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Uber's Drive Toward World Domination, One Regulatory Green Light at a Time

Most of the roads lead to legitimization in the end.


Uber’s triumph over New York Mayor Bill de Blasio isn’t the only win it’s had lately. It’s also made strides in the Philippines, Mexico, Calcutta, Paris, Spain, Germany, Brazil and Canada. The tide is shifting — albeit slowly.

The more legitimate Uber becomes in the eyes of international law, the more stable its business is. The company faces a big risk going public, being subject to the roller coaster of public investor opinion, while it’s still fighting these tumultuous battles around the world. The more things settle down for the company, the safer it is for Uber to IPO.

Here’s a rundown of Uber’s latest triumphs outside the U.S.:

  1. The Philippines legalized ride-sharing, the first country in the world to do so.
  2. The European Commission, which is the government body representing the EU as a whole, challenged Spain, France and Germany on their harsh crackdown of regulating ride-sharing. It sent these countries letters asking them to defend their decisions.
  3. A police commissioner in Calcutta passed an order that legitimized ride-sharing in a chunk of the city.
  4. In Mexico City, the local government put in place regulations to allow Uber to operate.
  5. In Brazil, a judge struck down an injunction for the suspension of Uber.
  6. In Toronto, the Superior Court blocked the city’s attempt to shut down Uber.

Of course, these are tiny steps — by no means a sweeping victory. Uber is going to have to play out this political theater for years, losing and gaining ground tediously in nooks and crannies across the world.

But when we look at the developments from country to country, we can see a similar pattern: Governments outright condemn Uber and other on-demand transportation apps; they reassess them; they legalize some form of it; they start negotiating over the details — like worker classification in California or number of cars in New York City. Most of the roads lead to legitimization in the end.

The question is: How long will it take?

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