Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Uber’s Employment Model: Sharecropping.

May 15, 2019

Uber's Employment Model: Sharecropping.

After the Civil War, when plantation owners were deprived of a chattel slave workforce, they implemented a form of peonage euphemistically called “sharecropping.” The landowners contracted poor black and white laborers to work their fields as tenants. These independent contractors did the backbreaking work in return for a small share of cotton harvest proceeds, often absorbing the costs of farming and bad harvests. That’s the employment model of rideshare companies like Uber.

Think of Uber’s digital platform as the plantation’s cotton fields. Uber lets the drivers plow use it if they turn over most of their cotton fare money to the plantation platform owner. Drivers absorb the costs of fuel, cellphone, car loans, permits, insurance, and maintenence. And if their mule car dies, the platform owner lets them buy a new one at subprime rates. Healthcare and retirement benefits? Nope.

Drivers are catching on, and so is the public. No wonder rideshare companies are pushing so hard for autonomous vehicles. After all, they automated the cotton fields, didn’t they?

 

More:

“Uber and the labor market,” Lawrence Mishel, The Economic Policy Institute

“Strike All You Want. Uber Won’t Pay a Living Wage.” Sarah Jeong, New York Times

“‘It’s a Laughable Fiction’: How Uber’s $82 Billion Valuation Was Built on a Lie to Its Workers.” Brianna Provenzano. Pacific Standard

“How Corporate Delusions of Automation Fuel the Cruelty of Uber and Lyft,” Brian Merchant, Gizmodo

Related:

“Research: Ride Share Has Increased San Francisco Traffic,” Rachen Swan, SF Chronicle, via Government Technology

“Uber Is a Scam,” Doug Henwood, Jacobin

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Image derived from “In a Cotton Field” by Horace Bradley, from Harper’s Weekly, August 1887 (Library of Congress).

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Namaste! Largest Yoga Studio Chain Is the Biggest Scam

April 10, 2019

Namaste! Largest Yoga Studio Chain Is the Biggest Scam

CorePower Yoga, America’s largest chain of yoga studios, is a pyramid scheme that’s scammed thousands of teachers, promising enlightenment, but not wages.

“At yoga studios around the country, teacher training is a popular way for instructors to supplement income from one-off classes and for students to advance in skill level — to deepen one’s practice, in yogi parlance. It’s not usually promoted as a career path. Rather, teacher training is offered as a kind of advanced workshop.

But CorePower, the country’s largest yoga studio chain, has a distinctly profitable approach: It enlists teachers as salespeople and incentivizes them with bonuses.”

— “Should Every American Citizen Be a Yoga Teacher?” Alice Hines, New York Times

More:

“How Teaching Yoga Is Like Multilevel Marketing,” Tanja Hester, OurNextLife

Related:

“CorePower Yoga Pays $1.4M in Class-Action Lawsuit,” Joy C. Einstein, Martindale

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Image (“Yoga, after a 19th Century Punjabi Manuscript”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com  

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Uber Shrugged

March 27, 2019

Uber Shrugged

Somehow, the sharing economy turned into the sharecropping economy. Mike Monteiro believes it was Ruined by Design, and also that Ayn Rand is a dick.

“Silicon Valley, and specifically the venture capital firms of Silicon Valley, are mostly run by old white men who read Ayn Rand in high school, thought it was great, and never changed their minds.”

“For those of you not familiar with Ayn Rand, she wrote crappy books about the power of individual achievement while she collected social security and started some pseudo-philosophy called ‘objectivism,’ which can be summed up in five words: I got mine, f*ck you.”

Those are the guys who fund the “sharing economy.”

“Once Uber’s goal moved from providing a car-sharing service to using a car-sharing service to make themselves and their investors rich, the delicate balance between drivers, riders, and Uber was destroyed. Only one of those parties was going to benefit from Uber’s future success. There’s nothing wrong with making money, but there is something inherently wrong with profiting from the labor of others without giving them a piece of the success they’ve earned.”

More from Ruined by Design here.

Related:

“Thousands of Uber drivers are striking in Los Angeles,” Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox

“Lyft Drivers Protest Falling Wages as Execs Drum Up Investor Money for $25 Billion IPO,” Patrick Howell O’Neill, Gizmodo

“Lyft’s latest driver perks: bank accounts and car repairs,” Matt McFarland, CNN

“’I’m Pretty Sure That I’m Losing Money at the End of the Day,’” April Glaser, Slate

“Uber and Lyft slashed wages. Now California drivers are protesting their IPOs.”
Faiz Siddiqui, Washington Post

“Lyft and Other Gig-Economy Giants Cash In With IPOs Before Labor Laws catch Up With Them,” Lee Fang, The Intercept

“As IPO soars, can Uber and Lyft survive long enough to replace their drivers with computers?” Faiz Siddiqui and Greg Bensinger, Washington Post

Updates:

“Uber and Lyft Leave Their Drivers by the Side of the Road. Again.” Joe Nocera, Bloomberg

