In recent weeks, both Uber and Airbnb have sent formal letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission, asking the regulatory agency to expand efforts that would allow drivers and hosts to also be paid in company shares. Exactly how this would work in practice remains unclear.
The move comes nearly three months after the SEC asked for public comment in a proposed revision to “Rule 701,” which currently requires that anyone paid in stock be an investor or an employee. Those directly involved in the “gig” or “sharing” economies are generally not considered to be employees and so, for now, are ineligible for this arrangement.
In fact, Uber told the SEC that it prefers the term “entrepreneurial economy“—odd, given that Uber drivers have no ability to set their own price. Uber also refers to its drivers as “driver partners,” suggesting that those behind the wheel have more power than they do in actuality.