Uber Gears Up For Political Battle

Uber, the renowned car service app, has teamed up with tech-savvy David Plouffe, President Obama’s former campaign manager. The highly successful San Francisco based start-up anticipates a legal and political battle concerning licensing and many other issues. Uber has grown all over the country, from Boston to Los Angeles and has seen its fair share of complaints—particularly from the taxi industry, which as an industry is more regulated. Uber hopes to be able to pass through this fight unscathed and continue its seemingly unstoppable progression.

David Plouffe offers Uber a chance to consolidate its grasp on transportation while bringing in the experience and expertise of a political official. This move seems to follow a trend of political officials working with tech-based companies—“[the] revolving door between Silicon Valley and Washington D.C.,” as Aarti Shahani of NPR puts it.

Shahani also affirms that this partnership can be effective as Plouffe himself possesses tech smarts and is demonstrated his savvy on both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He adds, “both parties are exceptionally good at spin.” Uber can remain confident in its position and will most likely benefit from Plouffe’s insights.

Uber, valued at $18 billion, certainly has the resources to bring on Plouffe and the need as more licensing claims are lodged against the company. In fact, Michael Farrell reported for Beta Boston that, “Cambridge is considering new regulations that would outlaw Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and any other unlicensed car service that allows riders to hire a driver with a mobile app.”

Screenshot taken by Katie Carsky

Screenshot taken by Katie Carsky

“Essentially, the proposal requires any smartphone car service such as Uber that operates in Cambridge to obtain a dispatch license from the city. And any driver using those kinds of services to pick up passenger must also obtain a license,” Farrell states.

City officials have expressed the need to regulate this company that has operated almost independently from city ordnances. This is not the first attempt from the city to come down on Uber and the same is probably true for other cities; many officials feel Uber requires further regulations.

Uber has flourished in major cities and has specifically catered itself to college students and young professionals across the country. With public transit ending at certain points throughout the night, Uber has offered reasonably priced options to return home. Uber expects community residents to stand behind its platform and support it in face of oncoming political threats.

The future of Uber is not all together clear but it has become apparent that the company plans to expand beyond simple ride-sharing. Uber recently experimented with on-demand delivery services in Washington D.C. Furthermore, Uber has made its API available to developers interested in embedding the app in other platforms. Uber has made it clear with these moves that it will not allow the various regional challenges that it faces to impede the company’s continued growth.

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John Paradiso