About Monty

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.

Uber boom brings down taxi drivers’ wages by 10%

New survey shows that Uber has led to a 10% fall in wages for traditional taxi drivers, but overall driver numbers have boomed.


uberUber’s rollout across US cities has driven down wages by 10% among salaried taxi drivers, according to a new report from the University of Oxford.

The Oxford Martin School report Drivers of Disruption? drills into the the impact of Uber on taxi drivers from 2009 to 2015, using data on the rollout of Uber across cities from the American Community Survey (ACS), a leading source of information on the US workforce.

It found that on average the number of self-employed taxi drivers in a city went up by almost 50% after Uber was introduced, but also driving wages down by an average of 10% of traditional taxi drivers, compared to cities where Uber remained absent.

The study also found that:

• The number of hours worked increased among both salaried and self-employed taxi drivers

• Even traditional taxi services experienced growing employment after the introduction of Uber

• Uber drivers typically earn more per hour than their counterparts

• The decline in traditional taxi incomes was offset by an expansion of business income among self-employed drivers

“The data provides the first hard evidence of the impact of the ‘sharing economy’. Uber is the flagship of the sharing economy, but what our study shows is that even in one of the sharing economy’s most exposed industries, traditional jobs have not been displaced,” said Dr Frey, Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment.

The report raises questions about efforts being made, in parts of Europe and elsewhere, to ban or restrict the adoption of Uber. The losers, however, are undoubtedly traditional taxi drivers who have already lost 10% of their income… while the winners are customers who have more choice amid falling prices.

As Uber continues to spread across the US, it remains to be seen what the next trend will bring. It is certain, however, that traditional taxi drivers will continue

Cybersecurity worries boost IT spending globally

Cybersecurity is a huge issue for companies. IT budgets are finally catching up with the new reality.


cybersecurityIn the early internet days IT departments had to fight for budget until companies realised how vital IT services were for existence, let alone operation.

In recent years the emphasis has moved to digital transformation and IT budgets have relatively stagnated. This, however, will change in 2017 and has probably already changed. The cybersecurity threat means that the enterprise sector has finally had to wake up to its responsibilities.

The accompanying infographic from Computer Nerds underscores how cybersecurity concerns are well-founded. According to the company, 26% of hard drives fail within the first four years and even three years ago, 90% of companies were reporting security breaches of their websites.

That threat has magnified in the ensuring three years. According to WordPress specialists Pragmatic Web, as soon as a NEW web site goes live, it will be attacked within SIX MINUTES of launch. If that sounds bad enough, think of older web sites and those that weren’t set up with cybersecurity as a focus.

Moreover, Computer Nerds says that 78% of companies in the private sector are worried about data security. When that figure reaches 100%, cybersecurity defences will be rooted in business consciousness and there may finally be strong defences to withstand constant breaches.

I attended a cybersecurity dinner at the House of Lords last year where after a few bottles of decent wine, the UK’s leading experts laid out their hands. The world has a global cybersecurity skills shortage of more than one million people and it will take at least half a generation to fix the mess of a vulnerable infrastructure.

That the internet is infected is no longer a question. It is beginning to resemble a festering sore that is not responding to the medieval leeches currently being used to treat it.

Hopefully, increased IT budgets will mean that forthcoming treatment will be more sophisticated than these leeches or the optimistic maggots that are currently being used.

70% of freelancers were asked to work for free in 2016

The nature of money or currency may be changing, but attitudes from budget-holders seem to be hardening.


freelancersMore despair from the freelance world, where ‘free’ appears to be somewhat different than the freedom such an existence is supposed to provide.

According to Approve.io, a ‘rapid approval tool that helps freelancers collaborate with their clients’, 70% of the UK’s creative freelancers were asked to work for free last year, and 9% of those did exactly that.

Those 9% are traitors to the freelance world, either really desperate or more likely useless. Why people do this is beyond this writer. Why not just mug yourself, pistol-whip yourself and let yourself steal your own money? These are humans acting like AI machines, ‘the architects of their own gravedigging’, as Czech author Milan Kundera once wrote.

According to the survey, the majority of UK freelancers who did work for free (80%) said they did it for the experience, while under-25s were almost twice as likely to work for free as over-25s. That 25, by the way, relates to their age, not their IQ.

“I think this is a serious problem. Working on-spec is tempting when the client dangles the carrot of future commissions. It rarely works out that way and can lead to a lowering of demand for experienced, but comparatively expensive, professionals”, said Sir Cary Cooper CBE, Professor of organisational psychology health at Manchester Business School.

Rightly so, Sir Cary, granted.

