The Council That Kicked The Hornet's Nest — Why TODAY Matters for Start-Ups

206 Comments


This man hates you and your start-up.

7/10/12 UPDATE: DC Shelves Uber Amendment After Backlash from CEO and Customers. My dear readers, you all ROCK. Truly well done. It is a bright day for start-ups, and thank you for your support :)

Hi All,

This short post is more like a personal letter, because I just came across something that made me very angry. Namely, a tweet from my bud, Kevin Rose:

Wow, a business (Uber) is prevented from lowering its prices.. wait.. what? We live in America, right?
http://tcrn.ch/NfYOT3

In full disclosure, I’ve been an advisor to Uber from the beginning. They’re amazing. I work with 20+ start-ups because I enjoy helping entrepreneurs who want to change the world. Small-business founders are the value creators of our economy. Period, end of story.

But sometimes the corrupt (often with a track record) try to stifle the little guys. Incumbents don’t like to compete. They enjoy their defacto monopolies, are accustomed to bilking customers at will, and don’t want to change things…

Pardon my Long Island French, but here’s how I feel: Fuck those guys.

Protecting the status quo doesn’t impress me. In fact, it really pisses me off.

The last time I implored you to spend a few minutes to change laws, we helped successfully ban the distribution and sale of shark fins in Washington and California, the latter being the largest importer of shark fins in the United States.

YOUR TINY ACTIONS, PUT TOGETHER, CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS.

Below is a snapshot of the Uber situation from the TechCrunch article, and I have a little ask at the end. It’ll get you some good karma:

The Council’s intention is to prevent Uber from being a viable alternative to taxis by enacting a price floor to set Uber’s minimum fare at today’s rates and no less than 5 times a taxi’s minimum fare. Consequently they are handicapping a reliable, high-quality transportation alternative so that Uber cannot offer a high quality service at the best possible price. It was hard for us to believe that an elected body would choose to keep prices of a transportation service artificially high – but the goal is essentially to protect a taxi industry that has significant experience in influencing local politicians. They want to make sure there is no viable alternative to a taxi in Washington DC, and so on Tuesday [today!], the DC City Council is going to formalize that principle into law.

Take Action

THE COUNCIL VOTES ON THE UBER AMENDMENT [TODAY]!

If each of us writes or calls our DC Council people, we could make an impact on this law. What are we asking for?

Strike down the MINIMUM FARE language from the Uber Amendment.

Here are the City Council members’ contact info. Call/write as many of them as possible!

[7/10/12 UPDATE: No need to call or email anymore! DC Shelves Uber Amendment After Backlash from CEO and Customers.]

Phil Mendelson (Chairman), (202) 724-8064, pmendelson@dccouncil.us
Mary Cheh, Ward 3, (Chairperson of Committee on the Environment, Public Works and Transportation), (202) 724-8062, mcheh@dccouncil.us, @marycheh
Michael Brown, at-large, (202) 724-8105, mbrown@dccouncil.us, @cmmichaelabrown
Jim Graham, Ward 1, (202) 724-8181, jgraham@dccouncil.us, @jimgrahamward1
Jack Evans, Ward 2, (202) 724-8058, jevans@dccouncil.us, @jackevansward2
Muriel Bowser, Ward 4, (202) 724-8052, mbowser@dccouncil.us, @murielbowser
Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5, (202) 724-8028, kmcduffie@dccouncil.us,@kenyanmcduffie
Tommy Wells, Ward 6, (202) 724-8072, twells@dccouncil.us, @tommywells
Yvette Alexander, Ward 7, (202) 724-8068, yalexander@dccouncil.us, @cmyma
Marion Barry, Ward 8, (202) 724-8045, mbarry@dccouncil.us, @marionbarryjr
David Catania, at-large, (202) 724-7772, dcatania@dccouncil.us, @cataniapress
Vincent Orange, at-large, (202) 724-8174, vorange@dccouncil.us, @vincentorangedc

Those of you who read this blog know that I never write posts like this.

But I take this attack on Uber as a DC government-condoned attack on start-ups. I view it as an entrenched middle finger from incumbents who aren’t willing to improve their product or lower prices. Instead, they resort to underhanded legal means to handicap innovation. It makes my blood boil.

So, here’s what I’m going to do.

