Edit: Okay! Thanks r/IAmA for all your questions, it's now time for us to trudge home. Thank you for having us and we loved answering your questions.

Answering your questions today are senior reporters Shona Ghosh and Sam Shead, who have been following Transport for London’s surprise decision last month not to renew Uber’s license to operate in London. Catch up on all of our Uber coverage at uk.businessinsider.com. You can follow Business Insider UK on reddit, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/iaylqcmp6ssz.jpg

Comments: 41 • Responses: 13  • Date: 

Oax_Mike14 karma

When talking to full-time Uber drivers (in a variety of different countries) the general consensus is that to earn a livable wage you've got to be putting in a minimum of 60 hours per week, if not more.

At what point does Uber cease to be a "technological breakthrough" and start to be more of a workaround to circumvent paying livable wages to its employees?

While taxi fares are certainly well above market rates in many places around the world, Uber seems to have gone the other way...instead of being unfair to consumers they are unfair to workers...What do you think ridesharing and the taxi industry will look like 5-10 years from now? There's no doubt that Uber has caused a disruption but how do you see the wage discrepancy correcting itself over time?

Also: Dude...if you want your AMA to take off you've got to be ready to answer the first dozen questions immediately. As in, immediately, as soon as they come in. In real time. The momentum you get (or don't get) in the first hour is crucial.

businessinsideruk8 karma

That is definitely a common narrative, though there are also Uber drivers who will tell you quite spontaneously they love the extra money and flex. It's more difficult to earn a livable wage if you drive for something like Uber Exec though.

In the UK, there are MPs who already think Uber is effectively flouting regulation and worker rights to make money. I don't see the wage discrepancy correcting itself over time; I suspect politicians will step in to force some level of worker rights. That would probably result in Uber raising its prices and looking more like a traditional minicab company. — Shona

Oax_Mike1 karma

Uber drivers who will tell you quite spontaneously they love the extra money and flex

For sure...it's a great situation for those who drive for extra money on the side, in addition to their regular full-time job.

But I'd still argue that this fact further points to wages being low...in any other industry you wouldn't accept "Yeah, the pay is fine as long as you have another job and this one is extra."

In terms of government intervention...how do you see Uber evolving if they are forced to pay wages more on par with regular taxi cabs? (I fully recognize that if you had the right answer here you'd be working in a C-level position at Uber and not writing about them, haha, but for the sake of conversation...)

businessinsideruk2 karma

Interestingly, they have (briefly) talked about how their model would need to change with government intervention, at least in the UK. It would look much more like existing private taxi operators, with set shifts (as opposed to the current model where drivers can log in and accept rides at any time) and salaries.

It would also cost them millions of pounds in additional costs though at no point did they say this would force them out of business.

So, I could see a more restricted, more expensive Uber in the not too distant future. It depends on whether new legislation gets passed here or not though. - Shona

lepidusxiii3 karma

Assuming that Uber manages to keep going in London, do you think there's any way more traditional minicab firms like Addison Lee can survive in the longer term? And if so, what kind of innovations do you think they need to do so? Also, what's it like working for James Cook?

businessinsideruk3 karma

Hi James, you're a great boss.

Kidding aside, yeah, I think it's really interesting Addison Lee have stayed very quiet during all of this. Its drivers accuse it of having many of the same issues as Uber, and any worker rights legislation will apply equally to Uber and Addison Lee. It will also have to pay more for its operating licence in London now that the regulator has put its fares up. I don't think I see AL dropping out of the market immediately — it has lots of enterprise accounts, people like choice, and it's still profitable. But it makes sense to pursue better brand awareness around the app, and international expansion. — Shona

HarrysBadPosts2 karma

Hey Sam and Shona, do you think black cabs are free of the safety issues of which they accused Uber, or are they just less transparent?

businessinsideruk6 karma

Hey! Definitely not. Uber drivers have to go through all the same TfL background checks that black cab drivers go through, including a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

Uber also gives passengers a more direct place to complain.

A lot of women say they feel safer using Uber because there's a digital record of who picked them up, where from, and at what time. That said, there's always a risk that a random Uber driver with a great rating could one day decide to behave inappropriately. — Sam

Chtorrr1 karma

Are there any other really interesting stories you are working on?

businessinsideruk5 karma

I won't go into great detail (...just in case our future stories don't work out) but the areas Sam, I, and our colleagues are looking into right now are issues around sexual harassment in the tech industry, the gig economy and treatment of workers in the UK, unethical behaviour/lies by some major startup names. Uber's fate in London and the UK generally obviously remains an interesting topic. — Shona

tomwritesthings1 karma

What, in your opinion, is the best feasible alternative to Uber?

businessinsideruk1 karma

There are lots of taxi apps but for some reason I find myself going back to my local minicab firm. — Shona

LowViz1 karma

Non-London, UK driver here. Do you think that other cities will follow suit if Uber's appeal is unsuccessful?

