Uber discussed giving drivers equity in SEC meetings

Uber discussed giving drivers equity in SEC meetings
© Greg Nash

Uber has met several times with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to talk about distributing equity in the company to its drivers, the company confirmed Thursday.

The ride-hailing giant's drivers are considered independent contractors and not employees, which makes distributing equity to them more difficult.

Axios first reported the SEC meetings.

Uber and other ride-hailing companies have taken criticism for their independent contractor arrangement with drivers, who don’t receive benefits and often make low wages.  

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Uber is currently valued at $69 billion, meaning that a potential future IPO could mean a payday for shareholders. But distributing the equity is expected to be complicated.

Juno, a New York-based Uber competitor, tried to give some of its drivers restricted stock units, only to see the SEC reject the deal's structure. Juno was eventually acquired earlier this year, with drivers instead receiving a payout of $0.03 for each restricted stock unit.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick had expressed interest in giving drivers equity, according to Adam Lashinsky's book about the ride-hailing startup, "Wild Ride."

"Kalanick lights up,” Lashinsky writes in the book. "He says he wants to give equity to drivers ... but Uber has found the securities-law implications to be complicated."