Tuesday 17 October 2017

Uber to allow driver tips as Kalanick resigns

Co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned from Uber
Co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned from Uber

Uber is to allow drivers to collect tips through its smartphone app, an about-face from previous company policy, as part of the firm's broader effort to improve an often-contentious relationship.

The company had for years opposed adding a tipping feature to its app despite drivers' arguments the extra money would help compensate for decreasing wages. The issue had been a long-standing source of disagreement between Uber and its drivers.

In Ireland, Uber drivers are regulated as traditional taxi drivers, resulting in the service having little usage here.

Uber has also rolled out other changes, including paying drivers while they wait for passengers and reducing the time passengers have to cancel a ride, as it begins a six-month push to improve drivers' working conditions.

The privately held company is valued by investors at over €60bn.

In March, Uber executives outlined a series of improvements for drivers, including a new navigation system and fairer approach to reviewing driver performance, in response to years of complaints by drivers about their pay and treatment.

The changes come as Uber works to repair the damage to its reputation following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, bullying and other employee concerns. CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick resigned on Tuesday under mounting pressure from investors over his leadership.

Kalanick's departure caps a tumultuous period for the world's largest taxi-services company, which upended the taxi industry and transportation regulations globally with Kalanick at the helm.

"I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors' request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight," Kalanick said in a statement first reported by the 'New York Times' and verified by an Uber spokesman.

Kalanick, 40, has faced increased scrutiny in recent weeks following an investigation into the culture and workplace practices at a company he helped start in 2009 and is now the world's most highly valued startup.

But it was a chorus of demands for changes at the top from some of Uber's biggest investors that ultimately forced Kalanick out, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Venture capital firm Benchmark, whose partner Bill Gurley is one of Uber's largest shareholders and sits on its board, as well as investors First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Menlo Ventures and Fidelity Investments, all pressed Kalanick to quit.

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