1 What could be next for Uberisation (Simon Jack on BBC) Uber is not just a taxi-hailing app which has been baked into the lives of hundreds of millions of passengers and millions of drivers worldwide. Uberisation has come to mean the turning of traditional service industries on their head, by providing a technological platform to match users and providers on a massive scale.
It is the biggest company in the so called “gig” economy, in which short-term contracts or freelance work replace permanent jobs. Depending where you stand, that is either a great flexible working environment or a form of exploitation with little protection for workers.
Transport for London’s decision not to renew its licence may come as a shock to the 3.5 million customers and 40,000 drivers who have built this model into their urban lives. But there is no shortage of groups who will be punching the air in celebration.
Uber has been dogged with a bewildering range of controversies. It’s charged with failing to do proper background checks on its drivers and then providing them with poor working conditions, both of which Uber denies. Irate black cab drivers blame it for a rise in congestion and collisions and it’s been accused of a failure to report sexual offences, which Uber also contests.
Given that rap sheet, no wonder the company didn’t pass the “fit and proper” test, many will say. For the business community, revoking the licence of a tech giant from a global capital city sends a message that some entrepreneurs have described as unhelpful.
Others will see it as an important halt to a creeping revolution that threatens the pay, conditions and even dignity of work. It is widely thought that human drivers are only a temporary part of Uber’s business plan. Uber is a company that is looking towards a driverless future.
London is not the first city to ban Uber: several countries, states and cities have done the same. But coming from a truly global city and a hub of technology, this is perhaps the biggest red light Uber has been shown.
2 Marks & Spencer gets into online food delivery (Zoe Wood in The Guardian) Marks & Spencer has launched an online grocery service that will enable shoppers to have their dinner delivered to their front door within an hour.
The first trial is based at its Camden store in north London and offers home delivery within one- and two-hour slots within a three-mile radius. The minimum order is £10. Until now, selling food online has not made sense for M&S as its customers do not typically spend enough on each visit to make the service viable.
But the trial is tapping into a food home delivery boom as Britons increasingly use app-based services such as Deliveroo, Just Eat, UberEats to have meals delivered. There is no delivery charge for orders which are being handled by gig economy courier firm Gophr.
M&S boss Steve Rowe concluded it could no longer ignore the fastest growing section of the UK’s £180bn grocery market as new delivery services, such as AmazonFresh, which allows shoppers to order groceries at lunchtime and get the delivery in time for dinner, revolutionise the way Britain buys food. The high-street store is different from other food retailers as it stocks just 7,000 products, compared with Tesco’s 40,000. It also focuses on own-brand goods with only a limited number of big-name brands. It is not clear how the retailer would overcome these hurdles if it offered customers a full grocery outlet in the future.
3 L’Oreal heiress is richest woman (Gulf News) The death this week of L’Oreal SA’s founding family matriarch is putting the spotlight on a reclusive 64-year-old heiress who now finds herself as the richest woman in the world.
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers has shunned the glittering social life that her late mother, Liliane Bettencourt, once embraced. Bettencourt Meyers is known for playing piano for several hours a day and has written two books — a five-volume study of the Bible and a genealogy of the Greek gods.
Her seclusion will be harder to maintain as the head of Europe’s fourth-largest fortune. Through family holding company Tethys, she takes charge of her family’s 33 per cent stake in the cosmetics maker, which lies at the heart of a net worth the Bloomberg Billionaires Index values at $43.3 billion.
Bettencourt Meyers steps into the spotlight at a time of increasing discussion about the future of the family’s stake, as well as the 23 per cent of L’Oreal held by Swiss food-giant Nestle SA. The billionaire heiress has shown less interest in L’Oreal matters than her mother did, despite her role as a board member for more than two decades.
In addition to music and study, the bookish and austere Bettencourt Meyers has involved herself in charity work. Her $43.3 billion net worth puts her $5.4 billion ahead of Alice Walton, an heiress to the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. fortune, and at the top of the list of 64 women featured on the Bloomberg index, a daily ranking of the world’s 500 richest people. Of the 64 billionaires, 58 are stewards of an inheritance.
Bettencourt Meyers had a difficult and at times contentious relationship with her mother. After the death of her father, French conservative politician Andre Bettencourt, in 2007, she spent years battling her mother in court, claiming she was mentally unfit and had been manipulated by her entourage.