Mr. Khosrowshahi began holding a new kind of employee meeting in August, called “Global Tech Days.” In the all-day meetings, which are set to take place monthly, he reviewed Uber’s progress in detail with teams, according to employees. The gatherings often stretched late into the evenings, with participants required to sort out the problems raised in the meeting before they departed.
In September, Uber laid off 435 employees, mostly in its product development and engineering teams. “It’s critical we get our edge back and continually push ourselves to do better,” Mr. Khosrowshahi said in a note to employees at the time.
That same day, Uber faced a new hurdle when California legislators voted to pass a bill that would effectively force the company to treat its drivers, who are contractors, as employees. A reclassification of drivers could significantly ratchet up Uber’s costs because it does not pay contractors full-time benefits.
Uber has said its drivers would not be affected by the new California law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, because its core business is technology and not rides. It has backed a ballot initiative to carve out gig economy companies from the law.
To rev up growth, Uber has introduced new business initiatives. In September, it unveiled a new version of its app that combined rides and food delivery to emphasize its multiple services. In an interview at the time, Mr. Khosrowshahi said Uber was becoming an “operating system for your everyday life.”
Uber rolled out a blitz of other new efforts last month. It introduced a hiring platform called Uber Works that helps find temporary jobs for gig workers. It bought a majority stake in Cornershop, a grocery delivery service based in Santiago, Chile. And on Oct. 28, it started Uber Money, which are financial products for drivers.
At the same time, the cost-cutting has continued. Uber laid off 400 employees in food delivery, autonomous vehicle development and other divisions in October. In one post-layoff discussion, managers reiterated that workers would have to do more with less, according to an employee who attended the meeting.
Source: Uber Fights to Get Its Edge Back
By By Kate Conger
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