Uber isn't remarkable, it's better

Ross Rant March 2018.png

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.

Caracal Business Insider | December 7, 2017


Jerusalem, Naples, China, Putin, Volkswagen, Ford, Champions League

Caracal Business Insider | Daily
December 7, 2017
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Caracal Business Insider = Global Business News at the Intersection of Politics + Policy + Profits.

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia


WSJ: Trump’s Israel move launches uncertain chapter for Mideast

FT - Editorial: Trump’s dangerous decision on Jerusalem: Recognising the holy city as Israel’s capital is a senseless provocation.

Nikkei: Asia's Muslim leaders slam Trump's decision on Jerusalem

Indonesian foreign minister vows to stand 'with the Palestinian people'

NAFTA: CBS News reports, Mexican Ambassador to the US Geronimo Gutierrez says odds are "now about 50-50" that NAFTA will be terminated.

Trump worries Germans more than Kim Jong-un: The Times reports, Germans believe that Trump is a bigger challenge than Russia, Turkey or North Korea, a survey has revealed as the country's foreign minister urged a more assertive stance towards the US president.

"Only 43 percent of Germans viewed Washington as one of Berlin’s two most important foreign partners, down from 60 percent a year ago."

Naples' pizza twirling wins UNESCO ‘intangible’ status: Guardian reports, the traditional art of pizzaiuolo, handed down for generations in southern Italian city, secures coveted world heritage honor.

British PM voices confidence on Brexit trade deal: AFP reports, British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday voiced confidence in striking a deal that would allow Britain to open negotiations on post-Brexit trade ties with the EU despite this week's setback.

@Ed_Miliband: What an absolutely ludicrous, incompetent, absurd, make it up as you go along, couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery bunch of jokers there are running the government at the most critical time in a generation for the country.

IndyRef2: The Scottish National Party would trigger a second independence referendum if Scotland were pulled out of the EU customs union and single market against its will.

US firms losing confidence in China business climate: AP reports, US companies in China are seeing their sales improve but are frustrated by policies and regulatory barriers that block better access to the country's lucrative market, according to a survey released Wednesday. The US-China Business Council's survey showed most companies are enjoying better profitability and expecting higher revenues for their China operations as the economy revives. But restricted market access and uncertainty over Beijing's policies toward foreign companies have left them less optimistic about the business climate than in recent years.

What American corporations really think about China: Ken Kapoza in Forbes reports, the number one concern among American multinationals doing business in China is increased competition from the Chinese. Ninety-five percent of companies that participated in a recent survey of U.S. multinationals in China said most of their competitors are local, of which 68% are state-owned. According to the annual member survey by the US-China Business Council.

IMF warns on brewing risks in China's financial system: AFP reports, the International Monetary Fund on Thursday warned of brewing risks in China's banking system as it found dozens of crucial lenders needed to beef up their protection against possible financial crises.

QOTD: “Truth is China stopped being the low labor cost country years ago. That is not the reason to come to China ... the reason is because of the skill.” — Apple CEO Tim Cook

Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive mimics a Ming obsession: FT reports, the absence of reform in China would scupper the success of the president’s campaign.

Australia warned over ‘siding against’ China in security group: SCMP reports, a former Australian foreign minister has warned over his country siding against China in a security grouping with the United States, India and Japan. 

US should disinvite China to RIMPAC naval exercises: The invitation is perplexing, given China's stated objective of displacing the United States in Asia and its demonstrated willingness to bring this about. 
Asia Times - Grant Newsham

Three less understood aspects of Chinese investment in America
Macro Polo - Joy Dantong Ma

Japan eyes air-to-surface missiles that would put North Korea in range: Nikkei reports, Japan looks to deploy its first air-to-surface missiles in the coming years as a means of deterring North Korea from further weapons testing, bringing Pyongyang's missile bases within Tokyo's military reach. 

