Feature Friday: In App Advocacy

Web and mobile companies have been using their consumer facing apps to advocate for policies that they care about for a while now. Back in the PIPA/SOPA wars, Wikipedia, Tumblr, and a number of other high traffic apps went black and made a big impact on that debate.

Yesterday Uber added a De Blasio mode in NYC to their rider app.

no cars see why

Which takes the rider to this screen:

de blasio's uber

It will be interesting to see what impact this in app advocacy will have on the Uber debate in NYC.

The Mayor and his administration want a temporary hiatus on additional Uber drivers on the roads in NYC while they complete a congestion study to see what impact the massive influx of Ubers on the roads in NYC are having on traffic.

Uber is fighting this as hard as they can and using in app advocacy as one of their tools to amplify the political pressure.

While this is a smart move on Uber’s part, I am not sure it will work because the constituency that elected Mayor De Blasio is more of the subway rider crowd than the Uber crowd.

But NYC politics are complicated and Uber is working the system hard. And using in app advocacy to further their cause.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Twain Twain

    Bill Maris of Google Ventures said this on TC a few days ago: “Personally, I wouldn’t want to compete with [CEO] Travis [Kalanick].”Uber seems to upset / alienate people and systems wherever it goes. This may be the by-product of the execution aggression that sees their valuation soar and some people may cheer that they’re disrupting the stale status quo in transportation and on-demand services.Meanwhile, here’s an example of an advocacy issue people are likelier to get behind more than Uber’s.

  2. Matt Zagaja

    Found an interesting study from UC Berkeley about this: http://www.uctc.net/researc…Uber does peel off some public transit users, presumably creating more congestion. Not sure how bad the impact really is though, and in a place where population grows year over year you have to keep adding capacity somehow anyways (or figure out how to get people to commute less).

    1. Jeff Jones

      Two solutions to this problem. 1. Established larger companies need to wake up and encourage and support flexible work schedules. I’ve worked at several that in theory support work life balance and working remotely but it varies by manager to the point where I’ve seen managing directors at a bank insist that all their key team members are literally sitting right outside their office. 2. Congestion pricing – this has been proposed by Bloomberg in the past and died as Salt Shaker pointed out in his comment. Look at the results in London over ten years – $300 million raised to invest in public transportation yearly, significant reduction in traffic congestion in the city center, significant increases in public transport riders and biking and an unintended result – 40% reduction in traffic accidents! See the link I posted previously for NYC congestion pricing excel that allows you to tweak n number of inputs for different congestion pricing scenarios.

  3. Ana Milicevic

    “the constituency that elected Mayor De Blasio is more of the subway rider crowd than the Uber crowd” –> I’m in both crowds (as I suspect most New Yorkers who hang out here are) and support Uber’s in-app advocacy. What De Blasio should be doing instead of limiting numbers of licenses is incentivizing the TLC to improve riders’ & drivers’ experience in taxis. All of the Uber drivers I’ve spoken to who formerly drove cabs cite the flexibility to set their own schedule, ability to take a sick day/day off and knowing who their passenger is as major advantages of Uber. One of the large taxi dispatchers developing their own hail app is not out of the question — I can only hope that improving how they treat their drivers would follow as well. As a passenger a yellow taxi is no longer the best transportation experience.What’s interesting about Uber’s in-app activism is how seamless and frictionless they’ve made the process of complaining to an elected official. Very much in line with how frictionless they’ve made on-demand transportation.

    1. JLM

      .The price of entry into the medallion cab business has been manipulated over the years to price a $1MM bit of gov’t blessing into the mix. Therein lies the problem.The Uber price of entry into the first mile of service does not include baksheesh, mordida or a gov’t bribe.It used to be called free market. It is still capitalism.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Matt Kruza

        Yep. You stole my response 🙂 That $1 million medallion price pretty much makes all the other shitty parts of the yellow cab a mere formality at that point. And that is why they have been so hard to fight, because incumbents with a million asset (that gets it value mainly from govt. rule / fiat) will fight like hell to keep it that way. Crony capitalism at its worst… only answer is to punch them in the nose and bankrupt them

  4. Rob Underwood

    I feel conflicted on this. On one hand the market has produced a superior product and user experience to the classic models of 1) the neighborhood car service, 2) yellow cabs, and 3) corporate car services that will charge you upwards of $200 to go from downtown to LGA (Morning Joe was going to town on this point this AM – especially how Uber beats yellow cabs in particular).On the other hand, unfettered growth in Uber (and Lyft, which I prefer) cars does seem at least somewhat at odds with a vision for more alternative transit, including and especially bikes. In general I’d love to see more bikes and less cars on our roads.What I’d be interested to know is if the addition of Uber, Lyft, etc. encourages more people to decide to not own a car in city — i.e., if the existence of these services, coupled with services like ZipCar, is a tipping point to make people, especially in places like Brooklyn, decide they don’t need to own a car. In my case – a market of just one – the combination of more bike lanes, ZipCar, and these services convinced me – a parent of 3 – that I could sell my car and do fine without it.

