Incumbent Strategies against Collaborative Platforms: Lessons from the battle between taxi drivers and Uber in Spain

Lessons from the battle between taxi drivers and Uber in Spain

Carlos Górriz   | Bio
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona


The purpose of this article is to analyse the strategies that incumbent market participants are using to fight collaborative platforms. I essentially focus on the battle between taxi drivers and Uber in Spain, because it is a very complete scenario. Traditional operators feel threatened by collaborative platforms due to the greater attractiveness of their business model. Therefore, they implemented t the two classic defence measures: imitation and confrontation. Nonetheless, some references are made to other examples of sharing economy, as “short-term rental market” and other countries.

     The first strategy is imitation. Established operators try to copy technological advances to increase competitiveness. Others team up with collaborative platforms to take advantage of their power of attraction and gain market share. We believe that it is the most desirable strategy, from a systematic point of view, because it improves competition and encourages innovation. Nonetheless, there are economic, social and legal obstacles that hinder imitation and collaboration.

     Traditional operators have faced collaborative platforms through different channels. The two most important are judicial and legislative. Regarding the first one, incumbents have grounded the lawsuits on unfair competition. They argued that collaborative platforms took advantage of breaking the laws, misled, sold at a loss and, in general, did not act in good faith. The Spanish experience shows that this strategy is not efficient. Multiple uncertainties condition the result; for instance, the lack of precise knowledge of disruptive technologies. Even when the result is favourable to the plaintiff, winning does not mean necessarily success.

     The third strategy is regulatory capture. Traditional operators put pressure on Parliaments, Governments and all kinds of administrations to forbid or restrict the activities of collaborative platforms. The Spanish experience is that this strategy can work. Success is not guaranteed as it full of difficulties and uncertainties. The outcome relies heavily on the political conjuncture, that uses to be fluctuating. Besides, it is very detrimental to the economic and legal system.



