Rachel Holt

Regional GM, US and Canada at Uber

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 29, 2016


Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
Hi, I'm Rachel Holt. I oversee all of Uber's US and Canada business. I've​ seen a lot in my 5 years at Uber, so I'm excited to chat about anything you want to know. Some of my favorite topics: Uber culture, how to build a successful business from the ground up, and the hardest lessons I've learned in my career. Thanks for tuning in!
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
How many years do you think it will be until self-driving cars are the majority of vehicles on the road?
Bryan Weis@bryan_weis · Growth at Siftery
@andrewett On this point, how long do you think it will be before laws go into place preventing human drivers?
Ryan Heisler@ryan_heisler · Student
Is Uber profitable?
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What are the first tabs you open on your computer/phone every morning?
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@jacqvon On my phone it’s always weather, then email then usually the Uber app (well before I’m ready to go to the office). Maybe it’s a bit of a habit from when I was the General Manager for Washington DC, but i like knowing how a rider is going to experience our app -- make sure there are enough cars, etc. (Usually I check Instagram too!) As soon as I get to the office, I check our internal tools for the latest business metrics. I go through all the top cities in pretty solid detail every day. Across the US and Canada, I’m managing about 200 cities but I usually focus on the top 5 markets every day.
Jesse Weinberger@jesse_weinberger · I'm just a guy
Have you ever taken a Lyft?
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
Tell us something about Uber's culture that the outsider wouldn’t know about?
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@jacqvon Considering how much we’ve grown as a company, we do a really good job of making the culture still feel small, entrepreneurial, and like a startup. The city teams are a big part of this. We have offices in almost every city we operate in. For example, our Nashville or New Orleans office each have fewer than 10 people. I love visiting our city offices, especially the smaller ones because the start-up feel is very much part of those offices. Those small city teams are doing everything possible to make the Uber experience great for riders and drivers.
Allen Zhou@allen_zhou
Hi Rachel, could you please elaborate how non-engineering background people make impact in a technology firm like Uber?
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@allen_zhou Yes! This is one of the things I love most about Uber. In a majority of tech companies, engineering is what drives the organization, but at Uber, a lot of the magic happens through the operations organizations. One of our cultural values at Uber is about celebrating cities and it’s the ops team that are actually the mini CEOs of their individual cities. They make sure Uber runs when it comes to all aspects of the business. But ops isn’t our only non-technical team. We have all sorts of non-technical roles open -- from marketing → PR → sales → business development. Check out our careers page at uber.com/jobs to check out our openings!
Dhaval Chauhan@17haval · Full stack founder
Hey, How is comma.ai or other self driving tech influencing Uber's self driving cars, Also what makes Uber's tech in self driving exceptional ?
John Edgar@jedgar · Building better cities.
Hey Rachel, thanks for doing this. As you know, uber operates in highly regulated environments and its entry into municipalities has massively impacted and shifted the socioeconomics of many communities. Folks who did not have passive income prior have been able to pick up an "on their time" source by driving for uber, additionally your uberX Partners have been eligible for vehicles that they ordinarily wouldn't be able to afford. Given you have put tens of thousands of people to work, what is the long term social plan to assist them in transitioning as you lay the groundwork for your fleets to operate autonomously. Taking into consideration that other car and transit manufacturers will offer urban transit that requires considerably less human input and your relationships with municipal governments are already strained causing huge friction, do you expect to participate in basic income tax offsets or re-training programs for those in the chauffeur and transit industry?
Barron Roth@iambarronroth · Product at Blade
Which deal have you worked on at Uber that you're most proud of?
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@iambarronroth The partnership that we secured with the Democratic National Convention this year was pretty amazing. We had a massive Uber tent that several hundred riders could wait to get picked up in and a parking lot with hundreds of drivers ready to take riders home. We were able to help thousands of riders safely get home each night after the convention ended. I was part of the team that “popped-up” in Tampa and Charlotte for the conventions in 2012 when a lot of folks didn’t know what Uber was, and to see our huge 2016 presence was super fulfilling.
Ary Augustin@ary · founder@ hijames.co
Hey, Do you have a "Getting Started Guide" to launch a new city ? If yes, how it's work? (recruting, training, control...) - Thanks
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@ary We have a ton of playbooks to think about launching new cities. One of the amazing things about Uber is how fast we scaled early on and this was because we had an amazing launch team and a really robust launch playbook. Every city we launched, we refined our processes more and more so that we were able to launch even more effectively and faster than we did the previous time. Once you get to city 400 you get pretty good at it!
Ary Augustin@ary · founder@ hijames.co
@rachel_holt can we see a summary ? or get one ?
Pranav Reddy@ipranav
@rachel_holt @ary Would love to know more your strategy entering into tier 2 cities.
Niv Dror@nivo0o0 · VC at Shrug Capital
What was Uber like at the very beginning when you joined? Was there a sense that the company could become the phenomenon that it is today? Also, can you share a memorable story involving the 'War Room' 😊
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@nivo0o0 Even though I was always based outside of San Francisco we always did an amazing of staying connected. We had a full-company Skype room back in the day -- we always had a global Staff Meeting each week and we did a really nice job of keeping connected every day despite being a global company. The craziest night for Uber every year is New Year’s Eve. It’s our biggest night of the year and trips are incredibly concentrated in a small number of hours. We are all completely glued to our computers no matter where in the world we are. With operations in nearly every single time zone around the world, it's amazing to wake up in the US on December 31st and watch New Years happen all around the world. We literally learn something about riders and drivers and our own systems in each market. It’s literally a celebration and a big learning moment every hour of the day!
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What are the top metrics that define a successful launch in a new city?
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi Rachel! What are 5 factors that you would focus on in any startup to help them grow?
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@theo_dimarhos - Come up with a product that helps makes people’s lives easier (don’t worry about the size of the market, worry about making your product indispensable to people’s lives) - Spend time hiring the best people - Execution is everything -- have a plan! - Test small and iterate constantly before you worry about scale (Uber started out as a text messaging service before we built an app) - Be willing to throw your all into making your idea work
Vinay Khosla@vinay123 · Co-founder Zenyx.com. Builder. Investor.
Hi. Is Uber actively investing in self-driving car technology? If so, has the driver workforce expressed their concerns?
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
Well I'm going to be SUUUUUUPER broad... what are some of the biggest takeaways you have from the last 5 years?
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
How does a company maintain a culture with lots of Drivers (who arent in the offices day to day) and with multiple offices?
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
If you had to switch lives with a tech CEO for a week who would it be and why?
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What's been the craziest moment at Uber during your earlier days there? How has the culture changed during the past five year?
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@ems_hodge The first time we moved offices in DC, we moved in an Uber SUV! We packed up all our computers, chairs and desks and with the help of a wonderful driver partner got it all done in one ride!
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
Hi Rachel! What I find most incredible about Uber, is how fast it's grown/scaled. Both the product & the team. If you could go back 5 years and give your younger self advice, what would it be?
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@mscccc I think one of the biggest lessons i’ve learned at Uber is that nothing is impossible and that creative solutions are always possible.