The lesson for technologists? Distributed power, harnessed with tech savvy, can insert itself into deals once cut in backrooms. Reformers have tried for years to deregulate a taxi industry they see as protecting entrenched interests. But those fights have been local, and draining. Kalanick has the power to take them national. To some, what that says about how rules are written — rather than the outcome of the fights themselves — is what’s important.

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