Nov 10, 2019 - Economy

Uber CEO defends driver pay and "employment" status

In an interview with "Axios on HBO," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi defended his company's position that drivers shouldn't be classified as employees, adding that pay is fair and that he wouldn't support a driver's union.

Why it matters: Uber and other gig economy companies are under increasing political pressure to provide higher wages and better benefits to their workers, and in California to stop classifying them as independent contractors.

On Uber's chief legal officer saying drivers aren't "core" to the business:

KHOSROWSHAHI: "If the drivers decide not to come to work, no, of course we couldn't make money."
AXIOS: Then how is that not core to your business?
KHOSROWSHAHI: "The core to our business is building out this platform that riders and drivers can use, right? If riders don't come onto the app, we have no business."

On targeting 2021 for profitability:

"And the ride-sharing business, what Uber was originally known for, that business this quarter paid for 100% of our corporate overhead. If all Uber did was ride share, we'd be profitable today."

On an Elizabeth Warren presidency:

"I don't think she'd be an existential threat to Uber. ... I think a lot of her points, which is there are people in power in the financial industry and in the technology industry as well who haven't been transparent enough, who have built platforms that are incredibly powerful, and haven't been responsible enough with those platforms of power, I think that comes from a real place."

On Saudi Arabia, which is Uber's fifth-largest shareholder:

"They're just like any other shareholder, right? Now, we're a public company. Anyone can invest in our company if they choose to do so."
  • Khosrowshahi also repeatedly referred to the murder of U.S. resident journalist Jamal Khashoggi as "a mistake," but later backtracked. Go deeper.

On Uber's future:

"If the only way that Uber grows is if we put more cars on the street, at some point a city is going to say, 'Enough.' So what we have to do is continue to invest in technologies that get multiple people in a car, continue to invest in and help invest in the electrification of the fleet, and build out alternative modes of transportation: electric bikes, scooters, transit."
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