Just the Tip – Uber’s Kalanick Out, Tipping In

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The big news coming out of Uber keeps coming.  And coming.  And still coming.

Last week it was CEO Travis Kalanick’s leave of absence (which came on the heels of a special investigation of the rampant cultural problems at the tech company).  That was closely followed by a resignation after inappropriate commentary by a board member.

The ridesharing innovator has been unable to retain key leadership.  Or keep drivers happy.  And they’ve not exactly been popular with their Silicon Valley peers either.

Leadership Changes Solidified

So it came as a surprise to absolutely no one when CEO Travis Kalanick announced overnight that he’d be stepping down as CEO of the company he founded.  Investors were unhappy and a leave of absence did little to satisfy questions whether the company could reinvent their culture.  Kalanick will reportedly remain on the board of directors, but given the disruption at the last board meeting that resulted in an ouster of a member, his voice there may be diminished as well.

uber-ceo

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is caught on dashcam while arguing with his Uber driver earlier this year.

Kalanick’s departure leaves the C-suite at Uber largely empty.  The company is now without a CEO, COO, CFO, or CMO.  As well, several other executives have departed Uber in 2017.

Meanwhile the Silicon Valley rumor mill has Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg topping the list of possible candidates to replace Kalanick.  Sandberg has proven to be successful at stepping into the shoes of a founder with a big personality.  Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer is rumored to be another possible female candidate to lead the revitalization.

Tipping Rolls Out

While the executive suite shuffles, driver retention is a key concern.  Uber announced on Tuesday that it would now allow in-app tipping for drivers, a practice that it had long opposed.  And outside the normal spirit of Uber taking it’s cut, tips will be 100% payable to drivers.

Tipping is currently active in the Houston, Minneapolis, and Seattle markets and will be rolled out platform-wide in the coming weeks.  Uber typically beta tests changes to the driver and passenger interface in limited markets before rolling them out widely.  Thus this follows typical Uber processes.

Reactions from others on the tipping policy has been mixed – several other bloggers have noted that they begrudgingly accept the change.  As a former Uber driver, I’m more than enthusiastic about the opportunity to tip within the app.  I generally will tip good Uber drivers now although I often end up over-tipping due to not having small bills.  At least now I’ll be able to turn in my tips on my expense reports, something I didn’t do with cash tips.

The silver lining for opponents of the new tipping policy is that passenger ratings will now level out or improve.  While some drivers had a policy of down-rating passengers who did not tip, now that won’t likely happen.  The reason?  Drivers must rate their most recent passenger before they can see the fare invoice for the ride they have completed.  So no risk of peeking before rating at least ends that driver behavior.

It’s just the tip… but at least it is a start.


About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last eighteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 48.5 US states. Although she averages 200 days a year on the road, she loves to return to “the homestead” in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and cocktail mixology.

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