“The economic value of a man’s work is determined, on a free market, by a single principal: by the voluntary consent of those who are willing to trade him their work or products in return.”
That quote comes from Ayn Rand, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s favorite philosopher and hero of libertarians the world over. Sounds like a pretty nice concept — the “man” with the best product wins.
But despite Kalanick’s vociferous support of Randian principles, even he knows sometimes having the best product isn’t enough — sometimes you need a little old fashioned corporate sabotage.
If new data from Uber’s biggest competitor Lyft is to be believed, Uber employees have ordered and canceled over 5,000 Lyft rides over the past ten months. Furthermore, the data, which was made available to CNNMoney reporter Erica Fink, shows that the alleged scheme involved 177 Uber employees, suggesting a coordinated effort.
There’s no evidence that Kalanick or Uber’s corporate office ordered the treachery, just as that other hero of neo-libertarianism Ronald Reagan was supposedly unaware of the Iran-Contra Affair. Nevertheless, this has become a pattern for Uber employees who last January reportedly ordered and cancelled 100 rides with the taxi app Gett over the course of three days. At the time, Uber said it would “tone down their sales tactics,” which is among the more hilarious euphemisms for sabotage I’ve ever heard. As for “toning it down,” Lyft says that 5,492 of the 5,560 cancelled requests came after that statement was released.
If I were a driver looking to join the ridesharing industry, I would certainly think twice before joining the ranks of Lyft after hearing about these tactics. Who wants to waste their time driving across town when there’s a risk of a fare cancellation engineered by a corporate rival? To be honest, maybe somebody should make a law against that — oh wait, laws serve only to stifle free enterprise, right Travis?