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Uber makes more cuts to self-driving and Eats teams

The ‘last wave’ for now, says CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Uber is making a third round of staff cuts this year, according to a company-wide email from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, which was first reported by CNBC. The company is laying off about 350 employees, or around 1.5 percent of its workforce, with cuts affecting the self-driving and Uber Eats teams, among others. An undisclosed number of employees are also being asked to relocate, according to the email.

Uber laid off around 400 employees from its marketing team in July following a lackluster initial public offering, and cut an additional 435 workers in September.

The new round of cuts are the “last wave of a process we began months ago,” Khosrowshahi said in the email. “We all have to play a part by establishing a new normal in how we work: identifying and eliminating duplicate work, upholding high standards for performance, giving direct feedback and taking action when expectations aren’t being met, and eliminating the bureaucracy that tends to creep as companies grow.”

Uber spent years burning money as it expanded into markets around the globe. But it’s been trying to trim fat ever since its shares started trading on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this year, which gave investors (and the general public) a look at just how much money the ride-hailing company churns through. Things have only gotten worse, as the company lost $5.2 billion in the second quarter of 2019 alone, nearly double its losses for all of 2018 combined.

Uber has already made some cuts to its self-driving team in the wake of the death of Elaine Herzberg, who was killed by one of the company’s test vehicles in March 2018. Khosrowshahi reportedly considered ending the program altogether, though the company has since resumed testing, and recently unveiled a new version of its test vehicle.

Beyond the staff cuts, Uber is trying a number of different methods to better balance its books. The company has been trying to grow its Eats food delivery service, which it sees as a potentially huge profit driver in the near term. But the ultimate goal, as stated by Khosrowshahi, is to become the “one-stop shop for the movement of people and powering local commerce around the world.” Uber recently showed off what that vision will look like when it updated its app to include everything from public transit, to dockless bikes and scooters, to for-hire cars driven by an increasingly frustrated workforce of drivers that the company classifies as independent contractors.