The Uber saga rumbles on, and the spat with Hailo is getting uglier by the day. Currently, the two app-based companies are not even talking to each other without an army of lawyers present, and accusations of murky goings on and industrial sabotage are flying around. All of which is making the UK’s taxi drivers wonder just when all of this will end.
Recently, Hailo said that Uber would only talk to investors that had agreed not to invest in Hailo or other rivals – in writing. Whilst business observers would put this down to normal business practice and a relatively normal reluctance to have a conflict of interests muddying any investment talks, Hailo has labelled it as a dirty trick by Uber to shut them and other similar businesses out of the industry.
With a recent investment of $1.2billion secured, Uber’s future looks pretty watertight, thanks to the company being valued at a whopping $18billion worldwide. Anyone who has signed an investment agreement with Uber has also had to sign clauses that prevent them from investing in named companies (including Hailo) for at least a year, effectively shutting Uber’s rivals out of the business process completely and shrinking their potential investment pool down to a mere puddle.
Fair, legal and ethical?
Is it fair? Probably not. Is it legal? Technically, yes. Is it ethical? That’s open to debate. But it’s not the first time that Uber has been accused of dodgy tactics by, well, just about everyone, really. Licensed taxi drivers see Uber as a threat to their business because it undermines the licensing laws and is in breach of the regulations that every other metered taxi driver has to comply with. And with costs rising – from fuel and maintenance right through to taxi insurance – anything that undercuts profits is a threat to the livelihoods of taxi drivers everywhere.
Uber seems bulletproof and completely unconcerned when it comes to suffering the slings and arrows of outraged taxi drivers and business rivals. But with £18billion in the bank, they can probably afford to be. However, if the High Court in London rules that Uber’s disregard of current legislation is illegal, then that could mark a change. And Hailo isn’t exactly in everyone’s good books either, by applying for its own licence to operate private hire cars as well as hackney carriages.
In the mist of this monumentally huge three-way hissy fit between Uber, Hailo and, well, everyone else, really, keep an eye out for a new kid on the block – Maaxi…