1) I’m going to e-mail every one of the above people today and tell them to read this post. E-mail helps, but phone is better…

2) Personally, I’m going to call every one of them today and politely but firmly ask them to “strike down the MINIMUM FARE language from the Uber Amendment.” I will have my assistants do the same. This shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes or so, but I won’t ask that of you…

3) I’m going to ask you all — the 1,000,000+ unique readers of this blog — to call as many of the above as possible. Let’s aim for the first four. But there’s more… Politely but firmly, get the name of the person you’re speaking with, tell them you’d like them to “strike down the MINIMUM FARE language from the Uber Amendment” and then ask them if they’re in favor of innovation or incumbents. Last, indicate that you’ll be putting their responses in the comments below.

7/10/12 UPDATE: DC Shelves Uber Amendment After Backlash from CEO and Customers. :)

This DC attack could set a horrible precedent for start-ups trying to improve any space with large incumbents. If you have a few minutes, please make one phone call. It will earn you positive karma… and the knowledge that you didn’t stand still and watch Goliath snuff out David with his thumb. There’s something real to be said for that.

Sorry for the rant, but this one is legitimate. To my mind, it cannot go unanswered.

Please spread the call to action far and wide. This is time-sensitive and needs to happen ASAP today.

Posted on: July 10, 2012.

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206 comments on “The Council That Kicked The Hornet's Nest — Why TODAY Matters for Start-Ups

  1. That’s some BS for sure. I use Uber all the time in Santa Monica and applaude them for reinventing an industry with a completely broken model. That price mandate is totally ridiculous. It blows my mind that this kind of garbage is even an issue. I’m writing the counsel members immediately.

    Like

      • Props to Mary for actually writing back:

        From: “Cheh, Mary (COUNCIL)”
        Subject: RE: Strike down the MINIMUM FARE language from the Uber Amendment.
        Date: July 11, 2012 11:56:28 AM PDT
        To: Elijah Szasz

        I very much share your enthusiasm for Uber. From the outset, I have wanted to ensure that Uber is able to continue operating legally in the District, and in truth, my amendment was actually meant to do just that. I think innovation is good, and I think that the District—with Captial Bikeshare, car2go, the Circulator, and Uber—is at the forefront of progressive transportation options. I am pleased to report that we were able to work something out that was satisfactory to both Uber and the Council, and I’ll be working to introduce more permanent legislation in the fall.

        Thanks for your note.

        Regards,

        Mary

        Like

    • Hey guys i didn’t know where to leave a comment like this but here it goes. I’m 19 and i have completed one year of college and i currently work a 9-5 at a bank and i can clearly see from all the other older employees that i do NOT want to go anywhere with banking. More importantly, i feel like this book was addressed to college GRADUATES working a 9-5 who want out of that lifestyle. Can someone give some input on whether or not a college degree is necessary to live a “4-hour workweek” lifestyle.

      Like

      • Even though this is the wrong place for this, no, you don’t need a college degree for a 4 hour lifestyle. In fact, I know several people who, without such a degree, have created sucessfull businesses.

        Like

      • Done!

        To all overseasERS .. This is how I chose to conclude my email:

        FYI
        Your name and response will be published in a blog of a 1,000,000 + readers.
        If you’ll ignore this email, your name will be published as the
        DC Council-member who chose to ignore my email.

        Best
        Shunit Cohen

        Like

    • I’m outside of the United States, but I emailed the first four and send tweets to the rest of them.

      Great initiative, Tim!

      Like

  2. Tim, I’ll be emailing from Australia. For too long have stale, old governments attempted to slow innovation. Disruption to old markets isn’t just a good thing, its necessary.

    Matt

    Like

  3. Hey Tim,

    Good article. I think with your influence and intelligence, you can really make a difference with some of these injustices. I’m the kind of guy who wishes that “The Newsroom” show on HBO was real. The majority of Americans need to wake up to this kind of government abuse. I’m having a problem with gaining funding for my concept that will change the world for the better… sharesobrietydotcom (it is in dev. phase, but their is a fully functioning social network under the Share tab) I just want a place for sober, or people who want to be sober, to share and chat when their are no AA meetings going on (i.e. late at night) I tried applying for kickstarter but I was denied due to technicalities. Do you know of any options? Thanks in advance and I’ll be calling those politicians tomorrow morning!

