October 12, 2016

Since there was no E-business class today, there were not many ideas for me to elaborate on for this week’s blog entry. However, reflecting upon my Thanksgiving weekend (and not about the debates, please, do not drag me into this) I thought about my trip to Toronto.

Visiting friends in a nearby city has become a common way to spend a weekend or so in the past three years of my undergrad. It has been an interesting experience for me to live between two very different cities only 5 hours apart (train travel time). Language is just one of the differences between the two – people’s values, views, architecture, work ethics, public transit, and even legal issues are very different between Toronto and Montreal. Uber, for instance, is one of the companies who encountered different fate in neighbouring cities. Let’s look at the example of this company, whose destiny has been unveiling in front of my innocent immigrant eyes in the past few years.

Uber is thriving (relatively thriving, duh) in Toronto offering a very wide range of offerings from UberX, UberPool (car sharing), UberHop (buses), and even UberEats (food delivery service so rapidly adopted by locals). Even though in Montreal Uber was popular, its fame has attracted the attention of the municipality governance, whose goal was to regulate the Uber and carpooling in general in favour of taxis. Needless to say, the taxi industry is a very debatable topic. With license plates sold at incredibly high prices, Uber executives defend their platform as an opportunity for drivers to earn money without being slaves to the license or the license owner. On the other hand, the lack of insurance for drivers and regulation for carpooling prompted the Montreal to pass the law making Uber illegal.

As a consumer and a high supporter for Uber, it is sad for me to see such resistance and protectionism in Montreal while its neighbour, Toronto, takes a different approach and finds better ways to regulate Uber (or any other industry disruptor). Does Toronto make it convenient for us, platform users, to live our lives? Yes. Does the progressive approach to regulating disruptive technologies and businesses help the government to make the decision? Probably. Does making disruptors illegal at all help? I doubt so.


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