Saturday, December 24, 2016

When Uber dream of a world without drivers – Release

546 cities, 80 countries, more than a million drivers, with nearly 3 billion kilometres travelled and… 800 million euros of losses for the third quarter of 2016 ! With Uber, which is now in the sights of the drivers VTC, the numbers are outside the norm. Never, not even with Amazon, or Facebook, a start-up that had not experienced a development as dazzling and dégommé as fast the old world, to the point that his name has become an adjective synonymous with eradication. If “über” means “above” in German, the uberisation general the work in whole sectors of the economy is being lead to millions of people “below” the waterline minimum for living from his work.

The most crazy thing is that despite a deficit which is expected to represent more than half of its sales in very strong growth this year (5.5 billion dollars, writes the agency Bloomberg for three billion losses) and a hyperinflation of the regulatory problems that make the fortune of battalions of lawyers, the financiers do not seem to doubt the robustness of its business model. Born seven years ago, addicted to fundraising with more than $ 15 billion collected since its inception, the start-up whose only real asset resides within an application for smartphones is estimated at 69 billion dollars. 15 billion more than General Motors.

“Winner takes all”

A amount of course virtual, as long as the company has not sold or floated on the market, but become incompatible with such a level of losses. As acknowledged in the French Thibaud Simphal, director of the platform of bookings for western Europe, “some of our investors are in fact beginning to ask us accounts“. Like any start-up that has potassé its strategy of economy of scale – the Americans say “scalability”, a term which means that the longer it grows quickly, the more you will be cost-effective then – Uber has started to subsidise heavily its activity. The purpose of this ? Break the price to convert more and more customers and pay for enough drivers to make “partners” of the faithful.

But once the application has acquired a dominant position, not to say monopoly – the famous rule of “winner takes all” of the digital economy, we can begin to identify and reap the benefits. Except that in a market where competition is fierce and where there are lots of small Uber spurred on by its success, are also trying their luck, it is difficult to raise prices and commissions levied on the drivers, while remaining competitive. That said, more money for Uber is also said to potentially fewer customers, and especially less than drivers with longer delays, which reduce the attractiveness of the offer.

Uber may well increase the studies to demonstrate that its drivers are “make their living” and better than on other platforms – between 1400 and 1600 euros net per month for 45 hours of work weekly according to the Boston Consulting Group, assert, citing the report of the mp Thomas Thévenoud that there is room for 68 000 VTC in France (about 25 000 today), the recipe no longer works. Its “partners” drivers, self-employed persons who have oddly not their word to say on pricing, feel more precarious, with revenues continue to decline.

also read :Uber : the drivers shout at the thief

Sensing the danger, and his image will degrade to the speed of an order for an “Uber”, the company says it is ready to improve their remuneration and terms and conditions of exercise of the activity (social protection, mutual, etc), but only on the condition that all the sector aligns. A posture scarcely credible : it is to deny the competition at all costs at the origin of its success, which has enabled him in a few years to ruin the profession of taxi driver. It’s not easy to improvise benefactor after he behaved like one of those “barbarians” without scruple of the new economy.

In fact, Uber already has an eye riveted on the kick after. A blow that is still salivating over the financial loans to adhere to his new fairy tale algorithmic and to wait a little – but for how long ? – before receiving their return on investment. As we said Amazon at the time where Jeff Bezos sinking billions of dollars by promising the moon, the company has become “too big to fail”, in other words there is now too much money to lose to go back.

“You pay for the other guy in the car”

To become as profitable as it promises, the application will now go to drivers with autonomous cars. More VTC in anger or labour law to be respected, the robot car will be the ultimate stage of the private transportation at request. The company invests since 2015 hundreds of millions of dollars in this technology in cooperation with the prestigious institute Carnegie Mellon Pittsburgh, pa, which allows him to justify some of its losses. And the results are conclusive : in the past few days, a fleet of 16 autonomous vehicles crisscrossed the city of San Francisco, its headquarters, in order to test commercially this new offering, before the State of California to put an end to the experience because of… non-observance of the authorisation procedure. Uber is customary but regardless to its über-CEO Travis Kalanick, who doesn’t hide : “If Uber can sometimes seem expensive, he adm itted at a conference in 2014, it is that you pay for the other guy in the car. When it is no longer there, the service will be cheaper.”

Uber with autonomous cars or Uber ubérisé ?

Uber will keep may not be 100% of the price of the race, because not matter for the application to operate its own vehicles, but probably at a level of more than 25%. A perspective that does not reassure drivers, who now know that their days are numbered. Thibaud Simphal believes that this new Uber self could make its appearance in France “three to five years”. “One can imagine that things will be done in a phased manner, with the first autonomous vehicles controlled by people, ” he says in an interview at Altereco+. and Then when the public and the authorities are ready, the vehicle completely autonomous,”. And the “partners” ? “Nwe will be transparent with the drivers, he continues. the Those who wish to develop in the sector will be able to invest in fleets of vehicles. The others know they will have the time to imagine something else.” waiting for that Uber could spend, the commissions are to live should remain the adjustment variable weighing on his unwanted “partner”… Desperately human. Unless Uber doesn’t end itself uberisé. A lot of VTC must dream about these days.

Christophe Alix


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