Anybody who has a smartphone probably knows about Uber or has at least heard about it. Uber Technologies, Inc., more popular as Uber, is an American multinational ride-hailing firm that offers services including a micro-mobility system with scooters and bikes, food delivery (Uber Eats), ride service hailing, and peer-to-peer ride-sharing. The company has its base in San Fransisco and operates in more than 785 metropolitan regions all over the world. It has platforms that can be accessed via mobile apps and websites. Uber is a public utility in California, operating under the authority of the CPC (California Utilities Commission). However, despite the widespread popularity that Uber has enjoyed over the years, like any other business, it has been grappling with risks and uncertainties throughout. The company has come under criticism for elevating traffic congestion, disrupting the taxicab business, and treating its drivers unfairly, among other allegations and accusations. In addition, the company has been criticized for various questionable and unlawful practices and its aggressive methods of dealing with regulators. This paper analyzes some of the risks and uncertainty issues that Uber has had to deal with in the last six months.
Being in the transportation network and operating in an industry that is alive around the clock put makes Uber drivers some of the people at the highest safety risks. All kinds of people can order an Uber, and the drive certainly does not know the kind of personality they are up against when picking up a passenger. On March 1, 2020, the world woke up to the sad news of an elderly Uber driver who was reported to be in a coma after he had allegedly had a brawl with some passengers, a brawl that left him knocked out cold on the pavement (Alex, 2020). Such incidences have a high potential of instilling fear in other Uber drivers, and this is sure to affect productivity since there is nothing more detrimental to a company's success than compromised employee morale. It was only after partial surveillance footage of the driver being beaten and photos of the five suspected passengers were released that an atmosphere of calm was restored in the Uber fraternity.
According to the New York Police Department, the 54-year old driver allegedly picked up two women and three men from a Queens-based gentlemen's club at around down on February 5. When the group arrived at the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the passengers’ supposed destination, an argument ensued between the driver and one of the passengers and escalated quickly into a physical fight. One of the passengers is said to have raised a clenched fist and landed a blow on the driver’s face that knocked him to the ground. Following the incident, the Uber app was updated to incorporate several safety features for its drivers, including an emergency button and an automatic car information transmitter for any call placed to a 911 dispatcher. In the same month, Uber released its first report on sexual assaults in which Uber ride was involved, which showed that approximately 42% of assaults reported in 2018 were from Uber drivers. However, the company did not disclose the number of physical assaults in which its drivers were involved.
In February 2020, an Uber driver was reported to have found himself on the wrong side of the law after allegedly exposing himself to a female passenger and driving her around for roughly two hours (Chiara, 2020). As one might expect, this story really tainted the name of Uber as a company. The public was informed that Nadeem Afzal, 51, was the driver assigned to the said woman after she ordered an Uber to take her home after a Halloween night out in north London. However, barely twenty minutes after they took off, the driver started exposing himself to the victim and, on several occasions, asked her to touch him and engage in some sexual act with him. As the story goes, the woman refused and, amidst her refusal, recorded an audio of the conversation, which she later presented as evidence of the crime committed against her. The woman claimed that the journey which should have lasted only forty minutes ended up in her being dropped outside a fast-food restaurant close to her home two hours later. As stated earlier, the incident put a big taint on Uber’s company image. To make matters even worse, the said Uber evaded the police for over a month, after which he presented himself to the police and pleaded guilty of the charges placed against him. It is highly likely that woman in question, and many others who may have heard the story, may probably never agree to board an Uber being driven by a male driver.
Nevertheless, in the face of all that misfortune, Uber has not been receiving exclusively bad news in the last six months. In May 2020, an analysis showed that Uber's stock had moved up by 20% despite the enormous losses it was said to have registered in the first quarter of the year. S&P Global Market Intelligence reported that the gain in stocks was the result of better-than-expected sales in the first quarter, momentum for the wider market, and signs that the ride-hailing market was recovering from the difficulties brought about the coronavirus pandemic (Keith, 2020). On May 7, the company published its first-quarter results, and it could be seen that the company has posted leading bookings and revenues in the market’s target and earnings that were higher than expected. SO these developments were recorded despite the fact that the company had recorded losses in the first quarter that were much higher than had been predicted. All the same, the higher-than-expected bookings and sales and the indications of recovery in the ride-sharing market were sufficient to raise the firm's share price, and then the valuation of the company persistently gained ground even in the face of momentum for the broader market. Overall, as the bookings for Uber Eats increased 54% per year, the bookings for rides in quarter 1 decreased by 3% per year.
