Uber CEO shares plans to wage a dirty war with competitors

The ride share company is raising a large amount of money, and getting ready to sling mud

By Sarah Gray
Published May 29, 2014 11:00PM (EDT)
      (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-673072p1.html'>mezzotint</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>/Salon)
(mezzotint via Shutterstock/Salon)

Changes are happening at Uber. Last week the now-former deputy commissioner of New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, Ashwini Chhabra, jumped ship to ride-sharing company Uber. Chhabra will serve as Uber’s head of policy development and community engagement.

Yesterday at Code Conference, Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick gave more insight into Uber's future plans, and they're getting ready to engage in a transportation war -- or political campaign as Kalanick described it.

In Kalanick's mind, taxis started the war with Uber. And Uber's response? Hire a senior executive with political campaign experience, build up a "record breaking" war chest and sling some of their own mud.

For those who aren't convinced of the sharing economy's corporate greed, Kalanick also explains to an admiring yet disgruntled audience member that the company collects 20% of surge prices. "You're at war prematurely with your customers!" the audience member said.

But at least drivers can make an extra buck, right? That could be a thing of the past. Kalanick also signaled interest in Google's driverless cars. They're the way of the future, he said, albeit a ways off.  “The reason Uber is expensive is not the car, it’s the other dude in the car," he explained. "When there’s no dude in the car, the cost of taking the vehicle somewhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle. And then car ownership goes away."

h/t Re/code

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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Google Ride Share Sharing Economy Uber Video