For most people, driving for Uber or Lyft just ain't worth it

If you get and keep enough followers, a youtube uploader can turn their vlog hobby into a strong source of income from youtube ad money. But youtube is a fickle bride with arbitrary and ever changing rules - the money can dry up at any time. Which is why smart vloggers have a patreon and use that as their primary income stream, with any ad revenue from youtube a random bonus on top.

There are lots of people (a microscopic percentage of vloggers but a large absolute number) making a full time living off Patreon, with the tangible things they are making being youtube videos.


In some rare cities, most notably New York, taxi licenses were absurdly expensive, and Uber could benefit from that situation. But this was more the exception than the rule. In most places Uber simply cannot be cheaper than standard taxis.

In some places (certainly London, possibly also New York), Uber’s aim was to squeeze in between the taxi and the minicab/car service. The former is very highly regulated with significant barriers to entry (medallions in the US, the Knowledge and the Conditions of Fitness in London) but is the only service allowed to pick up passengers who hail it on the street, or in some places to use a taximeter- Uber won an English High Court case over whether their app was effectively a taximeter. The latter is much less regulated, in most places being essentially open to anyone with a car, a driving licence and no criminal record, but can only be pre-booked.

Where Uber came in was to make “pre-booking” one of their cars as easy as hailing a taxi- while being as cheap as a minicab, outside surge pricing.

What I don’t understand is the claim that Uber intend to squeeze out competition, become a monopoly, then hike their prices. I simply don’t see how this would work. The barrier to entry for a minicab-type service is so low that if Uber jacked up their prices, somebody else could undercut them. It’s not like a coffee shop chain enticing customers with cheap coffee to drive independents out of business, in the latter case there’s a limited supply of commercial real estate so if the chain puts its prices up, an independent rival can’t easily set itself up to compete.


There will be no chairs left, as they will have been monetized by “Chair Share” companies.


While you are generally right, the effect of controlling the most popular app should not be understimated.


another day on face book as zuckerburgs pet?


I’d read some of the earlier articles that @L0ki linked to, but from the latest one is this:

“Morningstar defense of Uber’s AV program rests on Dara Khosrowshahi’s false claim that autonomous vehicles would allow Uber to reduce the price of rides by 60%.[12]Drivers do account for roughly 60% of the costs of a traditional taxi operation, but the introduction of autonomous vehicles would significantly increase other costs (vehicles, databases, communication links, machine leaning systems, vehicle planning and control systems, new safety/insurance models, etc).”

And none of this has been taken into account in what could be more accurately described as a PR puff piece rather than an independent financial report. Some seriously good reporting from naked capitalism.


I think this the relevent blog post for you:

It’s not so much that the idea of them planning to get a monopoly then hike prices makes sense, it’s just that it’s the only idea anyone came up with that even halfway makes their business model vaguely plausible.

Hiking prices is in any event a bit of a shorthand.

It would also require getting rid of all those pesky regulations you mentioned (notably, in London, Uber wasn’t prepared even to be governed by the sort of regulation you referred to as “being essentially open to anyone with a car, a driving licence and no criminal record”).

That of course indicates one reason multi-billionaires might be prepared to funnel billions into Uber, if it is one pressure point to attack what they see as unwarranted and improper government interference in their beautiful ‘free market’.

Once you have got rid of the regulations that stop you from achieving your monopoly, you of course immediately set about ensuring a regulatory background that keeps you in place.

For examples, see Uber’s car standards changes over time.

You can easily imagine a scenario in which if Uber somehow managed to acquire industry dominance, all your prospective mini-cab drivers are unable to obtain a vehicle that meets the new ‘minimum car standards’ requirements Uber managed to get put in place at a price that makes it possible for a newcomer to meaningfully challenge Uber.

Much in the same way black cab drivers complain about the fact that they can only buy a particular kind of car and how expensive they are.

Edit to add:

Would it work? If you’re dubious - congratulations, you apparently have more sense than the VC’s who bankroll Uber.


I think you are right, they are probably betting more on network effect than barriers to entry to keep out competition. Among the yuppies I know, “Uber” is used more like a verb (as in “let’s Uber there”) than as a brand name of a company.


I was all “what, how is this gay?” until I googled a bit and realized you meant multi-level marketing


i feel like, as abstract concepts
Uber : capitalism :: Trump : Republicans

They are such a glaring examples of their philosophies run amok in their purest forms that they almost seem to exist solely as a farce to wake up the opposition. They also both highlight just how much money wealthy people will pour into holes to avoid fair labor practices.


Big difference: while I imagine many many you tubers (and twitch streamers) make very little per hour, especially if you subtract any equipment they purchase…some make decent money, and a few make a lot of money. It depends on how popular they are (and how well they can monetize the attention via ads or other things like direct donation, or selling branded trinkets).

Uber/Lyft drivers don’t have any real force multiplier on their labor. At best they could find places and times that tend to get them a new rider more frequently.


A guy I know drove for Uber/Lyft in Austin for a couple of years and made really good money. He limited his time to just weekends and nights during the bar rush when surge pricing was more likely to happen. Short trips in a relatively small geographic area. Airport runs just seem like a huge waste of time for anybody other than traditional taxis.

1 Like

He counted the entire tank of gas

I don’t think that’s true. He drove 235 miles, figured 30 miles per gallon and $2.99 per gallon of gas, which means he should have spent $23.41 on gas. His spreadsheet showed a slightly higher amount ($25.38), which I took as a typo or maybe he finally got that candy that he abandoned at CVS. Even if it is a difference between the gas he actually used and a full tank, the $1.97 discrepancy, over the 9 hours he drove, works out to $0.22 / hour, which doesn’t affect the bottom line in a meaningful way.


Also being a YouTuber isn’t a real job, driving a Taxi is or at least used to be.

Recognizing the plight of Lyft/Uber drivers, I make it a point to tip well in cash. Part of my logic is that the value I am receiving (not having to own a car) is quite a bit higher than what I am paying. Certainly not world changing, but I can feel better about the situation.


Saying “let’s Lyft there” you could be mistaken for a fitness buff.


Which is more likely: earning a living as a Youtuber or earning a living as a Lyft/Uber driver? My money is on Lyft/Uber. This guy gave it one day and made obvious mistakes, and then crunched a few hand-picked numbers and seemingly decided that no one can earn a living driving for those companies. Yet there are people here in this thread who do.

Stuff like this is appealing because it flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but I think this guy’s video is more about entertainment than it is a serious attempt to earn as a driver.

Consider that there were 46 other drivers in the queue at the airport. Based on this guy’s video, we must conclude that all those guys are losing money but are just too bad at bookkeeping to realize it.


Also; regulatory capture õnce they get near to bring a monopoly to keep new entrants out.


1 Like

It’s important to understand that the business model of these companies has nothing to do with drivers; they’re a stopgap.

The only goal is to have self driving cars.

1 Like