Uber has met with the SEC about the possibility of giving drivers equity in the company, according to an Axios report, citing an anonymous source. Drivers are contractors, not employees, and if the SEC were to agree, it would set an important precedent for other gig economy companies.
For Uber drivers, equity in the fast-growing startup could provide a valuable perk. The privately held ride-hailing company is currently valued at roughly $69 billion and is considered a candidate for what could be a blockbuster IPO in the coming years.
The move comes at a time when Uber is making a big effort to repair what has been a rocky relationship with its drivers.
But there’s no guarantee that Uber will be able to make a driver equity program work.
Ride sharing company Juno attempted to give its drivers stock option, but after complications with SEC regulations granted drivers RSUs instead. When the company sold to Israel based Gett, a statement from the company informed drivers that instead of the RSUs they were originally granted, they would receive a one-time payment that in some cases was as small as $100.
With its 180 Days of Change campaign, Uber is trying gain favor with its driver community, which has become increasingly critical of the company. Previous efforts to find common ground have gone badly awry.
So far, Uber has begun to roll out a tipping option in certain cities, a wait time fee, and increased in injury protection. Critics of Uber's contractor model have pointed out that since they are not full time employees, drivers can't receive any benefits, and struggle to make a reasonable wage.
Uber declined to comment.