2 Uber Technologies, Inc., Form S-1 Registration Statement (filed April 11, 2019), from SEC edgar, accessed April 26, 2019.
3 Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Nineteen: Uber’s IPO Prospectus overstates its 2018 Profit Improvement by $5 Billion,” Naked Capitalism, April 15, 2019. Uber received paper assets from Didi (China), Yandex (Russia), and Grab (Southeast Asia) as partial compensation for reducing the competition those companies face. But each of those companies (like Uber) still makes huge losses, so the claim that (as with Uber) they will be enormously valuable in the future is total speculation that should never have been combined with actual 2018 marketplace operating results.
4 Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Eighteen: Lyft’s IPO Prospectus Tells Investors That It Has No Idea How Ridesharing Could Ever Be Profitable,” Naked Capitalism, March 5, 2019.
5 Cost breakdowns are stated as the percentages of passenger fares paid (including tips) and are based on detailed studies of traditional taxi costs in Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco in 2015. See Horan, “Will the Growth of Uber Increase Economic Welfare?,” 44–49. Fuel price changes would obviously change the cost category percentages. Uber is only contributing 15 percent of the value customers are paying for (versus 33 percent for traditional operators) but claims this business model “innovation” warrants a nearly $100 billion valuation.
6 Lawrence Mishel, “Uber and the Labor Market: Uber Drivers’ Compensation, Wages, and the Scale of Uber and the Gig Economy,” Economic Policy Institute, May 15, 2018.
7 There have been multiple reports about drivers needing to sleep in their cars to make ends meet. See: Eric Newcomer and Olivia Zaleski, “When Their Shifts End, Uber Drivers Set up Camp in Parking Lots across the U.S.,” Bloomberg, January 23, 2017; Masha Goncharova, “Ride-Hailing Drivers are Slaves to the Surge,” New York Times, January 12, 2017. One report compared Uber drivers to “migrant workers”: Carolyn Said, “Long-Distance Uber, Lyft Drivers’ Crazy Commutes, Marathon Days, Big Paychecks,” San Francisco Chronicle, February 19, 2017.
8 James A. Parrott and Michael Reich, “An Earnings Standard for New York City’s App-Based Drivers: Economic Analysis and Policy Assessment, Report for the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission,” Center for New York City Affairs and Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics, July 2018.
9 Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Eleven: Annual Uber Losses Now Approaching $5 Billion,” Naked Capitalism, December 17, 2017; Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Eighteen,” note 4.
10 Bruce Schaller, “Taxi, Sedan and Limousine Industries and Regulations,” Committee for Review of Innovative Urban Mobility Services, Transportation Research Board, January 20, 2015, 3–5, 8–11; John Pucher and John L. Renne, “Socioeconomics of Urban Travel: Evidence from the 2001 NHTS,” Transportation Quarterly 57, no. 3 (Summer 2003): 49.
11 Uber has falsely claimed that its utilization is superior to traditional operators, using driver productivity measures which are artificially inflated by Uber’s (massively unprofitable) efforts to focus drivers on peak demand periods, and to set prices well below actual costs. Similarly, any airline could boost its load factors by setting prices below cost and grounding planes on off-peak days, but doing so (absent investors willing to subsidize billions in losses for over a decade) would quickly drive the airline out of business.
12 A much more detailed discussion of the 1990s think tank advocacy campaign and how it became the basis for Uber’s communication strategy can be found in Horan, “Will the Growth of Uber Increase Economic Welfare?,” 76–86; and Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Nine: The 1990s Koch Funded Propaganda Program That Is Uber’s True Origin Story,” Naked Capitalism, March 15, 2017. Taxi deregulation was only one of many campaigns conducted by these think tanks in support of the broader objectives of eliminating taxpayer support for public goods of any type, for delegitimizing government action to maximize overall economic welfare, and for maximizing the “freedom” and political power of large-scale capital accumulators.
13 Propaganda definitions taken from Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell, Propaganda and Persuasion (Los Angeles: Sage Books, 1999); and J. Michael Sproule, Channels of Propaganda (Bloomington, Ind.: eric/edinfo Press, 1994).
14 Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator. Quoted in Sarah Lacy, “It’s More Than the Fate of Just Uber: The Cult of the Founder Is at Risk and a Lot of VC’s are Thrilled,” Pando Daily, February 28, 2017.
15 Horan, “Will the Growth of Uber Increase Economic Welfare?,” 71–75.
16 The author worked directly with a number of the leading forces behind railroad, airline, and trucking deregulation, and spent much of his career analyzing how airlines could make money in deregulated domestic and international markets.
17 Uber surge pricing can (without prior notice) increase fares as much as seven times above normal levels. This is distinct from having published peak and off-peak prices, which regulators have always allowed, although without any material impact on the high peak cost problem.
18 Horan, “Will the Growth of Uber Increase Economic Welfare?,” 30–31.
19 For detailed illustrations see: Horan, “Will the Growth of Uber Increase Economic Welfare?,” 88–90; Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Eight: Brad Stone’s Uber Book ‘The Upstarts’—PR/Propaganda Masquerading as Journalism,” Naked Capitalism, February 16, 2017; Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Fourteen: The New Yorker Lays Out the Template for Pro-Uber Propaganda,” Naked Capitalism, April 3, 2018.
20 In 2013 Izabella Kaminska of the Financial Times pointed out that none of Uber’s “disruptive innovator” claims were backed by any legitimate economics. Also in 2013, Sarah Lacy of Pando Daily began arguing that Uber’s behavioral problems were not only unacceptable in any corporate context, but were directly linked to underlying business model issues. Lacy became the primary target of an Uber program designed to intimidate unfriendly journalists. See Sarah Lacy, “The Moment I Learned Just How Far Uber Will Go to Silence Journalists and Attack Women,” Pando Daily, November 17, 2014. But mainstream tech/business publications did not mention the possibility of serious structural problems at Uber until 2017.
21 Susan J. Fowler (blog), “Reflecting on One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber,” February 19, 2017.
22 For a more detailed discussion of the board turmoil during this period see Horan, “Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Ten: The Uber Death Watch Begins,” Naked Capitalism, June 15, 2017.