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How do Uber drivers feel now that Travis Kalanick is gone?

Ben Johnson and Kristin Schwab Jun 27, 2017
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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick speaks onstage during an event at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco, California last October.
Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Uber’s company culture could change with the departure of CEO Travis Kalanick. But it’s unclear if its rider culture already has. Kalanick’s resignation and Uber’s continued investment in self-driving cars will bring significant shifts to the industry, impacting how passengers hail a ride.

But the people most affected by these issues in the short term are, perhaps, Uber drivers. How much has Kalanick’s departure changed their work satisfaction and customer base? We spoke with Harry Campbell, an Uber and Lyft driver who blogs at The Rideshare Guy, about how drivers feel about Kalanick leaving, and if they’re worried about being replaced by self-driving cars. Below is an edited excerpt from the interview:

Harry Campbell: I think that there’s definitely a huge connection between Uber adding the tipping option no more than a week after the CEO took a break and then resigned. I think a lot of drivers felt that this CEO was at the root of their satisfaction, whether it was the policies he was putting in place or even the comments he was making in the media. And you could imagine that for drivers, it’s not exactly what you want to hear from the head boss at your company.

Ben Johnson: Even if Travis Kalanick is gone and Uber is still working on self-driving cars, how do you feel long term about drivers’ futures with Uber?

Campbell: Honestly a lot of drivers are more concerned with the short term. They’re thinking about their day-to-day. How do I pay the bill at the end of the week or how do I pay the bills at the end of the month? At some point in the future it may be human drivers competing with self-driving cars. But I think even then, as self-driving cars get into the arena, it’s gonna lower the cost of transportation for everyone. And even more people are going to be taking ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, which could mean drivers might have jobs for longer than they think, at least while the self-driving cars scale up their fleet.

Johnson: Do you feel like people are still working for Uber in the same volumes?

Campbell: Yeah, definitely. I would love to say that passengers are not taking Uber as much because of these ethical problems and the turmoil that Uber has had. But we really haven’t seen that. Drivers are still getting just as many rides, if not more. More passengers are definitely getting into the car and saying, ‘Hey, so what do you think about Uber’s CEO or now former CEO?’ But at the same time, they’re still calling Ubers. They might see what’s going on at the company and be aware of these issues. But they’re not ever chatting with the CEO. They’re chatting with the driver and they can still call for a ride with their smartphone. 

Click on the audio player above to hear the full interview.

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