North Korea threat makes US Olympic participation an ‘open question,’ Nikki Haley says: WP reports, the UN ambassador did not confirm that it was a “done deal” the US government would recommend that its athletes compete in PyeongChang amid rising tensions in the region.

What does she know that we don't know?!?

Russia's Putin to seek re-election in 2018: AFP reports, President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday he would seek re-election in March 2018, a contest opinion polls show he will win comfortably, setting the stage for him to extend his dominance of Russia’s political landscape into the third decade.

@AP: BREAKING: Vladimir Putin declares his intention to seek re-election as Russian president.

Putin is amazing. On the same day, he announced his re-election campaign he also announced his election victory.

FP: In return to Cold War posture, US sending sub hunting planes to Iceland


Franken: More than 30 of Al Franken’s Democratic colleagues urged him to quit the Senate. Minnesota Public Radio reports Franken will resign in a Senate floor speech.

US Navy unveils a new slogan = “Forged by the Sea” 

How the Kremlin tried to pose as American news sites on Twitter: AdAge reports, Kremlin-backed Russian Internet Research Agency operated dozens of Twitter accounts masquerading as local American news sources that collectively garnered more than half-a-million followers. More than 100 news outlets also published stories containing those handles in the run-up to the election, and some of them were even tweeted by a top presidential aide.

As wildfires scorch Southern California, officials warn that more blazes could erupt in coming days: WP reports, Gov. Jerry Brown declared states of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties after fires forced tens of thousands to escape, destroying hundreds of structures and emptying homes, hospitals, schools and multimillion-dollar mansions alike.


Marc A. Ross of Caracal Global works with clients to develop executive education lectures, speeches, presentations, workshops, and conferences to help demystify Globalization, Disruption, and American politics. Learn more here.


Cheap tech boom: A new wave of decent, but dirt-cheap, gadgets is about to flood the market—and you can thank Amazon for their creation.

Wall Street banks push back on bitcoin futures plan: FT reports, draft letter to US regulators says financial system ill-prepared for cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin topped $15,000 for the first time Thursday rising more than 40% in the past week alone. 

General Electric’s power division said it was cutting 12,000 jobs as part of its efforts to reduce structural costs by $1 billion next year.

Volkswagen official gets a 7-year term in diesel-emissions cheating: NYT reports, the sentencing of Oliver Schmidt, a former Volkswagen manager in Michigan, was the latest turn in a vast scandal that has tarnished the company’s reputation and has cost the carmaker more than $20 billion in fines and settlements. The sentence, including a fine of $400,000, was imposed by Judge Sean F. Cox in Federal District Court in Detroit four months after Mr. Schmidt, 48, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the federal government and to violating the Clean Air Act. The sentence was in line with the prosecution’s recommendation.

CNBC: Ford betting 'very heavily' China will dominate the electric vehicle market

NYT: China will lead an electric car future, Ford’s chairman says

Bozoma Saint John: can marketing guru restore Uber’s image?

FT: Chinese bike-sharing start-up Ofo raises $1 billion


Tencent says there are only 300,000 AI engineers worldwide, but millions are needed: The Verge reports, a new report from the Chinese tech giant attempts to put a number on the AI talent shortfall.

How Google's crowdsourced GPS app is succeeding as 'the only screen in the car': If you don't drive to work, you probably haven't heard of it - but GPS app Waze is proving indispensable for users and a lucrative new channel for brands.
Campaign - Simon Gwynn

World’s first modular stadium to host 2022 World Cup: Matches in the 2022 FIFA World Cup will take place in a stadium designed to be taken apart and reconstructed elsewhere in a new configuration.


POTD: Shake Shack, disruption, and leadership: Brian Koppelman, on The Moment podcast, interviews Danny Meyer, a New York City restaurateur and the Chief Executive Officer of the Union Square Hospitality Group


UEFA Champions League draw - round of 16:

Bayern München
Manchester City*
Manchester United*
Paris Saint-Germain*
Real Madrid
Shakhtar Donetsk
Tottenham Hotspur*

(*group winners)

The UEFA Champions League round of 16 draw will take place at 6:00 am ET on Monday, December 11. 