Uber’s stock also seems to have experienced a late-month in May following the press release uncovering the launch of a raid-hailing choice in specific cities that will be valued per hour. The unveiling was done on May 29 and showed the new per-hour rate option of the service, with the minimum rate put at fifty dollars every hour and changeable mileage overage valuation based on the city of operation (Iqbal, 2020). More recently, this month, Uber stock has increased by approximately one percent from trade in the face of huge sales for the broader market. As of the time the company was conducting its first conference call, the management shared that rides on the platform of the company have realized a week-on-week increase for three weeks on end. The company presently expects to reap huge profits on earnings adjusted on a quarterly basis before amortization (EBITDA), depreciation, taxes, and interest basis in 2021.
Elsewhere, and most recently in June 2020, the boss of Uber’s operations in Australia stated that the number of persons using the companies ride-sharing platforms has been rising steadily as the economy seems to be moving toward normalcy (Iqbal, 2020). However, the official also acknowledged that it might take some time before it can be ascertained if the trend of working from home will cause a permanent dent in the corporate market.
On June 8, 2020, probably in response to the recent uproar over the death of an African American who was accosted by the police in New York, Uber announced that it had waived delivery fees for restaurants owned by blacks. Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO, announced that they were committed to acting in support of the Black community (McCathy, 2020). As such, the company had decided to use Uber Eats to promote restaurants owned by Blacks and, at the same time, make it easier for consumers to support the Black community too, by charging no delivery fees for the rest of the year. The Chief Executive Officer also added that in the coming weeks, rides to small businesses owned by Blacks will be discounted, especially those that have been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, to assist them in their recovery. The first thing users see on opening the app now is a conspicuous promotion header in black and white that says, "Support Black-owned Restaurants."
In May 2020, Uber, together with its rival Lyft, found itself on the wrong side of legal issues after being sued by California over allegedly misclassifying its drivers as independent contractors under the new labor law of the state (Dazio, 2020). The lawsuit was announced by Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego city attorneys and Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General. AB5, the new labor law, began working on January 1, 2020, and is regarded as the country’s strictest test. As it is, the law makes it more difficult for firms to categorize their workers as private contractors rather than employees who have a claim to minimum wage as well as benefits like compensation for workers.
This development affects Uber significantly because California is one of Lyft’s and Uber’s biggest sources of revenue. In a move to salvage themselves, the two firms, together will Doordash, are collectively funding a ballot initiative campaign to have their drivers excluded from the law but, at the same time, provide their drivers with additional benefits like coverage for health care. The chances are high that the initiative will pass for the ballot to be held in November. In après statement released soon after the law was enacted, Uber said that it would move to the courts to contest the lawsuit ad simultaneously endeavor to improve the standard of private work for drivers based in California, as well as guarantee new benefits and minimum earnings. In the statement, the proprietors acknowledged that at a time when the economy of California is facing a crisis with over four million people no longer working; it would only be fair to make it easier rather than more difficult for individuals to start earning fats.
The concepts of risks and uncertainties are not new concepts to business experts. No matter the type of activity that the business is engaging in, be it the release of a new product or contacting a new market or client, every business decision is influenced by risks and uncertainties. These two variables can propel a business through faster innovation, making it faster, or they can render a business bankrupt if the proprietors fail to make the appropriate plans. This is why it is important that Uber takes the incidences that have been described in this text very seriously. A risk can occur in the form of a mere tainted business reputation, and this should not always be taken lightly because customer loyalty lies mostly on the image that the firm projects to the public. Perhaps it would help to understand the distinctions between risks and uncertainties to better see their significance. Risk is defined as the probability or possibility of an undesirable or unpleasant event occurring. In business, it may indicate the potential loss of information, time, or money. Uncertainty, on the other hand, describes a situation whose outcomes, information, and variables may not be known or easily predictable. Unlike risks, uncertainties are immeasurable and cannot be calculated.
Based on the significance of risks and uncertainties as have been described, it is possible to conclude that Uber is currently running in the face of many uncertainties and risks. The legal issues in which its drivers have been entangled and others such as the one pitching it against the authorities in California put it at the risk of losing customers if they are not counteracted early enough.
Alex, W. (2020). Uber driver in coma after b...
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