Uber to ‘Treat Hiring as a Privilege’ as a Way to Cut Costs


A delivery driver rides a motorized scooter with a large, green, Uber-branded backpack on.

Uber, the rideshare and delivery company that already doesn’t want to recognize its drivers as workers, said it will “treat hiring as a privilege,” going forward. The announcement came in an email from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to staff on Sunday night, first released by CNBC.

The line implies a hiring freeze, or at least slowdown, is coming to Uber. “[We will] be deliberate about when and where we add headcount. We will be even more hardcore about costs across the board,” Khosrowshahi further wrote.

The rideshare giant is the latest in a string of other tech companies announcing hiring slow downs or cuts. At the end of April, investing app, Robinhood, laid off 9% of its staff. Then, Netflix laid off multiple recently hired writers for blog endeavor Tudum following a dismal quarterly earnings report. And, last week, Meta announced a hiring freeze for the rest of the year.

“It’s clear that the market is experiencing a seismic shift and we need to react accordingly,” Khosrowshahi wrote to staff. The email also noted that the company will scale back spending on advertising and incentives, as part of a push to become profitable in terms of “free cash flow,” rather than only adjusted earnings before interest. “We have to show the value of the platform in real dollar terms. We are serving multi-trillion dollar markets, but market size is irrelevant if it doesn’t translate into profit,” said the CEO.

In addition to the spending cuts the Uber staff email highlighted Khosrowshahi’s desire for its food delivery and freight sectors to quickly expand. “I firmly believe Delivery should be growing even faster,” he wrote. “Freight needs to get even bigger so that investors recognize its value and love it as much as I do,” he added.

The email follows Uber’s release of its mixed 2022 first quarterly earnings last week. The company reported its revenue more than doubled between now and the same time last year, to $6.9 billion. And Uber Eats, a big component of the company’s pandemic earnings, has remained in high demand even as rideshare requests have rebounded post-covid restrictions.

Despite that though, the rideshare company is still facing challenges. Uber’s losses were almost as large as its profits at $5.9 billion, which it attributed to a value dip in its own investments. The company’s stock prices have also fallen more than 40% in 2022 so far, only previously reaching similar lows when shares hit their all time bottom March 20, 2020 at the onset of the pandemic shut-downs.

High gas prices have also likely taken a toll, though Khosrowshahi said Uber’s number of drivers is growing and is at a “post-pandemic high,” in prepared remarks released following the company’s first quarter earnings report. Lyft, on the other hand, noted difficulty recruiting drivers in its earnings report and said it would boost spending to try to attract more drivers.

“I’ve never been more certain that we will win. But it’s going to demand the best of our DNA: hustle, grit, and category-defining innovation. In some places we’ll have to pull back to sprint ahead. We will absolutely have to do more with less,” wrote the Uber CEO in Sunday’s email. “This will not be easy, but it will be epic.”


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