Caracal Business Insider | December 6, 2017


Jerusalem, China, ‘The Silence Breakers’, Ford, SoulCycle, International Olympic Committee

Caracal Business Insider | Daily
December 6, 2017
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Caracal Business Insider: Politics + Policy + Profits

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia


Embassy Jerusalem: Trump is poised to reverse decades of policy by declaring Jerusalem Israel’s capital, and moving the US embassy there.

FT: Trump plans to recognise Jerusalem as Israeli capital

Politico: State Department warns of violence ahead of Trump Jerusalem decision

NYT: Emmanuel Macron warns Trump over plan to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

West Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government, but the Palestinians view East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The new Gulf war: How Yemen became the most wretched place on earth

Brexit Britain's troubled quest to 'Asianize' the Commonwealth: London is struggling to find partners, even in India, where it has focused diplomatic efforts.
Nikkei - Humphrey Hawksley

AFP: Corsican nationalists call for 'real autonomy' but suspend bid for independence

Bitcoin extended its eye-popping rally breaking above $12,000.

US-China Business Council 2017 member survey: Top 10 challenges for American companies in China
1.    Competition with Chinese companies
2.    Licenses and approvals
3.    Investment barriers
4.    Uneven enforcement
5.    IPR enforcement
6.    Cybersecurity
7.    Cost
8.    US-China relations
9.    Data flow barriers
10.  Capital controls

You can read the full survey here:

China’s blurry cyber laws give US tech companies no security: WSJ reports, US-China Business Council survey shows widespread worries about lack of detail on new cyber rules six months since they came into force.

The trade group said 82% of respondents “are concerned about the impact of China’s cyber and data regulations.”

Apple’s Tim Cook: No point yelling at China: WSJ reports, the tech exec defends pulling 674 apps at Beijing’s request, says change can't happen from the sideline.

China pledges 'significant' market opening for foreign investors: Reuters reports, China will “significantly” widen market access for foreign investors, state radio on Wednesday quoted vice premier Wang Yang as saying, following a recent move to raise foreign ownership limits in local financial firms.

China mounts a fresh defense of globalization at an economic forum: Bloomberg reports, China “unequivocally rejects protectionism” and will seek to safeguard the global trading system, a top Communist Party official told visiting executives at an economic development forum. “History shows that no one will benefit from a protectionist approach,” Vice Premier Wang Yang told the Fortune Global Forum in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on Wednesday.

Communist China's third era: 2012 to 2035?: Nikkei reports, Xi hangs 'do not disturb' sign as he dreams of belts, roads, and a strong military.

@TIME: See why Chinese President Xi Jinping was named as a runner-up for TIME's Person of the Year 2017 #TIMEPOY

US trade gap soars as imports from China hit record high: Politico reports, the US trade deficit jumped 8.6 percent in October as imports from China and other suppliers hit a record high ahead of the holiday shopping season, a Commerce Department report released Tuesday showed. The monthly trade gap totaled $48.7 billion, the highest level for a full month since Trump took office on Jan. 20.

News flash - Americans like to buy commodity products that assembled in Asia.

Reuters: B-1B bomber joins US-South Korea drills as tensions escalate


Donald Trump Jr. is scheduled to testify today before the House Intelligence Committee behind closed doors.

NYT: Trump’s backing of Moore points to a GOP issue: Chaos

LAT: In Alabama, Bannon decries GOP leaders as Roy Moore battles rival amid molestation allegations

GOP fractures on Roy Moore’s bid for Alabama Senate seat: WSJ reports, Trump’s endorsement brings new support and funding for a candidate who is accused of sexual misconduct, but other Republicans withhold backing.

