Uber isn't remarkable, it's better

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The practice of hiring vehicles for transportation goes back to the 17th century. 

Dateline London 1635, the Hackney Carriage Act was the first legislation passed controlling horse-drawn carriages for hire in England.

Dateline Paris 1640, Nicolas Sauvage offers horse-drawn carriages and drivers for hire.

The taximeter was invented by the German inventor, Wilhelm Bruhn in 1891. The taximeter measured the distance or time a vehicle traveled and allowed an accurate fare to be determined.

It is widely believed Gottlieb Daimler built the world's first dedicated taxi in 1897 called the Daimler Victoria. The vehicle came equipped with the newly invented taximeter and was delivered to Friedrich Greiner, a Stuttgart entrepreneur who started the world's first motorized taxi company.

By the end of the 19th century, automobiles began to appear on city streets throughout America. It was not long before a number of these cars were hiring themselves out in competition with horse-drawn carriages.

Soon horsepower was removed from horses, and natural resources would be the horsepower to move vehicles. Gas-powered taxis came first to Germany, Paris, and London, and then to New York in the year 1907.

The Travis Kalanick of his day was Harry Allen.

Allen created The New York Taxicab Company and imported 600 gas-powered taxis from France in 1907, and he borrowed the word "taxicab" from London.

To ensure his vehicles were full and quickly recognized, he painted his taxis yellow.

Flash forward over 100 years later, and we now have Uber.

A company which owns no vehicles.

A company which employs no drivers.

A company with a valuation of $120 billion.

This valuation makes the company one of the most valuable transportation companies operating anywhere on the planet.

Consider Uber's valuation is more than General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles combined.

At a $120 billion, Uber's is worth more than double the average of companies in the NASDAQ 100 Index on a price-to-2018 sales basis. It gives the ride-hailing company a multiple of about 12 times, compared with an average of 4.8 times for the index.

Big numbers for sure, but why?

Three reasons:

1. Global scale
2. Reduced friction
3. Reduced anxiety

Uber's global scale is stupendous.

Where Harry Allen was limited to the five boroughs of New York City, current Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi can provide transportation in 65 countries and over 600 cities worldwide, plus the company completes 15 million trips each day. 

Uber has access to 3 million drivers who can move passengers from airports to city centers, from nightclubs to after-hour parties.

Also, as a consumer of the service, your experience and expectations can be harmonized regardless if you are in Indianapolis, London, or São Paulo.

Uber has dramatically reduced friction.

The premier etiquette organization, The Emily Post Institute, yes there is such an institute, recommends tipping your taxi driver between 15 and 20 percent of the total trip fare. Plus If you've traveled with luggage and your driver has helped you, it's proper etiquette to tip more. Beautiful, no set guidelines.

Also, you'll need to find out ahead of time if your cabbie accepts a credit card. If you don't make sure and you don't have enough cash, you'll have to leave your luggage and gear as collateral as you stumble around Singapore's Changi Airport at o-dark-thirty to find an ATM.

Hop in Uber anywhere, anytime, and you'll never need cash. You'll never need to fumble with credit cards and swiping. You can tip as suggested and even add commentary on the state of the car's interior and the cabbie's choice of music.

Uber has significantly reduced anxiety.

Most places allow a taxi to be hailed or flagged on the side of the street as it is approaching. Another option is a taxi stand. Finally calling a central dispatch office for a taxi ride is an option. 

So ringing up a ride isn't new, even if it is via an app. Get an Uber is the same as call a taxi.

Uber didn't create new technology; it deployed consumer behavior tactics. Before 2009 users of taxis had no knowledge when a cab would appear on their street, when a taxi would arrive at your door, or who is behind the wheel.

Now with a comfort inducing screen and the anxiety-reducing Pac-Man-like vehicle avatar displaying your ride shuffling across a map to pick you up, you now have knowledge.

The knowledge that your ride will appear, when it will arrive, and who is behind the rule - plus the most anxiety reducing tactic - you can inform family and friends where you are in your journey and when they can expect you - further reducing their stress.

Lessons here for entrepreneurs and thought leaders:

Few ideas are new. Uber is executing the 17th century idea of taxis and the 19th century idea of telephones.

What is new are the tactics Uber is employing to execute these old ideas.

Having a service or product that allows you to be global from day one.

Having a service or product that allows you to reduce end-users burdens.

