business news in context, analysis with attitude

Good piece in the Wall Street Journal about how Uber Technologies CEO Dara Khosrowshahi last year "made dozens of trips as a ride-share driver … ferrying people around the hills of San Francisco."

It was, the story says, "the latest experiment in the CEO’s yearslong journey to reinvent driving on Uber. Along the way, he struggled to sign up as a driver, saw firsthand something called tip baiting and was punished by the app for rejecting trips. Surprisingly hard to take was the rudeness of some Uber riders.

"Mr. Khosrowshahi’s moonlighting was part of a campaign by him and his lieutenants to better understand and improve Uber’s experience for drivers, whose scarcity had become a critical challenge for the company after the U.S. reopened from Covid-19 lockdowns. It marked a sharp turn for a company that wasn’t typically seen as being driver-friendly.

"The campaign - code-named Project Boomerang - has helped shape what has become one of the biggest makeovers of Uber’s business since its inception in 2009."  The goal, he said, was to “re-examine every single assumption that we’ve made.” 

KC's View:

I bring this up not because of the details of what Khosrowshahi found and how it is impacting Uber, but rather because what he did was so important - getting out from behind the desk and experiencing the company's value proposition on the ground.

That's what every CEO should do - get out in the stores, push carts, run checkouts, sweep floors, stock shelves.  It gives them not just street cred, but actual street knowledge.

And it should be both an ongoing and regular effort - I would argue that CEOs also need to do this in stores that aren't in headquarters' back yards, but in stores located far from home that maybe don't get the attention they should.