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At 9:30 a.m. on a sunny weekday, the phones at Candelia, a purveyor of sleek office furniture in Lille, France, rang steadily with orders from customers across the country and from Switzerland and Germany. A photocopier clacked rhythmically while more than a dozen workers processed sales, dealt with suppliers and arranged for desks and chairs to be shipped.

This lawyer fought for FedEx drivers and strippers. Now she's standing up for Uber drivers. Shannon Liss-Riordan was having dinner in San Francisco when a friend insisted he show her this life-changing app.

This is a grim fairy tale about a mythical company and its mythical founder. As I’ve seen over many years and many deals, in all but the most glorious outcomes, terms will matter way more than valuations, and way more than whatever your cap table says. And yet entrepreneurs – often with the encouragement of their stakeholders – optimize for the wrong things when they negotiate their financings.

Philly was one of the last big U.S. cities to get UberX, likely because of the Philadelphia Parking Authority's (PPA) ferocious reputation. Even though it's popular and widespread (in April, Uber celebrated its millionth Philly UberX ride), UberX is still not legal here.

Casipong inserts earbuds, queues up dance music—Paramore and Avicii—and checks her client’s instructions. Their specifications are often quite pointed. A São Paulo gym might request 75 female Brazilian fitness fanatics, or a Castro-district bar might want 1,000 gay men living in San Francisco.

The eight-digit code was Ngo’s account number. LR stood for Liberty Reserve, a digital currency somewhat similar to bitcoin. Users could buy LRs, as they were known, for $1 apiece and use them to pay anyone else who had a Liberty Reserve account. They could also store their money in the system.

Aboard the Italian-themed cruise ship Costa Atlantica, two days’ sail from the coast of China, at a special dinner for high-paying passengers, head chef Daniel Martinez began by explaining the concept of bread. “The bread, for us,” he said, “is like for Asian people, the rice.”

In the new world of on-demand everything, you’re either pampered, isolated royalty — or you’re a 21st century servant. Angel the concierge stands behind a lobby desk at a luxe apartment building in downtown San Francisco, and describes the residents of this imperial, 37-story tower. “Ubers, Squares, a few Twitters,” she says. “A lot of work-from-homers.”

Bret Easton Ellis introduced me to the Polo Lounge in 1984, on a night of howling Santa Anas. We were on winter break from Bennington, the gradeless, testless college in Vermont that had made us both want to become writers
Industry jargon in retail reveals a cheeky side of the business. Squirrel: A customer who isn’t loyal to one salesperson. Locusts: Groups of friends who hover around merchandise but don’t buy anything.Bulimic shopper: Someone who discards at checkout at least half of what she or he has selected. Surgery: Alterations.
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