The Business Times

Fight with Uber is a personal one for its German nemesis

Published Sun, Feb 22, 2015 · 09:50 PM


BORN into a family of craftsmen in a hardscrabble Bavarian village, Richard Leipold started driving a cab as a college kid in Berlin. He liked it so much that he kept doing it after graduation, and he ultimately helped topple a local taxi guild with competition-stifling work rules. He estimates he's carried more than 100,000 passengers over the years - earning enough to purchase an apartment in a quiet southern suburb. In 1981 he bought his first Mercedes cab. The next year he added a second, and he now owns eight cars and employs 14 drivers.

Uber threatens all that, Mr Leipold says. And the ride-hailing service, in turn, sees Mr Leipold and his ilk as modern-day monopolists ready to be unseated. "When someone comes and says I'll take away the basis of your livelihood, then of course it becomes more than just a business matter," he says as he tracks his drivers' whereabouts in his office on the ground floor of a 19th century townhouse. "It becomes personal."

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