhart, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, NetJets, offshore financial centre, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Uber for X, War on Poverty, yield curve

Kohli borrowed money from the fund, always made her payments on time, and, having built a credit score through the fund, was ultimately able to build a credit rating for herself that made it possible for her to engage in traditional borrowing.5 Moving to the for-profit space, consider Lending Club. It bills itself as “the world’s largest online marketplace connecting borrowers and investors.” Call it Uber for lending. As of this writing, the Club has lent more than $11 billion dollars to individuals and businesses in need of credit. It offers personal loans up to $35,000 and business loans up to $300,000.6 How does it do it? Lending Club rates the individuals and small businesses that come to it for credit and then lends to them at a rate of interest commensurate with their credit history. But as we know well by now, there are no borrowers without savers.

The Economic Singularity: Artificial intelligence and the death of capitalism by Calum Chace

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, call centre, Chris Urmson, congestion charging, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, income inequality, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of the telephone, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, lump of labour, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Milgram experiment, Narrative Science, natural language processing, new economy, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, post scarcity, post-industrial society, precariat, prediction markets, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Rodney Brooks, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, working-age population, Y Combinator, young professional

Markoff grew up in Silicon Valley and began writing about the internet in the 1970s. He fears that the spirit of innovation and enterprise has gone out of the place, and bemoans the absence of technologists or entrepreneurs today with the stature of past greats like Doug Engelbart (inventor of the computer mouse and much more), Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. He argues that today’s entrepreneurs are mere copycats, trying to peddle the next “Uber for X”. He admits that the pace of technological development might pick up again, perhaps thanks to research into meta-materials, whose structure absorbs, bends or enhances electromagnetic waves in exotic ways. He is dismissive of artificial intelligence because it has not yet produced a conscious mind, but he thinks that augmented reality might turn out to be a new platform for innovation, just as the smartphone did a decade ago.


pages: 361 words: 81,068

The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen

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3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, computer age, connected car, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, frictionless, full employment, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Hacker Ethic, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, index card, informal economy, information trail, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, libertarian paternalism, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Potemkin village, precariat, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, smart cities, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Y Combinator

In France, opposition to the networked transportation startup has been so intense that, in early 2014, there were driver strikes and even a series of violent attacks on Uber cars in Paris.7 While in September 2014, a Frankfurt court banned Uber’s budget price UberPop product entirely from the German market, claiming that the massively financed startup unfairly competed with local taxi companies.8 Uber drivers don’t seem to like Kalanick’s anti-union company any more than regulators do. In August 2013, Uber drivers sued the company for failing to remit tips and in September 2014 around a thousand Uber drivers in New York City organized a strike against the company’s unfair working conditions. “There’s no union. There’s no community of drivers,” one sixty-five-year-old driver who has been working for Uber for two years complained to the New York Times in 2014. “And the only people getting rich are the investors and executives.”9 The fabulously wealthy Silicon Valley investors, who will ride the startup till its inevitable IPO, love Uber, of course. “Uber is software [that] eats taxis. . . . It’s a killer experience,” you’ll remember Marc Andreessen enthused.10 Tragically, that’s all too true. On New Year’s Eve 2013, an Uber driver accidentally ran over and killed a six-year-old girl on the streets of San Francisco.


pages: 323 words: 90,868

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-First Century by Ryan Avent

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3D printing, Airbnb, American energy revolution, autonomous vehicles, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, global value chain, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, means of production, new economy, performance metric, pets.com, price mechanism, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, software is eating the world, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, very high income, working-age population

Rooms full of secretarial and clerical workers typed and filed reports, managed the flow of memos around the business, and handled the calculations needed to track operations and keep the books. Much of this work was cognitive in nature – totting up sums, for instance – but highly routinized. The big macro process – running a global business – required lots of modestly skilled workers doing simple tasks. There is precious little of that sort of work being created today. The digital revolution has its echoes of the old model, mind you. Uber, for instance, is a rough analogue. Traditional cab drivers are more like members of old craft guilds than you might initially think. Their jobs are protected by law and regulation (such as the medallions one needs to operate a New York City yellow cab) and special expertise that until recently had real value (like ‘the knowledge’ of London’s tangled street grid one must obtain before operating a black cab).


