Email chain with Sunil Paul, Sidecar CEO

Below is a an email chain with Sunil Paul, the CEO of Sidecar.

ImageI initially cc’d him on an email to one of his “Driver Compliance” people after I had heard they were sending out “cease and desist” letters to people bashing them on social media.

He claims that they are innovators and that this he has been working towards this since the late 90’s…. somehow I don’t believe his rhetoric.

I tried not to be too mean but in the second email I aimed right for the heart and attempted to show just how asinine his arguments are.

Read below and feel free to comment:

from: Trevor Johnson
Apr 27
subject: Driver Compliance
to: brooke, sunil

Brooke,

Baseless legal threats designed to scare people who question your business and its practices is only going to give the regulatory authorities and law enforcement more ammo to stop your illegal activities.

Claiming someone is doing something illegal by publicly proclaiming facts and asking questions about your business is almost as bad if not worse than you claiming your business is legal.

If your job is insuring driver compliance don’t you think you should at least read one of the many laws and local regulations your drivers are breaking? (I count 9 so far just in San Francisco)

You should also really think about your career choice.  Do you feel good paying your bills with money that rightly belongs in someone else’s pocket?  Do you feel good about working for a company that openly defies the law for profit?  Do you feel good working for a company whose business model is based around making impossible for dedicated, properly licensed and insured individuals to feed their children and pay their rent?

Sunil Paul is jeopardizing the lives and financial well being of millions of Americans all to make a buck.  Using buzz words like “sharing economy” and “peer to peer” are just a cover for the selfish desire to get rich.  Do you think he actually cares about the community?  He didn’t even have the balls to show up to a CPUC workshop where his company was being discussed regarding regulation.  If he truly believed the bullshit that comes out of his mouth, he would have driven his Telsa to the CPUC and stood up for himself rather than cowardly sending an incompetent brand ambassador and equally brain dead attorney.

I dare you to send me a cease and desist, I know the law and would never agree to your TOS or let you bully me with threats of lawsuits or criminal action, so you have no legal recourse to shut me up.  The one way you can shut me up is to publish your so called insurance policy and all ride logs/data since the app went live, in every newspaper in the US, and filed with the CPUC.  Until that day you can count on people like me to make the effort to expose the truth about your company to your drivers, passengers and the public alike.

The proud bee in your bonnet,
@mrjhnsn

Sent from my iPad

———————————
from: Sunil Paul
Apr 27
subject: re: Driver Compliance
to: me, brooke

Trevor,

We are innovating in a space that hasn’t seen much change for the last several decades – I’m speaking not just of taxis and limos, but all of transportation including the private automobile.  Real innovation means some people get upset and clearly taxi companies are upset at our innovations.

I respect thoughtful and constructive criticism.  I don’t see any of that in the email below.  Let me know if you have some and I’ll be happy to respond.  If its more of the same as below, though, expect me to just hit delete.

Best,

sp

———————————
from: Trevor Johnson
Apr 27 (2 days ago)
subject: re: Driver Compliance
to: Sunil, brooke

Sunil,

You are blatantly calling putting untrained, unlicensed, uninsured and unregulated drivers onto the streets and calling that “innovation”.

You are not innovating at all sir.  You are ripping off existing technology that the taxi industry has been using to connect legal drivers with passengers since 2008.  Taxi Magic, and Cabulous (now Flywheel) were there first.

Innovation is where you do something new. NOT when you do something thats already been done and do it while breaking laws.  In San Francisco you alone your company’s actions are in direct violation of at least nine statutes, laws and regulations.

You use tech industry buzz words to obfuscate what is really happening behind the scenes.

I want to know what happens when a person driving as a user for Sidecar gets raped or murdered by a passenger?  Putting drivers onto the streets to work in one of the top 10 jobs in the world where you can be a victim of homicide while on the job, is socially irresponsible and disrespectful of the regulation that has been put into place to protect the drivers and riding public alike.  You claim that you are inspecting vehicles yet in no reality is the uploading of a picture of a car a safety inspection.  A real background check is one where the subject is fingerprinted and identification metrics are submitted to the US DOJ, not just checking a few websites and running a credit check.

In fact, your insurance carrier dropped you for “material misrepresentation”.  I would say that “material misrepresentation” is in fact your whole business model.

If you want to be respected or treated as an actual “ride-sharing platform” I suggest a few things:
1: Eliminate the ability of a rider to instantly get a ride.
2: Require drivers to input a destination before being matched with riders going the same way.
3: STOP ADVERTISING FOR DRIVERS with deceptive ads that directly contravene what you are telling regulatory authorities.
4: Make it impossible for drivers to use your platform as a way to make a living by limiting rides to four a day and available time to four non consecutive hours.

I have plenty of constructive criticism for you, but I also have tons of historical fact and plenty of damning evidence that backs up every claim I make.  San Diego and Seattle are the two US cities that most recently underwent taxi deregulation and in both cases the cities re-regulated rather quickly because what seemed like a good idea proved to be a massive disservice to the community.  Renting your home or car out to a stranger is truly “sharing economy” stuff, but the instant that your users provide a service in an industry that is heavily regulated for the benefit and safety of the public, you have left fun happy sharing town and have entered the realm of criminals, forgers, counterfitters, con-artists, and thieves.

