There was news Tuesday about Uber, everyone’s favourite labour law arbitrage business. Via the FT:
As expected, the Uber spin machine has gone into overdrive. Head honcho Dara Khosrowshahi had an op-ed published in the London daily The Evening Standard, in which he boasted of becoming “a better partner” for cities the business serves, and that he hoped its competitors “who are engaged in their own legal battles, will rethink their approach and join us in taking this step”. A step, of course, it fought tooth and nail against in the UK courts for five years.
Almost everyone knows what FT Alphaville thinks about Uber. Ever since Izzy started covering the company in the mid-2010s we’ve been sceptics of not just its economics, but its wider impact on society — from traffic, to labour law, to the behaviour of its (former) senior employees.
But its worth reiterating this point again. After nearly 12 years in business, Uber is still struggling to fulfil its most basic role: making a profit. We’re not one to bang the drum for pure unadulterated shareholder capitalism, but there has to be a point at which everyone looks at Uber’s losses ($6.8bn in 2020), and similar numbers from its competitors, and thinks: “Was it all worth it?”