- Uber and Lyft are facing increased pressure from drivers after continued pay cuts.
- Amid a strike in Los Angeles and protests at Lyft’s IPO meeting in San Francisco, an Uber employee penned an anonymous op-ed supporting drivers.
- “We will not stand by as those that work at the heart of our business are attacked and exploited,” the essay reads.
As Uber races toward an IPO – one that could be the biggest in history – its continued growth depends on keeping its more than two million drivers happy.
That’s what one anonymous employee explained in an anonymous blog post published on Medium on Wednesday, days after ride-hailing drivers went on strike in Los Angeles and others protested Lyft’s investor meeting in San Francisco.
“As an employee at the world’s leading ride-share company, I see firsthand not only the often meager earnings of our drivers, but also the exploitative labour practices imposed on a systemically disempowered workforce,” the employee wrote.
Business Insider has not confirmed the identity of the author, but Medium’s editors say it has been verified.
“Our drivers are the backbone of the platform,” the op-ed continues. “Without them - as these courageous strikes have demonstrated - our business would come to a standstill. For this reason, we will not stand by as those that work at the heart of our business are attacked and exploited.”
Uber did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
If driver’s aren’t happy, nobody’s happy
An overwhelming majority of drivers work for multiple platforms, including both Uber and Lyft. In its IPO filing ahead of the stock’s trading debut on Friday, Lyft warned that its ability to recruit and retain drivers was key to its continued success.
“If we fail to cost-effectively attract and retain qualified drivers, or to increase utilization of our platform by existing drivers, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be harmed,” the company warned.
Uber, meanwhile, has not yet publicly disclosed its IPO documents, which were confidentially filed in December.Still, given the direct competition and business similarities of the two companies, it’s fair to assume Uber might warn of similar issues when its filing becomes public.
Echoes of Uber’s past
It’s not the first time an employee essay has come out of the notoriously secret company. In 2017, a blog post published by Susan Fowler Rigetti, then an engineer at Uber, set into motion a wave of change at the startup.
Her viral blog post, titled “Reflecting on one very, very strange year at Uber,” described rampant sexual misconduct at Uber. It accused human resources of looking the other way as managers were accused of hitting on employees. More generally, she described a culture of sexism at the company, writing of one time when the company had bought leather jackets for only the male employees on her team of engineers.
Eventually, the resulting investigation from the exposé would see founder Travis Kalanick removed from his post as CEO alongside 20 other firings, as well as the installation of current chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi installed for damage control.
“While ride-share executives continue to receive vast remuneration packages, and internal employees look forward to an IPO windfall at both Uber and Lyft, my sympathetic colleagues and I will not remain silent as drivers are squeezed in order to shore up initial offerings to investors,” the op-ed reads.
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