Great Ideas that may NEVER become reality after the guys that make the decisions have their say. Remember how Destination Filters were bumped up from 2 to 6 and back down to 2? _____ http://fortune.com/2017/10/06/uber-driver-product/ Uber's Plan to Repair Its Relationship With Drivers Video at URL: After a tumultuous 10 months, Uber is focusing on its drivers. Oct 6th, 2017 By Polina Marinova Aaron Schildkrout, Uber’s head of driver product, came to the office a few weeks ago for a Q&A. It was right after Dara Khosrowshahi had been appointed CEO, and we had a pretty frank conversation about a company trying to undo months of damage from PR missteps including a video of its former chief, Travis Kalanick, berating a driver (he later apologized) and a passenger boycott promoted on social media. In an effort to woo drivers, Uber launched an initiative called, 180 Days of Change — a campaign that aims to make “meaningful changes and improvements” to the driving experience. The most notable change came when Uber released its in-app tipping option in July after resisting it for a number of years. Other changes include a shorter cancellation window, driver injury protection insurance, and increasing driver’s take home pay for UberPool trips. Previously, Schildkrout founded a dating app, meditated “full time” for two years, and taught at a charter school. Now he spends his time addressing driver complaints around earnings, stress, support, and communications. Below are the highlights of our conversation. Note that answers have been edited for clarity and length. FORTUNE: Tell us a little bit about your career path. How did you end up at Uber? SCHILDKROUT: I spent the first part of my career in education, mostly as a high school teacher at a charter school in the Boston area. I spent two years meditating full-time totally off the grid. And then I shifted careers into tech and started a [dating app company] called HowAboutWe. I ran that for about 5 years before selling it to IAC. I thought deeply about what I wanted to do next — should I start another company? Should I join a company? I decided to join Uber. Why? SCHILDKROUT: It really felt like of all the companies in the world that had transformed my daily life, Uber was very close to the top of the list. Uber is left picking up the pieces after a tumultuous 10 months. In June, you launched 180 Days of Change. What was the genesis of this campaign? SCHILDKROUT: Around the turn of the year, we talked to thousands of drivers in various forms — one on one, in groups, through surveys — to get a deeper understanding of how we were doing. What we found was, frankly, we weren’t doing that well. There was a deep need for change. Based on that research, we kicked off 180 Days of Change. Can you give me an example of the type of feedback you received? SCHILDKROUT: When we talked to drivers, we found again and again some very clear themes. Drivers didn’t feel like we were listening enough. Drivers didn’t feel like the support was there. Drivers weren’t satisfied with a number of key aspects to their earnings. There were parts of our platform where we offered flexibility, but we weren’t fully delivering on that promise. Walk me through the things that you have implemented thanks to driver feedback. SCHILDKROUT: The first thing we did was work on earnings. The No. 1 most requested feature that has ever existed at Uber was tipping. And we had long-resisted launching it. In our first chapter of 180 Days of Change, we launched tipping. But we also launched a series of other changes to the earnings experience that we felt like would address a lot of the fundamental questions drivers had about earnings. In your time at Uber, what is one product initiative that you worked on that didn’t pan out as planned? SCHILDKROUT: UberPool has always been in some ways an emblem of what ridesharing is all about. Using every single available seat in every car in order to reduce congestion, reduce the prices of moving around a city, really make transportation in a city as smooth as possible. But when you ask drivers about UberPool, you get a very consistent extremely negative response, and there are reasons for that. We really hadn’t invested in the driver side of the Pool experience. Passengers love the low price, they love the efficiency, but for drivers, it’s actually a lot of work and often quite stressful. So we’ve got some interesting ideas of how we can fix that and improve in that area. Uber operated without a CEO for several months. What was the staff’s reaction when it was announced that Khosrowshahi was selected for the role? SCHILDKROUT: Some things I’ve noticed early on is that this is a person who seems to be truly about team. This is a person who knows how to compete, how to run a business, and how to think about the future. That ambition and that sense of wanting to build something great is exciting and very much in line with Uber’s DNA. I think after he joined there was pretty universal excitement and a strong hope of where we’re headed as a company. _________ https://www.fastcodesign.com/90145479/ubers-new-vp-of-design-wants-to-fix-uber Meet The Designer Who Could Reshape Uber The company’s new VP of design, Michael Gough, is a former architect who wants to make the maligned company more empathetic. Oct 9 2017 by Mark Wilson 3 minute Read 2017 has been a terrible year for Uber. Any warm feelings toward the world-changing ride-sharing service took a sharp turn, as reports aired of a dog-eat-dog work culture steeped in sexual harassment and a platform that manipulated not just its own riders and drivers, but regulators and authorities through some of the most sophisticated dark patterns ever designed. In the months since, Uber fired its CEO, introduced tipping, and launched an initiative designed to bolster accessibility for some of its drivers. The company is also recruiting new talent to keep it moving forward–including Michael Gough, the company’s new VP of design. But can design fix what is ultimately a PR problem of global scale? “The core of design is empathy. That’s the starting point no matter what,” says Gough when I ask him that question. “That will always be how you address any product challenge. The classic way products were developed was you solved functional needs, and then maybe business needs, and then you lean heavily into human needs over time. This arc, all of the [PR] challenges aside, is a natural arc. The next big step is to become a company that’s really, really good at connecting with people and people’s needs.” Four years ago, Gough was leading the most experimental arm of Adobe. With 100 people working under him, ranging from UX designers to sculptors, he was forecasting the creative interfaces of the future. In 2015, he moved to Microsoft to work on a far more concrete problem: fixing Microsoft’s flailing Office platform and ensuring it wouldn’t go extinct in the age of Google Docs. Today is his first day on the job at Uber, where he’ll work under VP and head of product Daniel Graf on every bit of design Uber touches. That ranges from the rider app, to the physical spaces Uber drivers gather in cities, to even, perhaps, the autonomous vehicles being developed by the company. Gough credits his background as an architect for attracting him to the challenges Uber is facing today. “When I was an architect, I mostly focused on urban design, and there are half a dozen key things that shape cities. One of them is transportation, and another is economy,” says Gough. “Uber is making radical changes to [both]. So over time, they’re going to reshape cities. Cities are going to become more efficient. And I think that it’s actually going to be more comfortable and beautiful. That’s a really abstract notion and we could talk about it for hours, but just this idea that there’s a physical world, and it’s being manipulated by tech in positive ways, is just super, super enticing to me.” The urban legacy of ride sharing is still taking shape. These services have increased traffic and spurred a freelance economy where workers have fewer rights; they’ve also become so vital to city transportation that some public services see them as partners. Some planners are already imagining how streets themselves will be reshaped to support ride sharing, and some of their visions really are, as Gough puts it, “beautiful.” One thing is certain: The future of Uber itself is far from determined, and Gough and Graf will face countless design decisions that will shape its future. For instance, how will its app rebuild rider trust that was lost after revelations about its privacy and security practices? How will it change the driver’s-side UX that keeps them working longer and for less money than they’d like? How will Uber proactively participate in the shaping of streets across the world? How will it solve serious accessibility issues like wheelchair access? To make matters more complex, Uber must address these issues at scale–playing out in 10 million rides a day in cities across the globe. “On the PR side, it hasn’t always been easy this year. The funny thing is, some of our best new talent churned over in the last few months,” says Graf. “Clearly, what we’re working on is just . . . it’s so defining for our generation. And Michael is the latest, absolute phenomenal addition to the team.” Indeed. And like everyone else at Uber, Gough certainly has his work cut out for himself.