Home/ Companies / Start-ups/  Company culture, customer safety top priorities: Uber CEO

San Francisco: Fixing corporate culture and ensuring customer safety are top priorities for Uber, said Dara Khosrowshahi, who joined the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company as chief executive just over a year ago.

“As I think about my second year, making sure that we culturally build the company that we can be proud of is a priority. And that is not just externally in terms of how the outside world views us, but also internally. That is the biggest priority internally," said Khosrowshahi at a fireside chat at Dreamforce 2018, a technology conference organized by Salesforce Inc.

Khosrowshahi was named CEO last year after Uber founder Travis Kalanick was ousted by investors in June following several scandals, internal and external.

“We have been busy fighting the external battles, putting the management team together, (so) I don’t think we have done quite enough internally, looking at culture and diversity in all aspects, at all levels of the company," he said.

Khosrowshahi said the company has made progress in its recruitment and appraisals, from a diversity and culture viewpoint.

“Diversity and culture, for me, both go hand in hand. We are making progress. For the first time, we have tools on how we measure promotions. We have done a great job on the recruitment side, ensuring that we recruit a diverse workforce," he said, adding that the the company’s next focus will be on development and retention of talent.

According to the Uber CEO, safety is another big priority.

“Platform tech companies have had a problem. You can say there are good people and bad people in the world and if they do good or bad things in the car, it’s not our fault. Tech companies are learning that’s just not good enough," he said.

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Ola, in India, have been accused of multiple cases of sexual violence by cab drivers over the years.

“If we are building this mobility platform, which goes beyond cars, now it’s also scooters and bikes, pool, flying taxis one day, we should do everything that we can in order to optimize the platform so that it is as safe as possible," said Khosrowshahi.

Uber is running pilots to encourage use of green mobility, such as electric and hybrid vehicles, he said.

“London is an area we are looking at, where we are looking to help driver partners, maybe by financing hybrid or electric vehicles to move in that direction. We are also running a pilot in Germany, where we are trying to see if riders are willing to have a higher ETA (expected time of arrival) to get a green car. We are going to see the patterns there and if they work then, we will replicate it across the globe," he said.

“We are making some of these bets in some cities, and we will see if our driver partners onboard, the riders onboard," he said.

The writer was in San Francisco at Salesforce’s invitation.

Swaraj Singh Dhanjal
" Based in Mumbai, Swaraj Singh Dhanjal is responsible for Mint’s corporate news coverage. For the past eight years he has been writing on the biggest deals in private equity, venture capital, IPO market and corporate mergers and acquisitions. An engineer and an MBA, he started his journalism career in 2014 with Mint. "
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Updated: 02 Oct 2018, 01:58 AM IST
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