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Competitive Edge
Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
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The Truth About What It’s Like Working For Uber | LinkedIn

The Truth About What It’s Like Working For Uber | LinkedIn | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

I was a Community Manager on the East Coast for Uber for almost a year (February 2013 – December 2013). After being ‘out’ for about nine months, I’ve had a chance to reflect on my time there. I’ve also been encouraged to, due to the number of people who’ve reached out to me, asking how it was, since they themselves are considering applying.

This makes sense. It’s smart to talk to someone who works at a company before deciding to work there. It’s even smarter to talk to someone who currently works there and someone who used to.

So let me tell you what it’s really like working for Uber:

PROS1. The Team Is Extraordinary

The people at Uber are freaking awesome (apparently, the real f-word caused some people to stop reading). There’s no other way to put it. They’re astonishingly smart, motivated, talented, warm, friendly, and very hardworking. Uber is extraordinarily picky about who they hire, and they do a good job of bringing in brilliant people.

For me, my peers were the best part of the job. They not only had my back most of the time, but they were super fun. For the most part (not all the time, but the vast majority of the time), I felt like I could reach out to anyone there, and they’d make time for me.

As a rule, people at Uber are generous and bighearted and intelligent and sharp and creative and cool.

2. They’re Fair

For the most part, Uber is a pretty flat meritocracy. They’re ready to listen to anyone, if what they say is of value. Good ideas are noticed, respected, and implemented. There are obviously some politics (I don’t believe any large organization of human beings can totally avoid that), but it’s not the predominant company culture.

Instead, they’re extremely focused on metrics and analytics. Your success is largely based on your performance in terms of numbers, not whether someone likes you or you’re someone’s cousin or you’ve been there longer.

3. It’s A Crazy Awesome Ride (pun unintended)

There’s nothing like being on the inside of an insanely popular and insanely high-growth tech startup. Uber’s growth is unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. The weekly all-team meetings, held via Skype since Uber is now in 100+ cities all over the world, are awe-inspiring. It’s unreal watching baby cities grow into monster cities, or small teams blossom into huge ones. Working for Uber is like being on the inside of a real live game of SimCity.

It’s an incredible feeling to know that you’re part of it.

4. People’s Reactions To, “So, what do you do?” Are Awesome

It usually goes down like this:

Rando #1: “So, what do you do?”
You: “I work for Uber.”
Rando #1: “What!??! That’s so cool!”
Rando #2:I love Uber!”
Rando #3: *just looks at you in awe*

CONSIt’s Stressful

Really, really stressful.

I did an informal poll while I was at Uber, asking people in different departments and different cities: “On a scale of 1-10, how stressed were you at your last position, and how stressed are you at Uber?” I routinely got answers of 2-6 pre-Uber, and 8-10 at Uber. One guy said, “At my last job, maybe like a 4. At Uber? Normally ... 8. This week? 11.”

At Stanford, we had a saying that students there are like ducks on a pond. On the surface, they look like they’re effortlessly floating along; under the surface, they’re paddling like mofos, their hearts going a million miles a minute just to keep up.

That’s Uber. Everyone looks like they’re doing fine, but they’re really working 80-100 weeks and even then, constantly feel like they’re behind. Working for Uber is a sprint, with marathon hours.

It’s Disjointed

Uber is still in the awkward gangly phase of a burgeoning startup. The thing is, it’s not really a startup anymore. It’s a big company with things like corporate values and policies and rules and guidelines. So expectations of employees are really high, but without all the support that comes with that.

As a CM (Community Manager), it was hard sometimes to rally all the things I needed help with, without pissing people off. I was dependent on teammates in design or engineering who were all the way across the country, many of whom I’d never met in person. It was nerve-wracking to not be in control, especially when I had time-sensitive needs and there was limited communication. I often felt powerless, but when I pointed this out I felt like I was just looked at as a complainer. A similar problem was echoed by others around me, those who experienced parts of Uber as rigid, not always willing to make the right systemic changes due to wanting to go at a breakneck pace all the time.

At Uber, you’re not always going to be given everything you need, to do the job you’re expected to do. The right systems simply aren’t in place yet; it’s all still being built. Things can be stressful or difficult, but without the recognition that they are, which can be challenging to deal with. It’s easy to feel alone, even while you’re surrounded by amazing people.

There Is No Work/Life Balance

At Uber, you work nights, weekends, and holidays. Some teams split it up so you get some real time off during the week/weekend, but that’s rare (FYI, some of this may have changed, since things at Uber shift so rapidly, but I doubt it. It’s ingrained in the culture). What’s not rare is to sign on to Hipchat (the way the entire company stays in touch) at 11pm on a Saturday night, and see lots of colleagues online, working, as well. Fortunately, you can work from home, and most teams are pretty flexible about that, but it’s still important to understand that you will be working *all* the time.

