What Drivers Notice (And Who They Don’t Notice!) About Passengers

In this roundup, senior RSG contributor John Ince covers California’s AB5, the recent departure of two Uber board members, and what drivers say they notice about passengers. That, plus how drivers may overlook a basketball superstar, below.

Uber and Lyft drivers run their own businesses? Give me a break [CNN]

Sum and Substance:  Whether Uber and Lyft drivers and other gig workers should be treated as independent contractors or regular workers, with full rights, is now front and center, especially in California.

The two ridesharing companies have launched a campaign to fight legislation that would require them to treat drivers as full-time employees. The legislation, which has become known as AB5 and is currently being debated in California’s state Senate, would mean the drivers would get paid as employees (with guaranteed minimum wage and overtime protections) and gain government protections regarding gender and race discrimination, as well as collective bargaining rights. They would also be covered by unemployment insurance, workers compensation and Social Security…

Uber and Lyft leave the false impression that independent contracting is essential to deliver services because otherwise they could not provide the flexibility many of its drivers desire. “First, most drivers prefer freedom and flexibility to the forced schedules and rigid hourly shifts of traditional employment; and second, many drivers are supplementing income from other work,” they wrote.

These firms are labeling their workforce “independent workers,” as if they should be considered self-employed, something I’m sure their workers would laugh at, as we all should. That is what a London Tribunal did in 2016:

“The notion that Uber in London is a mosaic of 30,000 small businesses linked by a common ‘platform’ is to our minds faintly ridiculous…. [Uber representative] Ms Bertram spoke of Uber assisting the drivers to ‘grow’ their businesses, but no driver is in a position to do anything of the kind, unless growing his business simply means spending more hours at the wheel.”

My Take:  It’s good to see Forbes call out Uber and Lyft for their deceptive campaign to either defeat or weaken AB5. Uber’s arguments just don’t stand up to reason, but that’s never stopped them from presenting them before. Why start now?

Uber and Lyft drivers reveal what they notice about passengers when they pick them up [Business Insider]

Sum and Substance: We asked a dozen Uber and Lyft drivers the first things they notice about passengers. For most, it comes down to appearance and how you act. After hundreds — if not thousands — of rides, drivers start to notice subtle differences between passengers. These small distinctions let drivers decide how they might approach a ride: Does the customer want to talk? Should the driver initiate a conversation?

Other times, especially late at night, knowing if someone looks visibly intoxicated can help a driver address how they might approach that particular ride. That is to say, should they be worried about the potential for a cleanup situation.

David, a driver in Sacramento, California: – “I drive an XL vehicle. If it’s a large group, I make sure there are at most 6 people. Many times passengers will try to get me to break the law by sitting on the floor or on each others laps. I also look for things that can either harm me or damage my car such as food, drinks, etc. If it’s late at night I’m looking to gauge how drunk the individual is to see if they may be a puker,” he said in an email.

Adrian, a driver in Dallas: – “Demeanor is critical to quickly determine whether you should engage the passenger with full-on conversation or just a curt, respectful ‘hello, we will arrive at your destination at [time],'” he said in an email.

“I mainly do this gig, other than for supplemental income, to interact with people. I work from home and have done so for my various employers for the last decade, so the human interaction is critical for me, especially with my PTSD from being in the Army,” he added…

My Take:  Not a whole lot of revelations here, but it’s still interesting to hear from other drivers what they look for to size up their passengers.  Personally, I pay close attention to the voice and whether or not they sound stressed out or relaxed.  What do you look or listen for?

Uber Board Members Arianna Huffington And Benchmark’s Cohler Exit [Forbes]

Sum and Substance:  Newly public Uber lost two more board members after Benchmark partner Matt Cohler and Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington said they resigned their director roles Wednesday. Their departures come just two months since billionaire and early Uber employee Ryan Graves also stepped down.

In a statement, Huffington said she was stepping down to focus on Thrive, a wellness startup, after missing a second board meeting. Benchmark’s Cohler, who replaced previous director Bill Gurley in June 2017 days after Kalanick’s resignation, said in the SEC filing that it was a “privilege of being part of the Uber journey since the Series A nearly a decade ago.” Uber still has nine remaining board members, including former CEO Travis Kalanick, Uber cofounder Garrett Camp and board director Ronald Sugar.

My Take:  As an occasional blogger for Huffington Post, I’m no big fan of Arianna Huffington.  She basically exploited writers like myself promising exposure for our articles instead of pay.  The exposure seldom materialized and Huffington absconded with millions when she sold Huffpost to AOL.

In this sense, she fit right in with the other members of the board. Don’t know much about Benchmark’s Cohler, but Benchmark with Bill Gurley on the board was key in removing Travis Kalanick, so they can’t be all bad.

‘I’ll find them’: Some driver dinged Steph Curry’s Uber rating [SF Gate]

Sum and Substance:  Stephen Curry may be one of the most beloved celebrities in the Bay Area, but he’s not exempt from the occasional four-star review on Uber.

In a “21 Questions” interview posted by House of Highlights Tuesday, the Warriors star admitted he doesn’t have a flawless five stars on the ride-hailing app.

“[My rating is] 4.8, I think,” he said. “I don’t know who gave me four stars, but I’ll find them.”

My Take:  No doubt the offending driver was either a Laker or Sacramento King fan.  No authentic fan of the Warriors would even think about giving Steph Curry less than five stars. Go Warriors!

Readers, what do you think of this week’s round up? Have you ever had a celebrity in your rideshare vehicle?

-John @ RSG