The Austin Ride-Hail Chronicles: A RideAustin Followup (UPDATED)
Jeff Kirk

Jeff — I fail to understand why you continue to make false and accusatory comments to honorable members of our Austin community. Falsely accusing Marisa of leading a ‘mob’ and falsely accusing our 5k RideAustin drivers of hateful actions is simply irresponsible. I’ve worked side by side with many of these folks over the past year — and I can unequivocally say they are some of the best people I’ve had the privilege to work with. I aspire to be as good as they are some day…

On your specific items:

  1. “Marisa had led groups of drivers around Sixth Street” — this is simply inaccurate. Marisa hasn’t been to 6th St in years and certainly is not leading a mob. Marisa dedicates over 80hrs/w at 1/3 her normal pay (she’s Princeton CS + Harvard Business School) and has been invaluable to our non-profit. Ask any driver or charity — and they will tell you about both her ethics and dedication to the Austin community.
  2. “U/L drivers being verbally harassed by RideAustin drivers” — over the past year — it’s been an honor to get to know so many of our Austin community drivers. Increcibly array of great people. Many of them volunteer for the local charities we assist, some have charities of their own, many of them help one another on learning the rideshare business, etc etc — and I’ve seen nothing that shows me that there is an underlying culture of hatred. If you have proof of any RA drivers not upholding these principles — we’re happy to discuss with them and address — and also happy to discuss with other TNC leadership (particularly since almost all of them drive for several TNCs). But to do a blanket character assassination of a group of 5k RA drivers and drawing analogies to American Muslim hate crimes is simply irresponsible. Again, I’m not saying we can’t have any ‘bad apples’ — but I haven’t seen very many (and we’re quick to deactivate if we do).
  3. Implying that RideAustin did not have non-profit legal guidance — this is simply incorrect. Mollie Cullinane of the Cullinane Law group has been our non-profit attorney from the start. She is an award-winning attorney that specialized in non-profit law. She is one of the best in the country. She and her husband Jeff have been a tremendous help and we’ve been honored to work with them from day 1 on everything from consideration of becoming a non-profit to the incorporation to the IRS filings.
  4. Free rides to doctors for underserved community — this (and many more we’ve been working along these lines) has been in the works for over 6 months. Unfortunately — many of these initiatives take a while to become reality. So unfortunately — your blog a month ago somehow driving this partnership is incorrect — but we’re happy to hear more ideas from the community anytime.
  5. No surge weekend — drivers were notified of the experiment via both FB and email. We often do various A/B experiments to continue to learn (we’re still just a year old). We did, however, make a mistake on this one and we sent the email/FB notice out on Sat morning instead of Friday morning. It was an honest mistake and not some “sketchy activity by RideAustin”. We’re happy to take accountability for our 1-day mistake here and I believe our loyal driver base will forgive us.
  6. Price sensitivity of rideshare — your notion that price sensitivity isn’t one of the top purchase criteria of rideshare is incorrect and you’re misreading Levitt’s paper on consumer surplus on UberX pricing. The paper was on the net consumer surplus and the willingness of consumers to pay more (sometimes much more) in times of surge/shortages. The demand curve in Figure 6 of the paper clearly shows the relationship between ride volume and pricing. And as you extrapolate the demand curve below the 1.0 pricing value in the chart — volume (unsurprisingly) continues to increase. This is why Uber continues their relentless pursuit of lower prices — to drive more rider demand (same deal with all the ride discount promos). Below is also the most recent rider survey we’ve completed on purchase criteria — and this shows the same relationship as price as #1. I wish our insights were unique here — but they’re not.

Lastly — I apologize for what you’re calling my ‘character assassination’ on your previous blog post. That was not the intent but it appears it was taken that way. Again — my apologies.