Uber Now Wants to Take Over Yet Another Massive Industry (And Nobody Even Noticed)

For a while there, you could probably get a meeting with a lot of potential investors by saying you had a plan to create “the Uber of X.”

We’re building the Uber of private jets. The Uber of trucking. The Uber of real estate.

In Chicago and Los Angeles, the company we once thought of as being in the transportation industry is testing a pilot program where it provides waiters, security guards, and other 1099 independent contractors–all on demand, to businesses.

With about 2 million drivers worldwide, Uber would be arguably be the world’s fourth-largest employer if its workers were true employees as opposed to independent contractors.

For context, the largest employer is the U.S. military; tied at No. 2 are the Chinese army and Walmart, each with about 3.2 million people on payroll.

So how much bigger can Uber get? Tough to say for sure, but it’s a safe bet it’s all about diversifying ahead of the company’s expected IPO next year.

At least Uber wait staff will be able to travel to their Uber events in an Uber car.

Here’s what else I’m reading today:

A giant data mining company might go public

Palantir Technologies Inc., is reportedly eyeing an initial public offering for the second half of 2019, with a possible $41 billion valuation. Cofounded by Peter Thiel in 2004, the data mining company is secretive and influential. Its analytics were credited with helping the government track down Osama bin Laden, and it also has massive contracts with intelligence, defense, and police agencies around the world. (Rob Copeland, The Wall Street Journal)

Here’s how online brands can go brick-and-mortar

It’s been a sad but not unexpected week for retail, with the news that the iconic brand Sears is in bankruptcy. The silver lining for commercial landlords (like malls) is that smaller stores can bring in six times the revenue of big, legacy anchor stores. Now several new startups are trying to find ways to get smaller, online brands into newly free physical spaces. (Michelle Cheng, Inc.com)

In this entire scenario, you don’t actually own anything

Rent the Runway this week announced a new partnership with WeWork. For now, it’s just a matter of installing drop-off boxes at 15 WeWork pilot locations. This means that women customers can rent clothes, likely have them delivered a rented city apartment, and then drop them off at a workspace that they (or their company) also rents. (Marc Bain, Quartz)

Taking on the ‘Pink Tax’

The shaving brand Harry’s launched a line of women’s products recently under the name Flamingo, with a radical pitch: It says it will charge men and women the same amount for similar products. Of course that’s only radical because of the fact that pricing for women’s products is often higher than for men’s, even when the products themselves are exactly the same. This “pink tax” leads women to wind up spending about $100,000 more over a lifetime than men do for similar products. (Sonia Thompson, Inc.com)

Panasonic’s dystopian new office product

They must have done some market research, but it’s hard to imagine what Panasonic thinks of the world with a new product called Wear Space, which is intended to help people stay focused at work, but really just looks like horse blinders made for humans. What’s more, this multibillion dollar company with 250,000 employees is running a crowdfunding campaign to bring the product to life. But they do seem serious. (James Vincent, Circuit Breaker

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