Uber CEO taunts price critics, points to airline “surge pricing”

Travis Kalanik

Say what you want about Travis Kalanick, the guy sticks to his guns. On Christmas Eve, the Uber CEO used Twitter to taunt critics of the popular car service’s so-called surge pricing by pointing to Delta Airline prices:

The tweet’s Valleywag reference is a nod to a recent story in which the tech gossip blog excoriated Kalanick and Uber for jacking prices eightfold during a New York snow storm.

Kalanick’s latest Twitter salvo suggests he’s had no second thoughts about Uber’s pricing model, which he claims is a simple reflection of supply-and-demand, and helps ensure there’s an adequate supply of drivers at critical times.

Others are not so sure. The LA Times last week published a thoughtful piece casting basic market theory as espoused by Uber against real-world social and political aversion to price gouging.

And even Silicon Valley money men, who typically share a common libertarian worldview, are asking if Uber could shoot itself in the foot with the pricing policies.. Here’s a screenshot of a back-and-forth between Kalanick and investor Greg Bettinelli:

screenshot of Uber debate

It will be interesting to see how far Uber will test consumer loyalty during the upcoming holidays. In the meantime, Kalanick’s airline analogy provides more grist for economists and urban policy folk to debate the car service and its pricing policies.

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