‘The Silence Breakers’ are Time’s Person of the Year: NYT reports, first it was a story. Then a moment. Now, two months after women began to come forward in droves to accuse powerful men of sexual harassment and assault, it is a movement. Time magazine has named “the silence breakers” its person of the year for 2017, referring to those women, and the global conversation they have started.

Friday: Trump campaign rally in Pensacola, Florida

LAT: Santa Ana winds roar through Southern California, whipping fires on destructive path

LAT: Ventura County under siege: 'It was like watching Rome burn'

BREAKING: Fast-moving wildfire burns in Bel-Air; 405 Freeway closed near Getty Center

Shutdown coming? Bloomberg reports, a Republican party faction in the US House is raising warnings about federal spending that have left leaders scrambling to avoid a shutdown when government funding runs out Friday.


Google launches Android Oreo (Go Edition), a lightweight version of the OS designed for hardware with less than 1GB of RAM.

Google blocks YouTube on Amazon devices: FT reports, the move is the latest spat in a rare public battle between the two tech groups.

Boom Supersonic raises $10 million of a strategic investment from Japan Airlines. Boom is developing a passenger aircraft capable of Mach 2.2 flight, promising journeys of 3 hours 15 minutes between New York and London - or essentially the time it takes Amtrak's Acela train to move from DC to NYC.

SoulCycle announced it will be stocking exclusive products from fragrance brand Le Labo, best known for its fashion-insider-favorite, Santal 33.

UPS, overwhelmed by online orders, warns of delivery delays: WSJ reports, delivery networks are still trying to cope with the busiest shopping periods despite big investments in operations and capacity.

Disney is said to be nearing a deal to buy significant parts of 21st Century Fox.

Ford set for China tie-up with Alibaba to test online, direct auto sales: Reuters reports, Ford Motor Co is expected to sign as early as Thursday a deal with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd which may allow the U.S. automaker to test selling cars to consumers in China through Alibaba's online retail arm Tmall, as well as via a new “auto vending machine” store concept, according to a Ford source familiar with the matter.


Can this 107-year-old steelmaker be brought back to life? A Brooklyn-born turnaround artist bets he can revive Canada’s Stelco in a market dominated by global behemoths and cheap Asian producers.

SoulCycle is betting high fashion will get you spinning: The fancy workout chain has joined up with urban chic purveyor Public School, bringing a whole new level of swank to sweat.

The Atlantic: Top 25 news photos of 2017

Depeche Mode is having one of the most remarkable tours in modern music and its most-successful concert run ever. The band sold 1.27 million tickets through the first nine months of 2017, more than Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber or Bruno Mars.

NYT's best movies of 2017

NYT's best cookbooks of 2017

Bangkok street food eatery earns Michelin star: AFP reports, Jay Fai, named after the 72-year-old proprietor who took over from her father, is located in old Bangkok and features an open-air kitchen known for churning out crab omelets and curries.

A tour of David Rockefeller’s Rolodex: Contacts for the world’s rich and powerful: WSJ reports, Rockefeller kept a 5-foot high custom-built Rolodex with the names, phone numbers, and addresses of about 100,000 people he met over a half-century. It was top secret until now.

COTD: Who will be the next Tory leader?


HT ConservativeHome


How the NBA is planning to cash in on legalized sports betting: ESPN reports, should the Supreme Court expand legalized sports gambling to New Jersey (and beyond), the NBA is prepared to move quickly and take advantage of a potentially massive revenue stream.

Nyet: The International Olympic Committee will ban Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics

Russia barred from 2018 Winter Olympics due to doping: WSJ reports, some Russian athletes will be able to compete at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics but by invitation only.

Shanghai Shenhua face tough Asian Champions League: AFP reports, Chinese FA Cup winners Shanghai Shenhua face a tough test in the 2018 Asian Champions League after being drawn Wednesday against top Japanese club Kashima Antlers and Australian A-League leaders Sydney FC.