    1. fredwilson

      I’m with you Rob. I would prefer to see more people using mass transit and our government investing more in mass transit. I’m supporting a group in Brooklyn that is advocating for a light rail system that would go from Bay Ridge to LGA along the harbor and east River waterfront. That would be huge for Brooklyn and Queens

      1. JLM

        .I served on the board of a state agency which oversaw the bus system in ATX for a few years. This was just as light rail was being considered.I learned the numbers backwards and forwards and we worked with all the big name consulting, planning, engineering and construction companies. It was a great experience and education.Any mass transit system requires density to work. This will work like a champ on the route you describe because of the population density.Getting the right of way is going to be the real problem. The technology to move the rail cars is simple stuff. The construction is an ordeal.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. mikenolan99

          I’m a fan, but also a bit disappointed with our new light rail in Minneapolis -I use light rail at least once a week for a downtown trip, and everytime I go to the airport. It’s a huge win for Minneapolis.Minneapolis->St. Paul is an agonizing 55 minutes – with too many stops down University Avenue. They did not plan for, or build capacity for an express route. Not sure what can be done.

          1. Ryan Frew

            I travel to Minneapolis from Cincinnati once every two months or so. Once I arrive, I take the light rail from MSP to the North Loop. I can imagine, as a resident, that you have legitimate critiques of the route. The system is unbelievably good to an outsider, though, at least. Every city has its flaws, but I think Minneapolis is the most forward city in the Midwest, and the light rail was key to my construction of that stance.

        2. LE

          Getting the right of way is going to be the real problem.Exactly. NIMBY – “not in my backyard”.Classic example with road construction, the Blue Route:https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…While proposed as early as 1929, the construction of the Mid-County Expressway through did not begin until 1967 and was not completed until 1991 due to massive community and environmental opposition during the freeway revolts of the 1960s and 1970s, leading The Philadelphia Inquire to dub it “the most costly, most bitterly opposed highway in Pennsylvania history.” In order to get the route through Delaware County, it was built with many environmental compromises such as a parkway design and four lanes south of the Pennsylvania Route 3 interchange. The Mid-County Expressway received its “Blue Route” nickname from the chosen route through Delaware County on planning maps on which it was differentiated from the other proposed routes by its color And who can forget the Garden State Parkway tolls every so many miles as a result of each local jurisdiction wanting to take their own personal vig off the tolls (yes I invented that usage of vig..)https://en.wikipedia.org/wi…

        3. BillMcNeely

          When they brought DART to Dallas 20-30 yrs they just plopped stations wherever. Sometimes you think how the fuck did they that was a great location.Downside of bolting mass transit onto a city in existence

      2. Richard

        Use the freemium model. Make first 5 rides per month free.

        1. Salt Shaker

          When you buy a $20 Metrocard the MTA gives you $22 of value. BFD, huh? The MTA should offer 1 FREE ride w/ every $20 purchase. That would get more people going underground, dirty stations and all. Instead the MTA keeps jacking pricing, w/ no regard for enhancing value.

      3. LE

        A great idea noting though that by the time that is completed you will have great grandchildren.

      4. Brandon G. Donnelly

        +1i’m yet to be convinced that there’s any better way to build big and well functioning cities than on the backbone of mass transit.

      5. creative group

        Hope your advocating will have a positive result. The city we live in is benefiting from a light-rail system that services surrounding cities. The system is a 360 degree improvement over the lack of public transportation options previously offered. The system is clean and works on an honor system with security checking for transit passes impromptu. The honor system would never work in NYC. The people who usually make decisions of any particular issue usually are the least effected by it. The New York Cab system has a vested interested in the status quo. What it costs to purchase a Medallion to operate a cab in New York City is ridiculous and varies depending on who is selling it.http://www.valleymetro.org/

    2. kirklove

      I second this Rob. I don’t own a car precisely because of this. And when I do need a car I use ZipCar or National for extended trips. (old school!)My preferred methods:1) Biking2) Walking3) Subway4) Uber/Cab5) Car RentalAlso I’ve signed up and tried Car2Go. Neat “idea” but not super practical in reality with all the parking considerations and having kids.

      1. Jeff Jones

        Car2Go I don’t get. Seems to be more or less the same price as a cab or uber and you need to drive yourself AND PARK. I guess it’s more to run errands where you need a car for longer periods of time than say to get from Williamsburg to Red Hook.

        1. kirklove

          Yes, Car2Go sounds good on paper. And maybe is in more rural, ample-spacing areas. But it ends up being more of a hassle and more expensive than a cab. Used it once.

