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Marco McCottry in Uber's Chicago office./Photo by Shia Kapos 0

Uber exec’s passion for ride-sharing is personal

June 21st, 2016

Marco McCottry, the Uber general manager over Illinois and Indiana, is having a good week. His beloved Cleveland Cavaliers just won the NBA championship, and a Chicago alderman has delivered what seem to be a buzzer-beater.

Ald. Anthony Beale dropped a provision that would have required drivers of Uber and Lyft ride-sharing companies to be fingerprinted. The companies had threatened to leave Chicago outright if the measure passed.

The City Council was set to vote on the measure today. Instead, alderman will study the issue of fingerprinting over the next six months.

“There’s been a lot of hard work done and good faith shown over the past few days. It’s encouraging,” McCottry told me. Beale did not immediately return a call.

McCottry fears fingerprinting and costly licensing requirements will unfairly prevent riders from having access to the Uber platform–especially on the South and West sides, which have seen a combined 11,000 new drivers over the past year. He adds that part-time drivers would be discouraged to join because there could be too  many barriers to signing up.

Uber already vets job candidates for past driving violations and criminal histories. Fingerprinting, says McCottry, doesn’t always give an accurate picture. It shows someone is arrested but not necessarily whether they’re convicted, he says.

McCotttry’s passion for the issue is personal.

“I went to school in New York City and have my own horror stories about relying on paid rides,” he says, echoing the stories of so many African American men who have been turned down by cab drivers.

McCottry, 34, grew up in Cleveland and studied economics at Columbia University, where he also walked on to the basketball team–he was a wing man. He went on to earn an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.

McCottry started with Uber two years ago in Austin, Texas, which passed stringent regulations that eventually forced the ride-sharing company to exit that city.

He was transferred to Chicago in January and had high hopes he’d be able to grow the company. Instead, he’s been spending much of his time talking to aldermen and city leaders about Uber and how its technology operates.

“The last thing we ever want to do,” he says, “is leave a city.”

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