Uber Details ‘Operation Slog’ to Recruit Drivers Amid Criticism

Aug 27, 2014 12:01 am ET

Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Uber Technologies Inc. pulled back the curtain on the techniques it uses to recruit drivers for its mobile car-booking service, following criticism over its tactics.

The San Francisco-based startup yesterday unveiled Operation Slog, its program to bring on new drivers and drive long-term operations growth. In a blog post, Uber disclosed details of the initiative, including incentive programs to attract new drivers, how it uses brand ambassadors to woo recruits and vehicle financing.

“There’s been a lot of discussion -- and a lot of misinformation -- about Uber’s driver recruitment and the ridesharing industry’s at large,” Uber said in the post. “We’d like to set the record straight and demystify our recruiting efforts.”

Uber’s memo follows an intensifying war-of-words with rival Lyft Inc. over the strategies each employs to add drivers to their services as they expand to more cities. Earlier this month, Lyft alleged Uber employees had booked and then canceled more than 5,000 rides, a behavior that Uber later said Lyft drivers and workers had also engaged in. The Verge, an online technology site, yesterday published what it said were internal Uber e-mails and documents that show how the startup is actively working to undermine Lyft.

An Uber representative declined to comment beyond the blog post. Representatives for San Francisco-based Lyft didn’t respond to a request for comment.

UberFresh Debuts

Uber, one of the most high-profile Silicon Valley technology startups after a June financing that pegged its value at $17 billion, is facing resistance as it pushes into new businesses as well as new markets. It offers bicycle courier deliveries in New York, will connect users in Atlanta and Nashville to furniture movers, and recently began delivering medicine, diapers and toothpaste in Washington. The company yesterday said it’s testing a lunch delivery service called UberFresh in Santa Monica, California, through Sept. 5.

Uber last week said it had hired David Plouffe, a former top political adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, to be its senior vice president of policy and strategy as it copes with regulatory hurdles and opposition from taxi drivers worldwide.

“Our mission has become a surprisingly controversial topic,” Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick wrote in a blog post at the time.