Posts Tagged ‘business’

Ivanka Trump Earns Millions From a Rented Government Building

June 18, 2019

Ivanka Trump Earns Millions From a Rented Government Building

Presidential Advisor, sweatshop shmata merchant, and former runway model Ivanka Trump is also an hôtelièr, renting out rooms in a publicly-owned building her Dad’s company leases in Washington. Last year Ms. Trump earned $4 million from her hotel side-hustle.

More:

“Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made as much as $135m last year,” Bernard Condon, AP, via The Guardian

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Top image (Ivanka’s book-like object) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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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

Updates:

“Uber’s Path of Destruction,” Hubert Horan, American Affairs Journal

“Hundreds of Uber Drivers in Toronto Are Joining a Union,” Bryan Menegus, Gizmodo

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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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Tesla Robot Taxis?

April 29, 2019

Tesla Robot Taxis?

Elon Musk must feel sorry for those exploited, underpaid Uber drivers. He wants to replace them with self-driving robot taxis. By next year.

“I feel very confident predicting 1 million autonomous robo-taxis for Tesla next year. Not in all jurisdictions because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere, but I’m confident we will have regulatory approval at least somewhere, literally next year.”

— “Elon Musk says Tesla will have 1 million autonomous taxis on the road by next year,” Michael Burke, The Hill

More:

“Elon Musk thinks Tesla can build 1M ‘robotaxis’ in the next year,” Cale Guthre Weissman, Fast Company

“Tesla’s 2020 self-driving car promise sounds too good to be true because it is,” Emily Stewart, Recode

Update:

“Tesla’s long-shot robotaxi plan,” Joann Muller, Axios

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

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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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The Birth of the Price Tag

November 20, 2018

For centuries buying something meant haggling, negotiating with shopkeepers to get a lower price. As a result, the same goods cost different people different prices. In the mid-19th century, U.S. Quakers came to believe that charging people different amounts for the same item was immoral, so they started using price tags which, if not more moral, are more efficient.

An NPR Planet Money video.

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Fashion knockoffs are totally legit.

October 16, 2018

Fashion knockoffs are not counterfeits, they’re totally legit. Cleo Abram of Vox explains.

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NYC Hot Dog Stand License: $289,500. Per Year.

September 20, 2018

Licenses for a New York City hot dog stand can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. There are 3,100 hot dog stand licenses in New York City, and there’s a 20 year waiting list for them. The licenses, not the hot dogs.

A “Half as Interesting” video from Wendover Productions

Update:

“‘Unjust and immoral’: street vendors call on New York City to issue more permits,” Erin Durkin, The Guardian

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Starbucks in Italy: ‘Costruiscilo, e loro verranno’

September 10, 2018

Starbucks in Italy: 'Costruiscilo, e loro verranno'

Espresso made it’s world debut in Milan at the 1906 World’s Fair. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz claims his visit to Milan 35 years ago inspired him to go into the coffeehouse business, so he’s thanking the Italian city by draining business from its venerable coffee bars. The huge Milanese Starbuckery opened Friday in an historic former post office, and plans are brewing for Starbucks in Verona, Venice, and other Italian towns.

More:

“Will espresso-loving Italy embrace country’s 1st Starbucks?” Luca Bruno and Frances DeMilio, Associated Press

“Starbucks fulfills its Italian dream. Italians are yet to be enchanted.” Aisha Hassan, Quartz

“Starbucks’ Italian dream comes true, but it is not cheap,” Francesca Landini, Reuters

“Does Italy Want More Cafes? Starbucks Will Find Out,” Elisabetta Povoledo, New York Times

“Starbucks In Italy, Latest Stop On U.S. Food Imperialism Tour,” Brant deBoer, Il Sole 24 Ore, via Worldcrunch

 

Note: “Costruiscilo, e loro verranno” = “Build it and they will come.” Maybe.

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Image (“Young Girl Blogging, after Ramon Casas i Carbó”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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How to Sell a Million Dollar Work of Art

August 23, 2018

How do you sell (very) strange artwork for millions of dollars? Dion Lee explains.

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