“To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement.”
Uber has had more than its share of bad press lately, and it just seems to keep on coming. Yesterday, Bloomberg obtained and published a dash cam video of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver.
The video is six minutes long, and most of it shows an unremarkable, business-as-usual car ride. But at about the 3:50 mark, after they’ve arrived at their destination and Kalanick is preparing to exit the car, he shakes hands with the driver, Fawzi Kamel, who asks Kalanick why his company is reducing fares. Kamel then accuses Uber of going “low-end.”
Kalanick explains that Uber is simply trying to stay competitive with other ride-sharing companies, and that if they didn’t lower fares, they’d go out of business. “We didn’t go low-end because we wanted to,” says Kalanick. “We went low-end because we had to.”
Kamel then begins pointing at Kalanick, saying he’s lost $97,000 and gone bankrupt because of Uber’s changing prices. As Kamel shouts, Kalanick finally loses his composure, saying “You know what? Some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own shit. They blame everything in their life on someone else.”
You can watch the video in its entirety here:
Within hours of the video going viral, Kalanick issued a company-wide apology, sending it to all of his 11,000 employees and posting it to the Uber website.
“By now I’m sure you’ve seen the video where I treated an Uber driver disrespectfully. To say that I am ashamed is an extreme understatement… It’s clear this video is a reflection of me – and the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.”
In late January, after Donald Trump’s travel ban, which was intended to keep people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, taxi drivers went on strike at New York City’s JFK airport. During the strike, Uber lifted surge pricing at JFK, effectively undermining the strike. That prompted the #DeleteUber hashtag, resulting in about 200,000 people deleting their Uber apps.
Kalanick also took heat for joining Trump’s economic advisory council – a move that Kalanick said “was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda” but which was widely interpreted as Uber being a pro-Trump company. Kalanick quit the council, but the damage was done.
More recently, a former engineer with the company, Susan Fowler, said she left the company due to ongoing sexual harassmentby her manager. Fowler said that when she reported the harassment to Uber’s HR department, they told her they “wouldn’t feel comfortable giving [the perpetrator] anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to” because it was a first offense.
It remains to be seen whether Kalanick’s apology will stop people from abandoning their Uber accounts and flocking to other ride-sharing companies.
Image via Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com.
Comment: Have you deleted your Uber account, or do you plan to?