Will Uber Go Driverless?

Today’s San Francisco Chronicle includes this article about friction between Uber and the company’s drivers.  This got me thinking about the possibility that Uber will have to disrupt itself in order to stay competitive, possibly not too long from now.

Uber and competitors such as Lyft and Sidecar are taking market share from traditional taxi services by providing a product that outperforms traditional taxis in three key value dimensions: convenience, reliability, and predictability (and, you could argue, coolness). When I need a ride, I can get out my phone, open the Uber app, and immediately know where the cars are that can pick me up and how long it will take for one to get here.  It sure beats waiting on the curb and praying for good luck, or calling yellow cab and hoping the dispatcher understood me.

Self-Driving Uber Car?
Coming soon to a street corner near you?

In order to make the service work, Uber needs drivers, and the Chronicle article illustrates that getting a network of high quality drivers will require skillful execution.  For Uber to thrive, one of the things the company is going to need to get good at is creating and maintaining this network of drivers.  It is essential to their success.

But will it eventually become irrelevant? In our chapter The Five Moves in the Innovator’s Playbook we describe how Netflix had to disrupt itself in order to transition from a business powered by postal mail DVD distribution to one based on streaming media.  One of their core competencies, an amazingly fast, super automated method of getting DVDs by mail to just about anywhere in 2 days (or less!), had become irrelevant.  It was a cornerstone of their success, until suddenly it wasn’t.

Is Uber looking at a similar self-disruption, when it transitions from it’s driver network to self-driving vehicles?  How far away is that day? And when it does get here, how much will we tip our robot drivers?

– Matt Brocchini

Introducing Disruption Decoded

Red Pill or Blue Pill?
Red Pill or Blue Pill?

I first suspected that we were onto something with the ideas of Q-PMF and Delta-V when I noticed that I was seeing the world differently.  Then as I noticed the same thing happen with the executives and entrepreneurs we work with, I was sure of it.  Something about these ideas made us change the way we thought about things.  We were all asking the same questions, but we were coming up with better, more useful, and more insightful answers.

To say that it was like Neo taking the red pill might be overstating the case, but it really did feel like the fog was lifting and the true dynamics of innovation and disruption were revealed.  Here are a few questions that suddenly had clearer, better answers for me:

  • What should Toyota think about Tesla?
  • Why are celebrity endorsements so amazingly powerful?
  • What’s going to happen with Bitcoin?
  • Will the US Dollar continue to be the world’s reserve currency?
  • Why do inferior products sometimes manage to hold major market share?

When you ask these questions from a Product-Market Fit perspective, you get a new point of view.

In the Disruption Decoded blog, we are going to explore questions like these and see what kind of light we can throw on them.  Do you have a question or idea for us?  Let us know.