Is Uber's Ultimate Goal the Privatisation of City Governance?

  • 2016-01-25
  • The Guardian

It’s been a busy summer for Uber. In San Francisco, the app-based transportation service and world’s richest startup is testing on-demand mass transit with its Smart Routes offering – essentially carpools running bus-like routes. Elsewhere, Uber is expanding into China, raising $1.2bn to back a push into 100 Chinese cities over the next year.

To build its Eastern empire, Uber is maintaining its infamously aggressive tacticsby hiring an “elite team of launchers”. The job advertisement sounds like Uber is looking for CIA operatives, not brand ambassadors: “At base, this job entails being dropped into a city or country where Uber has zero brand and physical presence, quickly figuring out who and what make that city run, and then building a new business from scratch – in a matter of weeks – which sets Uber up for long-term success”.

With a well-financed combination of rapid roll-out and local infiltration, Uberhopes to overcome rival services and strict regulation.

This continual growth – new services, new regions, new markets – has many wondering about Uber’s ultimate goals. Uber is flush with cash, explicitly expansionist across the globe, and engages in strong-arm politics. Its goals, and its methods for achieving them, will make an impact.

Image Credit: leeroy