Give Me What I Want

by Ben Perreira

Sam Biddle found a clip of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick saying that Uber’s mission is to serve people who hold the attitude “give me what I want and give it to me right now.” Biddle makes a strong point that this perspective on the world could make us terrible people. I hold that anyone who thinks this way may already be afflicted with this problem, but that is an issue for someone with a different specialization than my own.

Sure, when I want a ride somewhere I don’t want to wait in the cold, so getting a car in five minutes is amazing. I absolutely love what Uber does for getting cars. The miss here is in thinking people want all things delivered in the same way they get cars. The enjoyment of a product or service can be thought of as three phases:

  1. Anticipation: Establishing a need for a product or service, deciding to use it, selecting a provider, and thinking about how the experience will be.
  2. Use: Usually the shortest phase. Transactional consumption.
  3. Memory: Recall and recognition (or triggered) memories about when/ how/ why we used the product or service, ultimately leading us to use it again.

Getting things instantaneously removes phase 1 almost entirely. 

I enjoyed the film “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and I would likely try to go there if I ever make it to Tokyo. A huge component of my enjoyment is Jiro’s restaurant is in the anticipation. It is in making a reservation, having to wait weeks or months, flying to Tokyo, trying to find the restaurant in a new city, and watching the chefs prepare each course. If Jiro’s food appeared at my doorstep in five minutes I would miss a substantial part of what makes it a great experience.

As Uber moves into delivering other things it will need to consider the totality of how people get enjoyment out of consuming each of those things.