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8 Things We Learned About Uber From GQ Magazine

@jasonclampet

Feb 28, 2014 4:21 pm

Skift Take

The GQ story is an excellent first-person take on what’s cool about Uber, and what’s simply curious.

— Jason Clampet

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Lucy Nicholson  / Reuters

Transportation app Uber is seen on the iPhone of limousine driver Shuki Zanna in Beverly Hills. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters


We like to follow Uber, first of all because it’s a transformative technology that’s reshaping transportation (even if it is way overvalued).

And second of all because any story about the company is likely to feature at least one quote from CEO Travis Kalanick, who has quickly become the Michael O’Leary of ground transportation.

In this month’s GQ magazine, a writer signs up to be an uberX driver in Los Angeles and shares both his stories on the road, and a few good lines from Kalanick. We’ve pulled out the most interesting ones, below.

On being the CEO of a high-flying startup: When I tease [Travis Kalanick] about his skyrocketing desirability, he deflects with a wisecrack about women on demand: “Yeah, we call that Boob-er.”

On safety in the upper middle class: I was basically picking up hitchhikers and trying to convince myself: Murderers don’t use iPhones.

On the driver-to-Uber relationship: Uber operates more like a pimp than a boss: Depending on the city, Uber gets approximately 20 percent; the driver pockets the rest.

On keeping the riders happy: Passengers rate drivers anonymously on a scale from 1 to 5; I needed to maintain a 4.7 rating to stay employed.

On awesome technology that’s changing the industry: My Uber phone was equipped with a “heat map,” which shows drivers where the company’s most active customers are currently located. Staring at the heat map is like being connected to the Matrix; you can see where shit is going down.

On ego: No one feels like a baller getting out of a yellow cab. But disappearing into the night? You’re not lame—you’re Rick Ross.

On dealing with regulation rather than relaxation: Says Kalanick: “I’m spending a lot of time with city officials in Miami when I would much rather be at the Shore Club. Or the SLS.”

On throwing Charlie-Sheen-inspired hashtags into everyday conversation:  “If you can get a Prius for cheaper than a taxi, you just changed 100,000 people’s lives in a city. If you can get it reliably? Holy shit.” Kalanick pauses to sum up the experience, then says unabashedly: “That’s hashtag winning.”

 

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