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Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images

Uber is rolling out a number of changes to its ride-hailing service in California due to a new state law with stricter requirements to classify a worker as an independent contractor, according to a new customer email.

Why it matters: Uber has said it doesn't believe the law will force it to reclassify drivers because its core business is technology, not transportation, but it's unsurprising the company is taking steps to give (in practice and appearance) more autonomy to its drivers to protect itself.

Details:

  • Pricing: Passengers will now be given an estimated range for a non-carpool trip instead of an upfront, set price. Uber (and rival Lyft) previously worked this way up through 2016 when both companies rolled out a current "upfront pricing" model that effectively decoupled what the rider pays from what the driver earns.
  • Picking drivers: Drivers who receive a five-star rating will be given priority to accept passenger requests, while those who receive one star will not be matched with that rider.
  • Rewards: Uber is discontinuing some of the features of its rewards program for riders, including "price protection" for certain routes (presumably their usual commute or rides to frequent destinations).

Uber is also making some changes on the driver side, including a 25% cap on the commission they pay to Uber, and how "surge pricing" (increased prices during high-demand times) is calculated. Similar changes will roll out for its food delivery business too.

The bottom line: Over the years, Uber made a number of changes to its ride-hailing service to juice up its revenue and margins — but many of those have been criticized by drivers for making the business less transparent and putting workers at the mercy of the company's whims.

Go deeper: Uber and Postmates sue California over gig-worker rights law

Editor's note: The story has been updated to clarify the company's past comments about the law.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
38 mins ago - Economy & Business

How GameStop exposed the market

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Retail traders have found a cheat code for the stock market, and barring some major action from regulatory authorities or a massive turn in their favored companies, they're going to keep using it to score "tendies" and turn Wall Street on its head.

What's happening: The share prices of companies like GameStop are rocketing higher, based largely on the social media organizing of a 3-million strong group of Redditors who are eagerly piling into companies that big hedge funds are short selling, or betting will fall in price.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Who benefits from Biden's move to reopen ACA enrollment

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Nearly 15 million Americans who are currently uninsured are eligible for coverage on the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than half of them would qualify for subsidies, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation brief.

Why it matters: President Biden is expected to announce today that he'll be reopening the marketplaces for a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 to May 15, but getting a significant number of people to sign up for coverage will likely require targeted outreach.

2 hours ago - Technology

Big Tech bolts politics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Big Tech fed politics. Then it bled politics. Now it wants to be dead to politics. 

Why it matters: The social platforms that profited massively on politics and free speech suddenly want a way out — or at least a way to hide until the heat cools.