One of the toughest parts about studying a company like Uber is variability – driver experience, pay, satisfaction, etc. all vary greatly depending on which drivers you talk to. This means you’d have to talk to a wide variety of drivers to really get a pulse on what they’re thinking. In this episode, we talk to someone who did just that, and we’ll get a deeper understanding of the way platforms like Uber and Lyft engage with workers.

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    If you’d like to read a transcript of this podcast, please click here.


    • Today I’m chatting with Alex Rosenblat, a returning guest on RSG and author of the book Uberland
    • Alex has been researching and interviewing hundreds of drivers over the last 5 years, about as long as RSG has existed, which is rare in this industry
    • Alex does a great job of covering the issues surrounding Uber and Lyft, highlighting and explaining them to the general public (and drivers)
    • Stick around because we’re doing a giveaway of the book!
    • Get your first audiobook FREE when you sign up with a 30 day trial of Audible! Sign up with Audible using our link to receive your first audiobook free here.

    Interview with Alex Rosenblat

    • Alex Rosenblat is a technology ethnographer and the author of Uberland: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Rules of Work.
    • She’s also a researcher at the Data & Society Research Institute
    • Spoke with 1000s of drivers over the course of writing the book: one driver in particular, Fernando, stuck out to her – he became really jaded as a driver
    • Common for some of the drivers Alex interviewed

    Expectations and Realities of Being an Uber/Lyft Driver

    • Many drivers don’t understand their actual pay – take home pay after car expenses, after taxes, etc.
    • Good job/bad job comparison – might make $10-14/hr, but the flexibility is why many drivers still prefer rideshare driving to working at a fast food job
    • Rideshare driving is like running a business – but this can be a shock to many drivers

    Driver Classification Lawsuits

    • The misclassification of drivers as independent contractors discussion (and lawsuits) have been going around for years, lawsuits filed around the world
    • Political will is beginning to change (NYC)
    • Tech backlash

    Uber’s Influence

    • While the number of people who drive for Uber is very low, Uber’s impact on culture has been incredible
    • Driving is very accessible, easy to get started
    • Volatile, but also a good opportunity for people who need money quickly or need a job with flexibility
    • Cultural idea of the value of innovation – like other tech companies (Facebook, Google, etc.)

    Gamification and Manipulation of Drivers

    • Uber/Lyft are tech companies – constantly adjusting settings to see what works best for them and for customers
    • Upfront pricing – information asymmetry
    • AI “boss” even though Uber/Lyft says “be your own boss”

    Improving Driver Conditions – And Pay?

    • No jobs out there that offer the flexibility that Uber/Lyft do – but this doesn’t mean the way they tweak the algorithms doesn’t affect people (seems to take away some of that flexibility)
    • Improving customer service for drivers – communication often online and robotic
    • Much of the improvements Uber/Lyft have done have been on the customer side
    • Drivers want to feel the companies have their backs


    • Big thanks to Alex for coming on the podcast, be sure to check out our interview with her before (below in show notes) plus her writing around the web
    • Interested in winning your copy of Uberland? To enter, leave a review of The Rideshare Guy podcast! Then email with a screenshot of your review. The first 6 people to email me their review of the podcast will win a copy of Uberland

    Show Notes

    If you’d like to read a transcript of this podcast, please click here.

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    -Harry @ RSG

    Harry Campbell

    Harry Campbell

    I'm Harry, the owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast. I used to be a full-time engineer but now I'm a rideshare blogger! I write about my experience driving for Uber, Lyft, and other services and my goal is to help drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder.