Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi moonlighted as an Uber driver for months – Here’s what happened

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi assumed a new persona in September last year, moonlighting as a driver with his own company. Under an initiative code-named Project Boomerang, ‘Dave K’ ferried riders across San Francisco in a newly purchased second hand gray Tesla Model Y. And as Uber’s top executives battled rush-hour traffic and rude remarks from passengers, they came to realise that drivers’ complaints were valid.

“I think that the industry as a whole, to some extent, has taken drivers for granted,” he told The Wall Street Journal during a recent interview. 

During his time behind the wheel Khosrowshahi struggled navigate the platform – from signing up as a driver to being punished by the app for rejecting trips. He saw firsthand instances of ‘tip baiting’ and had to handle the rudeness of some Uber passengers.

In one memorable instance, the CEO found himself ignoring frantic phone calls from his chief legal officer who was trying to alert him about a hacker that had breached Uber’s network.

ALSO READ: App alert: Did you scream at your gig worker?

Uber had hired Expedia Inc top boss Dara Khosrowshahi in 2017. In the ensuing years, the executive has been credited with mending the company’s image, repairing frayed relations among investors and improving finances.

Project Boomerang – the latest experiment in the CEO’s yearslong journey to reinvent driving on Uber – faces a slew of challenges in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The US economy reopened in 2021 amidst a debilitating labor shortage, with ridehailing companies scrambling to onboard drivers. Uber eventually realised that the solution lay in offering bonuses and making some difficult changes that drivers had long sought.

According to consumer receipts analyzed by market-research firm YipitData, Uber’s ride-share revenue skyrocketed by over 100% in 2022, with the company achieved its first-ever full-year adjusted profit since its inception. Uber’s dominance in the US ride-share market has surged to 74% – an increase from 62% at the beginning of 2020.



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