Uber’s Peaceful Revolution

Standing in the back of the main programming room at Uber headquarters, one looks across hundreds of focused employees with open browsers. They are following requests and rides in hundreds of cities around the world. The people making deals are connecting peer to peer. But there’s still more work to do. Uber employees are observing traffic flows, tweaking pricing, troubleshooting, testing new features, fixing issues, monitoring bandwidth, approving new drivers, and taking other actions to keep this five-year-old company growing.

Every driver needs a rider. Every rider needs a driver. Uber is there to make the connections in the most efficient way possible — and in a way that ensures everyone wins.

It’s a quiet office with a variety of open work spaces. The desks are six feet wide and pushed together in groups of three. Most employees use large-screen iMacs, with backup laptops that can be moved around to other work areas such as small conference spaces and even small cubbies cut into walls.

As you move through the office, you come across floor-to-ceiling screens with beautiful images of Uber traffic in cities around the world.

There is a low hum in the room, and most people speak softly. The work doesn’t seem grueling, but neither do you see displays of that wild-and-crazy eccentricity sometimes associated with edgy startups. Rather, the work just seems focused and intense, almost mission driven.

Most remarkable to me has been the politics of this peaceful revolution.

If you didn’t understand the political dynamics of what is happening here, you would entirely miss the awesome human drama that all this code is making possible. What’s happening is this: these people, quietly typing on their keyboards, are systematically sma…