    Like

  4. Tim, when you mentioned a late-night rant via Twitter, I expected it to be an interesting read. This, however, is disgusting. Not that much our wonderful government does these days isn’t disgusting, but still. I will be emailing in the morning. As for calling, I’d rather leave that to Insultron (http://twitter.com/insultron), but I fear that will do more harm than good. I suppose I can save it until afterward, if this does pass into law.

    For anyone else here, please read the linked TechCruch article, as there are more details there. I think Tim has been very restrained and professional in this rant, so you should read the article to see just how bad this is. And please do your part to call them out on this.

    Like

  5. Emailed. Uber is awesome in SF!

    Can you create a link so people can sign up to protest? I think a million signatures will get more press coverage and pressure than 1M unread messages in their inbox.

    Like

  6. Dropped a few emails and as luck would have it my iMac’s sound decided not to work so I hope my 30 second silent call to Phil Mendelson. Was creepy enough to end this.

    Like

  7. Should this initiative fail, as an advisor to Uber perhaps the following might work:
    1) Uber charge the 5x minimum fare but at the same time show what the local taxi fare would be.
    2) Have a disclaimer that if you are not happy with the service / fare then pay what you think is appropriate (ie the local taxi fare).
    This way they are complying with the law but protecting consumer interests by allowing them the option to pay the lower fare. Tacitally everybody knows that they are charging the same but are being bartered down from a higher fare.

    Uber has only just launched in London and I’ve not had a chance to try it out. The biggest barrier here as far as I see is the drivers not having The Knowledge compared to black cab drivers.

    Like

    • I actually got a reply from one:

      Dan – Councilmember Evans is introducing an amendment that would have no minimum for Uber. We urge you to contact other Councilmembers, particularly your at-large Councilmembers to urge them to support this amendment.

      Schannette Grant on behalf of Jack Evans
      Chief of Staff

      Like

  8. Ok, so I sent them all emails (I’m Aussie btw). I doubt I’ll get a response so I thought I should paste the email here. The more people do this, the further this thread will travel and when the council sees this post they’ll look at the number of comments as a metric to gauge how much they have to lose on this issue.

    BTW Tim, have you considered have a section on this site to deal with entrepreneurship under attack? I know you don’t post this stuff often but I do enjoy hearing about cases like these and ways to stand up for things I believe in. Having a separate section is a bit like your policeman analogy, we can go there any time but you don’t have to stop traffic (pun intended) to get it to us.

    Thanks for letting me know about this and can you do a follow up on what happens?

    =======================================

    An Address To The Council:

    Please strike down the minimum fare language from the Uber amendment. Now is your chance to show you support innovation, entrepreneurship and the revival of the US economy. It’s about maintaining a system of meritocracy and a free market. It’s about representing the true interests of your constituents. In 100 years, when we’re all dusk and from then onwards what will your legacy be? Will you name be spoken of by your progeny with pride or will they avoid discussing you at all?

    In the end history will be your judge as surely as it is for Lincoln as surely as it is for Warren Harding. So, what’s it going to be? Today, are you going to be a Lincoln or a Harding? Do the right thing, sleep well at night and make your families proud – strike down the minimum fare language from the Uber amendment. Listen to that quiet voice in the back of your head that’s urging you to be a person of integrity, come what may.

    Thank you for your attention and kind regards,

    Christian Thurston

    Like

  9. Hate to be Captain Obvious… But this is nothing new and happens all the time. Welcome to America 2012 where we have been loosing control of our government for a decade but nobody gets angry until it affects them directly. Make yourself comfortable. We saved you a seat.

    Like

    • Yes Kelly, it does happen all the time and it is about time that it stops. The little people never had a voice this powerful before and it is getting more powerful by the year.

      Like

    • Dear Council Men and Women,

      I am writing today, asking that you strike down the MINIMUM FARE language from the Uber Amendment, being voted on today.

      Please see this post for a full explanation of my concerns.

      I would certainly appreciate a response to this e-mail and am interested to know whether you as a councilman or woman value innovation or incumbents? I will be publishing your response (by name) in the comments of the above referenced blog. I will take your failure to respond to mean that you value incumbents and have voted such.

