What Kind of Company Is Uber, Really?


Photo of Travis Kalanick: Adam Tinworth

Today’s Top Stories
 — Uber Hits More Detours On Its Journey to Maturity: It can’t keep treating its drivers and customers this way.
 — The Digital Divide and the Diabetes Divide: What broadband really brings to underserved communities
 — This Company Might Make Apple and Google Irrelevant: Viv is way more than an supercharged Siri.
 — The Dots Has a Platform to Remake Creative Hiring: Our latest Video Spotlight showcases a new kind of talent firm.
 — Housing Is the New Software: We don’t have enough homes for millennials. That’s a good thing.
 — When Is the Best Day and Time To Hold a Meeting? We save you a click.

Uber Hits More Detours On Its Journey to Maturity
 Those who want to believe Uber founder Travis Kalanick’s promises that the ride-hailing bellwether is maturing must be shaking their heads at news that the company’s car-leasing program for drivers is right out of the payday-loan playbook (Quartz labels it “modern-day sharecropping”). Uber’s strategic decision to slash fares has made it harder for lessees to meet their weekly payments. (Lyft, by the way, is about to do something similar with General Motors as its partner.) Also, the company’s head of global customer support has departed after leaked documents revealed what recode calls shaky internal practices, among them a speedy offshoring of support that led to “a drop-off in quality of support that at times led to serious incidents being mishandled.” It’s going to be hard for Uber to live up to its mission — “transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone” — if this is how it treats its drivers and customers.

This Company Might Make Apple and Google Irrelevant
 The next wave isn’t about AI or chatbots or some other shiny tech object. In his weekly column, NewCo founder and editor in chief John Battelle looks at how Viv, the team behind Siri, hopes to change how we interact with just about everything — and build a new economic model for the Internet along the way.

The Digital Divide and the Diabetes Divide
 This interview with Mignon Clyburn, a member of the FCC, starts with the usual Q&A over bringing broadband to low-income individuals and rural areas, but moves on into an unexpected way in which the introduction of broadband to an underserved community changed lives and saved the government money (New York Times). Clyburn tells of a pilot program in Ruleville, Miss., in which 100 people with diabetes used their new broadband to connect with the doctors online. Because of the regular remote care, none of those patients had to go in for a hospital visit. The savings to Medicaid: $366,000.

The Dots Has a Platform to Remake Creative Hiring
 Culture defines a company — but it also limits it. In our latest Video Spotlight, Pip Jameison of The Dots shares with our Lon Koontz how her firm helps companies take in a fresh injection of ideas, skills, and talent.

Housing Is the New Software
 Marc Andreessen famously opined that software was eating the world. Five years after that pronouncement, portfolio manager Conor Sen says it’s housing’s turn to eat the U.S. economy (Washington Post). Sen sees three reasons for a big shift to housing: there aren’t enough houses for millennials, construction since the financial crisis has lagged, and the next president is likely to supervise increased infrastructure spending. Sen looks at various demographic trends (it’s on Wonkblog, so there are plenty of supporting charts) and concludes that “housing is poised to reassert itself as the main driver of the U.S. economy.” The most welcome optimistic prediction is one with evidence behind it.

When Is the Best Day and Time To Hold a Meeting?
 Tuesday, 2:30 pm (Quartz)

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