Like many cities, San Francisco limits the supply of taxi cabs and town cars. This keeps cabbies out of the red, but it creates shortages along the way. As with any shortage, entrepreneurial folks tend to find ways around. At Radical Social Entrepreneurs, Jeff Fong (my former student) draws attention to the emergence of ride-sharing start-ups
But ride-sharing isn’t quite like catching a cab or even an Uber.
Instead of managing a fleet of taxis, each of the three manages their own cooperative ride-sharing community. They don’t own the cars, pay the drivers, or even act as dispatch.
Passengers use mobile apps to directly request rides from any nearby, participating driver.
Sounds like a good idea, right? The guardians of the wasteful status quo are not amused.
In September, The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the San Francisco Metro Transit Authority (SFMTA) both issued cease and desist orders to the companies. All three start-ups elected to continue operations.
On November 13th, the CPUC came down on Lyft and SideCar2; it’s unclear why Tickengo evaded the fine, but not the original cease-and-desist order.
Lyft and SideCar are continuing with operations while they negotiate with the CPUC. A general petition has also been started as a show of public support.
As the framework in Madmen would predict, a new idea has come along and it has been met with resistance from vested interests. On their behalf, madmen in authority are resisting beneficial institutional change. And what’s needed is a good dose of political entrepreneurship to vault this good idea over status quo forces. The public petition is part of that process, and it nicely illustrates our message in Chapter 7 that all persons — not just academic scribblers — can be political entrepreneurs. But ultimately political entrepreneurs must find ways to make it in the interests of the madmen to bring about beneficial change. We’ll be staying tuned…