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We've Been Trapped in ‘Uberland’

In her new book, Alex Rosenblat talked with drivers in 25 cities to trace the story of how ride-hailing redefined the nature of work.  
What has Uber done to us?
What has Uber done to us?Mike Segar/Reuters

In 2009, Uber was born out of a simple idea: Tap a button, get a ride. As it grew popular, the platform, and the ride-hailing model it helped pioneer, seemed like it would go beyond just meeting a transportation need: It seemed to have the potential to solve problems of transit access and cater to people whom cab drivers may have discriminated against in the past.

Today, the company is a global presence worth billions. Uber and other transportation network companies (TNCs) such as U.S. rival Lyft have not only spawned a global mobility revolution and generated a vast number of jobs, they’ve kicked up a lot of disruption. In the last 10 years, Uber has—to borrow Facebook’s now-infamous former maxim—moved fast and broken things. A lot of things. It has misled drivers, broken local laws, and allegedly created a toxic working environment for women employees. Many promises have gone unmet.