Trying to Stop Uber Only Seems to Help Uber

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 3 2014 3:25 PM

Trying to Stop Uber Only Seems to Help Uber

454509946-in-this-photo-illustration-a-woman-uses-the-uber-app-on
Germany is not taking kindly to Uber. Uber doesn't care.

Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images

Remember when taxi drivers across Europe protested Uber in June? The always-smooth ride-sharing company seized on the chaos as a great marketing opportunity. It extended services in London and took out full-page ads in evening papers. It promoted steep discounts of up to 50 percent on rides. By the end of the day, Uber was reporting an 850 percent jump in new users in London alone.

Now as Germany seeks to halt Uber, the company is once again displaying its aptitude for turning a red light into a green one. In a short post on its blog this morning, Uber claimed that sign-ups across Germany more than tripled in the 24 hours since a Frankfurt court declared it was engaging in unfair competition with the local taxi industry and placed a ban on UberPop, a peer-to-peer transportation service. Sign-ups spiked the most in Hamburg (up 590 percent) followed by Düsseldorf (up 518 percent) and Munich (up 329 percent). Even in Frankfurt, the city where the ban originated, sign-ups are up 228 percent, according to Uber's data.

Advertisement

Looking at those figures, it's small wonder why Uber has repeatedly pursued rapid and aggressive expansion in blatant defiance of local authorities. The basic logic is that people need to try Uber to know they want to have Uber—and once they know they want Uber, the demand is hard to suppress. Banking on that helped Uber to overcome a cease-and-desist order in California several years ago and to clear similar hurdles in New York and D.C. Uber launched in Germany in early 2013 and describes the country as one of its "fastest growing markets" in Europe. That means Germans have already had plenty of time to try Uber and realize they want to keep it around. And if that's that case, even stiff regulation is going to have a hard time stopping it.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

 

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 6:23 PM Bryan Cranston Reenacts Baseball’s Best Moments to Promote the Upcoming Postseason
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.