Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: #7, Ian Black
Our annual ranking of the people whose smarts, connections and clout are changing the city as we know it
7 For the regional head of a global corporate scofflaw, Black has a strangely conventional CV: he’s a Queen’s econ grad who worked in management consulting for a few years before becoming general manager of Uber’s Toronto arm in May 2014. His first major project was to usher in UberX, the ride-sharing service that more people would take issue with if it weren’t so darn convenient. Under Black’s leadership, the company has recruited more than 16,000 regular-Joe drivers, wooed more than 400,000 habitual GTA riders and introduced a slew of new services—including a carpooling option and a lunch delivery program—all while fending off a vocal contingent of haters. Among them: city hall, which applied for an injunction in November 2014, dawdled for nine months while Uber seduced consumers, then spent this past summer pouting after a judge refused to give the company the boot. Black was the face of the company throughout, giving a speech at the Canadian Club of Toronto, appearing on Metro Morning and hashing out the issues with the mayor and taxi industry reps. This past September, council conceded that it might, just possibly, be a good idea to figure out how to regulate services like UberX after all.
Expansion. In the fall, Black announced that he’s aiming to recruit 24,000 new UberX drivers by the fall of 2017.