Uber Dispatch: Professionalization of Platforms

A rented car, a centralized dispatch, communicating ‘stop and go’s’ during the day… this sounds an awful lot like a traditional taxi company!

By the way, Uber itself also advertises with the ability to ‘join a fleet’, as shown on their website.

Disruption: the circle is round

The example above, does not stand by itself. If we take a look at AirBnB, we see a similar pattern arise. Entire buildings are bought, renovated and rented out on AirBnB — without any homeowner present. Cleaning ladies are hired, concierges contracted and automatic access control systems, installed. What once started as a boutique, romantic idea (renting out unused space to friendly strangers), has become an international, commercial and booming business. How-to guides for home owners show the economics and implications of entering the AirBnb market.

Miami Condo building, built to share (backed by AirBnB)

1- Seller/supplier joins platform (AirBnB, Uber)

2- Starts earning money through selling/renting out services (on small scale)

3- Demand (and supply) grow, capital is invested to ‘professionalize’ service

4- Seller/supplier effectively runs a multi-person business on top of said platform

In the case of the Uber example, this explains the centralized dispatch we encountered: a business owner has a fleet of vehicles (owned or leased), finds people that who to make some extra bucks, and manages/controls their rides through a central system — just like a taxi company would do.

‘Professionalization of platforms’

This new trend of creating companies on top of platforms is probably one to stay — unless platforms regulations put a halt to this. As such, the platform is nothing more than a sales channel, or infrastructure which people use to sell additional services. The initial, core value proposition (AirBnB: renting out an unused room, Uber: making some extra bucks with an unused car), is changing: the platform is ‘professionalized’ and rather than monetizing existing, non-profitable assets — your car, your spare room — people start monetizing new assets, that previously were not owned by the customer.

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