Uber does a good job about being upfront about this; they describe it to potential new hires as “the Uber lifestyle.” You’re expected to pitch in and do whatever it takes to have your city succeed, no matter when or how long it takes, and everyone hired is willing to do so.

Joining Uber is like joining the Firm from that John Grisham book … The Firm. Once you’re in, you’re in. Think of it like getting into the military, only cooler and you probably won’t die.

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So, would I recommend working for Uber?

It depends on who you are and what you want.

If you’re young and hungry with few attachments, it’s a great option. For someone single, just out of college who just moved to the area, not wanting to get into a relationship or hang out with a lot of people outside the company, it’s practically ideal (practically). You’ll meet incredible people and be part of a strong culture. You’ll constantly be working, but you’ll never be bored and you won’t mind as much because most if not all of your friends will be at the company.

However, if you’re already somewhat established in your life (mid- to late 20s, early 30s, or in a relationship), it’s going to be hard. It will be ‘normal’ to spend your entire workweek working until 9pm or 10pm every day, then work an all-day event on Saturday, for Uber. You’ll miss seeing your friends and family, and resent the constant feeling that you’re not doing enough, despite working so much. This may wear on you over time, and eventually you may burn out.

As for me, my story has a happy ending (not that kind, but it’s still good). I’m happier at my current job than I ever was at Uber. We’re OpiaTalk, a tech startup in the eCommerce space, out of Baltimore. We help retailers make the most of their organic traffic – our social commerce widget turns browsers into buyers, hyper-converting traffic and driving opted-in leads at 4-5x industry average. Our team rocks, and I’m proud to be our Director of Communications. (That's us on the left -- I'm the crazy-looking one in the brown dress!).

Now, I wake up excited about my job and I also have real weekends, which has me feeling rested and ready for the week. During my time off I feel like I’m truly off, which is pretty much the best freaking feeling ever. At Uber, I constantly fantasized about leaving; it was never sustainable. OpiaTalk is sustainable because I work hard, and I have a life outside it.

Finally, I really wasn’t in the right role at Uber, and my manager wasn’t willing to work out a way to put me in one better suited to me in a timeline that worked. At my current job, I play to my strengths, and I feel truly supported by my boss. Shoutout to you, Tom Popomaronis: I love you, your mentorship, your humor, your entrepreneurial fire, your drive, and your heart. It’s why I’ll stick with you through anything, and why I’m pumped to be on the team you’ve built, that we continue to build together. Thanks for including me and for believing in me.

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thought long and hard about whether to publish this. My hope is that it came across the way it was intended: as an honest and thoughtful distillation of my own experiences and observations of what I still see as one of the coolest modern companies to come out of the United States.

You want to talk about disruption? Uber has actually disrupted the tech/transportation industry. The world is literally different because of this company, and I say that as a young woman who is guaranteed a safe ride home in most cities where she goes. #Gamechanger. I also respect how Uber helps empower an entire generation of drivers with safe, flexible jobs – an opinion based primarily off my own one-on-one discussions with countless drivers about what Uber allows for them and their families.

I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to work for Uber for a variety of reasons, including gaining a better understanding of where I truly belong and how I want my work life to feel. That was an invaluable lesson, even if was a painful process. Sometimes, yes, it’s important to stick with a position for your own professional growth; other times sticking with it just leads to suffering. Here's the truth: Some jobs fit your personality, and some don’t. Some company cultures fit you; some don’t.

I can’t tell anyone what to do; I can only offer up my perspective. I hope it was Uber helpful. ;)

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Melanie is Director of Communications for OpiaTalk, the social shopping widget for retailers. OpiaTalk releases a time-sensitive promo on your site once a certain amount of visitors click, and also drives opted-in leads. Our latest client is seeing 19% conversions (nope, not a typo!). We call ourselves the hyper-conversion widget; check us out at www.opiatalk.com or contact hello@opiatalk.com.

And if you identify as a Millennial, I've got a quick 4-minute survey I'd love for you to take. If you do it, I'll be as happy as a teenage boy watching Anaconda.

Melanie welcomes connection of all types, including the LinkedIn variety: melanie@opiatalk.com.



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Via Official AndreasCY
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Want to work for a startup? Take a look at this very honest article. I love it, it puts everything in perspective. And yes, not all startups are alike.

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Official AndreasCY's curator insight, September 2, 11:25 AM

An ex-employee on what it's really like to work for Uber:

Rescooped by Marc Kneepkens from Mobile Research and Statistics
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How to Design a Billion Dollar Company

How to Design a Billion Dollar Company | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Question: What do Airbnb, Snapchat and Uber all have in common (besides multibillion-dollar valuations)?Answer: None of these startups directly create the value that end users consume. These companies facilitate the exchange of value between users.

Uber does not own or operate any of the cabs its riders use, but it has a valuation of $3.5B. Pinterest does not post any of the ‘Pins’ that refer 23% of all traffic to e-commerce sites. Vine does not create any videos, yet is the fastest growing app in the world.