pages: 345 words: 92,849

Equal Is Unfair: America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality by Don Watkins, Yaron Brook

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3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple II, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blue-collar work, business process, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Brooks, deskilling, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, financial deregulation, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Naomi Klein, new economy, obamacare, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Uber for X, urban renewal, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor

But we don’t see widespread innovation in every society or in every historical era. Instead, we see it only in places that value innovation and that protect the process of innovation. In many societies, innovation is seen as a threat to the established order, and these societies often use political power to stifle and suppress such advances, the way the taxi industry is attempting to use the government to stop Uber. For innovation to flourish, individuals need (1) the freedom to challenge old ideas and adopt new ones, (2) the freedom to put new ideas into practice, (3) the freedom of others in society to adopt or reject the innovator’s ideas, and (4) the freedom of the innovator to profit from successful innovations. This is what political equality protects, above all by guaranteeing to every individual freedom of thought and speech, freedom of contract, and private property rights (including intellectual property rights).


pages: 383 words: 81,118

Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms by David S. Evans, Richard Schmalensee

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Airbnb, big-box store, business process, cashless society, Deng Xiaoping, if you build it, they will come, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Jean Tirole, Lyft, M-Pesa, market friction, market microstructure, mobile money, multi-sided market, Network effects, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, ride hailing / ride sharing, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, Victor Gruen, winner-take-all economy

These information technologies and the foundational platforms they power have turbocharged the ancient matchmaker model. The Six Turbocharging Technologies Six new and rapidly improving technologies have driven matchmaker innovation by reducing the cost, increasing the speed, and expanding the scope of connections between platform sides.6 More Powerful Chips It required a lot of computer power for Evans to use his phone to ask Uber for a ride, for Uber almost instantly to figure out how to match up all the drivers and passengers who were looking for rides around the same time in Brussels, and to point Marc, the driver, to Evans, the passenger. Since the mid-1950s, computer processing has been based on transistors, which have become much smaller over time. That has made it possible to pack more transistors closer together on a single chip, which in turn has increased the speed at which chips can execute instructions.


pages: 366 words: 94,209

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity by Douglas Rushkoff

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3D printing, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, business process, buy low sell high, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, centralized clearinghouse, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate personhood, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, Firefox, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global village, Google bus, Howard Rheingold, IBM and the Holocaust, impulse control, income inequality, index fund, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, loss aversion, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, medical bankruptcy, minimum viable product, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, passive investing, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social graph, software patent, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, trade route, transportation-network company, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, unpaid internship, Y Combinator, young professional, Zipcar

A taxi medallion, required by law, can cost several hundred thousand dollars alone. So does a hotel license. These costs and regulations were not implemented out of spite but in order to maintain fair pricing, adequate supply, and a minimum quality of service. How can a cabbie make mandatory loan and insurance payments and compete on price against an out-of-work actor with a car, a smartphone, and a few hours to kill? Uber, for one, well knows this. One of the company’s e-mail campaigns proclaims that Uber prices are “now cheaper than a New York City taxi”—for a limited time only. It’s as if the company is giving fair warning that its predatory pricing strategy is just a temporary measure designed to put regular yellow cabs out of business, the same way Walmart undercuts local retailers. This isn’t simply a case of technology doing something better and cheaper.


pages: 340 words: 92,904

Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars by Samuel I. Schwartz

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2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, autonomous vehicles, car-free, City Beautiful movement, collaborative consumption, congestion charging, crowdsourcing, desegregation, Enrique Peñalosa, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, if you build it, they will come, intermodal, invention of the wheel, lake wobegon effect, Loma Prieta earthquake, Lyft, Masdar, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Nate Silver, oil shock, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, skinny streets, smart cities, smart grid, smart transportation, the built environment, the map is not the territory, transportation-network company, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, walkable city, Wall-E, white flight, Works Progress Administration, Yogi Berra, Zipcar

