Helping Uber Determine What Moves Us

We launched an initiative to shed light on how Uber works, and the principles that drive it

People around the world are considering how best to move forward; how to create the conditions for the right path ahead. This is particularly true within the technology industry. And particularly true within Silicon Valley. And maybe no more so than within Uber. Principled innovation is what’s demanded by customers, regulators, and team members; Uber’s CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi puts it as “from growth-at-all costs to responsible growth”.

About 10 months ago Uber asked enso if we could help them reflect on this challenge and share with the world how Uber’s Marketplace — the core technology that prices and matches rides — works, in service of transparency and dialogue. This is a hugely important challenge: 75M riders and 3M drivers rely on Uber’s Marketplace, so the choices made every day by Uber’s team have great impact. The Uber team recognizes that, “moving people and things in the real world is a big responsibility”. We looked at the challenge as not just communicating how Uber’s Marketplace works, but how and why it works as it does. Features may come and go, but the why behind decisions should be clear, and should endure.

Many companies communicate their purpose, and others communicate their practices. Often, there’s limited connection between these things. Our perspective is that principles should be the connection: that the purpose should inform a set of operating principles, and practices should be the principles in action. Only when the company’s purpose, principles and practices are congruent with each other can companies have high integrity, grow responsibly, and have positive impact in the world.

We approached this together not just as a marketing assignment; What Moves Us is the result of deep internal work inside Uber’s product and engineering teams, and guidance from tech industry thought leaders. We realized that principled innovation begins with asking the right questions. Conversations with Uber team members about what motivates and guides them personally led to open, healthy conversation between teams, and for the first time, the documentation of Marketplace principles that have guided, and will guide, the creation of Uber’s products. These principles are being shared externally, and actively used internally. New and existing Marketplace products are being filtered by these principles, creating accountability internally and externally for living up to them.

Today, What Moves Us launches at It shares with the world the principles that the Marketplace team are committed to, and answers some of the most frequent questions about how Uber works — like how prices are determined. Hosted by tech correspondent Katherine Gorman, a series of films interview key Uber leaders on the fundamentals of their marketplace.

This is the beginning of a conversation. Principled innovation requires the right questions being asked frequently. Uber is committed to engaging in this conversation, and the accountability that comes with it, taking appropriate action to ensure products remain consistent with these principles.

We will hold our marketplace design accountable to these principles and continue to incorporate them into our product development. We will embed them into our day-to-day work through training and development and use them to encourage important internal discussion and debate. If these principles conflict with a product or design choice, we’ll change course.
Manik Gupta, Chief Product Officer

For us at enso, this has been a tremendously gratifying process. As a creative impact agency, our north star is positive impact at scale. We are honored to have worked inside Uber, alongside its leaders that have such significant impact in the world, and to play a small part in steering towards responsible growth.

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