“Time savings will be a powerful engine in the economy of the future,” says Uber’s CEO


On January 18, an agreement was signed between representatives of drivers and VTC platforms, including Uber. Does it satisfy you?
Yes, because it symbolizes the success of a new model, based on dialogue and compromise. In France, drivers were not satisfied with lower fares for short journeys. The solution was to reach a minimum income of 7.65 euros. Therefore, we will increase our flat price on the customer side, up to almost 10.20 euros. Reaching this agreement is essential. Because we want to strengthen the appeal of Uber, so that more drivers will join us.

Do you miss France?
We could have 10,000 more drivers, and they would make a good living. But the regulatory requirements remain very complex. Too. I regret that they prevent those who want to become drivers. We are strengthening social protections, including this minimum income, while maintaining the flexibility of the activity, appreciable in times of inflation: 76% of new drivers say it played a role in their decision. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with the French government.

Our reputation is enhanced by working in the field

You mention the appeal of your platform, but Uber’s image remains negative. Because ?
Perception always lags behind reality. In the good as in the bad. Since joining Uber in 2017, we’ve lived by our motto: “Do what’s right. Period.” We have changed our modus operandi. We engage with legislators and governments. Our success depends on the satisfaction of drivers and delivery people, linked to their activity. And dialogue with governments, legislators, stakeholders, beyond investors. Sometimes I get frustrated on Friday nights, after a week of work, thinking that some of our efforts are not being appreciated. But our reputation is enhanced by the work on the ground.

Where do you stand on employment law issues in Europe?
We are the largest job platform in the world. More than 5 million people make a living with us around the world; 1 million in Europe. Today, we are subject to conflicting legal decisions, even in France. We will appeal the decision of Lyon. Social agreements like the one signed this week will finally clarify the framework and bring more stability. The first sentence I hear from every group of drivers I meet is, “You know, I don’t work for Uber, I work with Uber. They want their voice to be heard. Be able to choose according to your needs. Do they want to work in the morning? the evening ? take a break in the middle of the day? Combining independence and flexibility with social protections is the way forward. But the road can be bumpy. We will not build it alone.

Also Read – What is Uber?

Some drivers complain about their notes…
All flexibility comes at a cost. If a driver wants to work only half a day or stay on the outskirts of a city, he will probably not optimize his income, since evenings and nights are the most profitable hours. All commitments are difficult. At Uber, most of these compensations are market-driven. We can’t control when people want to eat or when they want to go home. It’s a shame, because rush hour is very inefficient for the community.

France is the first country where the platform was established after its creation in the United States. Where is the activity?
France is a key market. If we had more countries like France in the world, I would be very happy. And I’m not just talking about their football results! What sets us apart from our competitors is our number one position in both the on-demand passenger transportation market and the food delivery market. In France, we occupy a leading position in these two segments. My gripe is that Paris weighs far more heavily in the French market than London does in the UK: Manchester alone accounts for a higher volume of runs than all the cities in France combined, excluding Paris.

We believe in the ability of our technology to connect transportation demands

Is Uber still banned in some cities?
That time is over. Currently, we are present in almost all cities where the activity is viable. In Spain we mostly operate with VTC, but also with taxis, as in Italy, Germany, Turkey and other countries.

Is it quite paradoxical, compared to your initial model?
Some see it as a certain irony of history. But I think taxi services around the world have improved with technology. And, to some extent, also thanks to competition from Uber. We believe in the ability of our technology to connect transport requests, not limiting them to the classic Uber model, but extending it to all possibilities.

What have been the consequences of the pandemic for the company?
Our mobility business lost 80% of its volume almost overnight. By luck or intuition, probably both, we had invested heavily in our delivery business, the profitability of which raised many doubts. If mobility has plummeted, demand for deliveries has increased. So, we were able to withstand the health crisis, even if we had to make the difficult choice to reduce the workforce by 25%.

Is profitability in sight?
Faced with multiple economic uncertainties, the period is rather favorable for us, although I’m crossing my fingers to say so. Our free cash flow was $358 million in the third quarter of 2022. We believe that profitability is in sight from this year.

In France, especially in Paris, the aim is to stop having diesel vehicles at the end of next year.

Did you doubt you could make it when you arrived?
Yes. I took this job because Uber is a global brand and a service trusted by hundreds of millions of people. These two assets have given me the opportunity, with the help of highly motivated teams, to lead the company towards a horizon where profitability is possible.

Has inflation, and therefore increasing your prices, scared off some customers?
We found, and I was surprised, that consumers are willing to pay. Our 3Q 2022 gross bookings were up 26% year over year. Some of it is due to inflation, but volumes remain high. The consumer obviously does not appreciate these increases, but inflation is a phenomenon that we all experience daily and to which, unfortunately, we get used to…

When will Uber’s vehicle fleet be electric?
We are committed to going all-electric in the United States, Canada and Europe by 2030. And by 2040 worldwide. In France, especially in Paris, the aim is to stop having diesel vehicles at the end of next year. We can only achieve this if the rules of the game are the same for everyone and if the competing platforms also commit to it. In San Francisco, I drive a Tesla, including when I drive passengers as an Uber driver. Our customers love it, although sometimes they need help opening the door! But electric cars are still luxury goods. They must become affordable consumer products.

Running Uber is the professional challenge of a lifetime

You are sometimes criticized, especially in terms of deliveries, for encouraging a “lazy economy”. Is it justified?
I think consumers value their time more and more. As long as it offers services that can save time, consumers are willing to pay. The other advantage of home delivery is that it helps the small and medium businesses that can operate on our platform, especially those that cannot afford to hire their own drivers and delivery people. But I understand this criticism. During the pandemic, I myself have delivered Uber Eats meals on my e-bike in San Francisco, even to buildings three blocks away from the restaurant, wondering if the customer could have walked there… But this little restaurant neighborhood has won a customer. I might not have had it any other way. Saving time will be a powerful driver in the economy of the future.

Have you changed since your arrival at the head of Uber?
Running Uber is the professional challenge of a lifetime. Many, many moments have not been easy. But those were the most fulfilling years of my career. I hadn’t really understood the importance of business to society at large and the responsibility that comes with it. Since then, I have learned that it is critical to take care of our customers, drivers and delivery people and to work with governments by following the rules. Finding that balance and understanding our impact has been a big challenge for me.

What is a typical day like?
I’m an early riser. I get up at 5:15 am every morning. I read a little, exercise a little, which keeps me sane. And then I go to work. And I usually have a busy day. My rule is to have dinner with my family without a phone whenever possible, usually at 6pm. And then I go back to work. I usually say that my personal life is pretty boring, but my professional life, exciting!

Source : Le JDD

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