- The Uber CEO became a moonlit driver last September to better understand why recruiting was a problem.
- Dara Khosrowshahi told the Wall Street Journal that she encountered problems that discouraged motorists.
- He also found that some passengers were rude and acted as if they were alone in the car.
The Uber CEO moonlighted as a driver to find out why the company was struggling to recruit more drivers. He was surprised to find out how many problems there were – and how obnoxious some riders could be.
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, told the Wall Street Journal that he secretly signed up as a driver in September last year to better understand the experience of Uber employees amid a recruitment slowdown.
The company has traditionally focused on the driver experience, but it also said it must also win the “hearts and minds” of drivers to stay ahead of rivals such as Lyft.
He bought a used Tesla Model Y to ferry passengers around San Francisco and make deliveries under the alias “Dave K”.
Although several operational issues made using the application difficult, the behavior of some customers unpleasantly surprised Khosrowshahi.
The Journal reported that certain experiences — such as passengers discussing personal issues or confidential company information as if they were the only people in the car — made him feel slighted.
When Khosrowshahi made food deliveries using an e-bike, he often encountered a practice called ‘tip-baiting’, where customers lure a courier with a large tip when they place the order, before slashing it. after delivery.
Another passenger who recognized the CEO from one of his Uber shifts asked him for advice on his startup.
Khosrowshahi told the Journal he had a five-star rating for the nearly 100 trips and deliveries he had made in the city.
However, he said he would go to bed anxious to maintain his perfect grade the next day.
Khosrowshahi said he would try to keep customers happy by giving them charging cables and creating Spotify playlists featuring artists such as Taylor Swift and The National.
Five Uber drivers recently interviewed by Insider said they frequently encountered rudeness, no tipping, late arrivals and requests for stops at drive-thru or convenience stores.
Khosrowshahi’s moonlighting was part of a larger operation called “Project Boomerang” which aimed to bring more drivers back to the app.
The findings prompted Uber to create a one-time registration for rides and deliveries, to let drivers see drop-off locations before pick-up, and to give drivers hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses.
Khosrowshahi told the Journal that some drivers had returned in response to economic uncertainty, which at the time was not impacting driver demand.