I was interviewed on PBS’ Nightly Business Report (produced by CNBC) about the near-term future of the sharing economy in the wake of the horrible shootings in Kalamazoo, allegedly by an Uber driver while he was working for the service. You can find the interview here (my segment appears right after the 22nd minute). A transcript of the interview follows:
SUE HERERA: So, will the tragic Uber shooting spree over the weekend change the way that people feel about the sharing economy?
Let’s turn to David Reiss for his thoughts. He’s professor of law at Brooklyn’s Law School Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurs.
Nice to have you here, David. Welcome back.
DAVID REISS, BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL PROF. OF LAW: Thank you.
HERERA: I guess that is the question. Do you think it will change the way people feel about the sharing economy, this case in particular?
REISS: I think we have to look at the short term and long term. In the short term, we’ll see people will think twice about it. But in the long term, and as I think people think about their experience with sharing economy services and seeing how frequently terrible and tragic incidents like this occur, I think we’re going to see a return to probably some growth in that area as people put this into perspective.
BILL GRIFFETH: Are you surprised as our reporter Kate Rogers pointing out here that in their conference call just now, they seem to be digging in their heels on not changing their background check policies here. Why not, as I said, do that if only for PR reasons just to reassure the public? I mean, this is a PR problem for them right now, isn’t it?
REISS: It is. And I think they’re probably in crisis response mode. They’re probably not wanting to make big promises about big changes to acknowledge that their business model is intrinsically flawed and they will probably want to make changes on their own time.
HERERA: There have been more calls for more regulation of the sharing economy, specifically by those who are impacted in a negative way by the sharing economy. We have to put that out there. But do you think it opens the door a little bit wider for regulation?
REISS: I certainly do. I think there’s been this attitude of it’s better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission and an incident like this and all of its tragic consequences raise the argument that maybe that’s not the right way to go, that getting it right the first time is better than kind of seeing how it unfolds.
GRIFFETH: Growing pains in the sharing economy or is this a real dent? What do you think?
REISS: I think it’s growing pains. I think the sharing economy has been growing so rapidly with so many innovations. But I think it’s here to stay. I think people are voting with their feet in terms of using the services and government is trying to figure out how to adapt and how to regulate and what’s the appropriate level of regulation.
HERERA: Does it change, though, their liability? Do they have to change some of their policies, all of their policies because there’s a liability issue? And the weekend’s horrible events really point that out.
REISS: I think businesses react to lawsuits and to large judgments, and if courts and juries find that this behavior was negligent or reckless, they will get a clear message and they will change to adapt. I think that regulators are going to look carefully at them. So, I think a lot of this is in flux and I’m sure there’s going to be changes. I don’t know what they will be.
GRIFFETH: Have you used Uber and will you think twice, if not?
REISS: I’ve used Lyft, and I would continue to do.
HERERA: All right. On that note, David, good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.
David Reiss with Brooklyn Law School’s Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurs.