Uber Goes Under in Austin


Pouty, whiney, spoiled-bratism isn’t nice coming from a four-year-old. But it’s altogether grotesque when it comes from billion-dollar corporations like Uber and Lyft.

The two car-for-hire companies call their service “ridesharing.” But these internet-based brats are takers, not sharers: Much of the fares they charge riders ends up in the pockets of their hedge-fund owners.

Still, they insist that they’re new-economy, tech-driven geniuses — and that they’re above the fusty old local laws that other transportation companies follow. Uber and Lyft have made it corporate policy to throw hissy fits when cities — from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Houston to Portland — have dared to even propose rules to protect customers and drivers.

(Photo: Mark Warner / Flickr)

(Photo: Mark Warner / Flickr)

The latest tantrum from the Silicon Valley giants came in Austin, when the city council adopted a few modest, perfectly reasonable rules — like fingerprint-based background checks for drivers.

The petulant duo then used high-pressure tactics to force a special election to overturn the council’s action. Maybe they assumed locals would flock to do whatever the popular services wanted.

But they picked the wrong city.

First, they ran a campaign of blatant lies, as if Austinites wouldn’t question them. Then they shoved a sickening level of corporate cash into their campaign, apparently thinking that the sheer tonnage of mendacious ads would win the day for them.

However, the slicks from California turned out to be über-goobers. Despite spending $9 million — that’s more than the combined spending of all city council candidates in the past decade — they went down. Some 56 percent of locals voted to keep the regulations.

So Uber and Lyft left town in a huff. But who needs them?

A new Texas-based upstart called GetMe has already moved in to fill the void with community spirit rather than pouty corporate arrogance, saying that it’s happy to comply with sensible rules that the people want.


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