Uber CEO Delivers for a Day

Recently, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi decided to go online and do some Uber Eats deliveries. Many headlines seemed to over exaggerate what his venture revealed about earnings for delivery drivers. One said, “UberEats CEO accidentally reveals drivers make less than minimum wage through tweets.

I feel this is an exaggeration because the earnings he’d made were around $30 an hour for the 3.5 hours he’d been actively delivering. $30 is well above minimum wage. If you count all the time he was “out” there delivering, it would bring his average down to about $19 an hour. That is still a reasonable rate above minimum wage ($16.07 is San Francisco’s minimum wage).

However, just because these headlines were a bit exaggerated, it doesn’t mean that the average driver makes more than minimum wage. It also doesn’t mean that Uber shouldn’t do better by their drivers.

Several factors contribute to driver earnings. One variable is the market. Another variable is expenses. Dara was shown delivering on his bike, which has significantly fewer and less expensive maintenance needs than the average car.

And, of course, one big factor is tips. A large portion of a delivery driver’s earnings is determined by how much they get in tips.

Driver’s Reactions

The reactions of delivery drivers online were varied. They ranged from praising Dara for going out and seeing what it’s really like for drivers to being upset that the millionaire might take his earnings from a few hours to determine a new, lower pay scale for drivers.

One thing that kept coming up is the difference in markets. Dara was delivering in San Francisco, while several drivers across the country work in smaller markets that also have a lower minimum wage.

On Reddit, one person commented, “I’m in Tennessee and the minimum wage here is $7.25/hr so I’m perfectly happy with $19/hr, although I usually make $20-25/hr. Really it depends on where you live whether UberEats is a good wage or not, here it’s excellent. I have no complaints at all.”

Others mentioned that doing this gig in small-town America is difficult and can’t earn you the minimum wage after expenses and depreciation.

Several of our readers on YouTube mentioned something along the lines of, “You can’t tell me those numbers weren’t rigged just for him to look good on that specific day the fix is in.”

Many others pointed out that doing this gig for one day for a few hours is not enough to really know what it’s like.

Someone else on YouTube mentioned, “Dara should have done it for a full week, 6-10 hours day, as well as drive UberX, as should the others in the office at corporate who keep doing the bait & switch with the system. A few hours in one day just can’t give them a realistic picture of all the various experiences, factors, unexpected issues, and customer encounters that play into the work.”

They went on to say that it’s a slap in the face to actual delivery drivers to pretend like going out there for one day is enough experience to walk in their shoes.

Others still wanted to see what Dara’s acceptance rate was. His earnings per order seemed higher than typical. One asked, “He didn’t get any reg fast food orders like McDonald’s? The $4 orders etc?”

Dara’s earnings breakdown


And finally, drivers viewed this action as more of a PR stunt than anything.

One person stated, “Definitely a PR move to try to deflect from the negative press around driver pay recently. He must think everyone is stupid.”

Final Thoughts

Delivery drivers should be earning over minimum wage before you take tips into consideration. The fact that drivers have to rely on tips to make enough to make the gig worthwhile is ridiculous. Drivers shouldn’t have to deliver by bike (and many can’t) in order to bring down expenses and therefore ‘make’ more.

I agree with many of the drivers who think this was more of a PR stunt than anything. Dara didn’t prove anything by doing what he did and, technically, that’s about $100 that other delivery drivers in the area didn’t receive because a millionaire decided to give delivering food on his own app a try.

Drivers, what do you think about Uber’s CEO driving for Uber Eats for one day? Was it good for him to see what it’s like for delivery drivers, or do you think it was all an unnecessary stunt?

-Paula @ RSG