JerkTech — What’s that all about?


JerkTech — What’s that all about?

Tech Crunch coined a new term, JerkTech. according to them:

“All of these apps are essentially tools for scalping a public good or open resource. They don’t deserve to take something that’s supposed to be free and first come, first serve so they can sell it.”

Politicians have picked it up. They are running after Monkey Parking and Haystack certain that the two apps and others like it will end civilization as we know it. In some cases, like the app Uber which is going  eye to eye with the taxi industry or Airbnb which is taking hotels by storm they have become multi billion dollar industries.

In the case of Uber, you use your smart phone to get a clean cheap ride in a ‘private’ car. Taxi’s hate it because their monopoly is gone. Tens of thousands of car owners, mostly young, are working part time giving people a lift. Uber says they are all insured, and all the financial details are handled on line.  You just ride in comfort. So if taxis are to survive, they will have to change the way they operate. Doesn’t seem like a bad thing.

Airbnb is turning the travel industry on its ear. If you have an apartment or house somewhere and aren’t going to be using it, list on Airbnb and most likely someone will sigh up to take it off your hands for a few days. Its self policing and if your place turns out to be a dump, you will never get another visit. I’ve used it three times and found it just what I needed.

But, what about Haystack. Its an app that allows you to notify other members of Haystack when you are about to leave an onstreet parking spot and sell that information to someone who want’s a spot in that neighborhood. You wait until the other person shows up, pull out and they pull in.  I’m assuming that the money clears through the app. Neat and Clean.

Not so, says San Francisco and Boston. In Beantown the mayor said :

“Here we have a company that wants to come in here, create an industry, and profit from it,” Walsh told the Boston Business Journal.

O good heavens, the humanity… The mayor goes on:

“They’re basically squatting in publicly owned spots and selling those spots. You’re selling something that’s not yours… It’s just not fair.”

He sounds like a three year old in a sand box.

But hold on. How is this app affecting the city. They are getting full revenue from the parking spots. No one is taking anything away. If they are so concerned about driver A giving driver B the rest of the time on the meter, get with the program and reset the meter when driver A leaves.  I’m not in favor of that, but you could do it.

Pass an ordinance and tax Haystack, so much a transaction, or a percentage of the take.

Everyone is threatening law suits, but I can’t figure out who is harmed here.  This month in PT we had a cover story about Monkey Parking by Lenny Bier, lawyer, executive director to the New Jersey Parking Institute and all round good parking guy.  He comes down pretty hard on the app, basically saying that it will cause congestion and cause a ripple in the force of dynamic parking. Don Shoup call your office.

It seems to me that Lenny’s concern about taxi drivers making this a second business is a stretch since they will have to pay to park at the meter and it takes them out of circulation.  If they get only about $3 to 5 bucks a go but end up paying the same amount to park, it seems to me that those shrewd cabbies will learn quickly there is no money in this.

As for getting cars off the street quickly, if someone snags a space on main street through Haystack and has to be there in 3 minutes or it is gone, it seems like we are getting cars off the street pretty quickly. But what do I know.

I do know that the city could make more money by taxing these apps than complaining about them.

Taxis are going to have to clean up their act because of Uber, maybe on street parking will have to do the same because of Haystack.

Who knows.

Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

3 Responses

  1. I’m not sure that comparing Haystack to Uber is a fair comparison. With Haystack it’s more like riding in a taxi and having the next passenger pay you for telling them where you’re being dropped off so they can grab the cab. Hmm…maybe that’s what taxis need to level the paying field. BTW, I’m sitting in a crowded restaurant right now, getting ready to leave the table. Any takers? I’ll throw in my leftovers.

  2. I don’t think the comparison to Uber is accurate at all. They are trading private property and private service. Haystack and MonkeyParking are basically selling leases on public property owned by the taxpayers. The problem is that municipalities have created a black market for this prime real estate by underpricing it to the point where even if you pay another user for the space, you’re still paying a lot less than you would if you parked off-street.

    If there is enough profit in it, you can bet that people will go into business doing it.

  3. These apps are a high-tech tool being used to manipulate technology that pre-dates WW II. If the Cities truly want to “defeat” these apps then the absolute simplest way is to switch over to an LPR based system.

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