POLITICS/URBAN AFFAIRS: Ride-sharing/ride-hailing services, short-term rentals, new economy/new business models: "Airbnb, Uber: 'We are the saviors of the middle class'" ....
* San Francisco Chronicle: "Airbnb, Uber: 'We are the saviors of the middle class'" - From the Chronicle:
Airbnb and Uber, two of the most valuable and controversial U.S. startups, have disrupted established industries — hotels and taxis, respectively. Now the two San Francisco companies are renewing efforts to disrupt politics with unprecedented campaigns to position themselves as champions of working folks, while influencing legislation that favors their business models.
"Our community represents a significant voting bloc, a voting bloc that is growing; it’s a formidable constituency,” said Chris Lehane, Airbnb head of global public policy, last Wednesday, the day after the defeat of San Francisco’s Proposition F, which would have curtailed Airbnb’s business of residential rentals for travelers.
Now Airbnb is launching a political crusade, he said, providing money and resources for its hosts and guests to organize into city-based guilds to lobby on its behalf, aiming to have 100 such clubs worldwide by late 2016. The campaign against Prop. F provided the impetus. “San Francisco is where our community evolved into a movement, where hosts and guests organized to become a political force,” Lehane said.
A day earlier, Uber’s David Plouffe, who has kept a low profile since leaving his post as senior vice president for policy and strategy to become an Uber board member and “chief advisor,” gave a major talk in Washington, D.C., appearing to chart a new course for the company’s image: savior of the struggling middle class.
The two seasoned Democratic operatives — Plouffe was Barack Obama’s campaign manager, and Lehane was a top advisor to Bill Clinton and Al Gore — appear to be reading from the same playbook in casting their companies as populist movements to help struggling average Americans. The underlying refrain is that Uber and Airbnb are so beneficial that lawmakers would be short-sighted to rein them in .....................