Picture the scene; you’re a fresh faced young grad, and you’ve moved to London in search of fame, fortune, and a disruptive tech platform that uses AI and machine learning to create a seamless, Tinder style swipe left / right UX / UI – with bells on!
You’ve read “The Lean Startup”, you’ve watched videos of Peter Thiel and Jeff Bezos discussing failing fast, zero-to-one, reusable space rockets and the rise of the robots, and you’ve swotted up on Seed funding and Series A investment.
You’ve spent the last of your student loan on a shiny new MacBook, skinny jeans and a haircut that makes you look like a cross between an Arsenal footballer and an extra in a Wham! Video. You’ve found a coffee shop that serves quinoa juice and lets you siphon off enough electricity to power a small country.
In short, you are ready to disrupt!
Now, here is where things start to differ slightly to what it said on the brochure. You’ve bought the ticket – the trouble is, so did a lot of other people – and your numbers are stubbornly refusing to come up.
First you try the noticeboard at Google Campus – by the end of the week you’ve five offers sitting on the table. Trouble is, they are all internships, paying out less than a Vegas slot machine on a slow Saturday after one too many pornstar Martini’s.
One founder actually wants you to pay them for the privilege of watching them work. – on their automated payments system for supermarket trolleys.
No need to panic – you’ll start your own venture and hit up one of those start-up accelerators you’ve read so much about. Right?
Wrong. It just so happens they are “between cohorts” right now, and strangely, since you didn’t attend Oxford or Cambridge University, LSE or UCL, didn’t go to school with one of the “entrepreneur’s in residence”, don’t have a £400,000 funding runway, and aren’t friends with a member of parliament, nobody seems to be returning your calls or emails.
But hey, it’s all part of the fun, right? And now you’re really on to something, because finally, you have the chance to work for a startup, and not just any startup – one of the very best, and one of the very richest.
That’s right – Deliveroo are looking for riders.
Welcome to the big time! You trade your mac for a brand new, bright orange bike that is so hip, it only has one gear! It gets stolen. You try to buy it back at Brick Lane bicycles, but have to settle for a child’s tricycle instead.
And now it’s time to meet the Deliveroo top brass – this is your chance to impress them with your technical knowledge, chutzpah, and charisma. To show what a free thinking, independent spirit you truly are – a perfect fit for their 21st Century, hipster-yet-driven company culture.
A uniform? Well, ok, sure, you can wear a uniform – even if it does make a B&Q power tools sales assistant look like a catwalk model on Oscar’s night.
And of course, you don’t mind earning less than the minimum wage – being an employee, or even a worker, is so passé. Freelancing is where its’ at – none of that old-skool, sick pay, parental leave, holiday rubbish – what are we back in the dark ages or something?
No Health and Safety? No Insurance? 13 hour working days? Worth it all to see the look on your parents faces when you tell them you got a job at a top tech startup.
They will be so happy for you, they will probably burst into tears.
You’ve heard some rumours that some old timers in some old-fashioned government have accused Deliveroo top brass (who you have still never met) of not playing entirely fair with their staff.
But you know that’s not true because you know that in fact Deliveroo don’t have any staff. That’s why they don’t have to pay any taxes.
You know that Deliveroo founder William Shu had it right when he told Business Insider that it’s the government’s mess to sort out, by providing “21st century legislation that fits a 21st century economy and what people from the 21st century want”.
And what do tech workers from the 21st Century want – they want things to be just like they were in the 1800’s of course – just like Downton Abbey.
A miserable, thankless rat race where you start and end with nothing unless you are cunning, and by cunning we mean enough of a ruthless bastard to show you are worth a place on the management team by stalling the careers and livelihoods of the people who gave you a chance in the first place.
That’s right folks, the more things change, the more things stay the same. It’s the rich what gets the credit, and it’s the poor what gets the 15 inch by 15-inch pizza box and the dodgy delivery scooter.
But, hey why not console yourself with the idea that you are helping independent restaurants make a little extra money on the side while they work on ever more creative, and dare one say it, “disruptive” recipes.
Except that actually, you are not picking up from said restaurants, you are picking up from out of town, specially built kitchens manned by people who are paid less than the minimum wage, with a restaurant cookbook, and no clue.
Still by the time it gets delivered, the food will be cold and ruined anyway, so nobody will ever know.
So what are your options? Parcel sorting at Amazon? Working 9 to 5am at Uber. Doing “SEO”, (which stands for sh*t, endless, and overworked) copywriting for Google.
Wake up and smell the hipster coffee you can no longer afford. The robots aren’t coming for your job. You are the robot.
And you know what, metal man? You just got had.