    3. LE

      Having a car is also about safety. If there was some reason you needed to quickly get out of NYC (and that is a definite possibility) do you really want to be sitting with the rest of the cry babies trying to get a Uber or a Zip Car? Plus when you are driving a Zip Car you are driving a car that others maintain and keep safe. It’s not your car. Most importantly owning your own car means you don’t have to plan or have the stress of knowing whether you will get a car on a heavily used weekend (does that happen?). Of course having a car is expensive. But so is living in Brooklyn or NYC. That said of course it’s expensive to have a car in NYC I would imagine parking in Brooklyn is probably about $400 per month or so.

      1. Richard

        Care sharing car2go has a huge liability issue as most drivers, who do not own a car, lack liabity coverage

      2. kirklove

        The car is not the issue at all. The insurance and parking costs are, and usage to price math is just absurd.Don’t get me wrong. I’d LOVE to have a car and a nice one. I just don’t need one.You are also right that availability and being “on the clock” add stress to travel for sure (when renting), though I may use a car less than 30 days a year. If that. So it doesn’t add up.

        1. LE

          My daughter keeps a car parked at the Newark train station or something like that. It is titled to where her mother lives. So she takes the train to Newark and then drives down the shore (or back home or to where I live) using that car.I’d LOVE to have a car and a nice one.Yes! Exactly!

        2. LE

          A review of Pegg I just found:https://www.youtube.com/wat…The insurance and parking costs are, and usage to price math is just absurd.Well it all comes down to money of course. A vacation home is somewhat similar and also owning a boat. They all don’t make any financial sense. Even a place that I bought in 1991 with appreciation over the years (a great deal) vs. the cost over the years wouldn’t make sense (condo fees, taxes, other expenses and so on). But the ability to not have to plan and to go when you want and to not have to worry about check in or check out is the deciding factor. Plus you can keep your personal belongings there. Many places to rent for the season or even yearly at a much reduced rate (why it’s not a good investment). However the mental overhead elimination adds to enjoyment. And that is priceless. When I owned a boat for many years I would use it perhaps 4 or 5 times per season (you know Jersey shore weather and other obligations). So I calculated each time I used it would cost $400 or $500 dollars maybe. How does that make sense? At least if you own it you don’t look at each time you use it as a cost you don’t look at it the same way. It’s overhead essentially.

          1. kirklove

            Yeah, that was a pretty great one. Proud of that.

      3. Rob Underwood

        I kept my car for two reasons: skiing (primarily) and hypothetical emergencies where a car would be helpful. All of NYC but the Bronx is on an island. If there is a need to leave NYC in a hurry due to some sudden catastrophe (e.g., terrorism) a car really will be of little practical use as the tunnels and bridges will become overwhelmed very very quickly (rush hour alone proves that). And that left skiing — and ZipCar is great for that.

        1. kirklove

          Yup. I couldn’t imagine trying to leave the city in an emergency, it’d basically be a giant parking lot. A boat would be a much better option!

        2. LE

          Well agree but the idea is to have a car at your disposal so if you perceive an upcoming threat you can act quickly and before you are sure if the threat is real or not. Plus not have a negative monetary disincentive thinking that “it would be a waste of money do I really need to do this?”. People, even people with money act differently if there is a cost in every decision.Speaking of skiing in the 90’s I was in Lake Tahoe and there was an avalanche that closed the road to the condo that we were staying at. I didn’t wait to find out if the road would be opened or when it would be opened. So immediatly I drove in the other direction to the closest town (might have been Truckee) and marched in and rented a hotel room before anybody else got there. Others were probably still thinking “is this necessary?”. So I got the room and we took a nap and later found out the road was cleared and opened. The hotel needed the room and didn’t even charge us. Not that that mattered. I just looked at the downside risk (1 night for a hotel room – $150 let’s say) vs. the upside “avoidance of pain of not having a place to stay overnight” and made that decision. If at all possible I would tend to think ahead and not react if at all possible.

      4. Jeff Jones

        Have you been watching Doomsday Preppers recently 🙂 Parking in my building in prime location in Williamsburg is $200/mo but still even with parking savings in brk vs man it doesn’t make financial sense to own a car.

        1. LE

          Depends on how much money you have and what your financial obligations are. I think Fred wrote that he owns a Tesla. One for each coast that he lives on. (Maybe he rented the one on the West Coast for all I know..) Plus at least one car that he keeps in the Hamptons. (Outlier example for sure but I would imagine that there are many people who can easily afford to get a car but choose not to do so. Not just for money reasons but because of the social proof of what others are doing <— and this is important). [1]Of course I don’t live there so what do I know to even comment!My car gets parked right outside my office on a slant so nobody can get next to it and ding the doors.[1] Really important concept. Reason that there are so many chef ovens in kitchens …

          1. William Mougayar

            “parked…on a slant”You must either have an oversized pick-up truck, or a fancy little sports car 😉

          2. LE

            I found the attached envelope on my window last year when I parked it at another location on the same lot.I do the same thing when I pickup coffee at the starbucks in the AM (I find an open area not right in front of the door or anything). I find it easier to pull out and I don’t really care what anyone thinks.After all where is it law that you have to park in a defined space? The spots should be wider is my thinking. Not so narrow that the car next to you can dent your door. The only thing I care about is if someone damaged the car out of spite and I have already ruled that out (for a few reasons).What is the lot owner going to do to me? In the case of where my office is at I own several units and I am on the board and I know they aren’t going to do anything. (Not to mention that I brought in 15k in lot rental income that I negotiated with a restaurant that wanted to use our parking so they should actually bow down to me!) (They had offered $1000).

