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With Betterment, Uber offers drivers a retirement

The future self-driving car company continues to offer benefits and perks to its human drivers

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
August 24, 2016 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/46ea

Editor's Note: Our 6th Annual Vator Splash LA conference is coming up on October 13 at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. Speakers include Mark Cuban (one of the hosts of Shark Tank and owner of the Dallas Mavericks); Brian Lee (Founder & CEO, Honest Company); Leura Fine (Founder & CEO, Laurel & Wolf ); Nick Green (Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Thrive Market); Tri Tran (CEO & Co-founder, Munchery); Adam Goldenberg (Founder & CEO, JustFab); Andre Haddad (CEO, Turo); Mike Jones (Founder, Science) and many more. Join us! REGISTER HERE.

Uber announced today that it has partnered with online investment platform Betterment to offer retirement options directly to drivers through the Uber app.

Put another way: the company that plans to eventually replace its drivers with robots says its drivers can now open retirement accounts through a service that replaced financial advisors with robots.

Betterment—along with Wealthfront, WiseBanyan, FutureAdvisor, and others—is one of the foremost names in the financial technology space. The company and its peers have been dubbed “robo-advisors,” as they aim to offer the skills and expertise of a traditional financial advisor through digital, mostly automated online services.

The irony, of course, is that though Uber today employs human drivers, the company has kept no secret about its plans to one day be a “robo-taxi” company.

Last week, Uber officially announced its partnership with Volvo amid reports that the two would be launching self-driving SUVs in Pittsburgh as early as this month. Though those vehicles still require a human driver behind the wheel in case anything goes wrong, reports say the two companies have committed $300 million to having a fully autonomous car ready for the streets by 2021.

On the same day as the Volvo announcement, Uber also finalized its reported $680 million acquisition of Otto, a self-driving truck company. The bottom line: when it comes to enabling (and dominating) our self-driving future, Uber is all in.

Nevertheless, the reality remains that in order for Uber to stay competitive with Lyft here in the U.S. today, it needs a strong, steady supply of drivers to meet the daily demand of ride requests. Attracting and securing drivers has compelled Uber to do everything from offering up an ad-free Pandora promotion to providing the busiest drivers with UberX discounts.

Integration with Betterment

Directly through the Uber app, drivers will be able to open a Betterment IRA or Roth IRA account through Betterment’s platform. As part of the promotion, drivers won’t have to pay any account fees for a year and they can open up their accounts with no minimum balance.

Initially, this perk will be available to drivers in Seattle, Boston, Chicago, and New Jersey, with a nationwide rollout coming eventually.

The way the announcement is written, it seems that only those who drive exclusively for Uber (i.e. not for Lyft also) can get access to the perks, but that isn’t the case. In truth, Uber has no way of knowing whether someone is driving for other platforms or not.

While some drivers will likely welcome the new retirement options, there’s another irony at work here: Uber has long held the line that its drivers are independent contractors, not employees. But by offering its workers access to retirement options, it is beginning to look more like a traditional employer.

In fact, the company still faces an ongoing class-action lawsuit brought by drivers who believed they were misclassified as independent contractors, and therefore are owed for various work expenses, including fuel and maintenance.

Ultimately, it all comes back to what Handy CEO Oisin Hanrahan said at Vator Splash Spring: “Of course, everybody should have access to benefits, training, and education.” But in the new on-demand economy, it may not look like your traditional models.

Editor's Note: Our 6th Annual Vator Splash LA conference is coming up on October 13 at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. Speakers include Mark Cuban (one of the hosts of Shark Tank and owner of the Dallas Mavericks); Brian Lee (Founder & CEO, Honest Company); Leura Fine (Founder & CEO, Laurel & Wolf ); Nick Green (Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Thrive Market); Tri Tran (CEO & Co-founder, Munchery); Adam Goldenberg (Founder & CEO, JustFab); Andre Haddad (CEO, Turo); Mike Jones (Founder, Science) and many more. Join us! REGISTER HERE.


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