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Disrupting the disrupters: How the coronavirus will change the gig economy

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SALT LAKE CITY — Working in the American gig economy was already hard enough.

Just ask Jonathan Cousar. He began driving for Uber in New York City in 2014, which was “great at first,” he said.

“When I first started driving, Uber had just come into this area,” Cousar told KSL.com. “And it was really awesome, because they were charging maybe four to five times what they charge now and they had a lot fewer drivers, so each individual driver could actually get a decent amount of trip requests.”

Over time, however, the number of drivers shot up and fares went down. Driver earnings “began to plummet,” Cousar said.

“Back then (in 2014) you could have made $30 to $40 an hour during morning and afternoon rush hour,” he said. That had come all the way down to about $15 an hour before expenses in a 2019 survey by Ridester, a website that covers on-demand transportation for which Cousar now writes.

And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Seemingly overnight, demand for ride-hailing services fell off a cliff. For the first time, Congress made self-employed and contract workers eligible for a form of unemployment in the March coronavirus aid bill — but states then had to figure out how to implement the new program, delaying aid to gig workers by weeks or even months.

The virus fallout has been nothing short of “devastating” to the industry and its workers, Cousar said. “The main sources of business are the afternoon and morning commute to work, airport business and nightlife,” he said. “All of that was shut down.”

Here in Utah, gig workers got some relief in mid-April when the Department of Workforce Services unveiled the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, Utah’s implementation of the congressional mandate to bring unemployment aid to the self-employed. Kevin Burt, director of the department’s Unemployment Insurance Division, said the state had to create the program “from scratch.”

“Pandemic Unemployment Assistance was certainly a brand-new program,” Burt said. “It was different, and it does cover a group of individuals that historically are not eligible for unemployment insurance.” The program has been federally funded through the end of the year and can be used for up to 39 weeks, he said.

Last week the state saw about 1,300 new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and 8,800 ongoing claims, down from peaks of about 7,500 new and 18,000 continued claims, Burt said.

Solutions and the future

Not every job in the gig economy has suffered like ride-booking services. Food delivery apps, for instance, helped restaurants reach customers even when dine-in service was prohibited.

And some are exploring new models. Eric Nalbone is the vice president of marketing for Drum, a new app that lets users earn commissions for word-of-mouth product and service referrals, “drumming” up business for companies.

“So the business wins,” Nalbone said. “They’re able to really leverage their customers, and people who know the business already, to spread the word about that business. And the individuals win because they actually get compensated for this valuable service that they’re providing” — a service that people already provide for free all the time, he said.

Drum launched a pilot program last fall, Nalbone said, and didn’t originally intend to launch nationally until this summer. But once the pandemic hit, Drum’s leadership saw a need for its service and expanded in April instead. “This is certainly a time when more businesses need support and more individuals need support than ever before,” he said.

Still, for Uber and Lyft drivers, the outlook remains challenging. Ridester released a report this week finding that, after expenses, many drivers are pocketing less than $5 an hour.

And the expiration of the extra $600 of weekly unemployment aid — another provision of the March coronavirus aid bill that ran out just last week — will make matters worse, Cousar said.

“Now that the $600 has run out, all of these drivers who’ve been sitting at home are going to get back out on the streets,” he said. “And drivers who are making $5 to $10 an hour — because there’s not a lot of business, but there weren’t a lot of other drivers out there, either — now they’re going to be competing with three to four times the number of drivers they’ve been up against these last few weeks.”

Cousar’s advice for workers in the gig economy?

“Get some new skills,” he said. “Learn to do computer programming. Learn software coding. Learn coding for websites. Because even before this (pandemic) happened, it was really difficult to earn much more than minimum wage driving for Uber and Lyft.”

That’s not to say gig work is a bad solution for everyone, Cousar said. He was once struck by data indicating a large number of Uber and Lyft drivers are over age 50.

“A lot of these guys are retired,” he said. “They have a little time on their hands and like to make a little extra spending money, and that’s a great way for them to do it.” But as for young drivers?

“The younger guys should get out of it so those guys can make some money at it. And the younger guys can go improve their skills, and up their game, and try to do something else.”

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Novartis reshuffles its wild cards; Tough sell for Biogen? Googling proteins; Ken Frazier’s new gig; and more – Endpoints News

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Always remember just how risky it is to gamble big on small studies.

A little more than 4 years ago, Novartis reportedly put up a package worth up to $1 billion for the dry eye drug ECF843 after a small biotech called Lubris put it through its paces in a tiny study of 40 moderate to severe patients, tracking some statistically significant markers of efficacy.

By last fall, the program had risen up to become one of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s top “wild card” programs in line for a potential breakthrough year in 2021. These drugs were all considered high-risk, high-reward efforts. And in this case, risk won.

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Global Gig Economy and Sharing Economy Market 2021 Growth Factors | Strategic Analysis | Increasing Demand With Top Key Players

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DZS Debuts Latest Innovations including Cloud Analytics Demo and XCelerate by DZS 10 Gig Combo Access Solutions at Fiber Connect 2021

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DZS Cloud Service Management Intelligence demonstration combines advanced connected premises and network operations analytics supported by an open, cloud native architecture

PLANO, Texas, July 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — DZS (NASDAQ: DZSI), a global leader in optical and packet-based mobile transport, broadband connectivity and software defined networking solutions, today announced plans to demonstrate its latest innovations at Fiber Connect 2021 Conference & Exhibition, taking place July 25-28, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. Visitors to DZS booth #215 will be able to see and interact with DZS hardware and software solutions from across the company’s technology pillars – Orchestration and Analytics, Mobile Transport, Broadband Connectivity, and Edge Access. Highlights include live demonstrations of DZS Cloud Service Management Intelligence, a first glimpse of the company’s big data analytics system with a cloud native architecture that monitors and provides advanced quality-of-service and issue resolution insights into the connected home correlated with access and aggregation networks. A full array of the recently announced DZS XCelerate line of 10 gig-class fiber access cards and systems will also be on display. The DZS Velocity, DZS Chronos, DZS Helix, and DZS Cloud solutions portfolios continue to expand, and the company is proud to be able share its innovations on the Fiber Connect 2021 Expo show floor.

