Wishful thinking for Uber and Lyft

Gig economy

It’s curious that Laura Forman ends her article, writing, “Ride-sharing’s heyday is still coming—it just might be a bit late.” Uber and Lyft had expected people to abandon buying cars, but not wanting drivers to share the novel coronavirus with them, people are buying cars again. Even if she is right about the heyday,[1] there is ample cause for doubt that Uber especially and Lyft probably can survive that long. That said, such doubts—and they are legion—have failed to stop the companies so far, in part because they have managed to get favorable coverage whenever they lose less money.[2] Hope, such as Forman expresses and such as I saw in the dot-com boom, propels the companies. Economic reality, such as I saw in the dot-com bust, probably dooms them. The question really is, how long does it take?

Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Face a No-Sharing Economy,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180


Academia

At Bucknell University, where in-person classes are being shut down for a week,[3]

effective immediately any student who must travel more than 30 miles off-campus for any reason – including medical appointments, family events or to vote – will not be permitted to return or take in-person classes the rest of the semester.[4]

Such students may continue their coursework online. The regular semester ends November 20, with final examinations to follow.[5]

John Beauge, “Bucknell cancels in-person classes for a week due to uptick in COVID-19 cases,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, October 25, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/10/bucknell-cancels-in-person-classes-for-a-week-due-to-uptick-in-covid-19-cases.html


  1. [1]Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Face a No-Sharing Economy,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180
  2. [2]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” MarketWatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12; Eliot Brown, “Uber Wants to Be the Uber of Everything—But Can It Make a Profit?” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-wants-to-be-the-uber-of-everything-11556909866; Eliot Brown, “Lyft Raises 2019 Revenue Outlook and Sees Smaller Annual Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyfts-raises-2019-revenue-outlook-and-sees-smaller-annual-loss-11565208387; Eliot Brown, “Uber Posts Its Largest Quarterly Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-posts-its-largest-ever-quarterly-loss-11565295373; Richard Durant, “Uber’s Profitability Problem Is Structural,” Seeking Alpha, August 21, 2019, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4287055-ubers-profitability-problem-structural; Ryan Felton, “Uber Is Doomed,” Jalopnik, February 24, 2017, https://jalopnik.com/uber-is-doomed-1792634203; Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Face a No-Sharing Economy,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180; Edward Helmore, “Will Uber ever make money? Day of reckoning looms for ride-sharing firm,” Guardian, August 4, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/04/uber-ride-share-lyft-ipo-earnings; Sebastian Herrera and Heather Somerville, “Uber Shares Hit New Low as Post-IPO Lockup Expires,” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-shares-face-more-pressure-as-post-ipo-lockup-is-set-to-expire-11573041602″; Megan McArdle, “Uber can’t keep bleeding money, can it? It apparently thinks it can,” Washington Post, November 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/uber-cant-keep-bleeding-money-can-it-it-apparently-thinks-it-can/2019/11/05/4aa4fec0-000b-11ea-8501-2a7123a38c58_story.html; Tom McKay, “Surprising No One, Uber Continues to Hemorrhage Cash,” Gizmodo, November 4, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/surprising-no-one-uber-continues-to-hemorrhage-cash-1839625062; Christopher Mims, “In a Tight Labor Market, Gig Workers Get Harder to Please,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-a-tight-labor-market-gig-workers-get-harder-to-please-11556942404; Patrick Howell O’Neill, “Just In Time For Its Big IPO, Uber Loses $1 Billion,” Gizmodo, April 26, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/just-in-time-for-its-big-ipo-uber-loses-1-billion-1834331980; Annie Palmer, “Uber falls to all-time low as investors grow more skeptical,” CNBC, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/12/uber-stock-falls-to-all-time-low-as-investors-grow-more-skeptical.html; Dan Primack, “Uber’s IPO got caught in a perfect storm,” Axios, May 11, 2019, https://www.axios.com/ubers-ipo-perfect-storm-2a75a55a-adec-496b-bc23-02d99d02920f.html; Preetika Rana, “Uber Ridership Fails to Recover as Pandemic Drives Another Big Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-ridership-fails-to-recover-as-pandemic-drives-another-big-loss-11596744389; Erik Sherman, “Yesterday, Shareholders Bailed on Uber. Today, Insiders Got Their Chance,” Fortune, November 6, 2019, https://fortune.com/2019/11/06/uber-stock-insiders-growth-profit-lockup-period/; Faiz Siddiqui and Greg Bensinger, “Uber’s first day of trading ended deep in the red over gig-economy fears,” Washington Post, May 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/05/10/uber-ipo/; Heather Somerville, “Uber Shedding About 350 Jobs to Shore Up Business,” Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-shedding-about-350-jobs-to-shore-up-business-11571092680; Heather Somerville, “Uber Booked Another Quarterly Loss as Revenue Climbed,” Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-booked-another-quarterly-loss-as-revenue-climbed-11572901549; Heather Somerville and Mark Maurer, “Uber Cuts More Than 400 Technical Jobs,” Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-cuts-more-than-400-technical-jobs-11568144111; Georgia Wells, “Uber Cites Tight Competition After Posting $1 Billion Loss,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-first-quarter-loss-tops-1-billion-11559246846; Stephen Wilmot, “Uber’s Long Road to Profits,” Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-long-road-to-profits-11566471068; Julia Carrie Wong, “Disgruntled drivers and ‘cultural challenges’: Uber admits to its biggest risk factors,” Guardian, April 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/11/uber-ipo-risk-factors; Michael Wursthorn, “Lyft Shares Rally on Hopes Price Increases Will Drive Profit,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-shares-rally-on-hopes-price-increases-will-drive-profits-11566845457
  3. [3]John Beauge, “Bucknell cancels in-person classes for a week due to uptick in COVID-19 cases,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, October 25, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/10/bucknell-cancels-in-person-classes-for-a-week-due-to-uptick-in-covid-19-cases.html
  4. [4]John Beauge, “Bucknell cancels in-person classes for a week due to uptick in COVID-19 cases,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, October 25, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/10/bucknell-cancels-in-person-classes-for-a-week-due-to-uptick-in-covid-19-cases.html
  5. [5]John Beauge, “Bucknell cancels in-person classes for a week due to uptick in COVID-19 cases,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, October 25, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/10/bucknell-cancels-in-person-classes-for-a-week-due-to-uptick-in-covid-19-cases.html

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