Saturday, December 12, 2015

In which people discuss things I don't understand

Tis the season for the sharing economy...

  • The Airbnb Endgame
    What all of this posturing about bad hosts is meant to obscure is that the exact kind of hosting that Airbnb does want, what it envisions as the core of the service—thousands and thousands and thousands of regular people sharing their homes whenever they’re not home—is largely illegal in New York. Like actually against the law, up-to-$5000-fine kind of illegal! While it’s not uncommon for startups looking to “disrupt” something to begin operating in liminal legal spaces, the laws in New York surrounding short-term rentals are rather unambiguous, despite Airbnb’s protests that there is a “lack of clarity” around the rules. It’s illegal for a person living in an apartment in a “multiple-dwelling”—essentially, a building with more than two apartments—to rent out his or her entire home for a period of less than thirty days if he or she is not present. (It’s perfectly legal in single- and two-family homes, which aren’t “multiple dwellings.”) So, a whole-home listing in a building with more than two apartments that doesn’t have a minimum stay of thirty days—and isn’t a hotel or boarding house or some such—is probably illegal.
  • How Uber cleverly controls its stock so it won't have to go public anytime soon — unlike Facebook, Twitter, and Google
    Even though Uber is almost the same size and scale as Facebook was back then, it's in a substantially better situation. The company has been careful to learn from Facebook's missteps and control who owns its stock so it isn't forced into an IPO.
  • Uber seeks to head off lawsuits with new binding driver agreement
    All 400,000-plus drivers cannot receive any ride requests until they accept the agreement, which lays out a lengthy provision requiring mandatory arbitration starting on page 15 and flagged on the first page. While it includes a way to opt out, many drivers may not understand that or may fear retaliation for doing so.
  • Uber doesn’t want drivers to sue again, so it pushes them to arbitration
    A recent investigation into the general arbitration system by The New York Times found that private arbitration is subject to little oversight, rarely can be appealed, does not have clear evidence rules, and is subject to rampant conflict of interest that tilts towards corporations.
  • Uber wants drivers to sign new lawsuit pledge
    Uber says the new driver agreement was necessary because on Wednesday U.S. District Judge Edward Chen ruled that part of the agreement Uber drivers had been signing was not enforceable, rendering the entire agreement unenforceable.

    In order to correct that, Uber rewrote the agreement and removed a requirement that arbitration be confidential. The company informed Chen of the new agreement on Thursday and pushed it out to drivers Friday, the San Francisco-based company said.

  • Uber Is Said to Be Shaking Up Policy and Communications Team
    Uber brought in Rachel Whetstone, a top Google policy and communications executive, to lead Uber’s overall policy and communications. Ms. Whetstone hired Jill Hazelbaker, an executive at Snapchat and a former colleague of Ms. Whetstone at Google, where Ms. Hazelbaker also ran policy and communications teams.

    It appears, insiders say, that the company is consolidating its communications and policy operation under its new leadership from Google.

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