The shattered window of the Uber in Paris.
Disruption distemper isn't just a San Francisco phenomenon anymore. Leave it to the land of the soixante-huitards and the Tarnac Nine to show us how it's done. On Monday, a group of taxi cab drivers near Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris attacked an Uber car during a protest of ridesharing companies in France. According to TechCrunch, which broke the story, "protestors smashed a window, damaged the car hood, and slashed a tire" of an Uber carrying the co-founder of Eventbrite, Renaud Visage, the co-founder of Five-by-Five, Kat Borlongan, and two other passengers. Protestors also threw paint on the car.
The attack came during a demonstration by taxi drivers against the growing market for ride-sharing services in France. Responding to their concerns, the French government recently passed a law requiring ride-share drivers to wait fifteen minutes to pick up a passenger after receiving a customer request. The taxi driver protestors are demanding that the cooling-off period be extended to thirty minutes, that the minimum fare be increased to €60 ($82), and that the state enact a ban on recruiting new drivers.
It's easy to see two points of view on the story. On the one hand, the demands of the taxi drivers seem like an excessive invocation of government force to stifle new industries from emerging. Uber is better than us, therefore the government should make them be worse. On the other hand, if you're already not exactly a fan of Uber, it's intriguing to compare how quickly the company put out a statement denouncing the attacks—and how forcefully—compared to the statement that Uber put out after one of its drivers allegedly killed a San Francisco girl in a crosswalk on New Year's Eve. It's a little surprising that Uber takes an attack on one of its cars as an attack on Uber the company, but when an Uber driver kills a pedestrian, it's not a reflection on Uber as a whole. Is Uber trying to have it both ways?