      Sincerest thanks for your attention in this matter,

      Ryan Flynn

      Like

      • From Council Mary Cheh:

        “I very much share your enthusiasm for Uber. From the outset, I have wanted to ensure that Uber is able to continue operating legally in the District, and in truth, my amendment was actually meant to do just that. I think innovation is good, and I think that the District—with Captial Bikeshare, car2go, the Circulator, and Uber—is at the forefront of progressive transportation options. I am pleased to report that we were able to work something out that was satisfactory to both Uber and the Council, and I’ll be working to introduce more permanent legislation in the fall.”

        Like

  10. Emailed them all from London. Competition between ‘Black cabs’ (your standard ‘metered’ cab) and ‘Minicabs’ (set fares based on distance) here is fantastic for the consumer. To rule so severely against the competition reeks of kick-backs…

    Like

  11. Ever wonder why the Gree nline in Los Angeles does not go directly to LAX? Yup the taxi lobbyist worked long and hard to kill a subway line that you would actually use. Consider this priority one later today.

    Like

  12. It’s definitely a disgrace what they’re trying to do. I live in Belgium, but I’m definitely sending them an email.

    Startups rule the world!

    Like

  13. Hi Guys 

    Please bring in more car sharing transport options and allow innovation to change the industry 

    The whole taxi and car hire system needs a complete overhaul it’s antiquated and doesn’t reflect world we now live in or consumer demands 

    Perhaps you can issue Taxi corporations with car share and self drive taxi licences and plates

    Please remove the min fare conditions in the Über amendment 

    You need to promote innovation and new business ideas across all forms of transport 

    Thanks for making a change 

    Regards Andrew

    Like

  14. I sent an email to all council members. I’m German, but you don’t have to tell them, right? ;)

    Here is a list of the twitter handles that might be useful to contact them on twitter: https://gist.github.com/3082309

    More important, here is the email template I used: https://gist.github.com/3082322

    Please suggest improvements on both if you have any.

    I love this kind of politic work. I’m a member of the German Pirate Party and we try to do such stuff all the time (but of course we don’t have Tim’s reach).

    Like

  15. Guys this is a nationwide and global most who protect lucrative Taxi Car Hire industry for own revenues or exorbitant plate prices and licence fees

    DC are setting min fare at $15 which is Über min fee anyway you really want min fare removed or set at $5 and bring in self hire self drive cars at $5 an hour while your at it!

    Like

    • Er… Spin it round.

      Why should we protect the taxi drivers? Why should a consumer not get a competitive price for their transport?

      Like

      • Well, why don’t they remove the regulations on taxi drivers to allow them to be more competitive to Uber? I don’t know the extent of all the regulations – permits, medallions, etc. But it seems like everyone was getting mad at how Uber found the loophole and exploited a cost advantage, and trying (through knee jerk price fixing) to level the field a bit.

        Nothing wrong with finding and using some unknown advantages – that is what startups are good at, but if this fight is about “equality” and allowing innovation to thrive, why no allow the taxi businesses to innovate as well? Why not get rid of their restrictions so things are played on a level field?

        Like

  16. Out of respect to you Tim, I’ve emailed all of the people on the list with the following email, even though I’m based in the UK. This is akin to price fixing and has no place in a free-market economy! Hope it helps in some small way…

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest you read this blog post [link] regarding the ‘Uber Amendment’.

    Please do the right thing and strike down the MINIMUM FARE language from the Uber Amendment.

    Thank you in advance for your time and commitment to doing the right thing.

    Yours sincerely,


    Oliver Hermon-Taylor

    Like

    • I think it was a sad day when a man thought he could trust his government. That’s just silly.

      And a happy day when he woke up and thought maybe monopoly isn’t the answer.

      Like

  17. done. By the way here in Chile we have this service since like forever (minus the apps), its called ‘radio taxi’ and it´s even cheaper than regular taxis. And somehow taxis still are roaming the street .

    Figth the power!!

    Like

    • Just by looking at the service it has a great advantage to the driver: it lets him/her know who they are letting in their ride. that is a mayor safety consideration.

      should you need a recrouting pitch.

      Like

  18. Doing this. I am proud that you spoke out on this issue. It id time that we the people remind our elected officials that they work for us!

    Like

  19. Hey Tim. I posted your blog to my fb page. Thanks for sending the Chinese version of the 4HWW. My old assistant manager from my pizza days really enjoyed the book.

