There aren’t that many pro Uber kind of people in Paris. Of course the guys that have been founded for building the Uber of Something do support Uber. But disrupting something is rarely seen as something positive here in France. Unfortunately.
I’ve always loved Uber. I’ve tweeted about it. I’ve translated articles from their lobbyists into French. Got into internet trouble with taxi union members because I was telling everybody their service was terrible. I even wrote articles about their business, etc.
Uber was great for Paris as an entrepreneur’s city because it gave the general public an impression of what the “tech future” they had heard about could be like. It was the « WOW you can see the car move on the map ?” kind of moment. I still remember at the beginning when a friend told me that with Uber you could just walk out the car without even taking out your card. I was amazed.
When I first started Wildster, I even spent weeks working on strategic recommandations for their growth on the French market. For free. They had no idea of who we were, what we did, we we were no one. It was pure non sense to spend that much time working on this kind of PDF before even introducing ourselves before.
But I didn’t know any better and I thought that if I sent a badass presentation to the right person, and that it was the right tone, right amount of recommandations and right amount of precision then maybe I’d get to pitch them live, so I sent it to their marketing director.
And then I waited for an answer.
I had spent so much writing a nice/smooth email with a “We’re giving you this for Free, we’re awesome, please see us, please ? » That I had real hopes.
Of course I never got an answer.
Who could have thought if a random guy gave you his work for free you would simply take it and use for your own advantage ? Not 2013 me.
In the end it all worked out fine : no one said thank you but 3 out the 6 ideas I pushed out of nowhere were deployed in the real world. Not bad for a big first shot eh ?
Anyways, I’m digressing here. All this to say I really REALLY loved Uber and what it symbolised, etc. It was that « Tech will improve everything and I want to be part of it » kind of feeling.
But I’m deleting their app.
And it’s not for the Trump thing. It’s not for the “you should pay drivers real salaries not commissions” thing. It’s for the taxes thing. Because what Uber is doing is not fair. Uber pays no fucking taxes in France.
Yeah it’s legal, but it’s BAD.
They’re not the only ones to do it. You just transfer profits and debts among branches in different countries. A lot of Silicon Valley companies behave like this in the EU actually.
It’s pretty simple : Google sells me ads in Paris, but sends the bill for them from offices in Dublin (Ireland has an almost non-existant tax system).
This profit is generated in France, from French companies who charge French customers, who earn their wages in France, and pay taxes here. And yet Uber is taxed in Ireland. And the rest of the EU (it’s not just a French thing) never sees the color of it.
It may be legal, but It is not fair. I don’t care that you draw badass contracts with « contractors », I don’t care that you have an aggressive business strategy based on conquering a huge marketshare. I don’t mind that you lock the market by using your « first-in » advantages.
But I don’t like the fact that you use French roads, paid by French citizens, make money out of French drivers, without paying taxes in France.
Let’s say you’re an American Citizen, I deploy my French startup in the US, hire US citizens, make money in the US and yet pay no taxes in the US. Do you think the US would agree ? Would it be fair ? I don’t think so.
This is what Uber is doing, and this is why I’m deleting their app, and if you agree, maybe you should do it too. But do it for the right reason.
PS : Facebook and Google are doing the exact same thing, and it’s even worse since their income is mostly 100% pure profit : you’re buying impressions (that means pixels displaying words or images on a device for a few second).It’s even worse, but there are no alternatives, which is not true for Uber.
PS 2 : Austin for example has Fasten and RideFar. Paris has Chauffeur Privé and LeCab (yeah they named it LeCab ;)) : pick your poison, I’m not advocating for anyone (and I’m yet to find the BEST replacement app).