Uber execs anonymously revealed to the press how much damage had been done in just a week
Social media has made easier than ever to preach about just about anything, but do public pledges of change and activism really manifest outside the realms of Twitter and Facebook? It certainly depends on the promise, but the ubiquity of #DeleteUber turned out to be more than hype once the results came in.
The hashtag surfaced shortly after President Trump’s inauguration and gathered steam and attention thanks to allegations of both thwarting and profiting from an immigrant strike, support of Trump’s policies via Uber execs’ involvement as business advisers, and, later, the revelations of a damning sexual harassment allegation and video of the company’s president squaring off with an Uber driver over the company’s policies.
So...it’s been an eventful couple months for the company, and all the events have been detrimental to the company’s bottom line, growth prospects, and goodwill in the public’s eyes.
The net fallout from the #DeleteUber campaign is the loss of roughly half a million customers/users in the first week following Trump’s inauguration, according to statements made during and after a conference call between Uber and reporters. The New York Times offers:
About half a million people requested deleting their Uber accounts over the course of that week, according to three people familiar with the company’s internal metrics who asked not to be named because the numbers are confidential. Those deletions have slowed drastically in recent weeks, and the company continues to add new users on a weekly basis, one of the people said.
In subsequent weeks, the hashtag remained in circulation on social media, but abandonment of the app slowed significantly.
Nonetheless, the half-a-million deleted apps is a far higher estimate than the 200,000 initially thought in early February. It’s likely that many have reinstalled the app since then as well, but those figures have not been revealed by the company and estimates aren’t available.
Since Uber is privately held, the size of the company’s user base isn’t publicized either, so without context, we don’t know abandonment as a percentage of total subscribers. But what we do know is that the company was enjoying a $70 billion private valuation, based not on current revenue, but the sky-high expectations of growth both domestically and abroad. And while 500,000 might pale to the estimated 40 million users worldwide, any disruption in expected growth can have disproportionate effects in valuation and investor appetites, both of which compound matters by opening the door for further competition.
So while #DeleteUber may not torpedo the company, it may serve as the most profound example of a social media protest taking on – and hurting – big business.