    I know I bug you about it every year, but stop by 4:30 and B. I have a PBR with your name on it.

    Like

    • Update: I posted to fb, sent off emails to each person on the list. Sent an email to Seth Godin, asking for his support, and sent your post to the most prolific Burning Man supporter on the internet. I hope it has some impact.

      Like

  20. I wrote everyone on the DC Council. I also told Uber that 20 years ago Ron Linton, who was then chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, got his pilots license at my company. Ron encouraged me to bid for the FBO at Reagan Washington Airport. Larry O’Brien, then chairman of the Democratic Party and a powerful lobbyist, was hired by my competition (Butler Aviation then owned by the Bass brothers of Texas), and my proposal, while offering the most money and, in my opinion the best improvements, was squashed. Ron Linton is now the Chairman of the DC Taxi Commission. I would like to remind him how a small company was treated 20 years ago. I hope the outcome for Uber is different.

    Like

  21. Sent an email to the group asking them to turn this into a positive. I am sure Tim has shut down their servers already :)

    It would be great to pull this into the Presidential talk points for the day. If anyone on here has that kind of influence.

    Like

  22. Wow. This is insane. A problem in America is that all these ridiculous laws pass and nobody notices. They pass them silently to avoid arguments. Thanks for sharing this. Someone has to!

    Like

  23. A cartel, protecting it’s members.

    The problem is, to define the difference between a minimum wage law and a minimum price law?
    The former corrects an anarchist market from racing to the bottom, the latter, stifles the ability, for the market to be efficient.

    The former says, if you can’t afford to pay your people a pittance an hour, you don’t deserve to be in business, the latter says, even though you should not be in business, given the amount you are charging and your quality of service, we are going to prevent the Cavalry from arriving to correct the market.

    The former is a beneficial to society, the latter, detrimental.

    Off topic: is this another situation where it’s going to come down to law, and who has the vast resources and time to fight a case?
    I feel, these days you need to train as a lawyer, as an add-on, to whatever your main occupation is. Sort of like, I am an {insert profession} but I have a black belt in Law. I believe there was a TED talk on this.

    Like

  24. I know you’re a busy guy, but I wonder if you get more people to participant if…you wrote up a brief letter that everyone could copy and paste and send in an email. So many people get a little bit uncomfortable (including me) when we have to write anything formal. Its just a thought. I love what you are doing here.

    Like

  25. I called the list. I’ve lived in DC before, and sometimes it was tough to get a cab on time.

    They all knew what my position would be before I spoke :) They said they’ve received nothing but calls of support for removing the provision.

    One councillor’s rep from lower down the list said he’d received over 40 calls as of 9:36 am EST, and hundreds of emails. The councillors are having a pre-council meeting to discuss.

    Like

  26. Looks like people are calling in. I got a number of hurried and nervous responses from various people as I was transferred through the phone system. One person in Mary Cheh’s office responded “I’m assuming that you’re against the bill since everyone calling since yesterday was as well. I’m keeping a tally and I’ll mark you down.”

    As an entrepreneur this is important to me. No government should be micromanaging any businesses pricing model. This is anti-competitive and not surprising unfortunately.

    They are voting on this at 10am est, today, July 10, 2012.

    Like

  27. Called Michael Brown, left the message with his assistant. Assistant doesn’t know Brown’s stance on innovation vs incumbents.

    Like

  28. Thank you for posting this and getting the awareness out there!

    I’ve contacted every person via email and twitter. I’ve published on my own website, and every social media outlet I’m on.

    I hope and pray we get these people’s attention, and everyone else’s attention who would stifle innovation and creativity! These are elected people. Let’s show them we mean business!

    Like

  29. As a DC local, I called my council member early this morning, and he (Jack Evans, Ward 2) is planning to introduce an amendment to get rid of the minimum fare language. There’s hope yet!

    Like

  30. Tim,

    Emailed all Council Members and will call as well. This is total BS. Here’s a draft email that your readers that live in the District can cut and paste if they wish:

    Council Members,

    I am a resident (and voter) of the District and am proud to call DC my home and place of work.

    I was shocked this morning to read about the minimum fare language in the Uber Amendment that you will be voting on today. As a resident of DC I use both DC Taxis and the Uber Service. They are distinct services and we have room for both.