Having a service or product that allows you to reduce end-users uncertainties.


Marc A. Ross specializes in thought leader communications and global public policy for public affairs professionals working at the intersection of globalization, disruption, and politics.

Chinese Politics: President or Emperor?


The announcement that China will drop term limits on the presidency clears the way for Xi Jinping to rule the country indefinitely. Markets initially welcomed China’s plan to change its constitution, and many analysts say the political certainty should be mostly positive for Chinese assets as it bolsters the Xi’s ability to drive through policies, such as deleveraging, proper economic reform, and anti-pollution campaigns. The absence of checks and balances, however though, raises the risk of policy errors and making too many financial moves solely for political, faction pleasing reasons, and not sound business reasons.

In the short-term, the White House says China's proposal to abolish presidential term limits is an internal matter for Beijing. "I believe that's a decision for China to make about what's best for their country," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a Monday press briefing.

However, in the long-term, I suspect the American think-tank and Old China Hand community will be more critical of this Chinese policy decision, thus forcing more friction between America’s corporate multinationals and the Federal government institutions tasked with managing the US-China relationship.

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Caracal Global and specializes in global communications and thought leader management at the intersection of politics, policy, and profits. Working with boardrooms and C-Suite executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and disruptive startups, Marc helps leaders create compelling communications, focused content, and engaging presentations.

Protest votes come in all shape, sizes, and educational levels



We have seen it all. In recent elections, voters across the world have been telling the do-gooder, globalist, elite no - it's their time now.

The protest vote of middle England telling the cosmopolitan elites of London they have had enough, and they want out of the European Union.

The protest vote from the Catalonians that want more say and leave the support of Madrid to go their own independent way.

The protest vote from salt of the earth Americans living in the Great Lakes region who believe wearing a football jersey is a proper air travel outfit telling those who crafted multilateral trade deals and forged a more multicultural nation they do not get to pick the winner of the White House this time.

But last night was different.

Finally the do-gooder, globalist, elite had a chance to cast a protest vote.

The suburban citizens of NoVa who have more in common with those living in New Jersey and commuting into Manhattan than their fellow Old Dominion citizens voted in a protest wave to send a message to the bloviator in chief and the do nothing congressional members - you ain't getting it done.

The protest vote that sent a Democrat to the governor's house in Richmond will be embraced and applauded by Team Obama and those who wished HRC be their president - and they should feel good and elated. It has been a horrible 365 days for them. Last night was their first real feel-good moment to halt the Trumpster since their disastrous performance the previous election day.

But, as is frequently done, believing they have found the secret sauce of winning in the age of Trump will be a loser. They haven't found anything. Ralph Northam is no way the future of the DNC. His only unique skill-set was that he was on the ballot last night.

Just like the Brexit referendum, the Catalonia vote for independence, and Trump's candidacy, all were only vehicles to send a protest, a message, a reminder, to those in power that the ways things are operating aren't working.

When voter data goes into a deep drive, analysists will find scores of suburban NoVa Republicans with dual incomes, hefty tax bills, jumbo mortgages, outstanding student loan debt, passports, multiple college degrees, Economist subscriptions, Class Pass memberships, Whole Foods shopping trips powered by InstaCart, and Patagonia jackets in their closets voted Dem for the first time in their lives. Finally, they had a vehicle to send a protest vote to Trump's Republican-controlled Federal government.

The protest was against the shameful and petulant behavior emanating from the Oval Office. The protest was against a Ryan and McConnell led Congress whose only success is sending Neil Gorsuch to SCOTUS. The protest was against the complete failure to pass infrastructure spending, to reform healthcare, to legislate a tax system that is entrepreneurial, global, and fair.

Waking up this morning, you have to believe the Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives next fall. Not only will we see more GOP members say adios to walking the hall of RHOB, but funding will become a challenge, and there will be more talk of Trump getting legitimate primary challengers.

If you are a Republican Member of Congress with a Whole Foods in your district you probably barely slept last night. As you wake-up to Playbook and Morning Joe, you know you have a decision to make this morning - be silent on Trump's behavior and leadership or do what is right and vote for legislation that is best for the long-term success of the nation.

Either way - it might not be enough.

A protest vote is coming.

About the author: Marc A. Ross is the founder of Caracal Global, a strategy firm specializing in global business communications working with boardrooms and the C-Suite at the intersection of politics, policy, and profits. Ross holds an MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.