In a surprising move, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi went undercover as a driver for his own company last year under an initiative called Project Boomerang. Khosrowshahi, who went by the name “Dave K” while driving a newly purchased second-hand gray Tesla Model Y, transported riders across San Francisco and gained valuable insights into the challenges faced by drivers.
As he struggled to navigate the platform, Khosrowshahi came to understand that the ride-hailing industry had taken drivers for granted, according to his recent interview with The Wall Street Journal. He experienced firsthand the issues drivers have been complaining about, such as tip baiting and rude passengers, and also witnessed the difficulties of signing up as a driver and being punished by the app for rejecting trips.
The CEO’s undercover stint highlights the lengths Uber is willing to go to understand the issues that drivers face on a daily basis. Khosrowshahi’s journey with Project Boomerang was a part of his years-long effort to reinvent driving on Uber and fix the company’s image, mend frayed relations among investors, and improve finances.
However, Project Boomerang now faces a new set of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the US economy reopening in 2021 amid a debilitating labor shortage, ride-hailing companies are struggling to onboard drivers. Uber eventually realized that the solution lay in offering bonuses and making some difficult changes that drivers had long sought.
Khosrowshahi’s experience as an undercover driver allowed him to see the issues from a driver’s perspective and come up with solutions that could benefit both drivers and riders. By understanding the problems firsthand, he was able to make changes that would have a positive impact on the company as a whole.
In conclusion, Khosrowshahi’s undercover work as an Uber driver was a valuable experience that helped him understand the challenges faced by drivers and paved the way for making the necessary changes to improve the ride-hailing experience for everyone.