    More importantly we should be encouraging small businesses and innovation – not legislating it out of existence.

    Please vote against the minimum fare amendment.

    Also please note that this issue is getting national attention and how you vote will be followed by DC voters as well as others nationwide.

    http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2012/07/10/the-council-that-kicked-the-hornets-nest-a-rare-call-to-action/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+timferriss+%28The+Blog+of+Author+Tim+Ferriss%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

    Like

  31. Tim:

    Been a very, very long time follower of you and your work. Big Fan. I called two of the offices on your list. This is total BS and hopefully more of your readership will call as well.

    Corey

    Like

  32. Tim:

    Been a long time follower of you and your work. I called two of the offices. Hopefully more of your readership will do the same.

    Corey

    Like

  33. I went a little over the top but its how I feel thanks Tim for letting us in on this atrocity.

    Mr. Mendelson,

    I am sure that by now you have received a plethora of emails in reference to the Uber
    amendment. Does the American dream still exist? Do we have the opportunity to be anything
    and do everything that we ever wished still? I personally would not only implore you to
    change this outcome, I would advise you to do so in a swift timely manner so as to not
    push us further towards the dark tunnel our country is going into. Please vote no on this
    amendment today and make the United States a little closer to what it was meant to be.

    Like

  34. If this passes, at least you’ll be better off than the shark fin trade which you used government force to keep out of the market. Uber would still be able to exist.

    Like

  35. Sent the Following Email –

    Dear Council Members,

    I’m working on a business with two cofounders – one in Boston and one in DC. One of these places will be our home provided things go well for us in the next few months, but I am concerned with DC as a startup-friendly environment given the “Uber Amendment” being voted on today. To put it bluntly, putting a price floor on a service like Uber is economically and socially irresponsible. Improvements in quality of life are driven by innovation. Should the internet cost “at least 5x the minimum telephone bill” to protect phone companies? Should airplane tickets cost “at least 5x the cost of a horse and buggy ride of the same length” to protect Amish transportation businesses?

    I hope I’m preaching to the choir and you all understand this and will vote accordingly, but even if you disagree consider this: passing this Amendment discourages the country’s only booming industry from taking route in your district.

    Thanks for your time,
    Alex

    Like

    • Got this reply. Looks like progress?

      Alex – Councilmember Evans is introducing an amendment that would have no minimum for Uber. We urge you to contact other Councilmembers, particularly your at-large Councilmembers to urge them to support this amendment.

      Schannette Grant on behalf of Jack Evans

      Chief of Staff

      Like

  36. As a DC local, let me remind readers that these government officials are the folks who complain longest and loudest that Washington is not permitted to become the 51st State of the U.S.

    If you are an American, point out to them that shenanigans like this provide you with a strong reason to oppose DC claims to Statehood.

    Like

  37. Just received the following bounceback from the emails I sent:

    Karisa – Councilmember Evans is introducing an amendment that would have no minimum for Uber. We urge you to contact other councilmembers, particularly your at-large councilmembers to urge them to support this amendment.

    Schannette Grant on behalf of Jack Evans
    Chief of Staff

    Like

  38. Called and emailed first four. I visit DC on at least a yearly basis and am well aware of the need for alternatives to the current system.

    Like

  39. Thanks for doing this, i live right across the river in northern VA and the taxis in this city are horrible. They won’t take you from DC to Arlington, where a lot of young professionals live. so you have to pretend to be on the phone and then change your destination last minute like “Oh whats that person i’m meeting up with who i am on the phone with right now? Meeting you 5 minutes further in arlington? let me tell the driver.”
    It is crazy sauce.

    Like

  40. So, if minimum fare, a law to artificially inflate rates, is bad for society… then what about minimum wage?

    Should we start a campaign to eliminate minimum wage? After all minimum wage laws that increase unemployment for low skilled inner city kids and prevent them from taking that first step towards the American dream.

    Or is “minimum fare” just bad for Tim’s stock options?

    Like

  41. Tim,
    Here is what I emailed to all council members:

    Dear City Council Chairman Mendelson, ,
    By this time I am sure you are aware of the efforts put forth by Tim Ferriss to ask you to strike down the Minimum Fare language from the Uber Ammendment.

