Trump adviser is founder and CEO of outlaw taxi company Uber
Born in 1976, Travis Kalanick has an estimated net wealth of US$6 billion, but many people question how Kalanick, now an adviser to President Trump, acquired his wealth.
At the age of 22, Kalanick dropped out of UCLA to start his first business, Scour Inc, with a partner. It was an internet file sharing company. Scour was later sued for copyright infringement by three associations representing motion pictures, the recording industry and music publishers.
|Trump adviser Travis Kalanick|
Kalanick’s response was to bankrupt Scour and re-start the business as Red Swoosh using the same key team members. Within seven years (2007), Kalanick could sell the business for $18.7 million. In 2009, with Garrett Camp, he co-founded Uber in San Francisco and became the chairman and CEO of the outlaw taxi company and ride sharing organization.
Uber is now a worldwide operator in more than 500 cities, but its success is based on unlawfully invading the territory of legitimately licenced operators which, just like Scour and Swoosh, were based on imitating legitimate businesses. Kalanick is an expert at creating imaginary legal loopholes where no loopholes exist. He claims that he is only bringing driver and passenger together, but in effect he passes the buck to the driver, and, in monetary terms, often too few bucks as many former Uber drivers will testify.
In most countries, taxi drivers must be licenced and regulated for the benefit and protection of the travelling public. Typically, a taxi operator must hold a licence to operate a taxi business, and a licence to drive a taxi. Both operator and driver must undergo police character vetting and the driver must display an official photo ID card and hold a current medical certificate. The taxi operator must belong to an approved taxi organization and be bound by their rules and complaints and disciplinary procedures. The vehicle must meet Certificate of Fitness standards every six months, rather than the lower standard Warrant of Fitness at 12 monthly intervals. Getting into a legitimate taxi operation can take a considerable investment of capital, time and training.
Legitimate operators will always feel cheated by operators like Uber who tell their clients and drivers that they just need a presentable car to earn a fortune when the fact is that even legitimate drivers struggle to make a reasonable income. But Kalanick, now a member President Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum, doesn’t worry about minor details.
Kalanick’s company tells drivers they don’t need to have an operator licence, a taxi driver licence, a Certificate of Fitness, a medical examination, police check or a driver logbook. They do tell them that they will need comprehensive car insurance, but that will be void if they have an accident while operating outside transport law. All over the world governments and cities are cracking down on illegal Uber drivers and putting them off the road, but Uber itself keeps on operating via the internet without being accountable and without paying local taxes. It’s a double rort. Meanwhile, Uber drivers could best utilize their time by looking for real employment.
But Kalanick’s great scheme, like most questionable operations, has a profound weakness. Uber has left itself open to be cloned by other dubious start-up operators, and that is happening at what must be an alarming rate for Kalanick. Already, he has been forced to cut his budget hire rates even further in a desperate attempt to boost revenue, and that is eating into the earnings of his drivers who were already grossly underpaid. Copying Uber is so widespread that the practice now has its own terminology – Uberization.
Even more alarming than Uber, and its ride-sharing off-shoot, is the Urberization (or Kalanickery) of the American Government with President Trump and Travis Kalanick sharing the same air.