This is a colossal shift from traditional business models, where a company creates a product or service and then sells it to its customers.

Some call this the sharing economy or the collaborative economy. Others refer to these businesses as marketplaces or networks. But the overarching term for all of these multisided business models is a “platform.”

Platform startups have been disrupting entire industries (like Facebook and WhatsApp with communication, Youtube with entertainment and Uber with transportation), or are innovating with the goal to disrupt and take over outdated industries (healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, finance and many more).

To read the full article, click on the image or title.



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Create solutions, put it all together the right way.

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How mobile marketplaces are creating a million new U.S. jobs   

While these jobs require little training or higher education, they usually pay above minimum wage and offer many workers lifestyle flexibility and the opportunity to work close to home.

Online marketplaces such as Uber and Instacart are rapidly transforming the way people get what they want – whether it’s a ride, a meal, or a pet sitter – when they want it. To make that happen, these companies are on a hiring spree, one that’s gone virtually unnoticed by the statisticians and economists who track the labor market.

An analysis by Menlo Ventures suggests that these emerging new businesses are already on track to create one million brand-new jobs in the U.S., many of them well paying and all of them filled in local markets by Americans. And that is likely a conservative estimate.

While these jobs require little training or higher education, they usually pay above minimum wage and offer many workers lifestyle flexibility and the opportunity to work close to home. This is especially important now, when studies indicate that other industries clamoring for employees are frustrated because they don’t have enough nearby applicants with the advanced training or experience to do these often-technical and specialized jobs.

What will drive this job growth? Digital marketplaces are being built on four megatrends of today’s Right-Now Economy, including:

  1. The increasing penetration of smartphones. Nearly one billion smartphones were sold worldwide in 2013, according to Gartner. Couple this with the rise of big data and a dramatic decrease in the cost of software development and you have a technology environment well suited to the marketplace concept.
  2. The rise of Millennials (age 18 to 34) who are digital natives as the dominant consumer group. They are already spending an estimated $1.3 trillion annually and have surpassed baby boomers as the leading consumer demographic group, according to the Hartman Group.
  3. The growing availability of a freelance labor market willing to take jobs with non-traditional hours that fit into their individual lifestyles. By some estimates, there are already 42 million Americans who work freelance, and freelancers are projected to compose more than half the American workforce by 2020.

Latent consumer demand for the services can now be obtained more easily through digital marketplaces. For instance, there are 100 million dog-owning households in the U.S., according to the American Humane Society, yet only 230,000 dog-sitting jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If dog owners have access to a more efficient marketplace of potential dog walkers and dog sitters, there could be a huge opportunity to create new jobs.

Marketplaces are capitalizing on these trends by aggregating supply (whether it’s dog sitters, babysitters or cars for hire), increasing demand by creating easier and better buying experiences for consumers, and adding value to the transaction by providing add-ons that freelancers or small business can’t or don’t offer (such as on-call veterinarians and liability insurance). Technology makes it easier than ever for these companies to expand to new markets, creating strictly local jobs for workers but doing it without having to open costly and risky satellite offices.

To arrive at our job’s estimate, Menlo Ventures looked at the job-creation activities of numerous fast-growing marketplaces, including many in our own portfolio. For example, looking at Uber’s growth in Seattle, the company currently has 900 UberX drivers for a population of 635,000 people, compared to the 300 taxis in the city. By extrapolation, through the use of a current national figure of 170,000 traditional taxis (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics), we estimated that Uber has the potential to expand to at least 360,000 UberX drivers nationally. It’s worth noting that in Seattle alone, there are more than 3,000 peer-to-peer drivers if Lyft and Sidecar are included in the calculation.

Furthermore, Uber pays more than traditional taxi jobs. The average U.S. taxi driver makes $30,000 a year at a rate of $14 an hour. By comparison, fulltime Uber drivers make $39,000 a year at a rate of $18 an hour.

Another example comes from Rover, a dog sitting service. There are 230,000 dog sitters in the U.S., and 430 dog-owning householders per dog sitter. A single dog sitter cannot service that many households. By opening up the supply of dog sitters through a frictionless online marketplace, in markets where Rover operates, the ratio comes down to 261 households per dog sitter. Rover has already created 25,000 new dog sitting jobs.

These figures represent only some of Menlo’s portfolio companies. When you include their competitors and other categories such as food service, creative and technical services, and home improvement services, the estimate can reach of one million – or more – American jobs created by online marketplaces. The same type of growth also is likely in international markets as these American companies expand globally.

Some argue that these are startup companies and that such growth is far from being a guarantee. But these companies are providing necessary consumer services, and once they scale, the network effect will take hold and they will become durable companies – much like Amazon – that will be able to survive and grow through changing economic environments.



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A new economy is being created and growing stronger every day.

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