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A new strategy for taxi apps: banning men

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Taxi apps are locked in bloodthirsty competition, and it's hard for a new business to break in. But The New York Times is reporting on a new and unique angle on the business: banning men. The app is called SheTaxis, currently operating in New York, Long Island and Westchester County with all female drivers and all female customers. It's a feature neither Uber nor Lyft is offering, and it turns out to be something a lot of customers are willing to pay for.

In some ways, it's surprising it took this long

In some ways, it's surprising it took this long to create a women-only taxi service. Sexual assault by cab drivers is a real and serious issue, so it's understandable if women prefer a female driver. Because of widespread gender discrimination in the livery business, it's hard to find one through traditional channels. As the Times piece points out, just five percent of black car drivers in the city are women. Yellow cab numbers are even worse, with female drivers accounting for just over one percent of the city's cabs. As a result, finding female drivers has become a real niche, and one that SheTaxis seems to have all to itself.

In other words, banning men can be a completely legitimate business decision. It's the kind of innovation the tech industry is built on, and there's no reason to stop at taxis. Are we ready for Facebook without men? A search engine that deprecates male results? A male-resistant iPhone 6? We can only imagine.