Uber’s CEO assures: “Time savings will be a powerful engine in the economy of the future”
On January 18, an agreement was signed between representatives of drivers and VTC platforms, including Uber. Are you satisfied?
Yes, because it symbolizes the success of a new model based on dialogue and compromise. In France, drivers are unhappy with the lowest fares for short journeys. The solution was to have a minimum income of 7.65 euros. We will therefore increase our low price on the customer side to almost €10.20. It is important to reach this agreement. Because we want to strengthen the appeal of Uber so that more drivers join us.
Do you miss France?
We could have 10,000 more drivers and they would make a good living. But regulatory requirements remain very complex. Too many. I am sorry that they are preventing those who want to become drivers. We are strengthening social protection, including this minimum income, while maintaining considerable operational flexibility in times of inflation: 76% of new drivers say this played a role in their decision. We hope to continue the dialogue with the French government.
Our reputation is growing thanks to the work done in the field
You mention the appeal of your platform, but Uber’s image remains negative. Why?
Perception always lags behind reality. In good as in bad. Since joining Uber in 2017, we’ve lived by our motto: “Do the right thing. Period “. We have changed the way we work. We communicate with legislators and governments. Our success depends on the satisfaction of drivers and suppliers, depends on their performance. And dialogue with governments, legislators, stakeholders – not just investors. Sometimes on Friday nights, after a week of work, some of our hard work is not appreciated. I get nervous thinking about it.But thanks to the work done on the ground, our reputation is rising.
Where do you stand on labor law issues in Europe?
We are the world’s largest business platform. More than 5 million people in the world earn bread with us; 1 million in Europe. Today, we are subject to conflicting legal decisions, including in France. We will file an appeal against the decision of “Lion”. Social agreements like the one signed this week will ultimately clarify the framework and bring more stability. The first sentence I hear from every group of drivers I meet is, “You know, I work for Uber, not Uber. They want their voices to be heard. To be able to choose according to their needs. Do they want to work in the morning? evening ? do you take a break in the middle of the day? Combining independence and flexibility with social protections is the best way. But the road can be bumpy. We will not build it alone.
Also Read – What is Uber?
Some drivers complain about their prices…
All flexibility has a cost. If the driver only wants to work in the middle of the day or stay outside the city, he probably won’t optimize his income, since evenings and nights are the most profitable hours. All compromises are difficult. At Uber, most of these discounts are market-based. We cannot control when people want to eat or go home. It’s a shame because rush hour is so inefficient for society.
France is the first country where the platform is established after its creation in the United States. Where is the action?
France is the main market. I would be very happy if there were more countries like France in the world. And I’m not just talking about his 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 are a leader in these two segments. Unfortunately, Paris has more weight in the French market than London in the UK market: Manchester alone represents more racing volume than all French cities combined – except Paris.
We believe in the ability of our technology to coordinate transportation requirements
Is Uber still banned in some cities?
That time is over. Today we are in almost every city where action is possible. In Spain we mainly work with VTC, but we also work with taxis, as in Italy, Germany, Turkey and other countries.
Quite paradoxical compared to your original model?
Some see this as a certain irony of history. But I think taxi services around the world have improved with technology. And to some extent thanks to competition from Uber. We believe in the ability of our technology not to limit transportation requests to the classic Uber model, but to extend it to all possibilities.
What were the consequences of the pandemic for the company?
Our mobility business lost 80% of its volume almost overnight. By luck or intuition, we probably both invested heavily in our delivery business, the profitability of which has led to many doubts. If mobility has decreased, the demand for delivery has increased. Therefore, 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 obvious?
Although I’m crossing my fingers as we face numerous economic uncertainties, the times are quite favorable for us. Our free cash flow in the third quarter of 2022 was $358 million. We believe that profitability is visible at the beginning of this year.
In France, particularly in Paris, the goal is to have diesel-powered cars by the end of next year.
When you arrived, did you doubt you could make it?
Yes. I took this job because Uber is a global brand and service trusted by hundreds of millions of people. These two assets allowed me to lead the company to the horizon where profitability is possible with the help of highly motivated teams.
Has inflation, and therefore your price increases, scared off some customers?
We saw what consumers were willing to pay, and it surprised me. In Q3 2022, our total orders increased 26% year over year. Some of this is due to inflation, but volumes remain high. The consumer obviously doesn’t appreciate these increases, but inflation is something we all live with every day and unfortunately get used to…
When will the Uber fleet be electric?
We are committed to going all-electric in the US, Canada and Europe by 2030. And in the world until 2040. In France, particularly in Paris, the goal is to have diesel-powered cars by the end of next year. We will only be able to achieve this if the rules of the game are the same for everyone and competing platforms follow them. In San Francisco, I drive a Tesla, including when I drive passengers as an Uber driver. Our customers love it, even if they sometimes need help opening the door! But electric cars remain luxury products. They should become affordable consumer products.
Driving an Uber is the professional challenge of a lifetime
You are sometimes criticized for promoting a “lazy economy”, especially in regards to delivery. Is this fair?
I think consumers value their time more and more. To the extent that you offer services that can save time, consumers are willing to pay. Another advantage of home delivery is that it helps small and medium businesses that can operate on our platform, especially those that cannot hire their own drivers and delivery staff. But I understand this criticism. During the pandemic, I myself delivered meals with Uber Eats on my electric bike in San Francisco, including to buildings three blocks away from the restaurant, wondering if the customer might be there. take a walk… But this little neighborhood restaurant won over the customer. it could not be otherwise. Saving time will be a powerful engine in the economy of the future.
Have you changed since you took over at Uber?
Driving an Uber is the professional challenge of a lifetime. Many, many moments have not been easy. But those were the happiest years of my career. I generally did not understand the importance of companies to society and the responsibility that comes with it. I have since learned that taking care of our customers, drivers and delivery people and working with governments in compliance with regulations is key. Finding that balance and understanding our impact has been a big challenge for me.
What is a typical day like?
I am an early riser. I wake up every morning at 5:15. I read a little, exercise a little – it keeps me sane. And then I go to work. And I usually have a busy day. My rule is that my family and I have a phone-free dinner whenever possible, usually at 6 p.m. And then I work again. I usually say my personal life is pretty boring, but my professional life is exciting!