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Josh Kopelman blasts UberX sting: ‘Philadelphia’s PPA is failing’

Josh Kopelman knows he’s biased.

But the venture capitalist — he’s an Uber investor — is a Philadelphia guy. His company, First Round Capital, houses or incubated startups like Curalate, Perceptual Networks and Technically Philly from its University City office. And as someone who’s personally invested in Philadelphia’s nascent startup culture, Kopelman doesn’t like what he’s seeing.

“A city’s treatment of Uber is a good litmus test for whether a city is supportive of a technology/innovation economy,” Kopelman told Billy Penn via email.  “It’s sad that Philadelphia’s PPA is failing that test — despite widespread support for ridesharing from the city’s population… and the support of elected officials.”

It was also somewhat of a close call for Kopelman, personally. As the Philadelphia Parking Authority was conducting undercover sting operations, stopping UberX drivers, impounding their cars and imposing $1,000 fines this weekend, Kopelman was behind the wheel of an UberX.

Kopelman compared Pennsylvania’s complicated ridesharing situation to Philly’s recent decriminalization of marijuana.

“I tweeted (somewhat) jokingly that only in Philadelphia can a driver get pulled over with marijuana and get a $25 ticket,” he wrote. “Yet if they get pulled over driving for UberX their car is impounded and there is a $1,000 fine.”

Kopelman noted other somewhat counterintuitive state laws, which (he says) make it illegal to sing in a bathtub, for a fortune-teller to predict where to dig for treasure and for someone to sleep on top of a refrigerator outdoors. [Ed note: There’s also that thing that makes us allowed to eat our pets.]

“While I don’t know if people will ever be able to legally sing in their bathtubs,” Kopelman said, “I do have confidence that ridesharing will exist in Philadelphia.”

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