Uber still leads Silicon Valley’s unicorns when it comes to valuation, but when it comes to culture, new employee feedback data suggests it’s significantly trailing its billion-dollar tech peers.
Employees at Uber give their own company’s culture a much lower rating than their peers self-assess at Airbnb, Pinterest and Dropbox, three of the next closest U.S. tech companies by valuation. Uber also trails the three in employee marks for professional development, executive approval and among women and employees with at least three years of experience, according to the data as analyzed by startup Comparably.
Uber employees scored their company a 62 out of a possible 100 on average, trailing Dropbox at 70, Airbnb at 72 and Pinterest at 74. The company scored a 60/100 among female employees as well as among those with three to six years of experience, well behind Airbnb’s third place 66/100 score among women and Pinterest’s 64/100 rating for veteran staffers.
Comparably’s data comes from active company employees using the startup’s service to compare their salaries to similar roles elsewhere in the industry, look for new jobs and anonymously rate their employers. The startup raised $7.25 million from Greycroft Partners and a range of other venture firms back in January.
While such a site would seemingly skew toward users unhappy with their current roles, CEO Jason Nazar says that because Comparably collects the data through a structured survey, not through Yelp-style reviews, the site filters out the outliers of “angriest employees and fans.” Each employee answers between 10 and 20 questions addressing compensation, quality of coworkers, leadership, office environment and future outlook of the company. Nazar says that his startup’s found it takes about 20 to 25 employees answering all those questions to see clear patterns.
That more Uber employees might be reporting a flawed culture on a job site, especially women staff, is not surprising when viewed against the backdrop of a string of revelations about the company’s culture in recent weeks. Since Susan Fowler published a bombshell account of the sexual harassment she says she faced during her year working at the company, Uber has faced a lawsuit from Google that it allegedly used Waymo technology illegally with its driverless trucks unit, released less-than-inspiring diversity numbers that confirmed white male dominance in its ranks and faced more allegations of sexism that led board member Arianna Huffington to declare an investigation.
Then more recently, The Information reported that CEO Travis Kalanick and other top executives had visited a karaoke-escort bar in Seoul and then attempted to cover up the trip. It was all enough for Lyft president John Zimmer to declare, perhaps inopportunely, that his smaller ride-hailing rival was the “woke” of the two companies—though even a new $500 million fundraise keeps Lyft about one-tenth the valuation that private investors have given Uber of about $68 billion.
One bright spot for Uber among Comparably’s data may not do much to change impressions of the company’s culture: it scored better than average among its predominantly male engineers, tied for second with Airbnb.
Uber finished last among executive rankings, and the gap was even greater for the company’s CEOs. Kalanick’s approval has taken a tumble in recent months, including in February. Comparably’s data on overall culture only extends through that month, meaning its possible these numbers trended even worse in March, in what’s proven a brutal 2017 so far for Uber’s reputation as a workplace in the industry.
Stacked up against some of the better-known public companies in Silicon Valley, Uber wouldn’t fare much better. Of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, the closest in overall culture score to Uber was Amazon, at 64, while Google enjoyed a score of 73 out of a possible 100. (Two of the other private tech companies closest in valuation to Uber, Snap and Palantir, didn’t have enough data in the system to benchmark.)
Nationally, across sectors not including tech, Uber’s a little below average, says Nazar, with a culture score in the bottom 45% of respondents’ companies. “My point of view is, there’s always going to be room to get better,” he says. For Uber, now might be a good time to start.