    Not only is legislature that favors incumbents and status quo inappropriate, it is unethical and damaging to our entire economy. With a 14% real unemployment status, there is nothing more practical than supporting small business startups.

    Please read Tim’s post here:

    http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2012/07/10/the-council-that-kicked-the-hornets-nest-a-rare-call-to-action/

    I would also like you to consider the article I wrote in response to the 60 Minute piece entitled, “Trapped in Unemployment.” Business Ownership has to be a viable option if we are to succeed.

    http://ezinearticles.com/?Career-Management:-The-American-Dream—Broke-and-Broken-(AKA-60-Minutes-Off-Course)&id=6912918

    Thank you for your time and attention.
    Do Great Things!
    Michael J. Stone
    South, Hadley MA

    Abraham Lincoln understood that startups were the natural progression toward prosperity: “The prudent, penniless beginner in the world, labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land, for himself; then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This…is free labor–the just and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way for all.”

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  42. i emailed all the ppl on the list and called the first phone number on the list and their assistant ansewerd and said they have been getting calls and emails all day and said that the amendment has been dropped :)

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  43. I gave 2 of them a call. Their office is right near mine. I hate to say it, but Mr. Ferriss, now you are the Goliath.

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  44. You had me up until this line:

    “Personally, I’m going to call every one of them today…I will have my assistants do the same.”

    Telling your employees to engage in political activity on your behalf just really feels *wrong*. What if they don’t agree with your political point of view on this particular issue? Will there be repercussions for them if they decline to make the phone calls? Might they lose their employment with you, or face other sanctions?

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  45. UPDATE. I also got an response from Jack Evans. Maybe something is happening here. The following is the original email:

    David – Councilmember Evans is introducing an amendment that would have no minimum for Uber. We urge you to contact other Councilmembers, particularly your at-large Councilmembers to urge them to support this amendment.

    Schannette Grant on behalf of Jack Evans

    Chief of Staff

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  46. Just received a an auto-reply from Jack Evans Chief of Staff:

    Carl – Councilmember Evans is introducing an amendment that would have no minimum for Uber. We urge you to contact other Councilmembers, particularly your at-large Councilmembers to urge them to support this amendment.

    Schannette Grant on behalf of Jack Evans

    Chief of Staff

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  47. Here is the response I got from a member of Jack Evans’ staff:

    Councilmember Evans is introducing an amendment that would have no minimum for Uber. We urge you to contact other Councilmembers, particularly your at-large Councilmembers to urge them to support this amendment.

    [Name Removed] on behalf of Jack Evans

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  48. I now live in a small fishing village in Panama. The same thing happened here. An entrepreneur purchased a fleet of trike motorcycles with carriages to be used as a low price taxi in a town with a severe shortage of public transportation.

    She was unable to get them licensed for the road due to the political influence of the taxi unions. If she had succeeded I wouldn’t need to own a car which has become a huge expense and hassle due to the ridiculous laws requiring me to leave the country every 3 months so that I can drive with an international drivers license. Not to mention gas at $4/ gal.

    Fight the Man!

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  49. Sent the emails. Also spoke with Britney Hughes in the Chairman’s office – she had no idea on how Phil Mendelson was going to vote, but said they were in the meeting when I called. FYI.

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  50. Done! Thanks for the alert! Here’s my email in case anyone wants to copy it:

    “I am a concerned citizen. I understand that there is language in the Uber Agreement that will prevent them from lowering their fares. Are you in favor of innovative, new business helping up solve problems and make our lives better? Or are you in favor of the status quo that has been shown to have many problems?

    Please strike down the MINIMUM FARE language from the Uber Amendment. I implore you, in the name of commuters everywhere.

    Thank you for your time.”

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  51. For anyone wanting an email template, this is what I sent:

    Dear DC Council members,

    I have recently heard of the motion to fix taxi fare rates for outside private taxi services such as Uber. This creates an unfair advantage to entrepreneurs trying to get a foothold in a “fixture” industry such as a city taxi service, stifling innovation and the potential for offering better, higher quality service.

    It’s creative entrepreneurs like Uber that will help raise the standard and offer options for it’s citizens. The proposed MINIMUM FARE language will stifle the growth of companies like these who will only do good for an industry sector by bringing innovation, competition, and creativity.

