InsurTech Archives: Redefining Insurance for the Gig Economy
This article was written by Rick Huckstep and first published in The Digital Insurer on May 20th, 2019.
To Uber is To Disrupt
Uber has achieved that rare and special distinction of becoming a verb. To “Uber” has replaced to “hail” in the same way that Hoover replaced vacuum and Google replaced search. The digital platform that has disrupted taxi cab services in 65 countries around the world is the very definition of the gig economy.
Uber is a two-side market for its drivers and its riders. It’s a digital platform that employs less than 20,000 people to support nearly 4 million driver partners and 91 million riders. At the time of writing this piece, Uber was on the cusp of its IPO valuing the business at around $80bn. But hot off the heels of the disappointing Lyft IPO, Uber look set for a bumpy ride.
Time will tell, but it is worth pointing out that Uber is more than just a new-fangled taxicab business. It’s a digital payment service with no cash exchanging hands in the back of the cab. It’s a diversifying business with new lines such as Uber Eats for restaurant food delivery, JUMP for sharing bikes and scooters, Uber Health for patient and practitioner transportation, Uber Freight for trucking services and Uber Air for aerial ride-sharing.
In an Amazonesque execution of a digital start-up, Uber has battled the regulators and challenged the status quo. It has used its mountain of cheap capital to build global market share and establish Uber as the de facto brand for sharing in the largest economies in the world.
By comparison, their nearest competitor is Lyft, just 3 years younger yet valued at only a quarter of that of Uber at its recent IPO. Lyft only operates in the US and Canada and generates all its revenue from ride-sharing.
The ride-share market in New York
Of the 700 cities that Uber operate in, I’ll use New York to illustrate the impact of Uber and its digital competitors to the market. When one thinks of New York, a picture of the…