In the tech world, nobody plays hardball like Uber. So when New York City mayor Bill de Blasio took on the ride-hailing company with a proposed law change that would limit its growth in the city, he should have known that Uber would find a creative way to fight back.
Today, Uber added a "de Blasio" tab to its app in New York City. The tab, which is be visible to all users in the city, tells Uber riders how long they would have to wait for their ride, if the mayor's legislation is approved by City Council. The label on the cars under the tab reads, ominously, "SEE WHAT HAPPENS." You can't actually hail a ride using the tab — it's just a hypothetical illustration of what would happen if Uber doesn't get its way (longer wait times, according to the company), and it's meant to stir loyal Uber customers to make their feelings known at City Hall.
If you tap the button to hail a ride, here's what you see:
The bill, which is expected to come to a vote as early as next week, would limit Uber's growth while the city conducts a traffic congestion study. Uber would be prevented from expanding the size of its fleet in the city by more than 1 percent until the study was completed in September 2016. Uber has attacked the bill as being motivated by protectionism for New York's taxi industry, rather than genuine concerns about overcrowding.
"I think this is less about traffic congestion than it is about political contributions," Uber advisor David Plouffe told the Times.
Uber has added specialized buttons to its app before, including for ice cream delivery, on-demand weddings, and kitten visits. But to our knowledge, this is the first time the company has used its app to lobby against a specific politician.