🧵Thread on Indian #Gigeconomy and #UrbanCompany Fiasco
▶️Gig economy models funded by VCs and helmed by wealthy founders in India are not job creators. The PR story that they want you to believe is that startups like Urbancompany, Swiggy, Zomato, & Dunzo are job creators, when in fact they are job "replacers/displacers".
▶️Allow me to explain. Don't jump ship yet...The term gig work (or economy) can no more apply to these startups; this classification is a PR terminology used (and overused) and paraded by startup journalists right out of company supplied press releases.
▶️These startups hide behind the 'gig economy' shadow to break free from laws of the landed esp the ones pertaining to labour rights, and pensions which both white and blue-collar workers are guaranteed.
▶️The EPFO had picked on this point and served legal notices to @zomato last year for the same (this was disclosed in the Zomato DRHP recently). You can read more about it here: inc42.com/features/why-i…
▶️The PR story that these companies are "job creators" is misleading; in fact in layman's terms what Uber and Ola have done is break every other law of the land and displace existing tourist/taxi/radio taxi service providers.

Reference: reuters.com/article/us-ube…
▶️The drivers you see now on Uber/Ola are in fact ex-employees of such service providers, and even professionals such as plumbers, electricians, and other blue-collar workers who were drawn in by tall promises made by taxi aggregators.

Reference: the-ken.com/story/ola-cabs…
▶️In the last two years, alone post-covid some 30,000 to 40,000 Ola/Uber drivers lost their jobs as they were unable to settle monthly EMis on their vehicles, and I believe this number could double by next year. More here: inc42.com/buzz/ola-uber-…
▶️Again my point is: This is not job creation; this is job displacement. VC-funded taxi aggregator model at its fundamental is predatory and has successfully displaced lakhs of taxi drivers into their system.
▶️The food delivery story is even worse. When folks like Goyal and Majety set out to build their biz models, they would have never foreseen the mass backlash that they are receiving today from their own workers.
▶️Food delivery work's selling point was the ability to earn quick cash for making hyperlocal deliveries, but this has become full-time jobs with Swiggy and Zomato even providing full-time pay for 12-14 hours. How on earth is this gig work?

Reference: inc42.com/buzz/zomato-ne…
▶️Again the classic PR story of the creation of jobs is a delusion in the food delivery biz, as these workers are typically people who are either displaced from their full-time jobs or college freshers/graduates who are unemployed in the formal economy.
▶️Lets get to Urbancompany (aka Urbanclap). This is a startup that has successfully built a servant economy for Tier-1 elites who can't wash their own toilets or clean their own homes. I'm not the first one to say this. More here: sifted.eu/articles/serva…
▶️The startup aggregates menial jobs, and profits out of blue-collar workers who are now parting away with 20-30% of their pay. But beauticians, electricians, plumbers, and pest control service providers have always existed before UrbanCompany.
▶️Urbancompany exists today because these blue-collar workers who do menial jobs did not foresee the potential disruption of the Internet and social media.
▶️Clearly, all of these Urbancompany workers can skip parting with 20-30% commission, and use social media/online tools to set up their own online shop/brand/presence to provide their services; but nobody taught them or educated them of this possibility.
▶️The core of the Urbancompany model is again not job creation, but job displacement. What these workers need is Internet literacy, and the ability to build their own brands and online storefronts.
▶️How far can we push the division of opportunity between Internet literate (elites), and non-Internet literate (workers)? Why is it that the Internet works differently for each blue and white-collar workers?
▶️Doesn't it make you uncomfortable that a large section of the workforce in India is deprived of the power of the Internet just becasue we as a society failed to democratize it for them?
▶️However, what sparked me to write this is the brilliant reportage by @imsoumyarendra and @entrackr. I'm delighted to see that the next generation of startup reporters are not just mere loudspeakers, but reporters with spine and courage. Kudos to you comrade. Keep it up.

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