I, along with several other drivers met with Uber’s marketing and operations team in their offices for being the Bay Area’s top referrers.
As a “reward,” they fed us some Delfino’s pizza, picked our brains on how we were able to get to the top, and pitched us on their new referral system to potentially make all of us more money.
Having already partied w/ Travis Kalanick, their billionaire co-founder at The Foo Fighters concert, I figured I might as well check out the rest of the staff even though I knew this would take a couple hours. I wanted to know what type of people are able to get jobs at Uber because I certainly couldn’t. What does their employee demographic look like and how do their minds think.
Unsurprisingly, the marketing and operations team members were on the younger side. Seven were Caucasian, two were Asian, six were female, and three were male. All were very nice. From what I could tell from their LinkedIn profiles, none of them went to public universities either.
Then there were us top referrers, all minorities, all from public schools, mostly first generation immigrants, and all but one making way more than our Uber corporate counterparts. An interesting contrast!
DRIVING FOR FREEDOM
When I arrived at the Uber lobby, already sitting there was a cherub looking fella named Elroy. He was dressed in a suit sans tie, and an oversized Chicago Bulls hat. As we went around the room introducing ourselves, Elroy told the crowd that he “lives a lean lifestyle” and that he quit his job to pursue his dream of becoming a singer, songwriter, and producer. He drives for Uber to make ends meet and has developed a killer referral system to help him make even more money.
I love Elroy because I love his enthusiasm. Here he was, sharing with the room how he’d gotten his friends and family to sign up, and how he’d leverage social media to get even more people. He didn’t have a large online platform. All Elroy had was the desire to HUSTLE.
Every time someone spoke up, I could tell Elroy’s mind was figuring out a way to adopt new strategies from other top referrers.
We’ve already talked plenty about how almost anybody can make six figures a year working in a number of different industries. Although good grades and good interpersonal skills are a must to get many of these jobs, a lot of folks believe getting rich by getting a good paying job is cheating for some weird reason.
Given the pushback against gaining wealth with a good job, I decided to demonstrate with this site that you can also make money by building something from nothing. All you need is true grit, consistency, and business savvy to make multiple times the median American household income. The dreams of being a millionaire are real.
And now with Uber driving, we’re near the very bottom of what many would consider to be an avenue where you can make tons of money.
The picture is my latest Uber weekly statement. I haven’t been driving much because I’ve been busy applying to jobs and incubator programs I have little chance of getting. As you can see, I spent a total of one hour online, making three trips, and earning $167.97.
$167.97 an hour equals $347,000 a year for that moment in time. That is a crap load of money to be earning for any job, let alone being a chauffeur. But you might astutely point out that I’m not making $167.97 an hour for 40 hours a week and you would be correct.
I’m earning much more than $167.97 an hour due to my 1X1 consulting business, passive income, and online revenue from multiple different partnerships. I’ve received too many rejections in my lifetime to be able to depend on any one organization or person.
So now you’re thinking, but you’ve got this platform Sam to leverage, and I don’t. Wah, where’s my pumpkin spice latte? Well exactly. Why don’t you do the same thing too? It’s not rocket science to start a website, put up your code, and start making some referral income.
For the forever skeptical, let me introduce you to another top referrer. He’s a retired Filipino man who uses his own money to take out ads in local English and Chinese newspapers. He then accompanies the interested drivers to the Uber inspection center, teaches them the ropes, and even goes on a test drive with them to make them feel comfortable! After the 20th ride, both the new driver and the referrer gets a bonus, usually $300 each. How’s that for hustle as a 65 year old retiree making several thousands dollars extra a month?
Then there’s another top referrer I spoke to who mentioned he’ll clear $200,000 this year from his sub $100,000 day job plus side hustles this year. Oh, and then there’s my buddy from Southern California who is barely 30 and will make over $300,000 this year 90% from Uber and Lyft. The list goes on and on and on about people who figured out a way to maximize their time for financial freedom.
UBER EMPLOYEE INCOME EXAMPLES
One of the marketing people (not in the meeting) in her late 20s at Uber mentioned she makes about $70,000 a year base plus ~$80,000 in Uber RSUs that vest over four years. In other words, her total package is ~$90,000 a year.
I also talked to a 41 year old Uber lawyer whom I picked up one evening at 9pm. He said he makes $180,000 base + $580,000 in RSUs vesting over four years based off a ~$51B valuation. $180,000 is low for a 41 year old lawyer, but at least the total package is worth $330,000 a year, even though his RSUs are illiquid.
