More thoughts on transpo!

What we all really want is this right?

Open an app, summon a car, go to my spot, get out and get billed. No driver in the car so we can carry on a normal family or private conversation. I don’t have to argue about the route, worry about traffic or smell a driver’s nasty foot odor. Yes – that happened the other day on Uber X. Won the lottery of getting a fancy weekend Uber X car but paid for it with a punishing smell of rotting old man feet.

Robotic fleet of cars is the answer to a lot of what ails a city. Bring it.

Lit up my stats the other day with this tweet – even garnered a few retweets from the pros.

But damn if I didn’t speak to soon.

Usually when I am in an Uber or Grab I quiz the drivers. I like to hear their stories, how they use the system and what they are getting paid. Like the last time I was in LA the driver picked me up in an Uber X and then based on when he thought he would drop me was logging into his Lyft app to hopefully bag a ride near my drop off point. Love how this economic model influences behaviours.

I noticed about a week ago I couldn’t get an Uber X in the morning – right around 6:50 is when I order one. But funny thing is I noticed some Grab cars lurking around me. So today there were no Uber X cars but yet my first pull on the Grab app netted me a ride on GrabCar. Lo and behold, yeah I remember every driver, I noticed a car that has picked me up before and the driver with his new blonde hair. Of course I dig in to learn that Uber has rules about appearance and on top of that he said the new 60 hour – 100 ride system is paying less than Grab unless you hit the kickers. So his calculated per hour rate is now down and he isn’t logging into Uber X anymore, thus he was available for a GrabCar ride. Hence I can get a Grab now but not an Uber.

Not sure this move is working out too well for Uber since outside of the city central I see less cars now but I will add when I see them I get one. Unlike the Grab system, where they inflate the cars around you and you don’t always get one.

Also many of the Uber X drivers I know on using the cars rented via the Uber system – wonder how this messes with that system?

Where will this end? My guess is both companies are bleeding money and if so this is a funding game to some extent. Good times.

It’s a marathon – not a sprint

Read this post from Derek ::

When I notice I’m all stressed-out about something, or driving myself to exhaustion, I remember that bike ride, and try dialing back my effort by 50%.

It’s been amazing how often everything gets done just as well and just as fast, with what feels like 50% of the effort.

This goes with a tenant I have tried to use at every startup – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Why? Because if you burnout out, get sick of your gig or are less happy – then no one wins.

Grab’s problem versus Uber

I get in arguments constantly that I am an Uber lover and a Grab hater but most people won’t stop long enough to listen to my stance on it. I will say that after meeting an hearing Sacca I am even a bigger fan but I guess I was just super impressed with Sacca.

First off let me add that as Grab is a local I am constantly baffled and why they are not more local? They took forever to add credit cards, they have no loyalty program (huge mistake), and in places like Singapore their mapping and lack of using zip codes is comical.

On top of all of this the apps just suck – let me get detailed here:

– I will book a taxi. It is on the way. The app will crash. It re opens and it goes back to book a taxi mode. I have one on the way. Of course now I can’t contact the taxi because it shows I don’t have a taxi.

– This happened to me a number of times in Bangkok and since I couldn’t contact the taxi and they couldn’t find me they would cancel on me. I wouldn’t know this since the app thinks I don’t have a booking anyway.

– Other times I would re book only to find I would have two taxis coming. How would a system let me book two taxis? On top of this customer service would call me to inquire why I booked two cabs.

– Other issues like the timing mechanisms are totally broken and the app is just overly complicated.

However let me get to what I think is the core crux of why I don’t like Grab. It fails on the instant gratification scale that Uber absolutely nails. For example this is what I saw this morning when trying to get a GrabCar:


To myself or my wife this would make it look like we have a chance of getting a car.

Wait for it – this is what almost always happens though:


And happens and happens and almost always happens.

Why doesn’t it retry till I get a car?

Why does it show me there are cars around me but yet none accept the fare?

This is the part of Grab that lulls me into thinking it is just a booking app – like all other booking apps. Whereas Uber is an Instant Transportation Service living within my phone. If there are no cars available then it shows me that there are no cars. And practically every time it shows cars are available I am able to book one. Otherwise it shows no cars available. Or if really busy you see surge pricing.

I will take a surge price over hitting retry on Grab 100 times. Why? Instant gratification. I know I can book a car. With Grab. It is spray and pray.

There are those saying that Grab will just keep raising enough money to win. I think winning might be beating other regional players – Rocket already packed their bags. However Uber will win the ultimate battle due to the difference in how the core of their service works.

Grab could fix this but they don’t seem to be since the apps are as bad a they have ever been.