          3. William Mougayar

            You are special, definitely 😉

        2. LE

          Have you been watching Doomsday Preppers recently :)I like to think proactively about avoiding problems if at all reasonably possible. [1] Not be reactive like they do in the government and in the media. Where when something happens then they try to solve the problem even if there really isn’t any statistical evidence that the problem needs to be solved. Just the fact that it happened is enough to get them to try to prevent it from happening again.[1] I am not even saying for sure that having a car in NYC fits into this category but it’s something that I would consider along with other reasons for doing so if I lived there.

    4. BillSeitz

      After all the work to accommodate bikes, they make up 1% of commuting trips in NYC. Seems like a wrong alternative to focus on.

      1. Rob Underwood

        What would you suggest? Personally I think improving the subway and adding alternatives like light rail as our host is working on is the top priority. I think anyone who rides the subway every day is keenly aware of the spike in delays and feels like it’s a system that is starting to collapse on its own weight and the demands of so many new transit patterns. That there is no direct subway service to the airports (sorry, the air train doesn’t count) is also a problem that needs to be fixed once and far all. We also need more express trains on lines like the F.In NYC we also need to add density and especially affordable density. This is already causing NYC a lot of pain and forcing a lot of very difficult choices and debates in low rise neighborhoods, especially here in Brooklyn.

        1. BillSeitz

          I agree on subways.And down below I note BusRapidTransit, which has relatively low capital/disruption requirements.http://webseitz.fluxent.com…Real-time location reporting for subways/buses might also improve multi-modal trips. (Maybe that’s a solved problem now, I haven’t kept up…)

  5. falicon

    Regardless of if it works out for them or not, it’s a brilliant use of their soap box and I suspect a lot more companies/apps will quickly follow this lead.BTW – *this* is the power that companies like Twitter, Facebook, and even Google really have (and don’t generally take full or direct advantage of).

    1. Matt Zagaja

      Facebook did do some stuff around organ donation and the marriage equality issue. They’ve also done some interesting experiments to encourage people to vote (though didn’t take sides on who you should vote for). One of the problems is people get sensitive about these things and companies wading into political waters can alienate their customers/users. Some like Tim Cook at Apple seem to embrace their viewpoint and I think it enhances their brand, but I can see why many CEOs would choose not to do this.

      1. JLM

        .There is a difference between advocating on a political issue and dealing with the political process. It is a huge difference.If I were a shareholder in some of these companies I would be writing a letter to the CEO telling him to spend his own money to advocate for his interests.OTOH, I would praise Uber’s CEO for using the platform for the good of the business.Big difference, no?Thanks, as always, for a thoughtful and insightful comment.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. falicon

        Early scale, avoid like the plague…but after a certain tipping point, I believe it can only help define and refine your brand (but you def. have to have the guts to go all in and stick with it).I think the limited experiments that companies have done around using this power has shown great early results (e.g. SOPA)…but of course it can’t saturate or weaken the *real* user experience too much, so it has to be wielded carefully…

  6. JLM

    .Issue advocacy by businesses either individually or collectively is a good thing for our democracy. If gov’t is going to pick winners and losers in the darkness, if gov’t is going to pander to their supporters at the expense of the public good — then let them fight it out in public.I don’t like much about Uber. Think they’re bullies and don’t really have to be.On this score, I say — Go Uber!Take them to the mat. Make them eat shit. Drag them into the light, name names and fuck ’em up. [Got to start thinking about de-caf, y’all.]It is time for business to demand a seat at the table and not act like a bunch of nuns being invited to an orgy.This is also about job creation. Nobody in gov’t really cares about job creation.Make them eat shit.Sorry.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. falicon

      My name is Kevin Marshall and I fully endorse this comment.

      1. JLM

        .My name is The Big Red Car and I fully endorse this endorsement.BRCwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. mikenolan99

      I’m really hoping you come out of your shell someday… Tell us what you really think.:)

    3. Matt Zagaja

      Seasoned businesses are quite skilled at issue advocacy. I think the start-up world is still coming of age in this department. Lots of good work by Julie Samuels and the other folks at Engine Advocacy on this front. I know Etsy worked hard on net neutrality. A lot of times the issues that favor innovation and start-ups differ from those that favor GE or Comcast. It’s very important that the innovators have their voices heard.

