Lyft And Uber Share Drivers 

   
 I was clueless until a Lift driver in Miami confessed to me last week that a growing number of drivers work for both Uber and Lyft. I don’t know why I ever thought each transportation company had their own exclusive group of drivers, but that’s not the case. 

“Everyone I know, works for both,” said a driver who drove me from my hairdresser last Thurdsay back home along Alton Drive. “I keep both apps open and answer the one that calls first. This way, I get the maximum number of requests a day and do not ride around for too long without a customer.”

The other surprising fact I learned last week is that most drivers refer to themselves as “Uber” because most doormen and valet parking staff never heard of Lyft. “It’s just easier to announce ourselves as an Uber car when we arrive to pick up a passenger. The folks we are picking up know who to look for and the hotel or condo staff recognize the Uber name more, so they tell us almost immediately if someone is waiting for a car. If we said we were from Lyft, hotel and housing staff give us a puzzled look.

Lift is trying to work on its branding by  dropping prices in 33 cities. Some of the cities with reduced rates include Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington DC. New York and Chicago are still at full prices. Lyft is still determined to be the most affordable option for passengers.

Let the price wars begin! 

Trouble In Uber Land

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Image: Tech.com

I don’t know why this happened, but I have seen more companies implode due to situations that really have nothing to do with their business model. In the last few days, Uber has found itself in a situation that could literally close the company down.

I will try to detail what has happened but I have also included links to other stories that may tell the story better. See Business Insider.

Like many other companies, Uber has received its share of criticism as the service grew and became available in 45 countries and more than 200 cities worldwide. It is now valued at $18.2 billion.

Most companies grin and bear critiques from journalists, but apparently Uber wanted to fight back. At a recent industry event that included journalists, one of Uber’s senior executives admitted that the company was gathering information to discredit certain writers.

Uber has also been under fire by Sarah Lacy, of PandoDaily, for outrageous sexism woven deeply into the culture of the company. “We’ve seen it in the company’s PR team discrediting female passengers who accuse drivers of attacking them by whispering that they were ‘drunk’ or ‘dressed’ provocatively.”

Lacy and a host of other tech writers are calling for the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick who has been quoted calling his company “boober” because of all the tail he gets since running it.”

Vanity Fair Features Uber In November Issue

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Everyone is Uber crazy. My friends and family do not stop talking about how much easier their lives are now because of Uber. They use Uber for all their transportation needs. Some are even talking about giving up their cars.

My friend Steven Adler, 67, told me he sold his two cars because getting around Los Angeles was just too much for him. He uses Uber for everything, even grocery shopping.

Now that we are spending more time in Miami, I just signed up for Uber tonight. I hate driving and I don’t want to have to depend on Eliot to chauffeur me everywhere. I’m excited. My new found freedom.

Who ever thought a phenomenon like Uber would be such a success. According to Wikipedia, as of September 16, 2014, the service was available in 45 countries and more than 100 cities worldwide, and was valued at more than $15 billion. It was started by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009.

I have a real treat for you. Vanity Fair, in the November issue, did a profile on Kalanick. Famous Re/Code writer Kara Swisher wrote the piece. I managed to capture the article digitally so I am including it right here.

See you in the back seat.

Risky Business

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If you are a Uber customer, or are thinking of becoming one, I strongly suggest you read their terms and conditions. CNET, a tech site, just wrote a story that spells out how Uber “absolves itself of any liability in cases of injury or accident and is not responsible for a driver’s actions.”

I was particularly drawn to the story because as you probably know, Eliot and I no longer own a car in NYC. We had every intention of using Uber for local trips. The service came highly recommended by family and friends.

It certainly is upsetting to read that Uber is not responsible for anything that happens to me. CNET actually quotes a lawyer who examined Uber’s written claims. He said, “You can be raped, you can be killed, you can be murdered, and it’s not their responsibility.”

Click here to read about the passenger who got hit over the head with a hammer by one of the Uber drivers.

This post is to encourage you to know your Uber rights. While Eliot and I haven’t used Uber yet, we absolutely plan to in several cities. We have been taking taxis in NYC for decades so we know the good, the bad, and the unpredictable, We just like being forewarned.

By the way, CNET, says that five year old Uber is growing rapidly. “It now has cars driving around 204 cities in 45 countries, and the company claims to cover 55 percent of the US population. It’s also the highest-valued venture-backed company in the world right now with a valuation of $18.2 billion.”

The End Of An Era

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My friend Ben needed more time to address yesterday’s topic. He was busy today doing “new business” so his input tomorrow should be quite interesting.

I normally would be so intolerant of someone else telling this next story. I have no patience for people who dwell on self-absorbing, trivial details. This time, I can’t help myself. Neither can Eliot. We were very sad all day today because we had to give up our blue 1989, 560 SEL Mercedes. This limo-looking automobile had given us 25 years of great times.

Huffing and puffing at 124,000 miles, my long-time devoted carrier. was beginning to show old age. In the last year, Eliot and I got stuck twice on
a highway because the engine just shutdown when it overheated. The interiors were slightly deteriorating and the bumpers sported scratches thanks to New York City garage attendants.

Because this car was so old, we had to live without cup holders, USB inputs, and remote control keys. None of the modern day conveniences were available then.

I was getting increasingly nervous riding around in a car that was decades older than any other moving vehicle on-the-road. At this point in my life, I don’t want to put myself in uncomfortable situations.

It’s difficult to believe that we will never ride in that car again. I keep telling myself that it’s only a hunk of steel. It doesn’t have a heartbeat. That doesn’t seem to matter. We didn’t sleep well last night thinking about the departure of our dear friend. Tonight we are talking about buying it back.

We won’t do that because we know that we made the right decision. We also won’t be buying a new car to replace the old one. It’s now time for us to become part of the Uber or Zip Car generation. We need to embrace the new options the digital age affords us. No more $500 New York garage fees, insurance costs, and expensive repairs.

We are going to miss you old buddy. You were worth every cent.

The New Sharing Economy

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Having dinner with Maria Bartiromo.

Maria Bartiromo, host of On The Money on CNBC, organized a dinner party recently with what she calls “a new breed of technology companies that offer consumers easy access to almost any product or experience—without having to own it.” Airbnb, Kitchit, Rent the Runway, Uber, and Getaround were featured.

Be sure to watch the show that aired this morning to get an insider understanding of the new “shared economy.” These young entrepreneurs are the new stars of the Internet.

The reason I am so excited to feature this show is because it prepares us for a new way of thinking. Write down the names of these company inventors. Listen to their stories. They are our future.

Click here for the TV segment.