PhotoCrowd-sourcing is the engine that drives Uber, Airbnb and other fast-growing "peer-to-peer" businesses -- and a powerful engine it is.

Just how powerful is illustrated in statistics from Uber, showing that the ride-sharing service has been generating an average of 20,000 new driver jobs per month.

Perhaps more startling is the median income those drivers are earning -- $90,766 in New York City, $74,191 in San Francisco for UberX drivers. 

The Uber release is in response to efforts by city and state government units around the country who have been trying to more tightly regulate, and even outlaw, Uber and its competitors, Lyft and Sidecar. 

The regulators argue that the independently-owned cars are essentially taxis and should have to jump through all the regulatory hoops that cabs do -- including city permits that can cost as much as $1 million. That's the current price of a New York City medallion that every city cab is required to have.

By contrast, an Uber driver just needs ... well, a car, a driver's license, adequate insurance and a well-charged smartphone. 

Instant entrepreneurs

"Hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs are using the [Uber] platform to build their own small business, resulting in a huge job growth engine for cities resulting in billions of dollars being pumped into the U.S. economy," said Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO.

In contrast, Kalanick said traditional taxi drivers in most cities are barely making ends meet: 

"The nation’s taxi drivers are often below the poverty line, required to spend $3,500/month – over $40,000/year – just to lease their taxi, so that wealthy taxi company owners can reap the benefits of drivers having no other option to make a living."

Former cab drivers who switched to Uber say they are not only making more money but feel much safer, since they no longer pick up total strangers at all hours of the day and night.

Using the Uber platform, both driver and passenger's identities are known to each other and each is able to rate the other. This crowd-sourcing is more effective than any bureaucratic regulatory appartus operated by local governments, Uber enthusiasts argue.

Ah, but what does the future hold for Uber drivers?

The smartphone and Uber's algorithms effectively replaced the taxi dispatcher and it just may be that Google's self-driving car will replace Uber drivers one of these days.

"We are most certainly going to partner with other companies, possibly Uber," Google co-founder Sergey Brin said at a technology confernce, ZDNet reported


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