A few months back, some friends mentioned seeing a San Antonio Express News newspaper article on the Uber Technologies (ridesharing)/City of San Antonio controversy with my photo and name (Dale Blankenship) attached to it. They were surprised to see that I continue to be the poster child in the Express News for all articles relating to Uber in San Antonio. At the time of publication, I was busy with other projects and didn’t take the time to flesh it out. The good news is at least my friends weren’t saying that they saw my picture on the post office wall.
Having a moment of solitude recently and remembering my friends’ comments, I Googled my name. It appears that each time the EN needs a photo to accompany an article on the subject of Uber since my initial interview and article in 2014, they go to the photo graveyard, dig up the photos and embed them, even though I am no longer an Uber driver. No calls, no follow up emails. No fresh, current information. Journalistic slothfulness. Just reheating three day-old leftovers. The EN missed the opportunity for the backstory on the rideshare saga.
Since the Express News hasn’t followed up, I thought that I might help fill in the information and Google search gap. When Uber came onto the scene in San Antonio in the spring of 2014, they did so with promises of lucrative fares, low fees to drivers and an Uber-big sign-up bonus ($500 per driver). This was all true as Lyft — a small competitor — had already been in San Antonio for months. Uber was anxious to join the competition in a new market. I wanted first hand information on how a web-based business, without brick and mortar, could go from zero to billions of dollars in a few years.
Bottom line: The money was lucrative in the beginning with Lyft and Uber drivers banking $1000 or more on a full-time weekday basis and $400 – $800 on weekend surge nights. After achieving market saturation, reality set in. Drivers are lucky to break $500 a week these days. What the uninitiated don’t realize is: If you don’t make at least $1000 per week, you will quickly find yourself upside down from Uber driver fees, extreme high mileage wear and tear on your vehicle, gas, and taxes on a 1099 job — along with wear and tear on your body. I could hear the voice of the character of Quintas Arrius from Ben Hur, “We keep you alive to serve this ship, so row well and live.” My advantage over Judah Ben Hur? The keys were in my hand. Time to unlock the chains and move on.
Uber ridesharing is a beautiful thing…for Uber and its’ customers. The rideshare concept keeps people safe and fills a need. I admit having met many interesting people from literally around the world. Innovators, CEOs and thought leaders all in the backseat of my Hyundai Elantra. Trendsetting insider information straight from those at the crest of the wave all while listening to the Wharton School of Business on my satellite radio. The EN photographer caught that in one of the photos they excavated from the archives. Here’s the link: http://www.expressnews.com/news/local/article/At-ride-hailing-meeting-residents-call-for-more-7696384.php
Back to the here and now: Our first flirtation with a website (as mentioned in the original EN article) was hijacked by a marketing consultant who was more interested in his own success than ours. Months of smoke and mirrors later, Catherine and I pulled back the curtains, then did a reboot. We emerged a year ago with Umami.Life and have been enmeshed in SEO, analytics, clicks, conversions, plug-ins, widgets, H2s, H3s, short code, URLs, links, QR codes, social media platforms, hashtags, bounce rates, CSS, custom CSS, E-commerce, favicons, landing pages, and meta descriptions. In other words, a learning curve of digital delirium. My dream has been to bring a web-based food and wine resource together for the consumer. Umami.Life has been the proof of concept for Cat and myself in bringing together my passions, career and travel experience. The next iteration will be launching soon under the name Pro Wine Guide in an effort to reach the new generation of wine consumers and help them simplify the complex world of wine choices. We invite you to follow us (Umami.Life) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!
ICYMI, here are the EN articles and other mentions: