This is a very sad story and indeed far from unique. I feel genuinely sorry for those affected.
It’s a story of how a changing market and a changing world caught out someone who’s business is now crippled as they did not predict what a monumental impact the new technologies of the world would have.
Taxi driver Ylmiz Hassan didn’t see how someone could use the technology to enter their marketplace, utterly disrupt it with a new business model that went direct to customers with an offer that was better, more agile and more in keeping with the lifestyle of today’s modern consumer.
It’s easy to blame the nasty Uber for ruining the mans livelihood, destroying his family and creating misery. Before you do, though, consider several other things.
The disruption of Uber is nothing new. I’ve been affected at times too. Almost certainly, so have you.
Stock photography used to provide me with a very useful additional income. Being able to generate a licence income from images I’d shot previously and retained copyright to was something I considered could have been a retirement nest egg at one point.
Then along came digital, the iPhone and social media. Images were everywhere and nobody really put a monetary value on them any more. The image libraries became ever greedier as they struggled to retain their profitability.
That was end of that as a business model in the traditional sense. My ability as a photographer and my archive still has value. Though not in the traditional stock licensing model any more.
I know of several photographers who actually became mentally ill at the time. Their back catalogue of work plummeted in value in literally a few short years. They should have seen it coming.
It’s called The Market. And as Gary Vee is always saying, The Market doesn’t care.
Brutal but there you have it.
Back to poor Ylmiz Hassan.
Instead of criticising the rise of Uber, perhaps we should be looking at what a skewed business model the taxi licence system was in Melbourne?
And who was really making the money? The taxi driver, or the people who devised a system that excluded anyone from making a living as a taxi driver unless they were prepared to get themselves into debt to the tune of $100,000 per licence and have to work hard to pay that off in the hope of retiring some day by selling that licence on to someone else who would then repeat the process. A process of working hard to find a way to make the taxi licensing system pay.
They were the traditional gatekeepers that set the price of entry into the game so high. Businesses like Uber are removing the gatekeepers.
Perhaps I’m looking at it in a really superficial way.
I think that if you were to ask poor Ylmiz what he wishes he’s done with hindsight, he would probably say he should have cashed in his taxi licences a couple of years earlier, bought a couple of Teslas and got busy on Uber…..
This is another example of the removal of gatekeepers. Sadly, Ylmiz didn’t realise that the taxi business was changing. Well, he did, but was so far down the road and so committed financially that he just couldn’t consider that his plan could ever go wrong.
Changes are happening all around us. It’s the market and it doesn’t care.
Toys R Us deserved to die because it didn’t move with the changes.
I’m no longer a photographer. I still shoot photography. All the time. Though I don’t consider myself a photographer.
Take a look at your local High Street. How many empty stores can you count? Compare that with five years ago.
My skill set remains the same, though how I choose to deploy it has changed.
Instead I’m taking my photography skills, selling and marketing skills and my ability to write and wrapping it all into a complete service that provides something my clients see real value in.
Photography in itself has no value to them. Nor does a blog post. Or a video that’s sitting on a hard drive that they don’t know what to do with. The value is in what we do with the assets.
These assets still have great value and they’re worth investing in. Though that value can only be gained when we work together on a strategy to get them out into the marketplace.
When we work together to take these assets and deploy them and make them improve the company’s bottom line, then that’s worth the investment because they can see the difference it makes to their business without having to pay for unaccountable print advertising. Or television advertising that nobody watches because they moved to Netflix.
If you’ve read this far, I imagine you’re also thinking about your own business. Your own livelihood.
Has your own way of life and business model been affected by these changes? Or if it hasn’t yet, are you worried about a scenario where it could?
Because if you’re reading this and you can imagine such a situation, you can guarantee that someone else has probably beaten you to it. And they’re working on an Uber to enter your arena and disrupt it.
You can either ignore it, hope it will go away. Feel free to indignantly rant “How dare they?” as your marketplace changes.
Which is a really, really bad idea. Because The Market doesn’t care.
Or you can embrace the change. Work out a new strategy and be one of the first people to enter the new arena, redeploy your skills and enjoy success.
Photo by Dan Freeman on Unsplash