By Don McCurdy




That was fast.

Uber and Waymo are reported to have reached a settlement on their “trade secret” lawsuit regarding Uber’s alleged theft of Waymo’s self-driving car technology.

The main gist of the four days of the trial is that former CEO Travis Kalanick was a bad boy. The lawsuit is credited, indirectly, with leading to the exposure of some other accusations against Uber, up to and including bribing “foreign” officials.

What do you suppose a company from San Francisco considers “foreign” officials? Besides, we don’t use crass words like “bribe” here in the US, we prefer more dignified terms like “campaign contributions” or, perhaps, “good government investments.”

Regardless of what occurred in the past, Uber’s self-driving car division has suffered a setback, as has their reputation, at least according to the article. Anyone who has been observing the Uber phenomenon can’t be congratulating Uber for their
sterling reputation.

Former CEO Kalanick might be some kind of software genius, but he didn’t impress as a potential business school ethics professor. There is no doubt that Kalanick will be widely remembered in the taxicab industry, his startup is all but putting it under.


Hanging in!

While most of the charges against Uber in Boston are reported to have beeen thrown out, there remains a pesky “unfair competition” claim that is still being litigated.

Uber’s lot has been improved since the state has passed legislation governing transportation network companies, however, the law didn’t exist when Uber burst upon the scene. I don’t know what it would take to settle the case, so let’s see if our new nice guy CEO wants to get this off his plate. You never know how juries are going to go.


Reality? What reality.

Reports are that New York City is counting on medallion sales for 1.2 billion dollars of the city’s budget. This kind of makes me wonder if I missed New York legalizing recreational LSD?

Budgets, to politicians, appear to be just numbers on papers. Perhaps, the mayor might peruse the website and check the latest prices for their medallions.

Now prices vary, depending on if you want financing, but they appear to be selling for around $300 thousand. At that price the city would need to sell around 4,000 medallions to cover the 1.2 billion they’re forecasting. Instead, the de Dreamer administration is going to hope for a price of $728 thousand each even though their last sale of medallions sold for $186 thousand each.

Uh, gee guys, that seems to be a big old boatload of wishful thinking. We generally use other terms here in Texas, but New York is much more civilized.

The best part of the article was a quote attributed to Thomas DiNapoli, the New York State Comptroller, “there is a risk that the expected price will not be realized.”

I’m not sure that you could have phrased that more diplomatically. Them boys sure are civilized.


Believe it or not.

Uber is reported to have a failsafe group that locks down the computers of remote locations that are being raided by the police. The article discussed a raid in Quebec in which the company’s computers were remotely locked by changing passwords and encrypting files.

The shtick was a special telephone number dialed to the home office if you get raided. The home office would log in and make some changes. The program is reported to have been used two dozen times and came to be known as Ripley from the Alien movies.

The entire idea made me wonder if these boys don’t fall under some RICO statute or other. What is it again, racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations? It would seem to me that a organization that utilized such a scenario on any kind of regular basis might just fit into the category of a corrupt organization.

Now, I’m certainly not some bigwig at an international conglomerate so I don’t know. Do legit companies have procedures for when they get raided by the police?


What a great law!

Reports out of California are that Uber has settled a lawsuit claiming labor code violations. The settlement is $7.75 million which is reported to net each of the 1.6 million drivers $1.08.

Under the Private Attorneys General Act the state gets to keep 75 percent of the settlement. You can’t get enough good government.

Ethics, government and taxicabs.

I recently read an opinion column pondering the question, “is there an ethical shared ride company?” Well, the short answer is no. What? Let’s face it, Uber, et al, are taxicab companies without the oppressive governmental regulations. It’s pretty much that simple.

The column goes on to list some of Uber’s grosser offenses and how other companies are donating money to the ACLU to prove how worthy they are. Sorry, that’s pretty unimpressive.

There are people who believe the ACLU to be a bunch of bullies who seek to force their progressive thinking on the rest of us. But I digress. What would it take for a “shared ride” service to be ethical? Well, for me it would be to play by the rules that other ground transportation companies have to play by. Yes, that ship has sailed.

Uber’s kick down the door style of market entry has initiated a wide variety of state laws to allow their operation where cities in those states wouldn’t knuckle under. Operating under those laws associates you with the company that kicked down the door.

While I believe that Uber has been a good start to the dismantling of the fascist taxicab regulations it is just a start. Their unwillingness to properly research their driver’s backgrounds and the defense of their misbehaving drivers, as previously noted in this column, has them falling into the same trap the taxicab industry has fallen into. What trap might that be? Where your money comes from.

There is a mistaken belief by some taxicab companies that the driver is where their money comes from. No doubt the driver is an integral part of the system, but the money originates with the passenger.

The passenger is in need of a service. The quality and safety of that service is without question an important part of the equation. Allowing drivers to abandon customers after a superficial attempt to load is not an indicator of good customer care.

I’ve used Uber’s service. Like taxicab service, it varies by the quality of the driver. Unlike most travelers I am keenly aware of the subtle positives and negatives of a decent trip, but hey, some people like sitar music.

Yes, they use GPS and are very often faster. Yes, they have less regulation so they are often cheaper, with the exception of surge denuding of your wallet.

Are they more ethical than taxicabs? Hard to get to that. They appear to be brothers of different mothers of the taxicab industry. Sadly, the lack of professionalism and customer service is about the same.


Speaking of professional.

As many of you may know, I was once a driver at a company in Austin, Texas. The company had many professionals and many just passing through.

Of those professionals there was a particular lady, Debbie Taylor, who embodied the entire American Cab adventure. She took the first call at the company in 1985 and worked there ever since.

As a driver from a voice dispatched company, I avoided speaking on the radio to the dispatcher when I started driving at a computer dispatched company. I deemed them uninformed amateurs. Well, Mrs. Taylor was certainly the exception to that rule.

On the rare occasions when the computer system crashed she was always pressed into service, because she had the unique ability to talk and listen at the same time. I, and previous general managers, referred to her as “madam general manager” because she embodied the spirit and history of the company.

Well, she made it up to general manager, after a few football players and schmoozers passed through. She is demanding of a work ethic and was called “the dragon lady” by those who crossed her.

In my not so humble opinion she is the consummate taxicab professional, raised in the industry with a do it now attitude. Well respected by those who worked with and for her.

I’m sure the usual corporate accountant philosophy of “we can get someone cheaper” was a factor in her departure, it always is. Semper Fi Mrs. Taylor, the industry will miss you and they don’t even know it. What the industry needs now is someone to help manage the decline, not promote excellence.


If you have any comments regarding this or any of my articles please feel free to contact me at: - dmc





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