This article is an on-site version of our #techFT newsletter. Sign up here to get the complete newsletter sent straight to your inbox every weekday
New York and London have delivered another twist to definitions of the gig economy today.
Delivery app DoorDash has broken its own gig worker model to hire some couriers as employees for the first time, as part of a move to enter the crowded race for under 15-minute deliveries in the Big Apple. In London, Uber has lost a High Court case that means all drivers can seek workers’ rights protections, according to unions.
Sixty couriers will now work full-time for DoorDash’s pilot launch in New York, with set pay and benefits. Dave Lee explains DoorDash is opening hyperlocal “dark” stores to match the speed of the vertically integrated convenience deliveries offered by Gopuff and others. The flexible gig worker model employed for restaurant deliveries appears to have met its limit with the “instant needs” sector, because delivery drivers have to be available at the warehouse before an order is placed to shave off crucial minutes.
In London, the High Court ruled it was unlawful for a private hire vehicle (PHV) operator to act as an “agent” between a driver and a passenger. This means that Uber and other ride-hailing companies, not individual drivers, will enter into contracts directly with passengers and will be held liable for anything that goes wrong with the service.
The decision means that drivers are in effect working for the operator. “It clears the way for all drivers in the sector to seek worker rights protection,” said James Farrar, general secretary of the App Drivers and Couriers Union.
The sting in the tail for Uber is that the ruling could also mean it is liable for 20 per cent value added tax (VAT) on gross bookings or its service fee, a bill that could come to more than £1bn.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Facebook and academia, Trump and Truth Social
A growing number of researchers who are seeking to understand the potentially harmful social effects of Facebook say their work is being stifled, The Big Read reports. Meanwhile, Trump Media and Technology Group said it had raised $1bn for its social media venture, but did not name any investors. In October, the former US president announced the launch of Truth Social and said it would list through a Spac merger in New York.
2. ESA chief: Musk ‘making the rules’ in space
Josef Aschbacher, the new director-general of the European Space Agency, said that Europe’s readiness to help the rapid expansion of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service risked hindering the region’s own companies from realising the potential of commercial space.
#techFT brings you news, comment and analysis on the big companies, technologies and issues shaping this fastest moving of sectors from specialists based around the world. Click here to get #techFT in your inbox.
3. Big Tech…
Read more:: DoorDash and Uber face full-time gigs