Uber ($UBER) – Ackman & In-Person Work – May 25, 2024

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Uber ($UBER) – Ackman & In-Person Work – May 25, 2024

Ackman (said in Seinfeld’s “Newman!” voice)

Late Wednesday night, hedge fund legend Bill Ackman took to social media to accuse Uber of blatant fraud. He demanded a restatement of earnings and called the actions of the company “evil.” I have a lot of respect for Bill, but this was an inappropriate, unresearched, and negligent rant. His claims were based on taking a single taxi in New York City (through a new Uber partnership), tipping the taxi and not seeing the tip immediately show up on the screen. The driver told him this meant Uber took the tip for themselves, and Ackman needed no other information to accept that opinion as gospel and to run with it. 

Thankfully, Uber’s PR team rapidly addressed the situation. Uber immediately passes on the tip to its taxi partner named Curb. Curb then disperses the tip to the driver. Unfortunately, Ackman’s post received millions of views in the very short period of time between his erroneous accusations and this timely response. The actual user is an innocent UX issue. It’s a simple fix to make it more intuitive that tips are eventually paid to their accounts. But sure, let’s just assume it’s fraud.

In-Person Work (Includes Lyft)

Barclays is moving to a 5-day in-person work week. Most mega-cap tech names are calling employees back to the office more frequently. Nike and legacy banks are all making the same exact moves. What does this mean? The return of the daily commute. As annoying as that is for employees, it is music to Uber’s ears. This is a compelling daily use case that its product suite can impactfully address, and should be a tailwind for usage frequency for Uber and Lyft too. That’s why products to cater to this use case were a focus point in Uber’s most recent product event.

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