How much influence have black cab drivers had over TFL's decision? Do they have a "close relationship"?

businessinsideruk1 karma

We do. And we're already starting to see early signs that Uber's business across the UK is going to be impacted by TfL's decision. Several other councils — including Oxford and Reading — have refused to give Uber an operating licence after the TfL ruling, according to a report in The Sunday Times earlier this month. — Sam

I think it's fair to say black taxi/union lobbying influenced TfL's decision. It's been very intense, particularly this year. You can tell in emails between TfL staff and Uber staff that TfL doesn't really understand Uber's way of thinking, and it has a much better understanding of the black taxi/traditional cab trade. — Shona

justtryit1 karma

Do you feel there will be a bridge between the crypto community and the mainstream in the coming years?

Have you read anything or wrote anything recently regarding the utilisation of crypto currencies?

businessinsideruk1 karma

We're roping our colleague Rob in on this, as he covers crypto. — Shona

On cryptocurrency products generally, I feel like (in developed economies at least) they tend to try and fulfil a need that isn’t really there. In places like the UK, consumer financial products are, generally, pretty good. Ordinary people don’t want an immutable ledger, they just want safe savings and a reasonable rate of return.

Banks and institutions are getting buzzy about the blockchain, but it remains to be seen how much that will translate into real products. This will likely be how ordinary people come into “contact” with crypto products in the next few years — without realising it, as established banks adopt aspects of the tech for efficiency gains. — Rob

mguerriero1 karma

What do you think was the demise of Jinn and how do you think the landscape of the last mile fulfillment industry in London will change over the next few years?

businessinsideruk1 karma

Our colleague James, who broke the news about Jinn shutting down this morning, will take this one.

I think the food delivery industry will end up being the same as the music streaming industry in that there will be gradual consolidation. It's an expensive industry with a high burn rate. — James

akjkakjk1 karma

Are there benefits for startups to be based in London? Do they also have unique challenges w UK laws?

businessinsideruk2 karma

Yes! Lots. Perhaps two of the main ones are there's plenty of capital and talent in London for startups to tap into compared to other European cities. It's also a pretty fun city to live and work, with good food, nightlife, shops, museums etc. So that helps.

With regards to UK laws, I don't think there are any major challenges for London tech startups. However, that could all change if Brexit makes it harder for founders to hire talent from across Europe. Many of London's biggest and best startups are fuelled by engineers from across the continent. The head of Oxford University's computer science department warned a government committee this month that cities like Paris and Berlin would love to have DeepMind post-Brexit. — Sam

almondparfitt1 karma

Hi Shona and Sam, what's the reaction been among commuters? Are their local ride-share competitors that benefit from this? Thanks!

businessinsideruk5 karma

Commuters were initially shocked by the "Uber has been banned in London" headlines but they've now realised that the taxi app might not disappear after all.

Uber has appealed Transport for London's (TfL) ruling and there's a good chance that it will be given an operating licence if it makes a few changes that satisfy the transport regulator.

Right now I don't think any competitors are benefiting. If anything, Uber is probably getting used more in London due to all the publicity. Of course, that could all change if Uber fails to turnover TfL's decision. — Sam

Chtorrr1 karma

What is the most interesting thing you found in your research?

businessinsideruk4 karma

One of the most interesting things I've found is there are a number of other taxi app companies that are waiting for TfL to issue them with an operating licence.

Via — a startup that has raised $200 million from Mercedes-Daimler and other investors — is up and running in the US but it's been waiting almost half a year for its London licence.

If TfL doesn't issue companies like Via and rival Taxify with operating licences then these companies will turn their back on the city and set up in other European destinations. — Sam

end_all_be_all0 karma

Is it true that uber isn't in london because of migrant violence on women taking uber or is it because of that lacking of quality which isn't comparable to official london cab drivers that have taken the knowledge?

businessinsideruk2 karma

I think neither are correct. It's true that TfL is concerned about Uber's record on safety, but there's lots of questions about assault statistics reported about Uber. How many allegations against Uber drivers result in charges? How many perpetrators are misidentified as Uber drivers? But Uber should give better reassurances about keeping passengers safe.

I don't think the Knowledge was a factor in TfL's decision. — Shona