Welcome to all the new subscribers in week 6. I had a great weekend practicing social distancing (I luckily have enough food stocked up + Postmates & a gym in my apartment complex that makes not leaving pretty easy). People (& the Govt) in both India & the US seem to be taking COVID19 more seriously now that we’ve seen what’s happening in Italy. US States are focussing mainly on promoting social distancing & increasing testing while India (which is a couple weeks behind in terms of # of cases) just closed their borders to all non-Indian citizens and more companies are working from home (hopefully more on social distancing soon). Both stories today revolve around what companies in India are doing and how it’s impacting ride-hailing companies:
With the increasing number of cases of COVID19 in India, Uber & Ola have seen a reduction of rides (both in individual rides and a greater decline in Shared/Pooled rides).
It does make sense why the number of rides dropped: more companies in major cities have announced WFH policies so fewer people are commuting to work, and with a call for social distancing fewer people are going out to eat, drink & hangout.
And while I’m happy that people are staying in more to restrict the spread of the virus, this has a big impact on the livelihood of these drivers who are now risking their lives to go out to earn a living + are making less than before.
On the other side (from what I’ve heard from people at Postmates & Instacart), on-demand food & grocery deliveries are having their best weeks of growth despite lower delivery partners as people don’t want to go out & eat more (and I assume it’s similar in India).
Moreover, this also applies to online retailers who are having black-friday-esque GMV metrics with people panic buying & prepping for a possible quarantine.
I really hope people do stay in more, practice social distancing and stay safe but I really wonder if there’s anything we as a collective society can do for Uber & Ola driver (and possibly all other small business owners) who have been impacted by this pandemic.
Off the bat, it didn’t seems like Indian startups were combatting this in the right manner with Grofer’s promoting their own brand of handwash, Dunzo making memes about the situation & EaseMyTrip promoting travel 🤮🤮🤮.
But as of late, the industry seems to have awoken, with a bunch of startups having mandatory WFH policies (including the likes of Unacademy, Bounce, Instamojo, Swiggy, Flipkart amongst others).
Also wanted to give a shoutout to one of the cofounders of Bounce, Vivek, for being super vocal about social distancing and encouraging other companies to WFH as well.
There was also the likes of Sanjay Swamy (Prime VP) & Hanson Hu (Morniningside VC) publishing tweet threads & guides about companies should think about the short-term, medium-term & long-term of running their startups.