THE UBER EFFECT
Ever notice that some things we do in the name of justice, lead to unwittingly doing injustice to others?
It happens. Mostly because we don’t think through a scenario. We just hear about a new outrageous statement or event and click! It’s a way to cast a vote for humanity.
What Could Go Wrong?
Physics 101. Newton’s Third Law. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It was amazing to observe the perimeter aspects of that Third Law at work when the “Delete Uber” meme permeated social media channels in early February. It was something “we the people” could do to make our voices heard, especially since 90% of Congress doesn’t seem to listen to us.
We just wanted the attention of the owners of Uber. We wanted justice for Americans who want to live in a safe, peaceful, caring, just and honest society where lives are respected and civility is exercised. We’d like to enjoy a true and structured democracy with checks and balances to over-ride egregious errors in judgment and ensure no one is above the law. That’s all.
On hearing all the news pileups, we thought instantly that we could express our discontent by deleting Uber. And tweeting and blogging about the whole mess of bad memos, moves, reversals and lies. The guy who runs Uber is a friend of Trump’s and he did a bad bad thing. He said YES to joining Trump’s “Forum” of business leaders.
It seemed like a good idea at the time–deleting the Uber app. It seems that the mass outcry made a difference. A little. But the quote by Kempis warns us to consider inherent trigger factors such as distraction and lack of discipline.
However, “Not every affection which seems good, is to be immediately followed.”
As more than 200,000 Uber account holders, deleted their Uber apps (some uninstalled the account) Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick resigned from President Trump’s economic advisory forum, a group of billionaire business giants formed to advise Trump on job growth. SCORE for the 98 percent. Only problem is the guy at the bottom, the one the Uber-deleters were representing, the Uber driver, got burned at the same time.
Rewind. On January 27,2017, a series of near-simultaneous events, starting with Trump’s ban on immigrants entering the United States, from selected Muslim-majority countries, resulted in thousands of travelers detained and stranded at major airports and resulted in unhappy Uber customers. That means a bad night for Uber drivers.
Here’s the best timeline I can piece together.
· Friday, January 27-Trump signs executive order to ban some Muslims entering the country, followed by
· un-countable street protests and exchanges of pros and cons via social media, and
· a one hour boycott of JFK Airport by an affiliation of New York cabbies, which prompted
· a memo heard ‘round the world’ that the CEO of UBER (rider services) Travis Kalanick, allegedly sent to his UBER team telling them-in Uber-code-that surge costs to consumers would be decreased and there were lots of NYC cab spots open (not nice)
· a closer look at Kalanick which revealed his ties to Trump, and triggered stories of his profiting from the cabbie boycott
· a counter move by the social media circuit to delete the UBER app from their devices, in support of Muslim communities and in protest of Kalanick’s ties to Trump
· Kalanick’s resignation from the billionaire-club
For those of you who deleted Uber, you made an impact—enough to get Kalanick to step off. So even if the idea was to boycott the company in protest, you couldn’t hit ’em where it hurts for as long as you needed to because you found out that Uber’s competition, LYFT has its own set of issues. Uber came out this time with a few bruises–mostly ego–but only because Kalanick didn’t want his inclusion in the forum to be “misconstrued as an endorsement of the administration’s policies” and because some very brave employees challenged him to walk the talk.
However, that deleted app may have hurt hundreds if not thousands of Uber drivers who earn relatively low wages as independent contractors. In the Bay Area, it’s roughly $10- $12 an hour in a six hour day. I have it from decent sources that the average pay may be higher in New York and Los Angeles. That’s not bad for a college student who wants to earn pocket change, but for a driver who really counts on it to feed a family, it’s quite simply indentured service wages, especially when you add gas, and wear and tear on your car. So, there’s that.
Even though I may inadvertently draw more negative attention to Uber with this writing, these growth tech companies have to decide and be held accountable. Clearly, it’s difficult to be associated with Mr. Trump and not be seen as a supporter. Times are hard. Tips are rare. The kids all need new underwear. Most of Silicon Valley knows this. Kalanick took a foolish step. Maybe he’ll know better next time after a refresher course in physics.
“The backlash illustrated the difficult path ahead for technology executives in working with Trump in a bitterly divisive political climate. Protests were scheduled to take place at Uber offices around the country on Thursday.”
Fast forward. Here are the remaining “Forum” members in the event you need to unleash some anger and make a difference. Just think it through.
Stephen A. Schwarzman (Forum Chairman), Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone;
Paul Atkins, CEO, Patomak Global Partners, LLC, Former Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission;
Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors;
Toby Cosgrove, CEO, Cleveland Clinic;
Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co;
Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock;
Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company;
Rich Lesser, President and CEO, Boston Consulting Group;
Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.;
Jim McNerney, Former Chairman, President, and CEO, Boeing;
Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners;
Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM;
Kevin Warsh, Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institute, Former Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System;
Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO, EY;
Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric;
Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winner, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit
J.P. Morgan Chase’s Dimon, 60, by the way, is a self-described Democrat who has shown a liberal stance. Fink, 64, has criticized Donald in the past. He was on a rumored shortened list of candidates for Treasury secretary under Hillary Clinton, if she had won.
So, who’s next? And why?
And how? Depends on what you know and when you know it. And which button you hit. Just remember, your action triggers an equal and opposite reaction. If you boycott a Disney movie because the Disney CEO is on the forum, you might see higher costs at movie theaters. And some very unhappy Disney movie fans.