Weekly Round-Up: Instacart Slashes Shopper Pay From $7 to $4

The news is hopping this week with Instacart slashing shopper pay and Uber’s CEO seeming surprised at how much a 2.95-mile ride costs one rider while also explaining it away as “surge pricing.”

Instacart Shoppers Say They’d Rather Quit And Work For McDonald’s Or DoorDash After The Company Slashed Their Minimum Order Pay From $7 To $4


Some Instacart workers are questioning whether shopping in a store, standing in a checkout line, and driving to customers’ houses is worth it after the company cut their pay, according to social media posts, emails, and interviews with five workers.

Last week, Instacart started paying its gig workers as little as $4 in base pay per order, Insider reported on Monday. Previously, the company paid at least $7. Base pay is an amount that Instacart shoppers and drivers are guaranteed to make if they accept an order, though they can earn more from customer tips.

Many shoppers are concluding that working for Instacart probably isn’t worth it anymore.

Instacart’s chief product officer Daniel Danker told Insider that the company pays “guaranteed batch earnings that are 2x higher than other app-based companies.”

My Take

It’s a slap in the face to shoppers everywhere when pay gets slashed almost in half. While what the chief Product Officer in that last quote said may be true, the fact is these people are driving to the grocery store, actively shopping the order, troubleshooting any issues that arise in the store (such as unavailable items, replacements, etc.) and then driving to the customer to deliver the order.

And now they are only going to make a minimum of $4? That’s insane to me.

Driver/shopper pay is already low across the country when you look at all apps compared to when the rideshare boom happened years ago. People used to be able to do this as their primary, full-time gig, and now it’s a way to supplement pay. With slashing the payouts, it may become obsolete for many people. They won’t be able to justify continuing to work for these services if they aren’t paid enough to cover basic expenses, let alone earn anything above that.

Instacart Shoppers debate working elsewhere after minimum order pay cuts
Instacart Shoppers debate working elsewhere after minimum order pay cuts

Uber’s CEO Says He’ll Always Find a Reason to Say His Company Sucks


FIFTY-ONE DOLLARS AND 69 cents. That was the charge, including tip, for the 2.95-mile trip I took last May from my downtown New York City apartment to the West Side facility where Uber was holding its annual product event called Go-Get. The ride-hailing company’s charges have been higher in recent years and fluctuate, but that was nuts.

As Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi knows, high rates are one consequence of trying to run his company as an actual business instead of a scorched-earth feral growth machine. His predecessor, Travis Kalanick, had built an enormous, enthusiastic user base by subsidizing rides with the company’s vast reservoir of VC funding. Under Kalanick, Uber skirted regulations, shrugged off safety issues, and presided over a workplace rife with sexual harassment. After he got pushed out, it fell to Khosrowshahi, who left the top job at Expedia to take over as Uber’s CEO six years ago, to fix things—and find out once and for all whether Uber could turn a profit.

Headshot of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi
Headshot of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

My Take

This is a worthwhile article to read in its entirety if for no other reason than to hear from Khosrowshahi himself what he thinks of the company and its future. I do think it’s kind of funny that the interviewer for the article mentioned that Uber for teens is akin to Zuckerberg when he announced Facebook Dating. Both are rife with potential safety hazards.

As a former Uber driver, I was always uncomfortable with kids or teens booking rides, even before it was “allowed.” Teens would try to get away with it, or ignorant parents would book it for their teens, assuming it was ok for their kids to get into a stranger’s car. Also, as someone newly back into the “dating game,” I would never be comfortable trying out Facebook dating. It just seems so sketchy. Even worse than other dating apps/sites out there just because it’s Facebook, you know?

Can’t we find a reasonable amount of safety for drivers and passengers? This just feels like a disaster waiting to happen.

But also, later in the interview, Khosrowshahi was asked how much he thought a 2.95-mile ride cost the interviewer earlier that day. His response was $20. In reality, it cost $50. And 5 minutes before booking, it was $20 higher than that. Khosrowshahi explained it away as “surge pricing,” which the interviewer disputed as being ridiculous for the time of day and location of the pickup.

The interviewer also brought up a good point where initially, the pull to switch from taxis to Ubers was the simple fact that Ubers were more affordable. Now, is that still the case?

