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  1. A lot of buzz flowing through the forums in the last few weeks with Uber’s latest announcement of Uber’s Advance Pay option. Here is an analysis - note there’s a lot more that meets the eye here.

    NEW DRIVERS: THINK VERY CAREFULLY BEFORE YOU SIGN UP FOR THIS UBER PROGRAM

    The Facts:
    • Open to new drivers (not current)
    • Driver receives $1000 “interest free” loan from Clearbanc
    • Loan principal is to be paid off through driver earnings over 15 weeks
    • If loan is not paid off, driver pays fees up to $50
    • Currently only available in California and Michigan

    While the prospect of a “zero interest” loan sounds provocative, one must wonder why anyone would take Uber upon on this offer. Why borrow $1000 when you can make just about the same amount in a new driver sign-up bonus? Drivers still have the option to use the traditional referral program and actually get paid the cash outright, as opposed to borrowing it and then paying it back. There are some voices in the market who believe that this is just Uber’s way to get rid of the sign up and referral bonus program all together. When you think about it, it’s brilliant from Uber’s perspective: they get to keep drivers on the platform while never paying out another referral bonus.

    On that note, the other troubling aspect of this program is the party who is lending you the money also determines how much money you make in order to pay back the loan. It is Uber - and Uber alone - that controls the fares which determine how much money you can make as a driver and consequently, how long it will take to pay back the loan.

    So let’s take Detroit, which is one of two places Uber has launched this program. Uber’s new reduced fare in Detroit is $0.30/mile. Just to pay back this $1000 loan, a driver would need to drive 3,333 miles in Uber rides over 15 weeks and literally make no ADDITIONAL money doing it!

    3,333 miles. That’s the distance from New York to California.

    And what if Uber decided to drop the fare by 30%. Sound familiar? That means it would take 4,327 miles just to pay back the loan.

    Once again, let me reiterate - you are borrowing money from the same person who determines how hard you have to work to pay back that money.

    The loan is being issued through Clearbanc. You may recall that Clearbanc had a similar product to DailyPay but paid you your daily earnings through a prepaid debit card. They charged $2 per day. It appears as if they have discontinued that service given Uber’s own prepaid debit card product, that they launched last month called, Instant Pay by GoBank. Instant Pay is only available in select Uber markets in the U.S. and customers already seem frustrated by the card. Look no further than Go Bank’s Facebook page, or even reviews from members on this forum.

    In conclusion this loan is meant to entice a new driver who hasn’t really thought through the consequences. Or a new driver who rushes to sign up at the prospect of receiving $1000 but doesn’t appreciate the opportunity cost of giving up the sign up bonus (new drivers can’t double dip with a referral bonus PLUS the loan). You might be wondering, why is Uber doing this? The fundamental premise hasn’t changed: Uber needs drivers. This is just a cheaper way to recruit, when compared to paying out referral bonuses.

    This is enough evidence to support Uber’s growing control over drivers and their earnings. They’ve partnered with mediocre companies to create subprime products for their driver partners - YOU!

    Avoid doing a deal with the devil and be smart about how to reap benefits from Uber’s rideshare opportunity, because it CAN be great.

    I'll leave you with a couple final thoughts:

    1. Don’t cannibalize the Affiliate Referral program. The more people you refer, the more bonuses you will accumulate. Considering Advance Pay at the time of sign up will ultimately put you in debt with Uber, and will kill your opportunities of referring others and earning future bonuses.
    2. Considering Advance Pay because you’re in need of quick cash? If you can’t wait for your Uber referral bonus after 20 rides, there’s a service I briefly mentioned called DailyPay. Many drivers use this service to get their earnings everyday as opposed to once a week. They safely transfer your daily earnings straight to your bank account. They only collect a small fee that’s as low as $0.99 and never higher than $1.49 only on days that you drive. They ALSO have a referral program where you could earn $20/person you successfully refer which basically offsets any fees that you accumulate anyhow! Sign up for a 2 week free trial here. https://www.trydailypay.com/drivers?ref=UPNET

    You’ve now been given the Advance Warning.

    Interested to hear what you think about Advance Pay and if you have a different perspective. Anyone given it a try yet?
  2. SherpaShare, a Million Dollar startup, just announced their "pilot" concept to accept tips for drivers. Why are they being funded to come up with these ideas to cater to drivers needs? Because with a database of e-mails, phone-numbers, and on-demand account details, SherpaShare has the potential to infiltrate Uber's business with any ancillary services they can come up with. Is SherpaShare now gambling that by providing services that drivers grieve for, they can further monetize drivers & drivers' data as a result of Uber's neglect of it's own workforce?

    Sherpa's first service launch was a dashboard of drivers' earnings statistics based off of their Uber weekly reports. While some more detail oriented drivers found this information helpful, it was speculated that the real value lay in the independent third-party data on Uber drivers that Sherpa was now compiling. But interestingly, to this date, Sherpa hasn't released comparative data on drivers earnings in any meaningful way, despite the recurring media attention to Uber's rate cuts and the resultant driver protests.

    A lot of drivers use Sherpa for their mileage tracker app. In the US the fare prices for Uber are averaging $1 per mile. The IRS deduction for 2016 is .54 cents per mile. On average drivers incur one mile of unpaid "dead mile" for every mile of paid mile with a passenger in their cars. Uber only provides drivers with their mile statistics with a passenger in the car. Why would Uber not want to let their drivers know how much money they can deduct off of their taxes for mileage? Because then Ubers workforce would clearly see how much they are actually making as Uber drivers.

    I can imagine a scenario where a company like Juno could entertain the idea of buying Sherpa for $10 million. That would be a very successful 2 years in business for SherpaShare; to fund for a million and sell for ten. Consider that Uber and Lyft pay double-sided bonuses averaging $400 for each new driver referral. What is the value of SherpaShare to Juno, if they have say 40,000 drivers in their database? 40,000 drivers * $400 referral/signup cost = $16 million. Suddenly $10 million sounds like a deal. And in the meantime SherpaShare has started to charge it's users for mileage tracking. As the review below from the Apple Store points out - there are already hundreds of free apps that offer this functionality. Is there a business here or a facade to create a very valuable e-mail list? Is Uber's business much more than a brand and an e-mail list of it's network of drivers?

    sherpaAppleStore.jpg


    Now Sherpa looks to venture into a subject so close to drivers hearts - gratuity, or as UberPeople.NET says "lack thereof". Sherpa is testing the waters with a system where passengers can text in to "vote" for a driver based on their performance and have a follow-up option to leave a monetary tip. But Sherpa is adamant they won't make money on this deal, they are just charging the fee to process the credit card and perhaps maintain the SMS service. But wait, has Sherpa upped it's game and is now going after the other half Uber's Network - the customer base of it's riders?

    SherpaShare gathers all kinds of data on your workforce Uber. This data gives SherpaShare a crystal clear view of your Driver Operations. Doesn't that make you upset? You have drivers total mileage in your database Uber - Why won't you share that information with your workforce? I wonder how much money in taxes drivers are paying the Federal and State governments that they should be writing off. Your drivers have pleaded to allow in-app tipping, creating online petitions that have garnered support of 50,000 signees. Why not allow tipping in the app, Uber? Just as an option?

    There has been a lot said that in some ways drivers are Uber's customers. Certainly it could be argued that the drivers are more customers of Uber than independent contractors. So Uber, why not listen to your customers?