  1. Acquier, A. and Carbone, V. 2018. “Sharing Economy and Social Innovation.” In Davidson, N. Finck, M. and Infranca, J. The Cambridge Handbook of the Law of the Sharing Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 51-64.
  2. Alfonso, R. 2016. “Aproximación jurídica a la economía colaborativa: diferentes realidades.” Cuadernos de Derecho y Comercio. 66: 13-73.
  3. Aloni, E. 2018. “Pluralism and Regulatory Responses.” In Davidson, N., Finck, M. and Infranca, J (eds). The Cambridge Handbook of the Law of the Sharing Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 143-155.
  4. Autoritat Catalana de la Competència. 2018. Informe 32/2017. Regulación Metropolitana VTC. 21 March.
  5. Barron, K., Kung, E. and Proserpio, D. 2018. “The Effect of Home-Sharing on House Prices and Rents: Evidence from Airbnb.”
  6. Botella, J. 2002. El Régimen Jurídico del Servicio de Auto-taxis. Valencia: Tirant lo Blanch.
  7. Botsman, R. 2013. “The Sharing Economy Lacks a Shared Definition.”
  8. Bower, J. and Christensen, C. 1995. “Disruptive technologies: catching the wave.” Harvard Business Review, 73(1): 43-53.
  9. Cano, T. 2014. “El transporte urbano por carretera.” In Menéndez, P (dir.) Régimen Jurídico del Transporte Terrestre: Carreteras y Ferrocarril. Tomo I. Cizur Menor: Thomson Reuters Aranzadi, pp. 751-832.
  10. Christensen, C. 2016. The innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.
  11. Codagnone, C. and Martens, B. 2016. “Scoping the sharing economy: origins, definitions, impact and regulatory issues.” JRC Technical Reports.
  12. Cohen, J. 2017. “Law for the Platform Economy.” UC Davis Law Review, 22 June.
  13. Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia. 2016. C/0802/16 Resolution DAIMLER/HAILO/MYTAXI/NEGOCIO HAILO, 24 November.
  14. Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia. 2016a. Informe económico sobre las restricciones a la competencia incluidas en el real decreto 1057/2015 y en la Orden FOM/2799/2015, en materia de vehículos de alquiler con conductor – UM/085/15 y acumulados. 8 June.
  15. Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia. 2016b. C/802/16 DAIMLER/HAILO/MYTAXI/NEGOCIO_HAILO, available at
  16. Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia. 2018. E/CNMC/003/18 Estudio Sobre la Regulación de las Viviendas de Uso Turístico en España, 19 July.
  17. Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia. 2019. “La CNMC recurre el Reglamento del Área Metropolitana de Barcelona sobre arrendamiento de vehículos con conductor.” 2 August.
  18. Consejo General del Poder Judicial. 2019. “Estimación de los tiempos medios de los asuntos terminados”.
  19. De La Encarnación, A.M. 2016. “El alojamiento colaborativo: viviendas de uso turístico y plataformas virtuales”, Revista de Estudios de la Administración Local y Autonómica. Nueva época, 5: 1-26.
  20. De Las Heras, I. 2019. “Uber abre su ‘app’ a los taxis en Madrid para firmar la paz.” Expansión, 22 November.
  21. De Silva, M. and Griswold, A. 2019. “The California Senate has voted to end the gig economy as we know it.” Quartz, 11 September
  22. Delle Femmine, L. and Grasso, D. 2019. “Cuatro gráficos y una clave para entender la guerra entre taxis y VTC.” El País, 24 January.
  23. Domènech, G. 2015. “La regulación de la economía colaborativa (El caso «Uber contra el taxi»).” CEFLegal: Revista Práctica de Derecho, 175-176: 61-104.
  24. Domènech, G. 2017. “La regulación autonómica y local de las viviendas de uso turístico”, Anuario de Derecho Municipal, 11: 49-73.
  25. Edelman, B.G. and Geradin, D. 2016. “Efficiencies and regulatory shortcuts: How should we regulate companies like AirBnB and Uber?” Stanford Technology Law Review, 293: 293-328.
  26. EFE. 2019. “Admiten a trámite una demanda de taxistas contra diversas empresas de VTC por competencia desleal” Expansión, 27 April.
  27. Elliot, R.E. 2016. “Sharing app or regulation Hack(ney)? Defining Uber Technologies, Inc.” Journal of Corporation Law, 41(3): 727-753.
  28. Erzachi, A. and Stucke, M.E. 2015. “Artificial intelligence & collusion: when computers inhibit competition.” The University of Oxford Centre for Competition Law and Policy, Working Paper CCLP (L) 40.
  29. European Commission. 2016a. Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market Opportunities and Challenges for Europe. Brussels, 25.5.2016 – COM(2016) 288 final.
  30. European Commission. 2016b. A European Agenda for the Collaborative Economy, Brussels, 2.6.2016, COM(2016) 356 final.
  31. Felgueroso, F. 2019. “El efecto Airbnb en el mercado de alquiler de vivienda: ¿es Madrid diferente?” Nada es Gratis, 16 October.
  32. Friedman, D., Huck, S. Oprea, R. and Weidenholzer, S. 2015. “From imitation to collusion: Long-run learning in a low-information environment.” Journal of Economic Theory, 155: 185-205.
  33. García, D. 2018. “La caza del ganso salvaje o por qué Uber es más barato que un taxi.” Nada es Gratis, 15 May.
