After a seemingly never-ending series of controversies and criticisms, taxi hailing app Uber is hoping to raise some Christmas cheer with its biggest charitable undertaking to date.
Uber has teamed up with US charity Share Our Strength to work on their “No Kid Hungry” campaign which aims to eliminate child hunger in the US and provide kids with affordable, nutritious food.
This week American Uber customers in 100 cities will be given a $5 in-app donation option, the first time such a feature has been available in the app. Offshoots UberCHEF and UberLUNCH pop up stores will also be running events throughout the week with all proceeds donated to No Kid Hungry.
Uber will hope its display of the festive spirit will soften the company’s image after a series of PR storms and bans on its service around the world.
In October Uber’s chief executive Travis Kalanick told City AM: “We have to be a little more diplomatic and a little more statesman-like.”
Yet for Uber, the two months since have contained more public slip-ups than a George Bush press conference.
In the last two days alone, the app has been banned from two major global locations in India’s capital New Delhi and Spain following fines and legal challenges in Taiwan, Thailand and Germany.
The taxi app was banished from the streets of New Delhi yesterday after the one of their driver’s was arrested for rape. Uber was accused of not failing to run background checks on the driver who had previously been arrested on allegations of sexual assault.
In Madrid, a judge issued a temporary ban on the app today due to the lack of official authorisation.
Last month Kalanick was forced to publicly castigate one of his own senior vice-presidents, Emil Michael, after the executive had suggested the company could “dig dirt” on critical journalists.
Negative headlines have dominated recent Uber coverage, but that hasn’t stopped its valuation growing and growing. It is now valued at $40bn (£25.6bn).
On top of its charity drive in the US, Uber has embraced the Christmas spirit in other areas of the world where it is offering a Christmas tree delivery service.
Uber commented on the campaign:
The holidays mark a time to reflect, give thanks, and give back. We’re grateful for the opportunity to be a part of more than 150 communities across the United States, and we are committed to making a positive impact in each of these cities. In the spirit of the season, we are thrilled to announce our first national giving campaign, in partnership with No Kid Hungry, to help eliminate child hunger in America.We’re excited to see what kind of impact we can have when the Uber community works together to make a difference.