    To enforce a fixed minimum rate to push out competition to the taxi industry is unethical and saddening to see it even considered. Uphold your integrity and keep fair competition alive by voting against this law.

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  52. Emailed the top 4. Different subjects so any spam filters will have to adjust to it. :) When i opened this post there were 15 comments. After I emailed woah, 75 comments. I was beginning to worry that people didn’t support innovation but now I know I was just early. :)

    jomar
    (the tim ferriss of the Philippines)

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  53. I’d never heard of Uber before reading this article. You may want to put in a short description of it near the beginning of the article for those of us not familiar with it, so that we can understand why the following legislation matters so much.

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  54. I think this amendment goes about it the wrong way by trying to impose mandatory pricing, but isn’t the real issue that Uber is acting like a taxi service without having to adhere to the regulations and requirement of becoming an actual taxi service?

    There was an interesting comment in the TechCrunch article – “suppose someone selling medication online was able to fill people’s prescriptions quickly, accurately, and at a significant discount from your local pharmacist. The one catch – this person wasn’t a licensed pharmacist. Should they be able to be in this profession if they don’t obtain the necessary qualifications?” (paraphrased by me).

    Again – I think they went about it in the wrong way by trying to price fix, but isn’t the real issue underneath it all about regulations?

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  55. Called every number and wasn’t able to speak to any of them. Spoke to their secretaries and they “took down my opinion” I’ll be emailing as well. I hope they pull their heads out of their asses on this one… fingers crossed..

    Thanks Tim for being out there supporting the fight again these corruptions and standing up for fellow entrepreneurs!

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  56. Tim —

    If it comes to it, and I hope it doesn’t, you might consider reaching out to the Institute for Justice — http://www.ij.org/about — a litigation boutique focused on just this type of bulls***.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

    –Steve

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  57. First, a HUGE Thanks to Tim for raising awareness about this outside the District.

    Second, an enormous gracias to all who aren’t DC residents yet have taken action and shared your voices to what can only be seen as a pitifully, short-sighted display of bully-ism (might not be a word…yet, but it fits). Tourism is a huge revenue generator here so, with any luck, your outrage will be heard as loudly as ours.

    Proud, but frustrated, resident of the Nation’s Capital.

    GO UBER!!!

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  58. Thanks Tim for alerting us to this! I’m from the DC area so this is what I sent-

    Hi,

    I grew up in Alexandria, VA and I love DC- I also love entrepreneurship and innovation.

    I demand that you strike down the minimum fare language from the Uber Amendment. What an incredibly un-American thing to do, protecting a large lobby power instead of innovation.

    If you’re still against doing this, or if you’re on the fence since the negative press you’re getting will kick you out of office, why don’t you take a short drive down the GW Parkway and visit Mount Vernon. Walk on the ground that President Washington lived for and died on…so that everyday Americans (the little guy) could have a shot at changing the world.

    I’m going to publish your response online so please be so kind as to let me know your opinion and your vote.

    Regards,

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  59. First person on list, Chairman Mendelson; Celeste. She will note my comment. When asked the question, her response was “I’m not sure I am allowed to give my personal opinion, but I can tell You that most people who have called this morning share your opinion.”
    Next!!….

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  60. I can’t believe this is happening. I will certainly send an email.

    I don’t want to be scared to be an entrepreneur because of things like this.

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  61. I decided that since the instructions were to start at the top and go down, and call at least One, best Four on the list, that I would call the top One, then go to the bottom One, then 2nd from top, 2nd from bottom, etc…
    Very bottom on list- Vincent Orange. I spoke with Doug, who said “The Amendment has been struck down earlier today, and is not going to be voted on today.”
    WOW!! I feel part of something, and like Activism actually works! Now to go be proactive on another thing I believe in….. =)

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  62. To expedite process, here are all the emails in a cut-and-pastable format:

    pmendelson@dccouncil.us, mcheh@dccouncil.us, mbrown@dccouncil.us, jgraham@dccouncil.us, jevans@dccouncil.us, mbowser@dccouncil.us, kmcduffie@dccouncil.us, twells@dccouncil.us, yalexander@dccouncil.us, mbarry@dccouncil.us, dcatania@dccouncil.us, vorange@dccouncil.us

    Great initiative — I remember Vancouver being plagued by special interests in the taxi world, and my hometown of Calgary has suffered from this as well.

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