Tech power to the people

When we talk about the gig economy and using technology to enable great new services for customers, we mostly talk about them from the perspective of the platforms; innovative tech, great user experiences, new business models, regulations – and valuations.

Which is exactly why it is so interesting that the table is starting to get turned now.

Not only have politicians in several countries been debating new regulation and how to classify gig workers in terms of their ‘partnership’ with said platforms (London is the latest example). Gig workers are also starting to deploy tech themselves.

UberCheats is a great example of this.

It is basically an extension for the Chrome browser that allows a rider for UberEats to calculate the correct distance travelled with an order and compare it to UberEats own registrations, which – is claimed – are often based on direct point-to-point distances (straight lines) rather than the actual available route to get there.

The extension was released last summer but was removed by Uber following a complaint about trademark infringement. But now it’s back again after Google sided with the developer following an appeal.

Irrespective of the plugin in question, it is super interesting that gig workers are starting to turn the ‘weapons’ of the big platforms against themselves. Take the power back, so to say.

In that respect the case has some comparisons to the whole Gamestop/Reddit/hedge fund debacle recently. Here the masses got together and turned on Wall St for a couple of frantic weeks leading to huge losses on short positions of Gamestop stock at a couple of hedge funds (and with private investors who failed to get out and were left holding the bag).

It is a sign that access to technology has been democratized in such a way that nothing is keeping anyone from just accepting to be at the short end of the stick.

While that is super interesting in itself, it is also super interesting, because it has the potential to pick at the fundamental power structures of this interconnected age.

And who knows what might end up coming out of that?

Gamestop/Reddit and UberCheats may just be the very beginning of people using tech to take the power back from tech.

Interesting times.


A new financial virus?

I am fascinated by the whole Gamestop/Reddit debacle.

Personally, I am no big fan of hedge funds, and I don’t mind if they are taken to the cleaners and have some of their own methods and ways of thinking reversed onto themselves.

What concerns me is the blueprint sitting beneath this.

Because now we seem to have one;

Now we know you can organize the masses stoked on free money from stimulus packages and non-existing interest rates using free software tools and take on big financial institutions and potentially win. Maybe not a complete victory but more than enough to make the big players feel severe pain.

I am thinking about who and/or what is next?

I have this creepy feeling of deja vu back to little over a year ago, when the first reports of an unknown virus caused a new kind of pneumonia in some remote place in China, most of us had never heard about.

This too could spread. And what are we potentially looking at then?

I don’t think the masses are going to stand back. They are on a high right now having just won and looking for the next prize. That’s the mechanics of gambling; keep going – until you have lost it all again.

If regulators are being pushed to increase regulatory oversigt, it shouldn’t be to save big financial institutions.

It should be to protect us from (unintended) ripple effects.