Rachel Holt

Rachel Holt

Regional GM, US and Canada at Uber

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 29, 2016

Discussion

Rachel Holt
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
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @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@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@ryan_heisler · Student
Is Uber profitable?
Jacqueline von Tesmar
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@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@jesse_weinberger · I'm just a guy
Have you ever taken a Lyft?
Jacqueline von Tesmar
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@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@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@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
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
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
Barron Roth@iambarronroth · Product at Blade
Which deal have you worked on at Uber that you're most proud of?
Rachel Holt
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 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@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 Augustin@ary · founder@ hijames.co
@rachel_holt can we see a summary ? or get one ?
Pranav Reddy
Pranav Reddy@ipranav
@rachel_holt @ary Would love to know more your strategy entering into tier 2 cities.
Niv Dror
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@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 Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
What are the top metrics that define a successful launch in a new city?
Theoharis Dimarhos
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@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
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
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Well I'm going to be SUUUUUUPER broad... what are some of the biggest takeaways you have from the last 5 years?
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
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
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
If you had to switch lives with a tech CEO for a week who would it be and why?
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · 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@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
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@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.
Sahil Gupta
Sahil Gupta@sahil_gupta3
Is Uber making profits? If not, then how long do you think that the company will take to become actually profitable.
Srinivas Nag Mandali
Srinivas Nag Mandali@srinivas_nag_mandali · Uber
Hi rachel. It would have been amazing working this awesome company. What is that Moment when you felt ... you started changing the world???
Rachel Holt
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@srinivas_nag_mandali There wasn’t one particular moment but I distinctly remember one particular night in 2013. We were in the midst of a regulatory challenge in Washington DC and left our tiny townhouse office after midnight for the fourth time that week. I was exhausted and just wanted to space out in my Uber ride home. But a driver recognized me as an Uber employee from the previous day and got out to shake my hand. He told me a story about how proud he was that he was able to send his daughter to camp for the first time, which brought tears to my eyes. It made me so proud of the work I was doing, and felt like all the long hours and the stress of the week had melted away. I knew that what I was doing really was making a difference in people’s lives.
Egon Saks
Egon Saks@egonsaks · Operations Manager - Mexico City
What is the hardest lesson you learned in your career in Uber? And why?
David Perez
David Perez@david_perez
Hi Rachel, I have been producing promos, signage and uniforms for your amazing team in Miami. How can I offer my services to other markets or corporate?
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
What’s the biggest challenge for Uber in the US to overcome right now?
Rachel Holt
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@ems_hodge Balancing scale with local feel. This takes on a few different forms -- from a customer perspective we need the product to work in a scalable fashion across all our 400+ cities, but transportation and food are both incredibly local and we to keep that local feel for riders and drivers. From a team perspective, we’re also trying to balance national and global scale, with a very highly distributed set of city teams all of whom feel incredible passion for the success of their own market.
Pedro Ferreira
Pedro Ferreira@pedro_ferreira2 · Business Analyst
@rachel_holt @ems_hodge So, from an employee perspective, what are the outstanding challenges for someone working in city teams in well-established/mature/early launch cities? And how do you balance that with the entrepreneurial, start-up feeling and excitement of doing your daily tasks?
Enter Capital
Enter Capital@entercapital · CEO @ Enter Capital
Are you planing acquisitions in the "Uber for Trucks" segment?
Pedro Ferreira
Pedro Ferreira@pedro_ferreira2 · Business Analyst
What is the thing you regret doing/not doing the most in your 5 years at Uber?
Rachel Holt
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@pedro_ferreira2 Uber has an amazing tradition of doing what we call “workations” around Christmas / New Years Eve. Travis, our CEO, picks a theme and Uber employees from all across the globe submit ideas to work on. The winners get to recruit small teams and pick any location to host the workation and you get to spend 5-10 days working non-stop on this project. Now that I’m married and a mom, leading a workation would be more challenging but I wish I had taken an opportunity to do one in the early days!
Yan Yan
Yan Yan@yan · Cofounder, Startup Salad
How do you make a product that people actually want and pay?
Sam Rubin
Sam Rubin@downhillskier · Self Employed
As an Uber Partner, what is being done to further improve support for the Partners? Uber removed the chat feature from the app and in my market our weekly Green Light Support (once a week for 4 hours) is manned by one contractor and there are 50+ Partners who wait hours for help. Support Emails are often not responded to and tolls are not reimbursed (I have lost count at 84 unreimbursed tolls). Standards are not being maintained (non Black SUBs currently on Uber SUV). There is no longer a local Uber Team in my market and many partners are frustrated.
Rachel Holt
Rachel Holt@rachel_holt
@downhillskier We’re in the process of making several large improvements to our customer support channels, and I know how frustrating and important that is. Our Green Light Hubs are incredibly local and we are very focused on getting wait times down significantly in those locations and we know better email support will help. We do monitor this and are actively working on reducing the wait times. Can you let me know what location you’re in?
Sam Rubin
Sam Rubin@downhillskier · Self Employed
@rachel_holt I'm in Salt Lake City. You had an amazing Management Team but promoted them and now no one is here. If there is a way to provide you details here so you can pull my account and continue this offline it would be appreciated. I was the first Partner in Utah and a Brand Ambassador. Would love to help more but many of us are just high and dry right now. I'm having to absorb $200+ in airport tolls as a result and competing against Blue SUVs on Uber SUV...which is it fair. Thanks in advance.
Sam Rubin
Sam Rubin@downhillskier · Self Employed
@rachel_holt ... Also, along those same lines...Uber used to hire people that were previously Partners to help run the cities (Grady W. as a example)...noe the operations teams are all people with no driving/partner experience...why is this? I'd love amore active role but have been told since I am a Partner I can't be. That doesn't make sense...seems like those with on the ground/trenches knowledge would be the best asset for Uber.
Elom
Elom@lyricyst_
Hi Rachel. Could you tell us more about uber mapping operation projects and the purpose of their work?