The magazine “Le Monde en face” invites us to better understand the economic model of the technological giant and to measure its social and philosophical impact, in a documentary put in perspective by Damien Fleurette, this Sunday in France 5.
Welcome to the disruptive world (which creates a radical change in the way an industry works) of Silicon Valley start-ups, and in particular that of Uber, a company valued at 60 billion dollars without making a profit and often defying the existing laws in the transport and delivery sector. “How Far Will Uber Go?” Sunday, May 8 on France 5, tells the story of the birth of Uber in San Francisco in 2007, and the tremendous growth of this company born from the boiling brain of two Californian entrepreneurs who once sold a start-up. -up, Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick. The idea of being able to order a car and a driver in just a few clicks (VTC or online taxis) thanks to an app on your cell phone is simply brilliant, but the excesses of the ultra-rationality of the process and the obsessive development of functionality sometimes end up being diabolical.
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Damien Fleurette, director of Maximal Productions (which also produces “C dans l’air”, presented by Caroline Roux on France 5), explains: “With Uber, we are no longer in the democratization of knowledge as was the case with Steve Jobs’ computers and software. Uber represents a new spin on Silicon Valley start-ups, which is about subverting laws or taking advantage of the absence of laws. Uber was still capable of remotely destroying computer data when there were break-ins, spying on law enforcement, and fleeing every state. Apple, another giant, is also the only entity that has managed to make Uber bend over backwards, demand an apology and limit the exploitation of the collected data.“The Greyball system allowed Uber to identify phones and continue tracking users even after they got out of the car.
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On the other hand, the development of a task-based economy by self-employed workers calls into question wage labor and reshapes the world of work across the planet. Uber Eats has applied the same model with its worldwide meal delivery service. “The company claims it does not have the means to finance a minimum wage for its drivers or delivery men, but it freely releases 200 million dollars to campaign”emphasizes Damien Fleurette.
Purge in Historic Uber Teams
Ten years after the creation of Uber, 2017 represents a pivotal period for the tech company, forced to part ways with its founding chairman, Travis Kalanick. The phenomenal growth, lightning-fast access to decision-making positions for young executives has led to management mistakes, a toxic climate and several cases of sexual harassment, which suddenly come to light. The independent investigation carried out by an American prosecutor, at the request of Uber itself eager to rescue conduct, results in a purge of historic teams.
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The new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, who must now answer for the group’s shares to public investors, has made a historic IPO. However, at no time did he question the company’s business model, not yet fully profitable, but losing less and less money, as the documentary highlights.
Phenomenal growth through fundraising
“After initially agreeing to participate in the research, Uber declined to communicate.“says Damien Fleurette. However, the director collected very relevant testimonials from former senior executives in strategic positions. He notably interviewed Emil Michael, Vice President of Uber (2013-2017), who became an equity investor who, on his own, raised $15 billion in fundraising and built a solid reputation. The latter justifies the Uber system while clarifying the tremendous business that startups generate with this growth through fundraising. “How to succeed around the world and by all means is Uber’s mantra. The idea of making a unicorn justifies everything in Silicon Valley», continues Damien Fleurette.
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Every now and then we see footage taken by a driver filming a humiliating, alcoholic Travis Kalanick. Two French executives also give their testimony, Alexandre Molla, Uber France expansion director (2013-2019) and Grégoire Kopp, Uber France communication director (2013-2017), who remember that we were talking about drivers in terms of supply. Economist Odile Chagny explains in the documentary: “Algorithmic management depersonalizes work. It transforms the worker into a kind of machine and leads him to make choices that are not in his best interest. Algorithms are constantly updated to maximize company profits.”
Will couriers and drivers soon be considered employees by default?
But what is Uber’s ultimate goal? “It is to be the single most powerful shipping and delivery interface in the worldreplies Damien Fleurette. The company already offers a freight service for companies. Uber wants to become a super app capable of booking your plane tickets, providing the car that will take you to the airport and delivering food and groceries to your home“, continues the director. Unlike Amazon, Uber has no physical assets and therefore only manages connections. A force that, however, requires the collection of geolocation data and cheap labor.
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To at least deal with the juggernaut of social and salary protections represented by Uber, the European Commission on December 9 announced a directive that aims to consider couriers and drivers as employees by default, the survey recalls. Therefore, it is no longer up to them to prove their status, but to the platforms to provide the evidence. The presidency of the European Commission has yet to decide to put this directive on the agenda for a vote! An army of lawyers and lobbyists on behalf of Uber has long served the Commission when it comes to employment law.
Who would agree to deprive themselves of Uber’s services?
Meanwhile, the services provided to consumers are anchored in habits, chauffeured passenger cars and Uber Eats delivery people are part of everyday life. Who would deprive themselves of such a facility at such a low price? Without a law that precisely frames the platforms, they rear up, becoming more and more essential. “Uber is a virussays an exasperated taxi driver! The company’s global deployment is, however, very viral. In front of the camera, however, the philosopher Éric Sadin concludes: “There is a strong human propensity for comfort. Getting rid of it seems to me a vain aspirationIn addition, the inability or slowness of states to react serves the interests of Uber and other technology companies. The Uber Copter, which the documentary does not mention, already links the lower Manhattan neighborhoods with J.- International Airport. F. Kennedy. Uber Jump offers connected city bikes and the shadow of autonomous vehicles (Uber Technologies) and delivery robots are already hovering over the army of self-employed workers…
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