Nov 10, 2019

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."

Go deeper

Uber CEO: More cars "not the answer"

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo by PHILIP PACHECO/AFP via Getty Images

In an interview last week with "Axios on HBO," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said its business has to "radically shift how it grows" to avoid wearing out its welcome in cities.

Why it matters: That means investing in fleet electrification and convincing people to take alternative modes of transportation like Uber buses, electric bikes and scooters are key goals for the company — which doesn't have a history of playing nice with cities.

Go deeperArrowNov 13, 2019

Uber CEO says Elizabeth Warren not an "existential threat"

Left, photo: Indraneel Chowdhury/NurPhoto via Getty Images; right, photo: photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

In an interview for "Axios on HBO," Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said 2020 candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren's war on Big Tech would not be a major threat to the company.

Between the lines: Warren has previously backed Uber and Lyft drivers in their fight for living wages ahead of the companies' public rollouts.

Go deeperArrowNov 11, 2019

Uber CEO backtracks after calling Saudi murder of Khashoggi "a mistake"

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told "Axios on HBO" that the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was "a mistake" by the Saudi government, and then he compared it to Uber's self-driving accident in which a woman died.

Khosrowshahi tweeted Monday: "There's no forgiving or forgetting what happened to Jamal Khashoggi & I was wrong to call it a “mistake.” As I told @danprimack after our interview, I said something in the moment I don't believe. Our investors have long known my views here & I'm sorry I wasn’t as clear on Axios."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 11, 2019