  34. García-López, M.À., Jofre-Monseny, J., Martínez, R. and Segú, M. 2019. “Do short-term rental platforms affect housing markets? Evidence from Airbnb in Barcelona.” IEB Working Paper 2019/05.
  35. Garrido, J. 2019. “La guerra del Taxi y los VTC se libra en los juzgados.” La Razón, 13 June.
  36. Golder, P. and Tellis, G. 1993. “Pioneer advantage: marketing logic or marketing legend.” Journal of Marketing Research, 30(2): 158-170.
  37. Gómez-Villanueva, J.E. and Ramírez-Solís, E.R. 2013. “Is there a real pioneer’s advantage? Lessons learned after almost thirty years of research.” Academy of Strategic Management Journal, 12(2): 31-53.
  38. Górriz, C. 2015. “Uber. Transporte de pasajeros y competencia desleal.” Revista de Derecho del Transporte, 16: 77-98.
  39. Górriz, C. 2017. “Reflexiones sobre Uber a propósito de la decisión de la Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.” Revista de Derecho del Transporte, 19: 232-240.
  40. Górriz, C. 2018. “Restricciones al arrendamiento VTC: el TS valida el RD1057/2015.”, Actualidad de Derecho Mercantil, 17 June.
  41. Górriz, C. 2019. “Taxi vs Uber: de la competencia desleal al arrendamiento de vehículo con conductor.” Revista de Derecho Mercantil, 311: 6.
  42. Goudin, P. 2016. “The Cost of Non-Europe in the Sharing Economy. Economic, Social and Legal Challenges and Opportunities”, January.
  43. Hatzopoulos, V. and Roma, S. 2017. “Caring for sharing? The collaborative economy under EU Law.” Common Market Law Review, 54: 81- 128.
  44. Jaruzelski, B., Le Merle, M. and Randolph, S. 2012. “The culture of innovation: What makes San Francisco bay area companies different?”
  45. Kelly, K. 2009. “Better than owning.” The Technium, 2 January.
  46. Lake, R. 2019. “California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5).” Investopedia, 18 October.
  47. Lieberman, M. and Montgomery, D. 1988. “First-mover advantages.” Strategic Management, 9: 41-58
  48. Llobet, G. 2018. “La vivienda turística y el precio del alquiler ¿Qué dice la evidencia?”, Nada es Gratis 18 September..
  49. Lobel, O. 2016. “The Law of the Platform”..
  50. Lobel, O. 2018. “Coase and the platform economy.” In Davidson, N., Finck, M. and Infranca, J. (eds) The Cambridge Handbook of the Law of the Sharing Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 67-77.
  51. Lora-Tamayo, M. 2017. “Economía colaborativa y alojamiento.” In Montero, J.J. (dir.) La Regulación de la Economía Colaborativa. Airbnb, Blablacar, Uber y Otras Plataformas. Valencia: Tirant lo Blanch, pp. 283-325.
  52. Miller, S. 2016. “First principles for regulating the sharing economy.”, Harvard Journal on Legislation, 53(1):147-202.
  53. Möhlmann, M. and Geissinger, A. 2018. “Trust in the sharing economy: Platform-mediated peer trust.” In Davidson, N., Finck, M. and Infranca, J. (eds) The Cambridge Handbook of the Law of the Sharing Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 27-37.
  54. Noto La Diega, G. 2016. “Uber law and awareness by design. An empirical study on online platforms and dehumanised negotiations.” Revue Européene de Droit de la Consommation, II: 383-413.
  55. Ostelea. 2018. “Plataformas de economía colaborativa: una mirada global.”
  56. Palienko, N. 2019. “The key factors of success of the sharing economy platforms.” beBee, 3 February.
  57. PricewaterhouseCoopers. 2015. “The Sharing Economy”. and;
  58. Quintana, T. and Casares, A. 2014. “Distribución de competencias en materia de transporte terrestre entre Estado, Comunidades Autónomas y corporaciones locales.” In Menéndez, P. (dir.) Régimen Jurídico del Transporte Terrestre: Carreteras y Ferrocarril. Tomo I. Cizur Menor: Thomson Reuters Aranzadi, pp. 489-590.
  59. Rodríguez, S. 2018. “Aspectos jurídicos de la economía colaborativa y bajo demanda en plataformas digitales.” In Rodríguez, S and Muñoz, A. (Coord.) Aspectos egales de la Economía Colaborativa y Bajo Demanda en Plataformas Digitales. Madrid: Wolters Kluwer, pp. 43-76
  60. Schor, J. 2014. “Debating the sharing economy.” Journal of Self-Governance and Management Economics, 4(3): 7-22.
  61. Suárez, F. and Lanzolla, G. 2005. “The half-truth of first-mover advantage.” Harvard Business Review.
  62. Tarrés, M. 2006. La Regulación del Taxi: Legislación Autonómica y Experiencias de Derecho Comparado. Barcelona: Atelier.
  63. Vega-Redondo, F. 1997. “The evolution of Walrasian behaviour.” Econometrica, 65(2): 375-384.
  64. Velasco, L.A. 2015. “El consumo colaborativo en el transporte de personas”, Diario La Ley, Num. 8601, 9 September.
  65. Wyman, K. 2018. “The novelty of TNC regulation.” In Davidson, N., Finck, M. and Infranca, J. (eds) The Cambridge Handbook of the Law of the Sharing Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 129-140.
  66. Zaller, A. 2019. “Five key issues to understand about AB 5 and its impact on independent contractors.” California Employment Law Report, 27 September.
How to Cite
Górriz C. Incumbent Strategies against Collaborative Platforms. LiC [Internet]. 2020May19 [cited 2020May27];36(2):1-17. Available from:

Send mail to Author

Send Cancel