Why, exactly, does a $40 billion company built on efficiency want to draw out these legal wranglings as long as bureaucracy will allow? Maybe it’s because this suit presents a greater threat to Uber’s future than any angry city government or riled-up taxi union. Liss-Riordan wants Uber to turn its thousands of drivers into employees.
And not just Uber. She’s also taking on its competitor Lyft, the homecleaning company Homejoy, the food delivery service Caviar, and the courier service Postmates. Liss-Riordan is suing all those companies — and warns of more lawsuits for those using the same model. She wants them to pay back wages and expenses for all those hours worked. For an industry preaching that everything should be frictionless, Liss-Riordan is providing an awful lot of friction.
The rise of intermediaries like Uber and the web’s seemingly natural bias towards monopoly raises interesting questions about how to regulate. Until now the focus has been on protecting the incumbents who, through regulatory capture, have had it too comfortable for too long. This article suggests another line of attack – ensuring that the employees are adequately protected. Once that’s in order we still have to devise a marketplace which allows the ubers to be regulated.