In them, giant oceans of information about schedules, prices, and routes are easily navigated by just about everyone. It’s not that smart cities are filled with nothing but smart people (though it may be that they’re the first to realize the advantages of living in them). It’s that you don’t have to be a genius to get the most out of smart buses, smart streetcars, smart sidewalks, and, of course, smart streets. In August of 2014, I used the car service known as Uber for the first time. I had been at the annual Sam Schwartz Engineering Coney Island Afternoon, which gives folks in our New York office the chance to blow off some steam riding the (very scary) Cyclone wooden roller coaster, which has been terrifying riders since 1927; to take the swinging car on the Wonder Wheel; and even to experience the thrill of being shot into the air from gigantic slingshots, which is where I, at least, draw the line.


pages: 588 words: 131,025

The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands by Eric Topol

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23andMe, 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Anne Wojcicki, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, bioinformatics, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, computer vision, conceptual framework, connected car, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data acquisition, disintermediation, don't be evil, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Firefox, global village, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, Snapchat, social graph, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing test, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

Overall, the cost for a video visit for most of these services is about $40, lasting from fifteen to twenty minutes. That is noteworthy, since a co-payment to see a doctor physically costs about the same. But there is 24/7 availability, wait time is zero, and it’s as simple as tapping your smartphone to get connected with a physician.51,84a In some ways it can be likened to Uber as we get used to on-demand service via our smartphones. Indeed, two companies have now launched the real equivalent to Uber for medical house calls. In select cities, Medicast and Pager offer doctors on demand on a 24/7 basis. It’s just like summoning a car via Uber or Lyft, but instead of seeing information about the driver and car on your smartphone screen, you see the doctor’s picture, his or her profile, and the length of time it will take him or her to be at your house. It’s no surprise that these companies are so similar to Uber—Pager was started by one of Uber’s co-founders.84b There has also been the emergence of health visit kiosks.


pages: 424 words: 115,035

How Will Capitalism End? by Wolfgang Streeck

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, Clayton Christensen, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, failed state, financial deregulation, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, full employment, Gini coefficient, global reserve currency, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, income inequality, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, late capitalism, market bubble, means of production, moral hazard, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, open borders, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, post-industrial society, private sector deleveraging, profit maximization, profit motive, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, savings glut, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, sovereign wealth fund, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Uber for X, upwardly mobile, winner-take-all economy, Wolfgang Streeck

As post-war national labour regimes, established after intense political struggles to protect workers and their families from market pressures, are being subverted by international competition, labour markets in leading capitalist countries are changing to precarious employment, zero hours jobs, freelancing and standby work, not just in small local but also and often in large global firms. An extreme case in point is Uber, a giant of the so-called ‘sharing economy’, which with the help of new communication technologies functions almost entirely without a workforce of its own. In the United States alone, more than 160,000 people depend on Uber for their livelihood, only 4,000 of whom are regular employees.37 For the rest, employment risks are being privatized and individualized, and life and work become inseparably fused. At the same time, labour-aristocratic middle-class families, striving to meet ever more demanding career and consumption obligations, depend on an underpaid labour force of domestic servants, in particular childminders, who typically are immigrants, mostly female.


pages: 527 words: 147,690

Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection by Jacob Silverman

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23andMe, 4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, Brian Krebs, California gold rush, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Edward Snowden, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, game design, global village, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, license plate recognition, life extension, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Minecraft, move fast and break things, national security letter, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, payday loans, Peter Thiel, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, pre–internet, price discrimination, price stability, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent control, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, social graph, social web, sorting algorithm, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, telemarketer, transportation-network company, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, universal basic income, unpaid internship, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Zipcar

Usually the sharing economy is just a way for companies to outsource labor and risk to individual consumers, who take on part of the traditional responsibilities of a company while getting a fraction of the services. The company acts essentially as a search engine or aggregator, bringing the parties together, contributing little, bearing the least amount of risk of anyone involved, and pocketing a nice fee. Uber, for instance, takes about 20 percent of each fare from UberX, its popular, low-budget offering, along with a $1 safety fee. As with online labor markets, the app serves as the ultimate mediator. No one ever has to meet, which is by design. As one TaskRabbit worker remarked: “That’s part of the strategy of TaskRabbit—to keep us apart from one another. We can’t message each other on the Web site. The only way you get to meet another TaskRabbit is if you post a task, and I think they do this to keep us apart because they don’t want us fixing the process.