This just in. San Francisco based ubercab - a popular iPhone app that lets users request a car service to pick them up from their current location – has been served with a cease and desist letter. Details of the cease and desist letter are still largely unknow, but TechCrunch reported in an update to it’s story today, that the penalties – if upheld and enforced – are quite severe.
UPDATE: Since the orders arrived on October 20th, Ubercab has remained in service under threat of penalties including up to $5,000 fee per instance of Ubercab’s operation, and potentially 90 days in jail per each day the company remains in operation past the orders.
Way back in June of this year, I saw ubercab’s demo of their app at the 1st ever AppPitch at pariSoma innovation loft in San Francisco. Since then, they’ve made a lot of progress, including landing an Angel Funding Round for $.125 million ten days ago.
The Medallion Holders Association of San Francisco has a lengthy fear-mongering write-up on what a taxi cab medallion is, and why a “cab” operating in San Francisco without a medallion is illegal.
My take on this? Everytime something new and innovative comes into an already established marketplace, the existing stakeholders – cab drivers and the Medallion Holders Association in this case – feel threatened. And rightfully so.
It is what happened to Hollywood player turned urine evangelist James Krug, when he introduced waterless urinals that made the Plumbers Association all around the country confront him aggressively because their jobs in large commercial buildings would become largely obsolete.
Eventually Krug prevailed and I hope the same will happen to ubercab.