Uber v the Gig Economy Independent Contractors

There was big news out of California this week that will impact the business model of Uber and Lyft, ride sharing companies who employ their drivers and their vehicles as “independent contractors.”

This employer — employee independent contractor relationship is critical to the business model of both Uber and Lyft.

The issue of whether an employee is a direct employee or an independent contractor has been around for a long time. Long enough that something called the “ABC Test” has been formulated as a way to resolve the nature of the employee relationship.

The ABC Test goes like this:

 1. Is the worker free from the control and direction of the employer (called the “hiring entity” amongst the legal literati)?

 2. Does the worker  perform work for other hiring entities outside the scope of this particular hiring entity’s business?

 3. Is the worker regularly engaged in an “independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the particular hiring entity?”

Uber believes their drivers are independent contractors. If you imagine that a driver works for both Uber and Lyft, the idea that they are an independent contractor is not all that far fetched. But, read on, dear reader. Nothing is ever that simple.

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Growing Your Way to Positive Cash Flow — Uber

I like the ride sharing business and use both Lyft and Uber, probably more Uber. It is very convenient when I have to go downtown for a meeting. It is cheaper than the cost of parking and less stressful.

I am concerned about the prospect of Uber ever — EVER — becoming profitable. You have to ask yourself how a company can come public at a huge value when they are neither profitable nor are they likely to be in the near term.


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UBER Surge Pricing

Hail, Uber! Uber went public last week with great fanfare befitting the third largest Initial Public Offering in US history. Hoorah, Uber! All hail Uber!

Then, they ran into reality and reality drowned them with surge pricing.

Uber came public at the low end of the proposed range (already a huge disappointment when compared to the investment bank courtship days) and promptly fell, making it the largest first day IPO loser in US history. Hello, America.

In fairness to Uber, the markets have been reeling with the US-China trade treaty negotiation news and the imposition of tariffs and retaliatory tariffs. [Trump’s fault?]

Lyft — a competitor — was also tanking adding to the cloud over the market and the IPO world.

Nonetheless, Uber has some problems.

Uber shares.

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Anchors Aweigh, Tech IPOs

First quarter of 2019 was a bust for tech Initial Public Offerings. Some blame it on the government shutdown and the inability to get the United States Securities and Exchange Commission to respond to preliminary S-1s (registration document). Fair play to that sentiment.

A company files an S-1, the US SEC reviews it, the SEC provides comments, and the issuer makes revisions in response to the SEC’s comments. Now, your preliminary S-1 has become a final S-1 and you are registered. In two weeks, you can begin banging your drum. If the government is shut down, this process doesn’t happen.

If you just take a Mulligan for Q1-2019 and focus on the rest of the year, you may see a deep lineup of tech companies, familiar names amongst them, getting ready to make the leap.

Here is my favorite recent public offering, demonstrating her flexible approach to the world. Can you reach down and grab your foot while in a seated position? Her name is Tempe and she is a Southern girl from Savannah. But, I digress.

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