I had a chuckle when I read this, from John Gruber’s Daring Fireball, re. Uber’s threat to halt service in Cali if the state reclassifies its drivers as employees: Noah Smith: “Whatever you think of the employee/contractor issue, it seems clear that if Uber can’t survive except by classifying drivers as contractors, it was never as valuable of a business as people thought.”
These two things can both be true:
1) Uber saw how terrible traditional U.S. taxi services were, and created a much better alternative that people love to use, entirely based on the key insight that ubiquitous smartphones could and should change the game. Hailing, mapping, location tracking, payment, driver/passenger rating — all of it enabled via phones.
2) The idea that this business model was worth tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars was based almost entirely on exploiting a gray area in labor law, and thus the company’s workers.
3) The founder was an enormous jackass.
OK, that’s three, but they’re still all true.