      1. JLM

        .As I said elsewhere, there is a big difference between issues that directly impact a business and those that the CEO thinks are “cool.”When Howard Schultz went middle school on race with SBUX money, I said — “Spend your own damn money, Howard.”For the record, I DID try to get a convo going about race at my local corporate coffeeshop and the fourteen people in line behind me threatened to kick my ass.Having been a Ranger, I was willing to take on four or five but a lot of them were women wearing sharp high heels and perfume. I surrendered.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Twain Twain

          Haha, was it the sharp high heels or the perfume?

          1. JLM

            .The heels.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. BillMcNeely

            It’s hard to be mad at Texas woman very long

          3. LE

            Great product just took a look.A few things though. The marketing is almost entirely toward women only 1 man that I can see.The company is in NZ I wonder if they will get US distribution. They should put these on Amazon for US customers. I wonder what IP they have. I really like this idea. I always want my sunglasses on but need to take them off when walking into a store and this is much better than putting them on my head.

          4. Twain Twain

            Exactly. The fact they can be folded into a more compact form for putting into our pockets / bags as well as slung onto bike handles is what’s appealing for me.

        2. LE

          Back in the 90’s I was helping my wife out and struck up a conversation about race with a University policeman. All he kept telling me (he was black) was how I would never understand it and what it was like to be black. I already knew all of this back then. My point is he didn’t even want to discuss it, he just wanted to whine and it became a third rail that simply couldn’t be discussed no matter how you approached it.I have also run into this with other jews discussing jews. They simply don’t want to hear anything that sounds like you are not on board 100% and they believe that there is no room for improvement at all to change why they might be perceived (you don’t find this really today but it existed some time ago) and have prejudice against them. There are good parts and bad parts of every race no question about that.

          1. JLM

            .It is the same thing with veterans.There is a huge difference in whether you served in the Infantry, Armor, Artillery or Combat Engineers v the rest of the otherwise “non-combatant” arms.My pet peeve is West Pointers who serve in the AG or Finance Corps. Why did they want to be soldiers in the first place?I went to a couple of elite schools with Regulars who were going to be in Finance. Why?We veterans can get a little whiny and I, frankly, get tired of hearing guys who were cooks telling me how tough their service was.One of the reasons I am so critical of the VA is that many of their patients are wounded who will never really get better. Particularly the PTSD guys. Anyone who saw action has a bit of PTSD. It’s like sunburn, you’re not immune to it.Still, there is a lot of whining going on out there.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        3. Jeff Jones

          The recent Fast Company article on Race Together was great. Race Together was a poorly executed idea but I applaud Schultz for trying to open up a conversation on such a taboo topic. http://m.fastcompany.com/30

    4. mike

      You’ve been watching too much Trump 🙂

      1. JLM

        .Haha, fair play to you, friend.Here’s what I wrote today on The Musings of the Big Red Car. Actually, what the Big Red Car wrote.http://themusingsofthebigre…Busted.JLMwww.themusingofthebigredcar…

        1. Ryan Frew

          A friend of mine (former publisher of Forbes) has gotten to know Trump on a fairly personal level over the past 20 years. He wrote a column recently meant to display “the real Trump” from a unique perspective. You might find it interesting: http://iconicvoices.jmc.asu

          1. JLM

            .Great read. Thanks. Very well written and insightful.JLMwww.themusingofthebigredcar…

          2. Erin

            Having dated someone with that same personality type, I can say Trump’s beautiful and redeeming qualities are his charm, class, and generosity of spirit. The big teddybear. In order for the psyche of this type to stand up, though, there has to be a good side and a bad side. If they have no one to take care of, their sense of value shrivels, and their identity as a protector tumbles into an abyss. Maybe he sees in today’s America something of the vulnerability that resides in himself. Re: the Mexicans are rapists comment, if Trump can see that his need to reinforce his identity as a protector by setting up a dichtomy between Americans and immigrants comes from his own insecurities about his weaknesses and his fear of annihilation, (his response to which is to beat up his inner child to make him tougher,) he can learn to have compassion on himself. Self-awareness and self-compassion will bring out a wiser Trump who doesn’t depend on flimsy dichotomies to allow his open heartedness, kindness and compassion to come to the surface. MLK was a more thoughtful version of this type. Bill Cosby a lesser one. All of them charmers. Only the self-aware ones should be voted into office.

    5. Richard

      Uber’s focus seems to be teetering on the messenger vs the message. Not a great strategy in lobbying.

      1. JLM

        .Fair play. This is slightly different than lobbying. Lobbying is done one on one — this is a mass message.Every advocacy issue has an immediate problem — some substantial number of your customers who did no know where you stood on things suddenly find out you’re a jerk.There is an immediate negative impact.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Joe Cardillo

          True, and it’s worked pretty well for Airbnb. Ultimately there’s plenty of good done by Uber and value provided, but when you’ve also screwed up as much as they have and decide to throw a nice, simple message like De Blasio bad, Uber good, prepare for backlash. Can’t open a conversation up (which is what in app advocacy looks like in this case) and then lecture people.