DoorDash Launches Apple CarPlay Integration for Dasher App


The latest improvement to the Dasher experience, Dashers can now use Apple CarPlay to sync their iPhone’s interface with their car’s built-in entertainment and information systems.

At DoorDash, we’re always listening to Dashers and looking for ways to make the dashing experience even better. Today, we’re thrilled to announce that one of our most requested features has arrived: Apple CarPlay for the Dasher app.

Apple CarPlay Integration for Dasher App Will Improve the Experience

With Apple CarPlay, drivers can sync their iPhone’s interface with their car’s built-in entertainment and information systems, helping drivers use key apps while reducing phone interactions. Integrating the Dasher app with Apple CarPlay will allow Dashers to seamlessly show the app’s navigation interface on their car’s built-in screens. This creates a more streamlined and seamless dashing experience, with less time focused on their phone and more time focused on the road.

My Take

It’s great that drivers can get the basic navigation features through their cars via the DoorDash app instead of rigging up their vehicles to mount their phones for small-screen navigation.

Now, how about we increase driver pay while we’re at it?

Waymo Is Bringing Its Driverless Ride-Hailing Service To Austin


Waymo only just reached Los Angeles earlier this year, but that isn’t stopping it from expanding further. The company is expanding its Waymo One ride-hailing service to Austin. The first phase starts this fall, with completely driverless operations and public rides coming in the months ahead. The coverage will be “truly useful,” Waymo claims — it should cover major stretches of the Texas capital, including the downtown core and well-known areas like Barton Hills and Hyde Park. You can join a waitlist today.

The deployment is a homecoming of sorts, as Waymo chose Austin to conduct some of its first self-driving tests beyond its hometown of Mountain View. The company also made history by offering the first completely autonomous ride on public streets in 2015. The Alphabet-owned brand has been testing its self-driving SUVs in the city since the spring.

My Take

Driverless ride-hailing is moving into Texas with this expansion of Waymo. They must be having decent success in their other main markets (Phoenix, Arizona; Los Angeles and San Francisco, California) to continue the move to other markets.

That’s not to say they are fine-tuned and working seamlessly. It’ll take a while before we reach that kind of future, where driverless becomes the norm rather than just a lesser-known option.

Citi Bike Is For Sale


Lyft is exploring a sale of its bike and scooter business, which includes New York City’s popular Citi Bike. The news comes several months after the struggling ride-hail company laid off a third of its workforce to reduce costs.

Lyft has “received strong inbound interest in our bikes and scooters business,” the company said in a statement.

“It’s only logical for Lyft to listen to credible proposals and explore strategic partners and options in several forms to serve more riders in more cities.”

Whether Lyft strikes a partnership with an investor that infuses cash into the division or sells the business outright remains to be seen. Either way, according to The Wall Street Journal, Lyft wants the rental bikes and scooters to continue to be listed on its app so riders aren’t disrupted.

My Take

The future of Lyft has been put into question recently. Now they are considering selling off Citi Bike. This is an interesting move.

Will paring down their offerings create more stability for the company? They are already trailing behind competitors by only really offering ridesharing and e-bikes on their platform.

We’ll see if they do sell and if it turns out to be a good move for Lyft.

Uber’s Grand Plan to Go All-Electric in London Ran Into Gridlock


On a sleepy residential street here, workers installed four electric-vehicle chargers last month, the first in the city to be funded by Uber Technologies as part of its plan to wean its fleet off gasoline.

The chargers—four plugs on two parking-meter-size posts—represent a slow start. Uber had planned to install hundreds of chargers by now and has more than 600 left to go for its plan—designed to switch all of its approximately 45,000 drivers in London to electric vehicles by the end of 2025.

“It’s taken us almost three years to get to one going in the ground,” said Christopher Hook, Uber’s global head of sustainability. “It really does take a long time.”

My Take

We follow EV news pretty closely. If you want the latest updates on EV, check out our Facebook page geared toward all things EV.

As Uber continues trying toward their all-electric future, they keep running into roadblocks along the way.

If the incentives aren’t sweet enough, getting drivers to switch from gas to electric will be difficult. And affordability is always an obstacle, even while EVs are becoming more accessible.

RSG in the News This Week