Atlas hid: Uber has set up a decoy office to keep drivers away from its shiny new HQ

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on May 26, 2014

From The News Desk

It's been pretty widely publicized here in San Francisco that Uber has just moved into fancy new office space at 1455 Market.

Re/Code got the MTV Cribs tour from CEO Travis Kalanick...

Kalanick, who wore a crisp blue suit and shining black-leather dress shoes, said it was all in the details. Perforated steel dividers broke up the open-plan space. He rubbed his hand across one.

“It’s super nice, right? Polished. Like Uber Black,” he said, raising his hand above his head. “And yet it has a grit to it, like Uber X,” he said, dropping his hand to his hip. Christ.

In any case, what has attracted slightly less publicity is the fact -- mentioned only in passing by Re/Code -- that on the same day, Uber opened a second office, on Vermont Street in Potrero. According to Uber's blog...

We’ve heard a lot from our Uber SF partners about wanting easier ways to reach our team including parking and streamlined access to the office. With a new dedicated driver center in Potrero Hill, we are aiming to better connect with our partners and help make getting started with Uber, attending office hours and safety education processes more seamless.
Euphemistically called a "driver center," one Uber driver told us the second office is actually more of a decoy: allowing the company to fulfill its promise to be more accessible to drivers without, you know, actually having them make Uber's real office look untidy.

As Pando reported earlier this month, Uber's office on Mission Street has been a focal point for protests by drivers. At first the company tried to keep the barbarians (read: people who make the company worth an estimated ten billion dollars) from the gates, sending firm reminders to drivers that they were not permitted to visit Uber zentrale. When that only seemed to make drivers more pissed, and make Uber look even more like the grand Randroid experiment I've previously described it as, the company tried a different tack: doling out bagels and coffee to disgruntled cabbies before shooing them away.

With its new double office strategy, Uber has apparently hit on the perfect ruse. A decoy base on San Francisco's crookedest street, in darkest Potrero, where drivers can show up and yell and bitch to their hearts' content (pity the poor Uber staffer relegated to man that travisforsaken outpost). And Uber's real HQ, where Kalanick can go about his business, secure in the knowledge that he and his crisp blue suit are far from the grubby hands of the drivers who have made him rich.

[Illustration by Hallie Bateman for Pando]