Oct 24, 2020

The man who taught Uber how to say sorry

Something had gone wrong with the Uber app, which had instructed the driver to return to the professor's home. For a few years he's also been moonlighting, because Uber approached him to be their chief economist, and after he moved on from Uber, he joined another car-riding app, Lyft, where he holds the same position. No doubt the job is generously remunerated, but for John List it has another appeal; for data geeks, car apps are like gold mines - in the US alone, before the pandemic, there were two million Uber drivers, making tens of millions of trips each week. Because he thought it would make Uber drivers happier, List persuaded the Uber board to add a tipping function - bringing Uber in line with other car apps. The study of economic behaviour through car app data has been called Ubernomics - though John List's box of data toys is now delivered to him by Lyft, not Uber - and he continues to produce a stream of fascinating results.

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