Uber in Colorado: Seeking Regulatory Certainty
This case study details the issues and challenges that faced ride-sharing company Uber following its arrival in the state of Colorado as a new alternative to traditional taxi and limousine services. It is written from the perspective of Will McCollum, general manager of Uber Denver, a recent MBA graduate who is given responsibility for all aspects of Uber's initial Colorado launch and ongoing operations. The case provides a unique example of the oft-seen process by which new entrant companies use technology and new business models to challenge incumbent firms and traditional industries. The highly regulated and very stable nature of local transportation markets and rapid speed of Uber's rise to prominence makes Uber's experience particularly noteworthy. Uber faces public legal battles with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and other transportation companies within the area. After some early success in opposing regulatory restrictions, the decision facing McCollum and Uber is whether to continue to fight regulation in Colorado or instead proactively work with state politicians to develop a set of ongoing rules under which the industry will be required to operate. The case can be used to introduce or illustrate Porter's Five Forces, industry disruption and disruptive innovation, stakeholder analysis, the legislative and regulatory process, and corporate political strategy.