Valued at $41 billion, transportation technology firm Uber is taking the big next step in ridesharing by going backwards, more or less, with a print magazine.
Momentum is the new publication designed specifically for the nearly 150,000 Uber drivers. The magazine takes its name from the company’s partner rewards program, which offers discounts and perks such as discounted auto maintenance, health insurance and savings on phone plans.
Set for a quarterly run, the magazine will be rolling out in six Uber markets: Boston, New York City, Chicago, Ohio, Oklahoma and San Francisco.
The inaugural issue – filled with pro-Uber feedback from drivers – provides a variety of lifestyle and business articles. Tips include staying healthy behind the wheel, updates on Uber’s regulatory successes and where to find the best restrooms in a city.
Alyson Shontell of Business Insider notes that Momentum is a kind of ad hoc employee handbook – notable because Uber drivers are not technically employees.
Momentum also represents a good amount of positive marketing, assuring drivers that Uber is the way to go in ridesharing, just as they need to attract riders by demonstrating that the Uber app is the best on the market.
Happy drivers make happy passengers; that is the theory – and challenge — behind Momentum.
The reason for morale boosting: Uber suffered a data breach last week, releasing the names and license numbers of nearly 50,000 drivers. In response, the company is notifying drivers affected, giving them a free year of identity monitoring service. In May 2014, Uber reported a “one-time unauthorized access,” although there were no accounts of severe abuse of driver identities.
Although Uber has had its share of bad press — lawsuits, and regulatory battles worldwide – it has not dissuaded investors, as they continue to have faith to the tune of billions. Nevertheless, drivers are the most valuable constituents of Uber’s success.
One example of the value of satisfied drivers, the first Momentum features one of Uber’s first driver/partners, who booked more than 20,000 trips in the San Francisco market.
Other recent efforts at boosting morale include a recent study showing Uber drivers earn more per hour, working fewer hours than traditional taxi drivers do. Nevertheless, a few drivers have taken Uber to court, seeking classification as employees rather than “partners,” or independent contractors.
Momentum symbolizes the first step by Uber in the effort to satisfy all stakeholders: passengers, investors and – most of all – drivers.