Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says some of the increased pressure to regulate tech companies is deserved.
“There is an increasing regulatory burden that is coming on some of the tech companies. Some of it deserved. I do think that we are becoming such an important part of everyday life,” the head of the ride-hailing and food-delivery service said Tuesday in an appearance at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.
His comments come amid congressional hearings and a closer review by federal agencies, with an eye toward examining anti-competitive practices. For example, a House judiciary subcommittee on antitrust issues is holding a hearing Tuesday about online platforms and their role in stifling media competition.
Khosrowshahi also said that Uber expects to have some self-driving cars on the road within the next five years, but that will involve a combination of human drivers and autonomous technology. Uber has been testing self-driving vehicles in a number of cities. It paused the tests after one of its autonomous vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona last year.
Khosrowshahi also tackled the criticism his company has faced over its massive $1 billion loss in its first public financial report, which came out weeks after the company debuted on the stock market. He blamed poor timing and trade tensions.
“Our IPO was very much aligned with our president’s tariff wars, the same day. So I think we got caught up in a bit of a market swirl,” Khosrowshahi said.
Uber has said its losses are in part due to its decision to spend money on growth, by offering rides in more cities and expanding services like Uber Eats food delivery. Uber also plans to launch a helicopter service in New York City. The launch is the first step of Uber Elevate, a program which would offer flying ride-sharing options.
Uber isn’t a target of the renewed regulatory scrutiny getting lobbed at tech companies. But Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are all in the spotlight.
Just last week, Google’s YouTube was under fire for its lax policy to limit harassment in its online content and its inconsistent content-screening algorithm. The company announced a policy change, saying it would prohibit and take down videos that justify “discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.”