My husband and I were riding a bus on Saturday night, heading from Divisadero to the Powell Bart station area (down Market St). Below is the conversation we witnessed (though the exact phrasing escapes me). The characters in this true story are Bus Driver and Man.
Man gets on bus. Mid 50s. Carrying a skateboard.
Man: Hey, have you heard about Uber?
Bus Driver: Uh, maybe? Not sure ...
Man: It's like a taxi, but anyone can do it, you should do it! All you gotta do is drive people around, and you get paid.
Bus Driver: I have a job ...
Man: No man, you gotta do this Uber thing. You can make so much money. You don't even have to worry about cash or anything. People pay you with their iPhone!
Bus Driver: Hmm
Man: It's like an iPhone taxi. People just press a button on their iPhone, and you go pick em up and drop em off somewhere else. And they just pay you through their iPhone and at the end of the week you get a check.
Bus Driver: Hmm
Man: Look look (points aggressively) see that car with the U, they're all over the place, it's the U in the corner, that's Uber. I'm gonna buy a car so that I can be an Uber driver. I'm gonna buy a Prius cuz you gotta have a good car. All I need is $1,800 down, and then I can get the car, and then Uber will help me make the car payments too if I drive for them.
Bus Driver: You're gonna buy a Prius to be a Uber driver?
Man: Yeah! I just gotta get $1,800, then I can buy a Prius. Toyota has great deals. So, do you want to give me some money so that I can buy the Prius? Oh also, they make you do a background check which I probably won't pass, but you definitely will, so you should do the background check and I'll do the driving and will give you 40%.
Bus Driver: Uh ...
Man: All you gotta do is do the background check. I'll give you 40%! It's super easy, you just drive people around and you get paid.
Not sure if this man's strategy will actually work, but nevertheless, I note 1) the keen interest in the driver supply side, 2) Uber and other on-demand services' propensity for job creation, 3) the security concerns knowing that a driver might have a criminal history that could result in an unsafe ride, and 4) the ethical questions around social responsibility of these emerging tech giants.
And if you are interested, here are some other articles on drivers getting around the background check.