New Rules For A New Economy

Great piece by Anand Giridharadas in the NY Times about the need for new labor laws in regard to the new sharing/on-demand economy. In the recent lawsuit against Uber and Lyft by the people who drive for them, a jury must decide whether these workers should be classified as employees or independent contractors. Other startups like TaskRabbit and Handy are facing similar legal challenges. The problem is the existing labor classes are not appropriate for this new way of doing business. As one of the judges, quoted in the Times piece, said:

“The jury in this case will be handed a square peg and asked to choose between two round holes,” Judge Chhabria wrote.

Uber and Lyft’s square-pegged workers don’t fit into the round hole of employee because they have no real supervisors, they work irregular hours of their own choosing, and they are free to work for anyone else, too. But they also don’t fit into the hole of independent contractor, like your accountant or neighborhood plumber, because they cannot negotiate their own price, aren’t peripheral to the business (but are central to it), and are subject to extensive control and monitoring.

It’s time for a new class of labor to be developed and regulated. This is one of the first challenges policy-makers and labor departments can tackle, but it will take thought and extensive research to figure out how to handle the creation of a new class of workers. It will, however, be worth the investment as the number of these types of “jobs” continue to swell, providing much-needed primary and secondary incomes to those who pursue them.

Click the thumbnail to read the Times piece:

New York Times

Las Vegas Downtown Project On the Decline?

Some bad news coming out of Tony Hsieh’s Las Vegas ambitious Downtown Project (DTP). Hsieh, the Zappos.com CEO, handed over the reigns of the project last year and is now selling off a ton of the properties he acquired in his attempt to create a utopian city on the outskirts of the Vegas strip.

PandoDaily sums it up well:

In the past few weeks, the DTP has been selling off many of its flagship entertainment properties. Several sources close to the project tell me that’s because Hsieh and his team are finally coming to terms with the fact that they’re not cut out to operate most of the businesses they’ve created or invested in. Instead, DTP will focus on what is working: Being the money behind the project– whether that’s investing in local small businesses, a handful of startups that appear to be doing well, and owning an ass-ton of real estate.

What’s the lesson here? I loved the idea of a startup city and had high hopes for the project as it blended urban planning with deep pockets and a startup mentality. BUT… perhaps DTP could’ve benefited from having some experienced planners on board as it sounds like most of the problems were related to management and execution.

Again, without knowing the entire roster of people on the DTP team, a blend of backgrounds and expertise may have helped the project. Or maybe one person shouldn’t own an entire city. There’s way more analysis to be done here.

Read more about DTP at BloombergBusiness

BloombergBusiness

Read more about the changes at DTP at PandoDaily

PandoDaily