Philip Chaves
Head
Uber for Business Latin America
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View from the Top

Mobility Democratization for Private and Corporate Users

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 10:22

Q: How has your experience in Mexico City helped you to understand the needs of the Latin American market?
A: We have had very similar experiences in Mexico City and in Sao Paulo. Both cities have complex mobility systems and a widespread urban infrastructure with huge populations. In addition, both Mexico and Sao Paulo have a deficient public transportation system, which leads to challenging traffic conditions, and they are in the midst of economic turmoil that has caused high levels of unemployment. In these cities, Uber has increased the population’s access to transportation options by providing access to a safe, reliable, affordable and fast service and, at the same time, it has created flexible job opportunities for people to be part of that change.
Q: As new competitors enter the market, how is Uber planning to maintain its leadership position?
A: Having the ultimate customer experience is what will make Uber the favourite solution available in the market. I am a fan of competition and I think it keeps our game sharp. Furthermore, competition has made us think about areas of opportunity that we had not yet analyzed. That being said, our vision has always been to make Uber and Uber for Business the best app experience that clients can possibly get. We connect drivers with the users that need them and we strive to do that as seamlessly as possible. In Uber for Business, specifically, our goal is to make our platform robust enough so both huge corporations and small players can efficiently manage the rides their employees are taking. In the end, our goal is that clients will no longer think about how to get a ride, it will just happen, as simple as that.
Q: What is Uber doing to democratize mobility in a country like Mexico where only 30-40 percent of the population is part of the banking system?
A: We understand that there is a large part of the population that may not have the smartphone or device required to use our platform efficiently. Solutions like Uber Central allow companies to share rides with employees who lack a smartphone just by sending a text message. We are also developing a lighter version of our app that can be used on a feature phone to still be able to hail an Uber.
We think about access as a way of democratizing mobility for everybody. In that sense, Uber has to be available everywhere, it needs to be affordable compared to other transportation options and inclusive for segments of the population without access to a credit card. Democratizing mobility also has to do with making all the data we have available to governments or public institutions in charge of planning and developing urban infrastructure. Today, businesses dictate where people live and how long they spend in traffic. Thanks to the data generated by our partner drivers, we can help public officials understand how to arrange business districts to shift part of that traffic and make the city a little bit smarter. An average person spends between two and five years stuck in traffic during their entire life, which is a complete waste of time. In the end, Uber might not be the ultimate solution to traffic but we can transform that wasted time into something more productive. This vision is what drives our business and what helps us develop the solutions we have in the market.
Q: How attractive have Uber's business-oriented solutions been and how does the experience differ between platforms?
A: Uber was born as a business-related tool to help executives get to meetings easier. Also, we understand that Uber for Business must be different from our private user experience. When an executive gets in an Uber, he wants a quiet ride so he can continue working or answer emails. We have our roots in business transportation and now we are focusing on building a robust platform to support any type of business. Uber for Business does not deal with the ride per se, what we do is help with our clients’ administrative processes.
Q: How can Uber for Business help a company manage its operations better?
A: Uber for Business is not necessarily only about the ride. We want our platform to be a hub where many types of services are available to a company. Uber has solutions for rides, food deliveries and freights and our goal is to develop an ecosystem where all these solutions coexist so companies can build, manage and organize all the services that we offer. This does not mean, however, that we will integrate our different services into a single app. It is important to clarify that Uber for Business is not an app but a software platform that manages different services. Employees will be able to use Uber, Uber Eats and Uber Rush depending on their activities and all those rides and services will be centralized by our clients’ administration division. This allows companies to create rules and policies, as well as different billing options depending on how employees use these apps.  
Q: What impact do you think solutions like Uber will have on the development of the automotive industry in general?
A: Companies are starting to realize how the sharing economy is going to transform their business, not only in the automotive but in the oil and gas sector as well. We have realized that owning a vehicle is no longer the ultimate ambition of the population, particularly when isolating certain segments of the population, including millennials and generation Z. Having a car used to be a luxurious experience but not anymore. Due to insecurity, insurance, purchasing power and several other factors, cars have become so cumbersome that a solution that helps you get a ride whenever you want has become extremely attractive for younger generations.
Automotive companies are certainly rethinking their role in society. At the same time, we need to shift the way we think about vehicle ownership and come up with new models that suit the requirements of an evolving population. Maybe instead of owning a vehicle, clients can only purchase hours of that same vehicle depending on how much they expect to use it. Purchasing a car that you will only use three or four hours each day does not make sense any more. Companies will have to be more creative in the way they market their products.
Q: As the Head of Uber Enterprise Latin America, what are your priorities for Mexico at the moment?
A: Our goal in Mexico is to identify influential companies that can adopt our solution and change the way their employees move around the city. We are talking to a large company with thousands of cars in their corporate fleet. Our goal is to exchange that for an Uber contract where companies offer unlimited Uber rides instead of a corporate car.
Analyzing how this could benefit the client, we have found that we can generate savings of up to 40 percent of the company’s transportation costs when thinking about mileage, gasoline and maintenance.

Uber Technologies is an American company based in San Francisco, California, and founded in 2009 by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp. Since August 2017, the company is presided by Dara Khosrwoshahi