    6. BillMcNeely

      as a driver I would like more say on issues like pay with Uber.

  7. mikenolan99

    I’m using Uber more and more in Minneapolis – it has changed my relationship with my city – for the better.Our state recently wrestled with proposed legislation as well – and Uber/Lyft/etc. won a reprieve for the time being.On the occasions I do use cabs, invariably it is a dirty, old, cranky experience… no ease of use, no on-line receipt, and no reason to fight for their way of life.But hey – I used to own radio stations – and we were once the incumbent technology – and I remember how we tried to fight TV with regulation. (OK, not really, I’m not 80…)

  8. Jess Bachman

    There’s orders of magnitude in difference between digital advocacy for an open internet and ‘growthhacking’ advocacy for a for-profit corporation like Uber. Sure it may work, or not, once, but repeated use is just going to poison the well of this type advocacy. It will become too easy to ignore I suspect.

    1. JLM

      .I agree more with you than you agree with yourself.Caviar is only caviar when it is a smidgen on a cracker. When there is a 55 gallon barrel of it, it is just fish eggs.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Matt Zagaja

      Already happened to e-mail and banner ads. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, marketers ruin everything.

    3. Ana Milicevic

      I don’t see it as advocating for Uber itself but for on-demand transportation options. Right now Uber has the best passenger experience. In 5 years, who knows. But I don’t want to be debating whether or not on demand transpo should be around in 5 years and that’s how I’m reading De Blasio’s argument here (let’s stick with the old medallion racket, it’s good enough; well, it’s not).

    4. Scott Belsky

      I feel that this “facilitated mass advocacy” by a for-profit is much more acceptable than the current state of private money in lobbying/politics and privately funded Super-PACS that represent the interests of a few people rather than any mass of people.

      1. Renee


  9. brianwats

    I used to live a few doors down from that address lol. In fact, that’s where I lived when I worked at USV… *looks around*

    1. fredwilson

      That was from Joel’s phone. What is it about that location and being an analyst at USV?

  10. Vijay Venkatesh

    At the risk of being the only voice of opposition, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. The Mayor’s support comes from users of public transport and unions and he’s listening to his constituency, on the left. I was shocked when I saw this on the app – seemed more like bullying not advocacy. Based on the data, it should be ok to question it.

    1. fredwilson

      You aren’t alone. I agree with you

    2. Matt Zagaja

      For reasons I have yet to comprehend there are some people who believe antagonizing their opposition will lead to them changing their hearts and minds. I have yet to see it work.

  11. Jason T

    I love Uber. Buy they’re assholes.In-app advocacy is fine, but be careful how much you fall in love with it. Ultimately, it only serving the needs of the business. Or even worse, a CEOs personal pet project.No thanks. People still need to think for themselves. Decide what THEY want to advocate. Where’s the app for that?It feels a little like mass-market news. Which I universally avoid because I don’t want a bunch of idiots deciding for me what’s important.I suppose in-app advocacy is slightly better because at least you’re a customer. But its alao slightly worse because its being forced on you.Not sure how I feel about being a pawn in Uber’s political strategy. Like I said, I love Uber, but they’re assholes. They probably just need to earn my trust and love before they ask me to help them.

    1. JLM

      .Point made and agree with you.Advocacy is about them educating you to get you to help yourself. It is right up there with propaganda and proselytizing which have gotten a very bad name.Can you imagine how powerful Uber would be if they had a soul? Or even rented one?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Jason T

        Does Apple, the hippest company on the planet have a soul? How about REI? They just have brands and a culture.Human beings, on the other hand? We can feel a deep responsibility to make the world a better place. That feels more like soul to me.So when companies frame their own agendas as ways to “make the world a better place” it feels dishonest. Same for net neutrality and just about every other “pro-business” agenda out there. I’m not saying i don’t support them, I’m just saying they’re all about making shareholders richer. Why should most people care at all about that? They shouldn’t.

        1. Richard

          Companies are just people.

        2. JLM

          .No argument with that. In the end, any company is run by an individual so we are looking through to their soul, no?Pro-business is pro job creation, in my book. So when I advocate for business and job creation, I am advocating for jobs, better pay and better outcomes for individuals.One of the reasons I am opposed to unfettered immigration is because the American worker has seen his income go down — Obamacare has made it go down also — and 5-20MM low skill, low wage expectation workers are going to keep wages down for the next 20 years.One has to look through actions to taste the outcomes before making a judgement on their prudence, no?Thanks for your great comment.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        3. Ryan Frew

          If this is Business 101, sure, a company’s sole purpose is to provide value to shareholders. However, I think it sounds jaded to suggest that companies never feel passionate about improving the world or the lives of their users. If that, in fact, is a company’s passion, can’t they advocate for things without being dishonest?