“Disgruntled drivers and ‘cultural challenges’: Uber admits to its biggest risk factors,” Julia Carrie Wong, The Guardian

“The Mounting Fallout from Uber and Lyft’s Disruption of the Taxi Industry,” Angie Schmitt, StreetsBlog

“D.C. Uber Drivers Often Don’t Know What They Earn After Expenses (As Little As $5 An Hour), Study Finds,” Jordan Pascale, DCist

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Image by Mike Licht. Download copies here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Marketing to Doctors

February 28, 2018

 Marketing & Doctors

A while back, John Oliver explained how Big Pharma markets to doctors so they’ll prescribe brand name drugs to patients. As we face another year of corporate deregulation and health care uncertainty, it bears another look:

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Uber is a Taxi Company

December 22, 2017

Uber is a Taxi Company

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Uber is a taxi company, not a digital information system, as the ride-hailing mobile app giant maintained. Down the road, that may mean drivers, who Uber claims are “contractors,”  will have more rights as employees.

More:

“Uber Is a Taxi Service, the E.C.J. Rules, in Major Setback for Firm,” Liz Alderman, New York Times

“Uber suffers setback as EU rules that it’s a transport service, not a digital company,” Sam Meredith and Arjun Kharpal, CNBC

“Europe’s top court just said Uber isn’t a tech company — it’s a cab company,” Zeeshan Aleem, Vox

“Uber is finally getting called on its biggest bluffs,” Alison Griswold, Quartz

“Could Europe’s Uber ruling affect the future of the gig economy?” Hamza Shaban, Washington Post

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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2017: Have a Lethal Christmas!

December 17, 2017

Have a Lethal Christmas!

Francis X. Clines in the New York Times:

“For the single-day binge of gun sales measured annually after Thanksgiving, the F.B.I. received 203,086 requests for background checks. This is the most ever in a single day, topping last year’s Black Friday high of 185,713 requests. (No immediate tweets from President Trump, the candidate of the National Rifle Association, that this is huge in making America great again.)

There were undoubtedly even more guns actually sold, since an F.B.I. request can cover a buyer’s multiple purchases. All seasonal evidence indicates that AR-15 assault rifles, the battlefield knockoffs familiar to so many Americans in the relentless tales of mass shootings, will be under many Christmas trees. ‘Bang for the buck!’ enthused the blog post of one seasonal shopper. ‘I picked up a Bushmaster carbine with rebate for around $400 … I couldn’t be happier.’”

More:

“Guns were Black Friday must-haves, going by the FBI’s record 203,086 background-check requests,” Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post

Related:

“Sandy Hook mom slams Trump for hosting NRA head on anniversary of shooting,” Jacqueline Thomsen, The Hill

“Americans Don’t Really Understand Gun Violence,” David Bernstein, The Atlantic

“America’s gun problem, explained,” German Lopez, Vox

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Big Savings!

November 24, 2017

Big Savings!

The Friday after Thanksgiving or ”Black Friday“ is reserved by global corporations for whipping Americans into a frenzy of over-consumption.  Millions camp out and line up for hours hoping for bargains. Most end up buying things they don’t need at prices they can’t afford.

Save big today. Don’t buy a single thing. If you want to spend something, spend the day with friends and family. Spend time at the library; borrow a book and spend time reading it. Spend time making something. You’re not what you buy. You’re not a “consumer.” You’re a human being.

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Trump’s Shady Russian Business Ties

April 4, 2017

Trump's Shady Russian Business Ties

“. . . USA Today looked at the ‘wealthy Russians and oligarchs from former Soviet Republics — several allegedly connected to organized crime,’ who have invested in Trump-branded real estate, basing the article on a ‘review of court cases, government and legal documents, and an interview with a former federal prosecutor.’ The review focused on ’10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering,’ but the pertinent question now is whether Trump is beholden to Kremlin-linked Russian oligarchs.”
— “Ex-federal prosecutor says shady Russian money is keeping the Trump Organization afloat,” Peter Weber, The Week

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Trump Art Business Boom

March 28, 2017

Trump Art Boom

“Political activism can be measured in several ways: by the number of signatories on a petition, demonstrators at a protest or donations to an organization.

Or, in some cases, the sale of art supplies.

The week before the Women’s March on Jan. 21 in cities across the United States, protesters who were making signs helped fuel increased sales of poster boards by 33 percent and foam boards by 42 percent compared with the same week last year, the consumer research group NPD reported recently. Poster and foam board sales from Jan. 15 to 21 totaled $4.1 million.”

— “Art Supply Sales Jumped in January, Thanks to Protest Signs, Report Says,” Christopher Melema, New York Times

“So if you wanna fight the good fight, maybe consider opening an art store.” — Sarah Cascone

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Value vs Profit

February 27, 2017

“The Greatest Economics Lesson, a short film by Taylor Erickson.

More:

“This Short Film Explains Why Businesses Should Maximize Value Over Profit,” Edwin Rios, Mother Jones

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