Gig Work Is Risky for Apps, Too | #facebookdating | #tinder | #pof


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Apps like Uber and Instacart took the concept of freelancing and made it bigger, broader and more visible than ever.

But now, new and proposed laws and regulatory challenges threaten the whole business model.

“Gig economy” companies like DoorDash, Lyft and Handy hire contractors as professional drivers, personal shoppers and home cleaners. These workers aren’t classified as employees but as independent contractors who in theory have the flexibility to accept or reject jobs at will, but who aren’t entitled to standard employment protections such as a minimum wage and paid sick days.

Whether you think gig work is great or exploitative, the reality is that a bunch of app-based companies started in the last decade probably cannot exist without it, or at least not in their current form.

Their businesses rely on contract worker rules that more lawmakers, regulators and lawyers say should not apply to them. So, yes, the gig economy might be risky for workers. But now it looks as if it’s a huge risk for the app companies, too.

There’s been a debate for a long time about what apps should be for. Should they be do-everything spots that let us watch movies, chat with friends, catch up on news, play video games and shop for a new bathing suit? Or is it better for an app to focus on one of those activities and do it well?

The do-everything approach is essentially where Facebook has been going for most of its life. It has monitored every internet habit that has gotten traction — and then swallowed it. Livestreaming video, hyper-short looping videos, online shopping, dating, playing video games, reading the news — the Facebook app has tried to be everything to everyone.

But the winds have been blowing in the other direction. Apps like Snapchat and TikTok are focused on relatively discrete things — chatting with close friends and watching short videos. In China, which is a source of inspiration for tech executives in the rest of the world, king-making do-everything apps like WeChat are being challenged by relatively focused services like Pinduoduo, a group shopping app.

The bigger an app gets, the harder it is to stay relevant to all people. That’s why Facebook keeps trying to carve out smaller social networks — like private groups based on people’s interests, and now a return to an exclusive spot for college students.

These piglets are having so much fun.

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