Saturday, November 3, 2012

More (on) "Disruption"

A week ago I put up a post about the company Uber based on an article by Paul Carr ("Travis Shrugged"), which sought to expound the philosophy not only underlying Uber, but, at least to some extent, the business model known as "Disruption." As I stated in an update I made to my post, prompted by the feedback of a friend and brother deacon who works as an entrepreneur in the high-tech industry, I am not an expert in business theory and certainly can claim no in-depth knowledge of "Disruption," or any other business theory for that matter, though I do have more than a passing grasp of much of Peter Drucker's oeuvre. I am always looking to be better informed, especially on matters about which I write. I certainly invite my readers to assist me in this regard and to correct me when I am in error. So, I was very glad to have brought to my attention (I know, I know, the use of passive voice) an article from the website Tech Crunch concerning Uber and local limo regulations in Chicago: "As Regulators Seek To Revise Limo Rules, Uber’s On-Demand Car Service Faces Shutdown In Chicago."

The situation certainly brings up matters that are worth discussing between the city of Chicago, Uber, and limo companies in that city. I will even go one step further, judging by what the article says, the way limo services currently calculate fares seems in need of a better solution. On the other hand, it appears to me that what Uber really favors is avoiding regulation altogether. I arrive at this judgment based on the fact reported by Tech Crunch that "Uber is urging its riders to email their comments to the BACP, telling the agency to 'Remove the No Measured Rates Provision (PPV Sec. 1.10)' from its proposed regulations."

Ferrari 360 Modena Stretch Limo

The basic problem, it seems to me, is how to objectively determine distance and thus fare, assuming the rate is set, even if by negotiation, or if the limo service is free to set its own rates. What if there is a consistent problem of a variance between what the driver says s/he is owed and what the passenger says s/he owes? This strikes me as a matter that needs to be regulated. Consider if an app were invented that featured an algorithm that its purveyors claimed more accurately measured the amount of gasoline you pumped into your personal vehicle. Then let's say, for the sake of argument, that the app often came up with a different amount than the pump? I have no problem with utilizing new technologies that more accurately calculate distance, but urging people to petition to simply remove applicable regulations strikes me as a very unsatisfactory way to resolve the matter, as well as more than a bit of a verification of Carr's assertions.

On a purely personal note, while I am a supporter of free enterprise, I certainly don't trust businesses or business groups, even high-tech ones that consider themselves enlightened, to regulate themselves, or to operate with a view of the common good. Probably well before, but at least from 2008, those days ended and are over. 

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