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June 8, 2016      5:14 PM

House committee splits along party lines on question of gig economy: App or employer?

Issue of who is defined as an independent subcontractor and who is an employee promises to be a strong point of contention during session

Competitors to Uber and Lyft had no problem twisting the knife at the Capitol on the popular rideshare companies Wednesday morning, recognizing a clear competitive edge when it presented itself.

Multiple companies have joined the fray with the departure of Uber and Lyft from Austin after a hotly contested and nationally watched election on fingerprint background checks. Many, like GetMe CEO Michael Gaubert, were cooperative, and even eager, to meet Austin’s requirements. Gaubert insisted GetMe, touted by Austin Council members as a suitable substitute for Uber and Lyft, is in it for the long haul and “not going anywhere.”

“We’ve been onboarding drivers, increasingly. Our downloads have skyrocketed. The use of the app is at an all-time high,” Gaubert told the House Business & Industry Committee. “We’ve been working diligently to address the city’s concerns, and we think our riders have found a good experience and a good substitute.”

For good measure, Gaubert sat in the front row with former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin, sometimes posing for photos. Gaubert referred to Irvin as his good friend and fellow investor.

Whether GetMe’s performance is as sunny as Gaubert claims is as big a mystery as how incident-free Uber and Lyft’s service has been in Austin and other cities. As privately held companies, Uber, Lyft, GetMe and others are able to project a sunny outlook – more so than if they were publicly traded, anyway.  

By Kimberly Reeves