The Uber Generation: Rogue Capitalism or Critical Paradigm Shift

World Streets is today kicking off a series of invited articles by authors from different countries and backgrounds, presenting their views on the topic of “The Uber Generation: Rogue Capitalism or Critical Paradigm Shift”. It is expected that this series will continue  over the months ahead. The present posting is being circulated to friends and others who have expressed interest in this particular angle of the New Mobility Agenda as an advance announcement and call for criticism, ideas and contributions.

china taxi drivers bashing taxis

The point of departure will be invited commentaries on the activities, issues and possible futures of not only on Uber and its expanding portfolio of services, but all those other competitors who are now crowding the stage in a fast growing number of cities around the world–  all of which have in common that they are offering different ways to combine 21st century IT and entrepreneurship to help people get around in cars with drivers, ostensibly better, faster and, at times, even cheaper.  While at the same time bringing with them their own costs and challenges.

uber alibaba compeior - GrabTaxiThe fast growing band of competitors include not only Lyft, Curb and Sidecar as early entrants in the United States, but the race is on and the stage is fast being occupied by other start-ups, including in but hardly limited to the Far East where a real war is already in process.

Starting with Uber but then quickly moving beyond, here are some of the issues and questions that we are hoping to get reactions to here:

  1. Rogue Capitalist or Paradigm Shift?
  2. The price of Creative Destruction?
  3. The backlash: What, where and what next?
  4. Challenge to old regulations and entry restrictions
  5. Policy response: Ban or Damage Control?
  6. The battle in Asia
  7. Spanning the breach
  8. What is the “ideal policy response”
  9. Competing New Mobility modes
  10. Shades of 1984?

Starting gun:

Just in case you may not be up to speed on the basics or the latest on Uber, the Wikipedia entry provides a quite detailed introduction at The main site address for the company is of course at

The first WP entry for Uber appears only in 20 June 2011, one year after their official service launch in San Francisco in June 2010. Since then the site has been extremely busy with a dozen or so additions or editorial changes being made on average days (you can see history section with details on this if you are signed-in).

The first press articles that we were able to run down were:

 Previously the WP Über entry was given over to an etymological exegesis and discussion of the German word Über, (with an umlaut on the u) meaning over or above – but also in certain contexts with a definition connotation of superiority.  And, interestingly enough in our case here, also of excess.

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– – – > For more on this or to discuss eventual ideas for contributions you are invited to contact our managing editor at Tel. +336 5088 0787, or Skype at newmobility.

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at and @ericbritton

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