  12. Jen van der Meer

    I would like to see citizenry go both ways.Why not a rating and complaint system for citizens, to create the same benefits of having a regulated license plate number.I’m an Uber early adopter, but more often than not I’m a pedestrian, and have been on more than one occasion nearly run over by a speeding Uber, or witness to a bicycle pile up as an overeager Uber drive pulls into a bike lane, gets out of the car, and opens the door for a passenger.I would have loved to have rated that Uber at that moment, and likely would have called a number to complain. I can do this with regulated taxis and livery services.In fact, while we are at it I would love to rate the Airbnb hotel that abuts my house in the w. village.

    1. ErikSchwartz

      “or witness to a bicycle pile up as an overeager Uber drive pulls into a bike lane, gets out of the car, and opens the door for a passenger.”A daily occurrence in SOMA on my brief 1 mile bike ride from Caltrain to the office.

  13. Richard

    Los Angeles has a local downtown bus system that costs .35 cents per ride.And it shows up within 5-10 minutes. There are 6 lines that traverse the city. For rides less than 2 miles, it is a no brainer. We need a mix of transportation options, including cigarette smoke free streets!

  14. LE

    What I don’t like about all of this is what I don’t like about social media’s reach many times. A statement is made and people take action on that statement (a protest or boycott or as this shows “email the mayor and city council”) without fully understanding or even vetting whether the statement and the underlying facts are true. It’s kind of a modern day witch hunt.

  15. William Mougayar

    I thought De Blasio was “tech friendly.”But his proposal isn’t just against UBER. It targets all ride-hailing apps, and tech for that matter. I heard Google, Yahoo and Twitter have signed the letter protesting what he wants to do.

    1. Richard

      LAX is about to pass legislation allowing Uber ET al pick-ups. Smart move. Restricts drivers who have has license suspended in last 5 years.

      1. William Mougayar

        Great. I want UBER to win as it will open the floodgates for all other tech-based such services.

      2. ErikSchwartz

        So all the times Uber drivers have picked me up at LAX was illegal?

  16. LE

    The Mayor and his administration want a temporary hiatus on additional Uber drivers on the roads in NYC while they complete a congestion study to see what impact the massive influx of Ubers on the roads in NYC are having on traffic.This is smart and makes sense. After all getting the genie back in the bottle is impossible. Once the roads are flooded (if that actually happens) reversing that simply isn’t going to easily happen.

  17. Salt Shaker

    I’m hardly a “De-Blah-sio” fanboy, but I wonder to what extent Uber is impacting MTA ridership in NYC, an agency w/ a continually widening budget gap? There are now roughly 14K registered Uber drivers in NYC, or 500 more than the traditional yellow cab. If De-Blah-sio’s initiatives help retard MTA cutbacks, which save jobs, then that’s a huge voting constituency in his pocket. This guy is incredibly politically motivated, and very much looking to make a name for himself on a national stage, without really doing shit to date on his home turf, other than alienate the entire NYC police dept.Bloomberg a few years back tried to legislate “congestion pricing” in NYC (I believe an $8 surplus for peak rides south of 60th street.) That initiative died on the vine in Albany, but I can see De-Blah-sio possibly resurrecting something similar, on a more moderate and less onerous scale.This is all about politics and money kids, nothing more, nothing less.

    1. JLM

      .Damn good point, Salty. As usual.Well played. Nice volley at the net.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Jeff Jones

      Congestion pricing sounded promising when I read about this back in 2010 during Bloomberg years. There’s a giant spreadsheet called the Balanced Transportation Analyzer that allows you to come up with your own congestion pricing taking into account factors such as air pollution, MTA ridership, traffic times and moe importantly who is more financially impacted commuters vs. NYC residents. http://www.nnyn.org/kheelpl

  18. William Mougayar

    One city counsellor in Toronto has written a letter warning the 1/2 million tourists currently visiting Toronto during the Pan Am games:”I want to warn pan am games visitors that they risk being charged and fined up to $20,000 if they use any unlicensed bandit taxis like UBER in Ontario.”http://burl.co/55134C5When there are moronic politicians that are saying stupid things like that and instilling fear on visitors, I’m not surprised UBER is fighting back.

  19. Brandon Burns

    “I am not sure it will work because the constituency that elected Mayor De Blasio is more of the subway rider crowd than the Uber crowd.”De Blasio won 73% of the city vote, including 63% of people earning over $100k — I’m pretty sure there’s significant crossover btwn his supporters and Uber users.http://www.nytimes.com/proj…Coming up in ad agencies, I’m particularly interested in in-app messaging like this. TV and outdoor advertising still outperforms almost all digital channels on almost every important marketing campaign metric. But that comparison is usually vs. display advertising (e.g. Facebook ads, sponsored tweets, etc.). Will be interesting to see if the non-ad-promotional-message-integrated-into-the-interface like Uber’s latest stunt provides some better metrics.

