Uber’s a public company. Now what?

There were no splashy announcements accompanying Uber’s initial public offering Friday morning. And the person chosen to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange wasn’t CEO Dara Khosrowshahi or exiled founder Travis Kalanick but the company’s first intern, Austin Geidt, who started her career by handing out flyers to potential riders on the streets of San Francisco almost a decade ago.

“We are focusing on what we can control,” said Khosrowshahi, a surprisingly subdued sentiment about the biggest tech IPO in years.

It was a calculated departure from the stock market debut of Uber’s arch-rival Lyft a few weeks earlier. Lyft’s founders rang the bell remotely at a hot-pink pop-up space in downtown Los Angeles, paired with an announcement that the company would spend $50 million per year funding local transportation initiatives. (Lyft’s stock price promptly plummeted.)

In its early days, Uber’s businesses model was deemed so disruptive that other startups began billing themselves as “Uber for...” Yet, over the last decade, tracing the #DeleteUber hashtag serves as a retrospective of the company’s many public missteps. The hashtag was deployed after Kalanick said Uber could track the movement of reporters who wrote negatively about the company; to protest the company’s questionable surge pricing practices; in response to a landmark workplace harassment case; and in memory of Elaine Herzberg, who was killed in 2018 by an Uber-operated autonomous vehicle.

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