Apparently photographers, of which a whopping 16% worked for free last year, are the worst culprits, along with graphic designers, illustrators video producers and, gulp, journalists.

Cities with a large concentration of tech, media and creative industries appear to have a lower percentage of freelancers willing to work for free, the best being London, Manchester and Brighton.

“Aside from the ethics of requesting free labour, businesses are doing themselves no favours by attempting to get work done on-spec. You wouldn’t walk into a hairdressers and ask for a free haircut on the promise that you’ll tell all your mates where you got your hair done,” said Charlotte Whelan, project manager at Approve.io.

Indeed. There again, maybe we should all become hairdressers, that appears to be the only business where nobody is expected to train for years, refine their craft for more years and then give it away to any idiot who asks for it.

Nearly 90% of newspaper reading is still in print

Print may be back. An exhaustive study on newspapers has surprisingly revealed that we still like to read one in our hands.


printRecently I took part in a survey about my newspaper-reading habits. As a man who never leaves the house without a newspaper under his arm, my replies were very print-friendly.

Somewhat against the odds, final findings of the report reveal that many people are (still) like me. Almost 90% of respondents feel the same. It says that time spent with 11 UK national newspapers by UK audiences, 88.5% comes via print editions, 7.49% from mobiles and only 4% from PCs.

There research shows that while print newspapers are read for an average of 40 minutes per day, online visitors to the websites and apps of those same newspapers spend an average of just 30 SECONDS per day… thot doesn’t even qualify as an attention span.

The findings combined data from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the British National Readership Survey and comScore to calculate how much audience attention newspapers’ print, PC/lapto, and mobile platforms attract.

Rather more depressingly and less surprisingly, the Daily Mail has almost 30% market share, a bewildering fact of modern-day life where so-called intelligent people not only click online to read this dirge, but also pick up issues from supermarkets and newsagents.

For brands obsessed with ‘transformation’ and advertisers who seem convinced the analogue newspaper really is a dead-tree business, this research may halt them in their digital tracks. However, it may also convince others that the whole business of traditional true-though-biased-news is a corpse.

The confluence of plummeting circulation of print editions, but at the same time 90% of people preferring to read print editions rather than digital ones, means things are even worse than predicted. Will there be such a thing as digital journalism in the future? Will it ever be a business?

Newsprint appears to be much more engaging than online journalism and unless there is an unlikely reading resurgence, the consequences are demoralising. The future of newsagents may be like that of record shops, the odd specialist emporium where fans and obsessives will go.

I will be one of them, but I wonder how many others will be joining me.

One in ten UK households do not possess a single book

A new and depressing report from Aviva says that UK households have an average of 8.2 electronic devices, but 10% do not own a single book. No wonder the world’s going to pot.

bookTo say that the UK family home has changed over the past decade would be the understatement of, well, the last decade.

Mealtimes that were once the cornerstone and the hearth of conversation now resemble railway carriages where various family members, adults as well as kids and teenagers, have to be pried from using their devices to have a conversation.

This is bad enought, but a new study from Aviva says that one in 10 people say they have no hard copy books in their homes. This rises to one in five households where inhabitants are aged 18-24. The shared flat is now merely a hub for shared bandwidth.

Not a single hard copy. 10% or 20%. Nobody needs to burn books, technology has done that for us. We are sleepwalking to a future of fake news, where hard-to-manufacture analogue books are replaced by digital versions that can easily be changed.

Fake news? How about fake books? Nobody will be able to tell the difference, cultural hacking will be the new norm, every book can be discoloured, every page torn out and nobody will care.

Even other family-bonding pursuits such as board games and cards are leeching away. The average number of board games, packs of playing cards and packs of dominoes per home has plummetted, while the number of households who do not even OWN these items has risen.

On the digital dark side, the number of internet-enabled devices is steadily growing. Aviva data suggests that this figure now stands at 8.2 items across all households, rising to 10.9 in homes with children. This includes tablets, phones, smart TVs and other connected IoT devices in the so-called Smart Home.

It should be remembered that his report was commissioned by an insurance company. Books and board games are not worth insuring, thieves are unlikely to steal them unless they have a screen on them. Interest is vested in terrifying book-readers.

However, if anybody knows current home trends it’s an insurance company. Ownership is money and who knows, maybe books will return like vinyl has done before it and a iibrary will be valuable again, not dispensable.

For now, it’s just more terrible data in a world that as it transitions from analogue to digital is losing the essence of its humanity. To spite the fuckers, I’m off to my favourite bookshop, Hatchards on Piccadilly to buy a load of those beautiful books. You should do the same, and not just the 90%.

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