Uber Slows Hiring in Response to Market Pressures, Cash Flow

Uber is the latest tech giant to slow its hiring in response to current market pressures. That slowdown is part of a larger push to cut costs, and comes even as the company’s core ride-sharing business rebounds from its pandemic lows.  

“We will treat hiring as a privilege and be deliberate about when and where we add headcount,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a recent email to employees, according to CNBC (which posted the full text). “We will be even more hardcore about costs across the board.”

Khosrowshahi wrote the email after “several days” of investor meetings in New York and Boston. “It’s clear that the market is experiencing a seismic shift and we need to react accordingly,” he wrote. Uber’s investors are all about free cash flow, which means the company needs to see stronger results around not only ride-sharing, but also newer businesses such as Freight and Delivery.  

The cost of generating that cash won’t be cheap. “The hurdle rate for our investments has gotten higher, and that means that some initiatives that require substantial capital will be slowed,” Khosrowshahi added. “We have to make sure our unit economics work before we go big. The least efficient marketing and incentive spend will be pulled back.”

Uber isn’t the only tech company undergoing this kind of strategy shift. According to Business Insider, Meta (formerly Facebook) CFO David Wehner has instituted a hiring freeze through the end of the year; an internal memo blamed the move on Apple’s stringent data-privacy rules, the war in Ukraine, and other tech-industry pressures. Popular fintech app Robinhood also announced layoffs, which it blamed on rapid growth

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the tech unemployment rate stood at 1.7 percent in April, just a slight uptick from 1.4 percent in March. Employers everywhere remain hungry for all kinds of tech talent; according to CompTIA’s analysis of the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, demand has been particularly strong for software developers and engineers (which accounted for 30 percent of all job postings), along with IT project managers, IT support specialists, systems engineers and architects, and network engineers and architects.