I agree that taxi companies can be problematic in how they treat passengers and drivers.  I agree that on-demand transportation for hire needs reform.  But the problems in the industry stem not from the cab companies, cab drivers or regulatory bodies; the problems start with the attitudes of the passengers.  If taxi passengers treated the drivers like human beings to begin with, service quality and reliability go way up.  If taxi companies treated the drivers like employees and not a captive source of income, service and reliability go way up.  Right now what you are doing as a company is worse than the cab companies; namely treating your drivers like a paycheck, putting your drivers in danger without proper training and endangering the public by putting those same drivers onto the streets, adding to congestion, greenhouse gasses, and effective unofficial de-regulation of the taxi industry that will ultimately leave us all worse off than before.

I am very disappointed that you did not have the nerve to show up and speak for yourself at the CPUC workshop.  That shows a sincere desire to dodge the law and not open yourself up to the attack that you should and would if you truly believed what you are saying publicly.

Stop the charade,

@mrjhnsn

PS: my challenge of public debate still stands, and as I am not a complete asshole i would be willing to have a one on one chat with you over drinks sometime if you truly want to effect positive change in the industry.

———————————

Sunil Paul
Apr 27 (2 days ago)
subject: re: Driver Compliance
to: me

Your suggestions sound like protection for the taxi industry, not protecting the public.  We provide an information platform that allows people to share their rides.  We go beyond limo regulations by doing background checks.  We provide insurance that would step in in the event something horrible happens that isn’t covered by personal insurance.  As for innovation, do a search for “Sunil Paul” in a patent database.  I developed these ideas back in the 1990s.

You should read our comments to the CPUC.  We are legal and we intend to continue.

———————————
from: Trevor Johnson
Apr 27 (2 days ago)
subject: re: Driver Compliance

to: Sunil

I have read all your comments to the CPUC…. Your comments are patently wrong. All the laws and statutes you claim give you legal right to do what you do, don’t even begin to apply to gypsy taxis.  Trying to argue that you are legal, not a taxi service and that drivers aren’t working for a profit while advertising the exact opposite is just bad business.

I seek to protect the people that have dedicated their lives and risk personal safety daily to serve the entire public, not just the clueless millennials that are too obsessed with their smartphones to actually use their brains and eyes as biology intended.

While you are innovating why don’t you make a “platform” for connecting crack/coke dealers with users?  All your arguments in your CPUC filings support that use as ok and legal…

Exposing your fraud to your drivers and the public is what you are most afraid of and rightly so.  As soon as someone with enough power figures it out you will be out of a job.

But I digress.  It’s plain that logic and sensibility do not run in business that’s funded by venture capital.  Good thing the VCs are betting on you to lose. Gotta offset their winning bets somehow, the IRS can be a cruel vixen.

———————————

from: Sunil Paul
Apr 27 (2 days ago)
subject: re: Driver Compliance
to: me

Dude – so much for constructive conversation.  Consider all further email to be immediately deleted.  I don’t have time for you rants.

Good night.

sp

Sent from my iPhone

———————————

from: Trevor Johnson <themrjhnsn@gmail.com>
Apr 28 (1 day ago)
subject: re: Driver Compliance
to: Sunil

All due respect for your accomplishments in business, I am very disappointed that someone so obviously talented and intelligent would choose to have a business tact that lines right up with the even more blatant hypocrisy and lies of a company like Lyft.  You have the opportunity to really come out and shine as a visionary but by choosing the low road with the likes of Zimmer and Green you undercut your own arguments.  I can surely be a pissed off troll sometimes but my values are not driven by profit motives but the good of all society and I feel that without someone like me questioning what’s happening the sheep will walk themselves right into the wolf pack.  Bad things happen without regulation where there should be rules and oversight. Private industry has never been good at self regulating, just look at the economy. We wouldn’t be where we are now if a greedy power hungry few had not been busy digging a hole for the rest of us to fall into.  Left unchecked any one element of our society can have lasting negative ripple effects that we don’t always see from our individual points of view.

If you spent a month as a cab driver in SF you would see that these guys driving the cabs, picking up grandmas from dialysis, picking up the disabled and making sure drunk young girls get home safely are guys just like you, from diverse parts of the world trying to survive and feed their families in the US.  Many cab drivers are from your hometown even. Is it fair to take their income away because you have trouble getting a cab on a rainy night?  Is it fair to treat these same hardworking individuals as if they don’t matter when they are already mistreated by the public and the cab companies they lease their cabs from?  Your company is making one of the hardest and most dangerous jobs even harder and more dangerous.

I just want to see you take the steps to rise above the fray do what’s right, not undermine your own arguments with the poorly guided actions of your company.

My offer for drinks on me still stands anytime. I think you’ll see that I speak from the heart and genuine concern.

—– end——

No reply to the last one yet…..

UPDATE: I did some extensive patent database searches as he suggested and found not a single patent issued to Sunil Paul.  Fits right with his standard operating procedure of lies and deception.  Maybe he should apply for a patent on lying techniques….  CORRECTION: Apparently if I had just done a google patent search I would have gotten results…  He did actually get a patent for a ride booking/dispatching platform.  The patent itself is actually quite broad but it is pretty ahead of its time with the mobile device component.  Gotta hand it to him on that, now if he could just use it legally.

 

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