Caracal Business Insider | December 5, 2017


Brexit, DUP, Venezuela, Deutsche Bank, Lamborghini, Ford

Caracal Business Insider | Daily
December 5, 2017
Curation and commentary from Marc A. Ross

Caracal Business Insider = Global Business News at the Intersection of Politics + Policy + Profits

Reporting from Alexandria, Virginia


FT: Pound falls on breakdown in Brexit talks

Theresa May fights to rescue deal after DUP backlash over Irish border plan

LAT: Britain hoped to initial a 'Brexit' deal, but an old controversy — the border in Ireland — forced a setback

May fights to save Brexit deal after DUP veto: The Times reports, Theresa May was warned last night that she has four days to salvage a Brexit deal or risk delays after the Democratic Unionist Party vetoed it at the eleventh hour.

Britain and EU fail to strike divorce deal: AFP reports, Britain and the EU failed to strike a Brexit divorce deal during talks in Brussels on Monday but said they were "confident" of reaching an accord later this week.

Sturgeon calls for special status, too: The Times reports, Nicola Sturgeon will demand a special Brexit deal for Scotland in line with any plan to solve the Irish border issue that would mean Northern Ireland keeping closer ties to the single market.

AFP: Spain drops international arrest warrant for Puigdemont

Nikkei: Venezuela crisis lets China and Russia maneuver in US backyard

Russia registers 9 US media outlets as 'foreign agents': AFP reports, the Russian justice ministry posted a statement saying that US-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty and seven of their media affiliates have been recognized as "carrying out the functions of a foreign agent."

Reuters: South Korea, US kick off large-scale air exercise amid North Korean warnings


NYT: Trump backs Moore, and RNC restores its financial support

Republicans appear increasingly confident that Moore will win the special election next week. This is correct. Moore will win and chaos will ensue.

Mueller points to Russia link in Manafort hearing: FT reports, the first assertion by investigators of possible ties between Trump campaign and Kremlin.

Bloomberg: Mueller subpoenas Trump Deutsche Bank records

Reuters: In slap at Romney, Trump says he wants Hatch to run for re-electi


Marc A. Ross works with clients to develop executive education lectures, speeches, presentations, workshops, and conferences to help demystify Globalization, Disruption, and American politics. Learn more here.


Cineworld has agreed to buy Regal for $3.6 billion.

Lamborghini unveils the $200,000 Urus SUV.

Ford in the Middle Kingdom: Ford is rebooting in China, announcing plans to launch 50 new vehicles there, including 15 electrics, by 2025.

FT: Starbucks makes super-sized China bet as it looks beyond US

The new 30,000 square foot ‘super premium’ roastery is bid to maintain upscale reputation - the store would fit on half of a soccer pitch.

China could become Starbucks’ biggest market within a decade, says executive chairman Howard Schultz.

Starbucks has reached 130 cities in China where it operates about 3,000 stores.

Google missed out on China. Can it flourish in India?: NYT reports, as major companies chase India’s new internet users, Google is changing core products to work better on low-end smartphones and use less data.

Facebook introduced an app for children ages 13 and younger.

@BW: These are the best books of 2017 

Goldman Sachs to beef up Polish operations - the bank plans to hire about 250 new staff in Warsaw.

Bloomberg: Neiman Marcus CEO says affluent shoppers in ‘very good shape’

Drive and shop: GM said it will equip newer cars with in-dash e-commerce technology. The idea is to help drivers order food, find fuel or reserve hotel rooms by tapping icons on the dashboard screen, instead of using smartphones while driving.


Robin Wright will appear in the lead role of the sixth and final season of “House of Cards.”

RIP John Anderson: The former Republican congressman, left his party to run as a plain-spoken independent candidate for president in 1980.

PBS will offer Christiane Amanpour's CNN show to temporarily replace Charlie Rose.


US soccer: Sunil Gulati will not run for a fourth term as US Soccer president.