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Transportation

Is Uber Over?

Amid PR scandals and shaky financials, some wonder if Uber’s last days are imminent. That may be wishful thinking—but cities can expect to benefit from competition moving in.
O God where is my Uber?
O God where is my Uber?Flickr/Tim Kelley

Predictions of the End of Uber are nothing new: Ever since the ride-hailing “unicorn” galloped onto the scene way back in 2009, observers have predicted its demise and questioned the sustainability of its buccaneering business model. As the company bridled at city regulations and trampled the taxi industry by slashing fares, it also earned stratospheric valuations from analysts (peaking at a claimed worth of nearly $70 billion in 2016). But reporters and economists are banging Uber’s funeral drum louder and louder after a recent series of controversies, legal setbacks, and PR mishaps.

To name a few of the most spectacular ones: In late January, a firestorm erupted over Uber’s perceived strike-breaking amidst protests against President Trump’s early immigration ban, which coined the #deleteUber hashtag (and boosted the fortunes of arch-rival Lyft). February saw a video emerge of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s callous treatment of an Uber driver, a gut-wrenching chronicle of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination within the company by the former engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti, and revelations of the company’s use of a potentially illegal enforcement-deceiving software.