Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fighting city hall for transportation innovation

WSJ ran a lengthy profile of Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, this past weekend.  Uber operates an on demand city transportation service.  The basic idea: need a cab or limo right now -- we have an app for that.  Available in 25 cities, you can click on your iPhone or Android and your ride shows up shortly. 

Great idea, right?  Actually Uber has received a less than welcome reception in some cities because it provides competition to the taxicab establishment.  Wonder why it is so hard to get a cab in some cities?  The reason is that the licensing board and the cab companies have restricted supply artificially.  Uber has had to battle transportation bureaucracies in a number of cities, but so far has prevailed.  A key part of their business model is to use analytics to forecast demand and have enough capacity in place when needed.  Also, drivers are evaluated by customers -- a revolutionary idea in this relatively backward industry -- and those with poor reviews are replaced. 

Money quote: "I'm pro-efficiency.  I want the most economic activity at the lowest price possible.  It's good for everybody; it's not red or blue." 

No comments:

Post a Comment