RSG140: Dara Khosrowshahi on Uber’s Third Way

Uber has always considered that classifying drivers as employees is an existential threat to the company. When Uber doesn’t want to do something, they fight to keep it from happening. We’re seeing that right now in the employee vs. independent contractor debate, and recently Uber released a proposal highlighting steps they will take and steps they’re asking governments to take to ensure Uber can provide more benefits to drivers while keeping them as independent contractors.

Today, we’re speaking to the man behind it all: Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. We will chat about his recent op-ed in the New York Times about what some are calling ‘Uber’s Third Way’, the proposals made in the op-ed, Uber’s new benefits fund and more.

Make sure to head on over to our video interview with Dara Khosrowshahi on YouTube here, subscribe and turn on notifications so you can get alerts about news like this and more!

You can also watch our recap of my interview here: Recap of My Interview With Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

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Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi: Uber’s Op-Ed and Proposals

  • Employment system we have to today is creating have and have-nots
  • Uber and other gig companies have created new ways to work: earn whenever you want, where ever you want
  • Employment laws have not kept pace
  • Right now, the employee vs IC debate is too black and white

Employee Benefits Fund

  • Why not offer these benefits right now?
  • Uber would look more like an employer
  • Want to create a level playing field – other gig companies should do this, too
  • Opportunity to create portable benefits packages

Funding the Employee Benefits Fund

  • It’s an option but overall goal is to change the model of employment
  • Benefits overall need to evolve at a government level
  • The amount decided upon is a start, not a finish
  • Rates will go up in order to pay for these benefits

Why Not Support a Minimum Wage?

  • Minimum earnings standard
  • Minimum earnings can be a disincentive in some places, would have punished some drivers
  • Long-term incentives are aligned
  • During high demand periods, need more drivers – need to do a better job of helping drivers know when, where to drive
  • NYC example – felt unfair to a lot of drivers

Protecting ICs from Discrimination

  • These are basic protections for all drivers
  • Discrimination in any form – not tolerated and should be addressed
  • Encouraging drivers to vote
  • One of the proposals Uber is most proud of

Drivers and COVID

  • Drivers are out there, risking their lives. What do you say to them?
  • Drivers and delivery people are keeping the system running
  • Want to recognize that independent work is important to society
  • ICs should receive benefits and the laws are preventing that – trying to change that


  • Big thanks to Dara for coming on the podcast and for sharing his candid thoughts on everything that’s going on
  • This is a starting point, which Dara made clear
  • It’s no secret Uber is facing a lot of legal challenges, and it’s not looking good for them. Uber recognizes this
  • Experts say switching ICs to employees would cost an additional 30% – this would be an existential threat
  • Uber doesn’t have a lot of negotiating power here – 5% is not going to be enough
  • Need for collective bargaining

Watch my full interview with Uber’s CEO here: My Interview With Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

Show Notes