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Uber and Airbnb Lobby for Gig Worker Bailout

People who relied on the companies for income have been hit hard.

SoftBank Is Said To Seek Uber Stock At $48 Billion Valuation
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
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Isolated with his family at home in San Francisco, Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi has been making pleading phone calls to members of Congress. Khosrowshahi is asking for a bailout—not for his company, which has told investors it should have at least $4 billion in cash by the end of the year—but for its idle drivers.

Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc., the leaders of the so-called sharing economy, are suffering during the Covid-19 shutdown, but not in the same way as traditional travel companies like airlines or hotel chains. They’ve built their business models on offloading as many costs and as much risk as possible to their suppliers. Uber doesn’t have to pay salaries for drivers with little or nothing to do. Now it’s those Uber drivers, as well as Airbnb’s hosts, who have to worry about paying for cars and houses that are not generating income as they depreciate in value.