  20. Renee

    This seems like it will be a very effect strategy for easily turning users into grassroots advocates – much more effective than email at creating a sense of urgency. In SF, Airbnb is going to have to fight a proposition on the Nov 2015 ballot in an off-year, low-turnout election with other “tenants-rights” props on the ballot. They would probably benefit from a strategy like this.

  21. ErikSchwartz

    It’s really passive-aggressive and a bit too ad hominem for my taste.

  22. Salt Shaker

    A partial list of NYC passenger Bill of RIghts when riding in a Medallion yellow cab:1) Driver will take passenger to any destination in NYC, Westchester, Nassau, or Newark Airport2) Driver will take the most direct route or one of the passenger’s choice3) A safe and courteous driver who obeys all traffic laws4) A knowledgeable driver who speaks English and knows City geography5) Working seatbelts for all passengers6) A driver who does not use a cell phone while driving (hand-held or hands free)7) A clean taxicab: interior, exterior and partitionVirtually every cab ride I’ve EVER taken in NYC has fallen short in at least 1 or 2 of these areas, and sometimes several. Instead of stifling competition, De Blasio needs to insure driver/passenger obligations w/ Medallion cabs are being met. They’re currently not.If city congestion is his overriding concern, a very valid one btw, then create a better incentive for using mass transit. How has the MTA responded to increased competition? By continually raising prices w/ no regard for enhancing value. They’re not operating in a vacuum, yet the MTA functions like they are in the face of increased competition. Make New Yorkers re-think the price/value of mass transit vs. car services like Uber by testing stronger/different price/usage options instead of relying on the status quo (e.g., bi-annual price increases).

  23. William Mougayar

    I so want UBER to continue winning, ” How Uber is ending the dirty dealings behind Toronto’s cab business”http://www.theglobeandmail….Who else is fighting those battles as aggressively and effectively?

    1. LE

      I just started to read that actually. I have to say (regardless of the truth and I don’t doubt it’s accuracy) it reads like a Matt Taibbi special from Rolling Stone magazine.To wit:I discovered that almost none of Toronto’s city-issued taxi licenses – known as “plates” – were in the hands of working cab drivers. Instead, they were held by people who made others pay to use them.Among the key players was Mitch Grossman, a businessman whose family had collected more than 100 plates. These plates gave Grossman a pharaoh’s power.If a driver wanted to use one of his family’s plates, Grossman could force him to buy an overpriced car from his sales operation, finance it through a family firm called Symposium Finance (where rates reached 28 per cent) then join Royal Taxi, the Grossman family’s taxi brokerage.Keys: “working class” (good) “Grossman pharaoh” (bad)”could force him” (bad) “Instead, they were held by people who made others pay to use them.”Instead of what? Giving them away for free?And so on. Nobody is forcing anyone to do anything. Try to rent space in Manhattan it’s expensive. Someone has snapped up property if there are no takers at that price rental and sale prices will drop.Where is written that there is something bad about making money? This is, to me, an example of entrepreneurship at it’s finest. The fact that there is an artifact of the “poor cab driver” is an entirely different story. Grossman isn’t doing anything wrong by trying to buy up cab medals and guess what? If there wasn’t an oversupply of ready willing and able drivers Grossman would have to stop charging so much.This of course is a separate issue from whether the “system” should be different. I just really hate to see this type of dump over someone who is in a position to take advantage of a market condition when they are able to do so.Forgetting Uber, in a real market there are buyers and sellers. If a fleet owner can’t find drivers at a particular wage level and price he would be forced to lower his asking prices. Apparently that never happened and wasn’t the case.Lastly, as we now know nothing is guaranteed as the medallion price has dropped showing that there is risk in almost any business venture and nothing is guaranteed.Had the “poor drivers” bought medallions at 1/10th of the price that Grossman did they would also face a declining asset, right? Maybe they dodged a bullet.

      1. William Mougayar

        I read half of it, but liked the title & the fact that the medaillons prices were falling down, supposedly due to UBER. It’s a generational changing of intermediaries, and it doesn’t happen easily.And ironically, I think UBER’s position might get weakened in the future, once they knock down the legal barriers. There’s always room for #2, #3, #4 players.

        1. LE

          Good point. And unlike patent protection (for hard work) others can come in after the trail has been blazed and you are wide open.In theory I guess a non profit association, taking less of a cut, could very well make a dent in their model.

  24. rbrke

    For next Friday, can we have a discussion about Beats 1, our first global radio. I haven’t bought into Apple Music but, begrudgingly, Beats 1 has earned my respect.

  25. pointsnfigures

    Good for Uber. They ought to use an app (Phone2Action http://phone2action.com/) to help people contact their representatives.

  26. LE

    You are angry and you think it sucks but you will still use the app. And they know that.