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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

Perfect storm brewing for extreme politicians

Data: Axios research; Table: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Redistricting and a flood of departing incumbents are paving the way for more extreme candidates in this year's midterm elections.

Driving the news: At least 19 House districts in 12 states are primed to attract such candidates — hard partisans running in strongly partisan districts — according to an Axios analysis of districts as measured by the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index (PVI).

Updated 4 hours ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Updated 5 hours ago - Technology

Mayors see cryptocurrency as a way to address income inequality

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

At the U.S. Conference of Mayors' meeting in D.C. this week, there's buzz around the idea of giving cryptocurrency accounts to low-income people.

Why it matters: Cities have been experimenting with newfangled ways to address income inequality — like guaranteed income programs — and the latest wave of trials could involve paying benefits or dividends in bitcoin, stablecoin or other digital currencies.