Backbone of Silicon Valley: Daryush Khodadadi-Mobarakeh
Daryush Khodadadi-Mobarakeh is a gig worker who labored during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Lloyd Alaban.

Editor’s Note: Backbone of Silicon Valley is a first-of-its-kind video storytelling project. Our reporters spent a year documenting the plight of six essential workers in Silicon Valley—the unsung heroes who clean your house, pack your groceries and prescriptions, cook your food, work in hospitals and deliver your meals. San José Spotlight teamed up with filmmakers to tell their stories. Check our video page for new mini documentaries posting Mondays and Wednesdays in December.

The early days of the pandemic were filled with questions for Daryush Khodadadi-Mobarakeh, a South Bay gig worker for Uber, Lyft and DoorDash. Will there be a vaccine? How will I protect myself from passengers? These are questions he faced as he risked his life as an essential worker during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gig companies were slow to protect drivers—failing to provide personal protective equipment or hazard pay—which didn’t assuage his fears.

“I’ve worked with them for many, many years and I know how they work,” he said. “They try to take advantage of their drivers.”

As an independent contractor, Khodadadi-Mobarakeh works hard to make his own hours, pick up orders and set his schedule. He wants gig companies to do their part.

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