'Indian Customer Is So Demanding And Doesn't Want To Pay For Anything': Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's Statement Sparks Controversy

'Indian Customer Is So Demanding And Doesn't Want To Pay For Anything': Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's Statement Sparks Controversy

He also said that as a technology company, Uber views open source tech stacks with a lot of interest and recognises the opportunities they bring for everyone.

PTIUpdated: Friday, February 23, 2024, 01:49 PM IST
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Indian Customer Is So Demanding And Doesn't Want To Pay For Anything: Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi | PTI/Shailendra Bhojak

Uber, one of India's leading ridesharing platforms, on Thursday signed an Memorandum of Understanding with Open Network for Digital Commerce to explore an integration with the network to expand the range of mobility offerings on the Uber app.

The agreement with Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), a private non-profit organisation established by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade of Government of India, stands to strengthen Uber's mission of bringing safe, affordable and reliable rides to all Indians.

At an event in Bengaluru, Uber's global CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who is in India currently, spoke with Infosys Chairman Nandan Nilekani on the subject of 'Building Population Scale Technology.' Khosrowshahi said companies and governments around the world can learn from the scale and ambition of India's Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI).

He also said that as a technology company, Uber views open source tech stacks with a lot of interest and recognises the opportunities they bring for everyone.

On the sidelines of the interaction, when Nilekani asked Uber's global CEO about what is so exciting about Uber in India, Khosrowshahi said, "I think India is one of the toughest markets out there. You know the Indian customer is so demanding and doesn't want to pay for anything. If Uber can make it in India, then I would say our team is really making it.....India is the toughest market to succeed in and if we can succeed here, then we can succeed anywhere else." He also said how Uber is also planning to expand its low-cost service segments, particularly two-wheeler and three-wheeler services in India and that they were also getting into bus in some countries.

Exploring Low-Cost Service Segments

"One of the strategic single biggest opportunity is low-cost products like two-wheeler and three-wheeler...We are also getting into bus in some countries," Khosrowshahi said.

Challenges During the Pandemic

During Covid, Uber was losing about $3 billion of profitability and it had to retrench from an expansion focussed business to finding the core value.

"We were losing about USD 3 billion of profitability. Overnight, we lost 85 per cent of our volumes and that required a lot of soul searching. We had to retrench from being an expansion focused business to finding the core value...We had to painfully get out of some business, layoff some people and I think that event really caused the company to double down on some areas like advertising, Uber Eats and we really started building Eats business," he said.

He also mentioned how before pandemic, they were a much more consumer focussed company and they took drivers for granted but post the pandemic, they really started focusing on the needs of drivers and started offering them more incentives.

India's Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) Model

On India's DPI model, the Uber CEO said, "We are rooting for India's DPI model not only for the ecosystem to fly in India but also for other developing countries." Speaking on the MoU signing, Prabhjeet Singh, President, Uber India and South Asia, said, "Our vision for Uber in India is to serve the mobility needs of all Indians. This is in line with ONDC's objective of democratising digital commerce." "We are excited to take our first step through this MoU with ONDC to explore how we can accelerate our ambition to make Uber a platform for every Indian's daily mobility needs. We are committed to play our part in helping speed up and strengthen India's digital transformation," he said.

ONDC's Perspective

Meanwhile, T Koshy, MD and CEO of ONDC, said, "As the Open Network is continuously evolving, MTT (Mobility, Transport and Travel) is certainly a critical sector for us. Different players together on the Network foster innovation and newer business models. Today's MoU is a major step forward, and one we hope will enable a diverse range of mobility solutions to benefit every Indian."

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