But even $330,000 a year in total compensation doesn’t match the potential for just one $167.97/hour Uber revenue stream. Let’s ignore Fidelity writing down their private equity investments in Snapchat and Zenefits by 25% and 48%, respectively. Forget about GIC of Singapore taking a 25% haircut from its Square investment. Let’s say Uber’s valuation increases to $100B in a couple years from $51B today, making their employee RSUs worth double if they stay long enough.
The collective income and net worth of the Bay Area top referrers in the room is still much, much greater than the collective income and wealth of the Uber employees (trust funds excluded)!
Here is the median pay of the top 20 billion+ dollar startups according to Glassdoor. Each Uber top referrer makes more. Notice the median salary at Uber is only $101,600.
1. Cloudera: $142,240 (Valuation: $4.1 billion)
2. Jawbone: $130,000 ($3.0 billion)
3. Medallia: $121,920 ($1.25 billion)
4. Pinterest: $118,420 ($11.2 billion)
5. Dropbox: $116,840 ($10.35 billion)
6. Airbnb: $116,840 ($25.5 billion)
7. Kabam: $116,840 ($1.02 billion)
8. AppDynamics: $114,218 ($1.0 billion)
9. Credit Karma: $111,760 ($3.5 billion)
10. Okta: $110,000 ($1.2 billion)
11. MongoDB: $109,728 ($1.35 billion)
12. Palantir Technologies:$105,000 ($20 billion)
13. Twilio: $105,000 ($1.03 billion)
14. AppNexus: $104,550 ($1.19 billion)
15. Uber: $101,600 ($51 billion)
16. Eventbrite: $101,600 ($1.06 billion)
17. Zuora: $96,736 ($1.12 billion)
18. Gilt Groupe: $95,000 ($1.15 billion)
19. DocuSign: $85,000 ($3 billion)
20. MediaMath: $80,264 ($1.07 billion)
DEVELOP YOUR PLATFORM
I strongly believe people have been brainwashed into thinking that the only way to make a lot of money is to go to college and then perhaps graduate school, in order to secure a coveted job. It’s only just one of the ways! And if people weren’t so brainwashed, there would be so much less student debt out there to worry about.
A friend who graduated from a top five business school finally got offered a $120,000 salary + $12,000 a year in options at a couple well-funded startups. This is after she spent two years of her time, $90,000 for tuition, and sacrificed two years of lost wages. Not bad. But not amazing. She’ll have to probably work full-time for at least another five years to get back to even.
The irony about we Uber drivers making more than the Uber employees is that none of us would be able to get full-time jobs at Uber or any of these highly coveted startups as we don’t fit their mold. We’re either too old, don’t have connections, or don’t come from the right school. Trust me, everybody in Silicon Valley has very similar backgrounds when you look at their demographic reports.
I’m not too proud to give a couple drunk dudes a ride to the next bar for $15, especially if they are going my way. I have a thirst to understand how this system works so I can make some extra hourly dough, write about my experiences, make even more dough online, become a better sharing economy investor, and then get invited to participate in a program that might make me even more dough. With all the dough that’s being kneaded, I could bake the biggest damn pie!
The key is to strengthen your brand online and leverage this wonderful internet world. Why wouldn’t you rather make $347,000+ in annualized income with a lot more free time by cobbling together a bunch of robust money making opportunities, than make $90,000 doing marketing full-time, $330,000 as a lawyer working killer hours, or $132,000 after spending two years and lots of money for business school? It’s just silly if you realize there are plenty of people with way less education making so much more.
DON’T BE TOO PROUD TO BE RICH
Some of the filthiest jobs make people the most money. There are also plenty of six figure paying jobs that don’t require a college degree. Here are some: funeral service managers, union electricians, police officers, dock workers, contractors, farmers, and even sexy bloggers, to name a few.
DO NOT let your race, sex, public school background, language skills, lack of connections, or pride get in the way of making your own fortune. You can run circles around people who think getting a full-time job is the only way to get rich.
The internet has democratized access to capital, education, and opportunity. It’s up to you to develop the right money mindset to earn your fortune!
Recommendation For Leaving A Job
If you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy, I recommend you negotiate a severance. If you negotiate a severance like I did back in 2012, you not only get a severance check, but potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training. Since you got laid off, you’re also eligible for up to 27 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during your transition period.
Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye, on how to negotiate a severance. I first published the book in 2012 and have since expanded it to 180 pages from 100 pages in the 3rd edition thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies.
Start Your Own Website, Be Your Own Boss: There’s nothing better than starting your own website to own your brand online and earn extra income on the side. Why should LinkedIn, FB, and Twitter pop up when someone Google’s your name? With your own website you can connect with potentially millions of people online, sell a product, sell some else’s product, make passive income and find a lot of new consulting and FT work opportunities.
Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to start your own site in under 30 minutes just like this one.
Updated for 2020 and beyond.