Aaron Schildkrout joined Uber in 2015.
Uber’s head of driver product, Aaron Schildkrout, is leaving the company after three years. Schildkrout, who previously co-founded dating site HowAboutWe, announced his decision in an email to Uber staff on Wednesday.
His departure comes just as the company wrapped up its 180-day driver campaign — an effort that Schildkrout led with Rachel Holt, the regional general manager of the U.S. and Canada. The driver campaign, launched in June with the introduction of a long-sought after tipping feature, was part of Uber’s larger effort to repair its relationship with its drivers in the hope of retaining them on the platform.
The company began working on the campaign in the winter of 2016, as it became increasingly clear to many people internally that Uber’s relationship with its drivers had deteriorated. But it wasn’t just a moral or public image problem; it was a business one. The company had reached such a scale in the U.S. that the pool of available new drivers it could tap into had dwindled. That’s why it was imperative to make retaining drivers more of a focus.
“I think we have a privileged moment where the business need and the moral need are perfectly aligned,” Schildkrout told Recode in a previous interview.
The work on what was internally called “Driver Forward” may have started before 2017, but this year’s #deleteUber campaign — as well as the surfacing of a video of former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick berating an Uber driver — compounded the company’s driver issues, and gave the campaign the momentum that it needed.
According to Schildkrout’s email, he stayed to help see this campaign through, but had considered leaving before it began.
“Basically, 18 months of life-only-on-Zoom and frequent cross-country-commutes away from home have come to feel like not the best thing for me and my family,” he wrote in the email.
“As 180 Days of Change and this year approached their end, I decided it was the right time to do what has long felt personally necessary for me,” he continued.
Here’s the full email:
Hi Team –
After three years of amazing adventures at Uber, I’m off on my next journey.
Thank you so much to all the incredible people who I’ve had the great good fortune to work with here; I owe you a debt of gratitude for everything you’ve taught me and for the inspiration that’s come from building wonderful things for so many riders and drivers around the world together.
Why now? Basically, 18 months of life-only-on-Zoom and frequent cross-country-commutes away from home have come to feel like not the best thing for me and my family. I stayed to help see Driver Forward through, which I’m so so glad I did; this last year of work to transform our relationship with Drivers has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. As 180 Days of Change and this year approached their end, I decided it was the right time to do what has long felt personally necessary for me.
For my next journey…my first step is going to be to let the wheel of the mind slow to stillness, and then…we’ll see! I have no plans as of yet and can only wish that my next thing will be as full of tremendous learning, growth and impact as my time at Uber has been.
I’ll be rooting hard for all of you as you build Uber into something vast and grand – far far past the cynics’ doubts and the dreamers’ expectations. I have every faith in the ingenuity and drive of this amazing team.