In addition to the live product displays and demonstrations taking place at the DZS booth, Eric Wulfsberg, Senior Director, Product Line Management, Edge Access at DZS, will be presenting in person on Sunday July 25 at 3 pm at the Broadband Forum BASe Future of Fiber Technologies Workshop. As a Silver Sponsor of Fiber Connect 2021, DZS CMO Geoff Burke will be the featured speaker on Monday July 26 at 5:30 pm in the Expo Theater for a 20-minute presentation entitled “XCelerating into the Future with DZS”.

“Fiber Connect is a leading optical fiber business and technology event in the Americas that strategically convenes North American service providers, fiber overbuilders and WISPs to develop the communications industry of tomorrow,” said Andrew Bender, CTO of DZS. “We believe next generation broadband connectivity, mobile and edge transport, and software defined solutions and services are top-of-mind among the Fiber Connect audience; this aligns perfectly with where we as DZS have been focusing our innovation and development energy on a go-forward basis. Since Fiber Connect 2021 marks one of the first U.S. national shows in the communications industry to be back in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world, we are looking forward to meeting with and demonstrating our latest innovations for our customers, prospective customers and ecosystem partners in-person in Nashville.”

Visitors to the DZS booth will experience first-hand a range of the latest technology innovations:

  • DZS Cloud Analytics: At the center of the DZS booth, demonstrations of the new DZS Cloud analytics and orchestration solutions will show how service providers can optimize and automate their access and edge networks, reducing operational complexity to achieve cost-effective scale. DZS market-leading network orchestration and software automation solutions are gaining traction with service providers around the world and driving transformation to a software defined and automated network in an open and multi-vendor environment. DZS Cloud includes orchestration, access network management and advanced analytics, enabling service providers to efficiently operate their networks and detect issues proactively to avoid service impact.

  • Mobile Transport: The DZS Chronos mobile transport portfolio provides a full range of 5G-ready xHaul (fronthaul, midhaul and backhaul) solutions that are open, software-defined and proven and enable topologies and architectures for Open RAN and Virtual RAN approaches. The new O-series line of environmentally hardened optical transport products will be on display, including the MPX-9103 100G DWDM Muxponder and the modular TMS-1190 Optical Edge Transport Platform, optimized for high capacity and long-reach mobile xHaul scenarios. Also, on display will be the widely deployed C1216RO Open FrontHaul Gateway as well as M-series mobile backhaul products, including M3500 and M1500 cell-site switch / router platforms.

  • Broadband Access: The DZS Velocity Portfolio of broadband access systems, switches and routers, unified by the powerful Software Defined Network (SDN)-enabled operating system sdNOS, provides carriers with extraordinary flexibility with the latest fiber access technologies and software-centric operational models. DZS V-series modular chassis system, as well as new specialized compact form factor XGS-PON and 10 gig access solutions will be shown – all of which are part of the groundbreaking XCelerate by DZS line of 10 Gig solutions.

  • Connected Premises: The DZS Helix Edge Access solutions portfolio of feature-rich ONTs, smart gateways and home Wi-Fi management solutions for residences and enterprises will be on display, ready for emerging 5G, 10 gigabit, Wi-Fi 6-enabled networks. Armed with these intelligent access edge solutions complemented by DZS Cloud, service providers can move beyond traditional triple-play offerings to quickly and efficiently launch, operate, troubleshoot and optimized cutting edge residential and business services.

See you at the show! For more information visit www.DZSi.com.

About DZS
DZS Inc. (NSDQ: DZSI) is a global leader of intelligent, packet-based mobile transport and broadband access converged edge solutions with more than 20 million products in-service with customers and alliance partners spanning more than 100 countries.

DZS, the DZS logo, and all DZS product names are trademarks of DZS Inc. Other brand and product names are trademarks of their respective holders. Specifications, products, and/or product names are all subject to change.

This press release contains forward-looking statements regarding future events and our future results that are subject to the safe harbors created under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements reflect the beliefs and assumptions of the Company’s management as of the date hereof. Words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “forecast,” “goal,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “project,” “seek,” “should,” “target,” “will,” “would,” variations of such words, and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned that these forward-looking statements are only predictions and are subject to risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. The Company’s actual results could differ materially and adversely from those expressed in or contemplated by the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ include, but are not limited to, those risk factors contained in the Company’s SEC filings available at www.sec.gov, including without limitation, the Company’s annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and subsequent filings. In addition, additional or unforeseen affects from the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic climate may give rise to or amplify many of these risks. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date on which they are made. DZS undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements for any reason.

For further information see: www.DZSi.com.
DZS on Twitter: https://twitter.com/dzs_innovation
DZS on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/DZSi/

Press Inquiries:
McKenzie Hurst, Thatcher+Co.
Mobile: +1 408.888.6787
Email: mhurst@thatcherandco.com



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